The biggest challenge of marketers today is not necessarily about lead generation. In the past decades, it has become easier for organizations to attract new potential customers online. The internet has drastically changed the purchasing behavior, allowing people to find information, compare and analyze various offerings by themselves. Many companies have understood that investing in analytic and SEO optimization tools can help increase lead generation exponentially.
However, even when you have found the secret to more lead generation, it does not always immediately result in more customers. Why? Because as you increase the lead inflow, you will typically see that the average quality of your leads decreases, because you are addressing people earlier and earlier in their purchasing journey.
Excel at lead nurturing with marketing automation systems
What to do with these leads then? If you send them to sales you will not make friends there, because in most cases these leads are “cold” and not yet ready to buy. And if you do not do anything about them, you will fail to collect the benefits of your lead generation efforts – you will lose them before they are ready to buy. It is a little bit like filling up a leaking bag. If water gets out as fast as it gets in, there is no need to increase the speed in which it gets in, the bag will not get full faster.
So, there is no way around it, you need to focus your efforts on nurturing these leads, keeping them interested, helping them develop through the purchasing journey. If you fail to do it, you will have to start from scratch again and re-introduce yourself to them the day they are getting closer to a purchasing decision. This is why lead nurturing has become such a hot topic and should be top of the agenda of any marketer. And frankly, this is where you will see your extra marketing efforts materialize. In fact, according to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.
Now, I know, excelling at lead nurturing is more easily said than done. And with the increasing lead inflow companies are getting nowadays, trying to handle this manually is simply doomed to fail. To succeed with it, you need automated lead nurturing. The good news is that more and more marketing automation systems offer intuitive and easy to use lead nurturing functionality. The bad news is that many of them can be expensive for small to mid-sized companies. If you are using Salesforce, you can get great lead nurturing capabilities through Pardot. It’s a system that makes setting up nurturing workflows simple and easy, that allows you to personalize your communications and all in all, should help you avoid that cold leads fall through the cracks. If you are using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you will find the functionality you need in either ClickDimensions or Microsoft Dynamics Marketing. If you looking at new website platform at the same time, you should have a look at Hubspot. It is pricey, but pure pleasure to work with.
Content, content and more content
Just because you have found the perfect lead nurturing / marketing automation system does not mean that you can lean back and enjoy the ride. The system is nothing without content. In order to feed relevant nurturing routes for different types of prospects, all with diverse interests when it comes to your offerings, you need to have a lot of content. That is why content production is definitely the next biggest challenge of marketers. Ideally, you need to have enough content to:
- Feed each step of your customer’s purchasing journey – and for each of your offerings, so you can accompany them every step of the way.
- Be able to rotate content / have sufficient dynamic contents on your website, or social media platforms.
- Have additional things “up your sleeve” - in that I mean additional content, not necessarily for download anywhere on your site that you can send to your leads, making sure that you always have a good reason to contact them.
How do you get started with content production planning?
Personally, I like to take the customer’s purchasing journey as a starting point to content creation, and for each step of that journey, I write down all the questions that a lead/prospect/customer will ask him/herself, from the most basic questions to the most complicated one. At this stage, it is important to consult your product organization to understand what is unique about your offerings. A good the collaboration between marketing and sales is just as vital at this point, as your sales teams always have the most up-to-date view on what goes on in your market. Then, I start grouping these questions into groups that will become whitepapers, product sheets or e-books, I note the most relevant questions because they will make great blog articles, I create personalized emails to address the most sensitive topics, or I plan to make videos to explain complex parts… I refine my list until I have a content plan that covers more or less equally every step of the purchasing journey, utilizing all the content types I can produce. That is one way of doing it. I am sure some of you might have other ways to go about it. In any case, creating content usually requires a lot of efforts, so you need to be clever about it and remember that contents can (and should) be used several times, with different twists or in different formats.
Do you already have a marketing automation and a CRM in place? See how you can integrate them with your ERP for full optimization of your processes: