Carlos Hidalgo, President and CEO of The Annuitas Group, a well-respected B2B Marketing thought leader and a recognized expert in marketing automation, recently participated as an “Expert Chef” in the Lead Nurturing Cookbook on a recipe we created for nurturing leftover or dormant leads. The recipe delivers a 7-step process for implementing a revival nurturing program and Carlos provides tips and insight on how to make it even more delicious. To expand on some of the important concepts Carlos discussed in the Cookbook, I asked 5 questions about nurturing leftover leads and how to ensure that your content and approach matches your target audience. Here’s what he had to say:
EM: In the Lead Nurturing Cookbook, you offer tips on nurturing leads that have been discarded or never followed up on by Sales. What should Sales and Marketing agree on before implementing this nurturing program?
CH: There are several things that Marketing and Sales need to agree to before implementing a lead nurturing program. First and foremost their needs to be a defined Lead Qualification process. This begins with an agreed to set of definitions that define every stage of the buying process – from response, to various levels of leads (MQL, SAL, SQL), all the way through to defining a customer. Organizations should then begin to apply characteristics to these definitions as a way to define what characteristics make-up an MQL or SAL. These characteristics should include things like demographic data, behavioral information and when appropriate BANT. Once this is complete, companies can then begin to develop their lead scoring model and assign the numerical attributes to each characteristic. Without a lead qualification process established, it will be impossible to determine what needs to be nurtured (the majority of your initial contacts) and what needs to be routed to sales.
Secondly, in order to develop a successful lead nurturing program, defining the buyers journey for each product, BU or service will be key. By documenting the buyers journey you will then be able to map the proper content to each stage and it is the content that will fuel your nurture campaigns.
EM: What are some examples of content offerings that might resonate with leftover leads?
CH: When trying to re-engage these leftover leads, it is important to understand that just because your organization did not respond to them an effective way the first time around, it does not mean they did not continue their sales process. With this in mind, it is important that you rebuild confidence with these contacts (since they were originally ignored they are no longer leads as to much time has passed). In order to do this the buyer wants to know that the vendor they choose understands their issues, their market and has a good understanding of the market at large. The best content for this is thought leadership in focus. This can be in the form of podcasts, video series, webinars, etc.
Peer driven content is also a very powerful use of content to re-engage. Many studies have shown that at every stage of the buying process peers have the largest influence. It would be wise of organizations to harness some of this content and push it out to these leads and also pull them into sections of their website that showcases user content in form of case studies, user video, user generated blog content, etc.
EM: In this recipe, we point to a stat that as many as 80% of leads do not receive the proper follow up, what can organizations do to change that and ensure they are not wasting leads? CH: The best thing an organization can do to avoid wasting 80% of their leads is develop a lead management process. This is a collaborative venture between both marketing and sales and is not something that should be viewed as a quick fix. When speaking of developing the process, this goes beyond just lead qualification (as described above) and lead nurturing. The process areas that need to be considered in the development of a lead management process are as follows:
- Data Management
- Lead Planning
- Lead Routing
- Lead Qualification
- Lead Nurturing
- Content Blueprint Development
Without a process in place, even if an organization has automation technology, they will not have the ability to ensure that each lead gets managed properly. EM: In general, what do you think is the first step b2b marketers should take when developing a lead nurturing strategy?
Assuming the process is in place (as if you have no developed process you won’t have successful nurturing), you must identify the buyers journey. By understanding the road a buyer takes to purchase, you will then be able to map the right content that will better engage your buyers. As a part of this process, it is key to understand your buyer persona (and more than likely there will be more than one). More and more decisions are made by groups, not just individuals and as part of the journey to best-in-class you will want to develop content and nurturing that engages each of those buyers.
EM: One of you tips for this recipe is to define your ideal personas (or customer profile) in advance, what should this process look like and who should be involved? This is simply defining who your ideal customer/prospect is and should involve both Marketing and Sales (beginning to see a theme here?). One of the best places to start is taking a look at your current customer base. Define what verticals they are in, their revenue, what they purchased, what their needs were/are, etc. Keep in mind that this is not a one-time exercise. As you gain more intelligence about your buyer, it will allow you to refine your profile accordingly.
Carlos is a known thought leader in B2B marketing for his keen insights on the development and implementation of lead management process, and is also a recognized expert in marketing automation. Most recently he and his brother Jay topped the rankings in the SLMA’s 2009 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management. He is a frequent speaker, blogger and guest contributor of many articles on B2B marketing.