Nurturing is a hot topic – and right now, almost all of my projects are focused on nurturing. Just in case this is on your list, here is the process that worked for me:
- First, determine a prospect story arc – the experience for a prospect from the time they engage with your company until they make a purchase. Where do they start? What process do they go through to get to buying? To get ideas, talk to sales, review marketing results and talk to customers as well.
- Second, determine where you can segment nurture streams. Do you need more than one? Where can you personalize the journey to make it more meaningful for prospects? Which segments have enough volume and a unique enough message to create something just for them?
- Next, do a content audit – once you have an idea of what your prospects need to know, you can see what’s available. Look for a mix of light content, product specific content and then content specifically designed to qualify prospects and move them down the funnel. If you don’t have enough, make a list of specific assets you need to develop and get started.
- Look at multi-channel possibilities. Besides outbound email, what else can you do to reach your prospects? Postal mail? Responsive web pages? Outbound calls? Mobile? Mix up nurture so that you can reach your prospects in a number of ways.
- Look for accelerators – what offers or actions can you add in your nurture streams to get a prospect to raise their hand as a buyer? A demo? A special discount? A good rule of thumb is for every 4 content based emails, you should offer something promotional to let buyers show they are ready to engage.
- Think about nurture at all stages of a lead pipeline. Once someone has become a qualified lead, does the story arc and content change? How about once they move to an opportunity?
- Keep a closed loop. If someone buys, move them into a retention, upsell or cross sell track. If they get to an opportunity stage and don’t buy, vary the next path based on the reason the account didn’t close. If they went with a competitor, consider waiting a few months and then hit them with content that targets your competitor’s weaknesses. If the opportunity didn’t close because of lack of budget, trigger a nurture campaign to kick off when they have money available.
- Once you have your program outlined, determine technical requirements – does your current marketing automation software support what you want to do? Or is it time to look into another solution? Do you need an expert to set it up? Nurture can be tricky. But my advice is to develop the right nurture program first and not to let your technology drive what you execute.
- Sync with sales. Nurturing is specifically intended to support sales. Share your ideas with your sales team and get their feedback. And make sure everyone is on the same page. Good salespeople are keeping in touch with their prospects. Make sure you understand what they’re sending so your prospects don’t get duplicate offers or mixed messages.
- Before you kick off nurturing, make sure you’ve determined what to track and how to track it. Nurturing reports can be tricky – in an ideal world, you track the success of any individual touch and also aggregate the contribution of the nurture program to opportunities or sales. Don’t forget to watch your unsubscribe metric. If you find certain content is spiking unsubscribes, delete or rework it, so you don’t burn good leads.
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