The who, where, how and why of lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is about cultivating leads that aren’t ready to buy and keeping prospects engaged by providing relevant content. This answers what lead nurturing is, but raises questions about who these prospects are that you’ll be nurturing, where they’ll be in the buying process, how you’ll facilitate the buyers’ journey, and why you’ll embark on this process.

Who: Create and define buyer personas. Like any targeted outreach, lead nurturing communications reflects the needs and interests of individual prospects. For example, different roles will have different motivations. Technical buyers require different content than executive buyers who could be more receptive to specific communication channels. Knowing who your buyer is allows you to maximize conversion by ensuring your messages are always relevant.

Where: Map your content to the buying stages. Sending the right piece of content at the right stage in the purchase process can be the stimulus for a buyer to move closer to closing. To develop the relationship, you need to understand the interests of buyers wherever they are in the purchasing process.  A webinar or whitepaper might work well at the top of the funnel but as a prospect progresses toward serious consideration, content designed to aid the purchasing process, like ROI calculators and pricing guides, should come into play.

How: Frame your buyer’s journey. Before you can employ technology to automate nurturing processes, you need to know how prospects are entering and moving through your funnel. Framing out your lead nurturing program – by whiteboarding, diagramming, sketching, and revising – helps you create an organized flow that guides prospects to the eventual sale before you start building the logic in a marketing automation system. Think through all the exceptions, feeders and ways the data will need to flow into and out of the system and how you’ll want to keep sales informed of prospects’ progress in the program.  

Why: Establish clear and measurable program objectives. For successful lead nurturing programs you need to know why you’re nurturing to begin with. Having clear goals and benchmarks to measure against allows marketing to stay focused on the objectives and makes it easy to improve the program. If your goal is to accelerate your sales pipeline, you’ll need to be able to measure the average time from initial interest to close, and adapt your program accordingly.

Elle Woulfe, senior marketing programs manager at Eloqua.

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