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How to Fix B2B Lead Nurturing: Best Practices from #MME15

It’s no secret that demand generation marketers juggle a ton of projects at once. Unfortunately, the first thing that gets ignored once things start getting super busy is the “automation” aspect of marketing automation. But let’s face it; lead nurturing is not something to treat like a Ronco Rotisserie Oven:  you should never just set it and forget it! It needs to be continually optimized just like everything else in your marketing mix.

Revamping an entire nurture program isn’t as easy as A/B testing landing pages or swapping in new banner ads. It takes quite a bit of time and knowhow to successfully turn it into a revenue generating machine. And who better to show you the ropes than a Markie award-winning #MKTGgenius like Nicole Candito?

Nicole is the Lead Generation Manager at Eaton, a power management company. Her presentation, Mind your Qs: Balancing Lead Quality AND Quantity at this year’s Oracle Modern Marketing Experience (#MME15) provided B2B marketers an excellent blueprint for how to fix an underperforming nurture program.

Mind Your Q’s: Balancing lead quality over quantity from Nicole Whiteside Candito

Here were the main takeaways on best practices for B2B lead nurturing from her session:

Identify your demand type, persona and the business challenges you solve.

Give your lead nurturing program a solid foundation by understanding your place in the market, the persona you’re trying to target and the business challenges your solutions address. Your demand type will fall under one of three categories outlined in the SiriusDecisions Demand Spectrum: new concept, new paradigm or established category.  For a deeper dive on how to identify where your solutions fit check out this handy post on the Inflexion Point blog. From there you can decide what types of content are needed for the nurture streams

As for persona? This is unique to every business, but at a high level you’re either trying to appeal to an influencer or a decision maker. According to Nicole, Eaton decided to focus mainly on influencers with their nurture program since they felt that they were more critical in the research process and needed the most educating.

Identifying the business challenges you solve gives focus to your nurture program. If you have multiple solutions that address different business challenges, chances are you’re going to want to create entirely separate nurture programs for each one. This way you’ll be able to better better gauge a lead’s interest level on a specific issue instead of throwing everything you do on them in a single program. Your sales team will thank you later for this when they can quickly determine what they can sell your leads if you have multiple offerings.

Audit and categorize your content – all of it!

It’s critical to take a step back every now and then and make sure every content piece being used in your nurture program is up-to-date with your current messaging and positioning. Not only that – but you could actually have lots of valuable content that could work for your nurture program that’s not being utilized. A content audit once a quarter is a good idea to make sure things are up to date in your nurture program.

According to Nicole, Eaton took two days to do this process. Depending on how extensive your content efforts have been this could take more or less time. Many hands make light work and this should be a team initiative to catalogue every content piece and where it’s currently being used.

When taking an inventory of your content, each asset should be tagged into one of these three buckets:

1. Educational – social media, blogs, webcasts, videos, news articles

Nicole Candito recommended keeping your high-level educational content ungated in your nurture messages. This builds more trust with your audience and helps you weed out people who aren’t likely to buy.

2. Solution Focused – sales presentations, data sheets, product one sheeters

Some solutions content should be gated because you want to start capturing lead info at this stage. You can take advantage of progressive profiling to keep forms on these assets shorter to improve conversions.

3. Vendor Selection – case studies, buying guides, 3rd party research

These content pieces should all be gated as they very far along in the buying process, You want to give the necessary information to your sales team for qualification and routing.

Create nurture tracks for separate stages of the buying process.

Remember when you bucketed all your content as educational, solution focused or vendor selection? When you start bucketing your content like this, what you’re actually doing is establishing different levels of nurture tracks. When each track has a single focus you can better measure your nurture efforts and the interest level of your leads based on their engagement levels. You can also make it easier for leads to jump tracks based off newer activity that indicates they’re further along in the buyer’s journey. Now it’s time to start picking content pieces you’re going to showcase for each touch of these nurture tracks.

Select your scoring and qualification criteria with the help of your sales team.

Once those lead nurturing emails are all built out and you’ve decided who will get them, you can then focus on setting up new rules-based lead scoring rules or use predictive lead scores to decide when leads can move to the next nurture track or get handed off to sales. If your company has a particularly lengthy sales process, it’s important to refer back to your lead scores to measure the progress of your newly made-over lead nurturing campaigns.

Don’t get overwhelmed!

Revamping your lead nurturing process isn’t exactly the quickest project you can knockoff your never ending to-do list as a marketer. However, it can pay off big time once you start using it to deliver better quality leads to your sales team. For Eaton, its new and improved nurture program gave them a lot to brag about – a 35 percent open rate, 25 percent clickthrough rate, and actual revenue dollars that were directly attributed to nurture for the first time. And of course, let’s not forget the best part of lead nurturing – it’s all automated!


Written by

Sam Coren
April 7, 2015