Creating effective lead nurturing programs is a significant challenge for many marketing organizations. At Manticore, we spend a great deal of time measuring and tuning our lead nurturing efforts to ensure that we are delivering the highest quality leads to our sales team. While there are many variables to think about, we find that focusing on five key elements has the greatest impact on our overall results. When you start your next periodic review, think about these five things to focus your overall efforts:
- Double Check Your Lead Definitions: Marketing and sales should be in agreement on what constitutes a fully qualified lead. Definitions of a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) may vary over time based on market conditions and business objectives. Make sure your MQL and SQL definitions are properly tuned with respect to vertical market, customer size, project timing, budget and buying cycle.
- Check Your Buying Personas Against Real Sales Results: Whereas lead definition generally refers to the characteristics of a target customer, buying personas define the different roles inside that customer that drive the purchase process. The characteristics of the Decision Maker, Influencer, Economic Buyer and others can change, so review your actual closed sales from the previous quarter and adjust your personas accordingly. For example, we saw a significant increase in the IT department as an influencer when we started selling to prospects with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
- Match Your Content to Persona and Purpose: If your personas change, your content must as well. Review your existing content to make sure that it will still speak to the needs of the specific persona and buying phase. There is a common belief that new content must be created for each new nurture or persona. In reality, existing content can generally be refreshed, repackaged, and reconstituted so that it fits your revised objectives. Our experience says that one major, multi-part content project per year (like the e-book referenced at the end of this blog) along with about one minor project a quarter (like this white paper about content marketing) should keep the content pump primed.
- Look for Opportunities to Personalize the Nurture: We like to blend a human touch with our automated lead nurture projects. This may seem counter intuitive, but we find that inserting our demand generation representatives into a nurture program increases the conversion rate of leads into qualified prospects. For example, we have placed follow-up phone calls after leads have downloaded a whitepaper simply to offer to answer any questions they might have about the subject matter. While the connect rate may be low, a non-sales oriented message leaves a positive impression and increases the likelihood of further conversations.
- Make Sure You're Creating A Journey: Lead nurturing should engage your prospects in a digital conversation that leads them through their buying journey. Starting small in order to learn and build off of short-term success is a smart first step. However, at each period review, you should look to add new steps to the process, building new nurture programs that help resolve sticking points in your marketing/sales process.
Lead nurturing is critical to an efficient marketing/sales process. It's not enough to just set-up your programs and let them run. They require periodic review and adjustment, and focusing on the most important elements will ensure your tune-ups are effective. For more lead nurturing guidance, please see our Lead Nurturing Cookbook...