LeadNurturing resized 600You give people plenty of ways to contact you about a purchase, right? And they don't call. They don't email either. What's the problem? Well, fact is over 80 percent of your leads aren't ready to buy from you at any given time, even if you have carefully targeted them with your demand generation campaigns. So, rule #1 is BE PATIENT. Rule #2 is NURTURE THEM. Lead nurturing is the next step in the Enterprise Inbound Marketing Process, and it's the one that gets your leads to the Promised Land, your qualified sales leads bucket. Here's how it works.

Staying Connected, Staying Personal

You just visited a cool website that offers great looking offroad biking gear. There's a great ebook that's about the Best Biking Trails in Hawaii. Awesome, going there next month. Let's download and read that tonight after work. Next day you get an email thanking you for downloading the ebook and letting you know about some of the best blogs about biking in Hawaii. Sweet, and thanks for that.

So on the treadmill the next day (you're getting in shape for the mountainous terrain), you whip out the iPad and start reading some of the blogs. You notice a couple of reviews and ads for rain gear (that you may very well need)—and they just happen to take you back to the original website where you started this journey. So you check out the rain gear product pages and read up on them. Maybe you'll buy something after work.

An hour later you get an email from a consultant from the website inviting you to check out some of the special pricing they have available this month. Sure enough, there's some very cool stuff for way less than market pricing, including some great new bikes! Later that evening you get another email with a link to another review blog comparing the best bikes for Hawaiian offroading. You see where I'm going with this. But how did they do that?

Well, it's no mystery that Amazon and other well-known online shops keep track of every click you make and personalize all kinds of content and offers just for you. That's lead nurturing. That's how you gently persuade people to buy from you. You get to know them, and then you give them what they want when they want it.

Stay in Touch, Drip Campaigns

Drip campaigns are the most common types of lead nurturing but they are being replaced pretty rapidly by the kind of personalization I described in the offroad biking example. In drip campaigns, you are sending out periodic emails following a conversion event that allow you to follow up with more information pertaining to the original offer. Usually, the number of emails and intervals between them are set up evenly (once every 5 business days, for example) to coincide with the average sales cycle of the product or service you are trying to sell. You can personalize drip emails somewhat based on the data you have captured in your demand generation form and the comtent that they have downloaded. The idea is to offer your leads new, relevant content that gradually influences them towards sales-readiness. The progression usually looks something like this:

  • Top-funnel offer - educational piece, survey or ebook
  • Mid-funnel offer - industry examples or reviews
  • Mid-funnel offer - internal case studies, spec sheets and comparators
  • Mid-funnel offer - testimonial videos and ROI calculators
  • Bottom-funnel offer - product promotion, free trial, free consultation

Drip campaigns are fine, but they aren't responsive. They don't catch you at the moment you are thinking about buying something or doing some research. They're a blunt instrument compared to personalized content and lead nurturing, but they do have a place in just staying in touch and staying top-of-mind.

Personalized Content and Lead Nurturing

Now we're getting fancy. We're doing the Amazon thing. Your marketing automation system should be able to provide personalized content and delivery based on lead behavior. Not all marketing automation software does this, so check the specs before you try this. Going back to our offroad cycling example, you are tracking every page visit, every download and every decision that your leads make (they need to become a lead first so that you know who they are). You can set up workflows that contain logical branches - if someone downloads the Hawaii cycling ebook, send them the thank you email with the blog links. If they click through on a raingear CTA, send them the special offers an hour later. If they buy something, send them offers for other big discounts for accessories. If they don't, send them a personalized email thanking them for visiting the offers page and giving them some more reasons to buy now. The possibilities are endless.

The Trick

The trick is to treat this form of automation like it's not automated. Try to be as personal and non-salesy as possible. Try to appeal to the excitement of cycling in Hawaii, not the advantages of your mountain bikes. You're trying to help them get the most of their adventure, not to make your sales numbers this month. Invite them to give you a call if they have any questions or just want to chat about biking in Hawaii. This is how sales is done in 2013. It works.

Next up: Marketing Automation.


john mctigue blog photoWith over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. Connect with John via TwitterLinkedIn or Google Plus.


Topics: Lead Nurturing, marketing automation, john mctigue, enterprise inbound marketing process, personalized content

John McTigue
With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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