Countless organizations purchase marketing automation (MA) technology because it is known by many who use it as the “Holy Grail” of lead generation, nurturing and conversion. All too often marketers jump in to the world of MA without the slightest idea of what it takes to produce highly intelligent email campaigns. A clueless marketer at the helm of a powerful MA system does not make a successful campaign.
More importantly, marketers can’t expect their MA technology to work in silo. John Muehling of Digital PI argues that a “key oversight for…marketers who deploy [MA] is the lack of preparedness for the amount of content they will need…Once you’ve set up your marketing automation platform, you will need to ‘feed the beast.’” With inbound marketing on the rise, it is more important than ever for marketers to deliver engaging content that speaks to different people with different concerns at different stages of the sales funnel — sound complicated? Lead nurturing really doesn’t have to be. Follow these 5 tips for a lead nurture strategy guaranteed to resonate and convert.
1. Define Your Buyers
Before you start rolling your eyes, consider that over 90% of B2B companies do not have clearly defined buyer personas. How can you deliver relevant, personalized content without a clear understanding of your target audience? In the past, businesses would exhaust their marketing budgets on databases which could aggregate web, transactional, and email behavior into one system in order to create customer segments. Today’s MA platforms integrate seamlessly with your ESP eliminating the need for a costly marketing database. They can work in real-time to gather and manage online visitor data, providing marketers with the intelligence they need to funnel e-mail content based on behavioral triggers.
2. Break Down Your Buyers
According to Pardot’s State of Demand Generation 2013, “77% of buyers want different content at each stage of the product research process.” This means in addition to having clearly defined buyer personas, you also need to determine what types of content they will benefit from at different stages of the sales cycle. Start by breaking the sales cycle into three tiers and then brainstorming a list of concerns and demands relevant to a buyer at each stage:
Top-tier buyers are at the early stages of the research process. They may not even know they have a problem that your product or service can solve. Content at this stage should educate, but not go into specifics. Try infographics, blog articles, tip sheets and checklists. Feeling extra ambitious? Try your hand at an informational video, which, according to research, increases understanding of a product or service by 74%.
According to The Content Creation Guide by Pardot, mid-tier buyers are seeking product-specific knowledge that goes beyond the basics. This stage is crucial! You really need to drive home the benefits of your products and services, and why buyers should choose your company over anyone else. Try case studies, webinars, ROI calculators, industry reports, and data sheets — anything that emphasizes how your company can deliver the expected return on investment.
Bottom-tier buyers are close to conversion but are looking for that extra push to seal the deal. Pardot reports that decision-makers don’t often enter the sales cycle until this stage, so it’s important to deliver content that speaks to those higher-up. Keep it short and punchy with one-pagers, set-up and support information, and buyer’s guides, to name a few.
3. Create a Content Library
Once you’ve mapped out what content goes to whom, you need to start creating a library of content to “feed the beast.” Remember that any given topic has a number of angles, saving you time when it comes to developing new ideas. Create a surplus of ingestible information by upcycling the same content in different ways. A simple blog article can be repurposed into an infographic, a YouTube video, a white paper, a SlideShare, or even an eBook. When curating your content library, try to focus on content that educates, solves a problem, inspires, or offers a new perspective. Keep in mind that you can’t add value to your buyers if you don’t know what they want — be transparent with them and ask!
4. Create a Content Calendar
Once you have a wealth of content on your hands, you need to create a content calendar before you can move on to distribution. This process will lend order to the content creation process and allow you to develop daily, weekly, or monthly themes pertaining to content. Assess your content library and determine when and where each piece is going to be published. Most MA systems allow you to schedule postings so that you don’t have to worry about doing any manual labor.
Congratulations, you’ve just created a lead nurture strategy! Your buyers are defined and your content is compelling. It’s now time to put your MA platform to work.
About the Author
Paul Gordon is the co-founder and managing director of Bubblebox. Since its inception in 2008, Bubblebox has been delivering intelligent email marketing technology and consultancy to leading brads across Canada and the US. Paul’s team delivers an agnostic approach to the deployment of technology to help their clients continuously improve. Current toolsets supported and deployed have seen revenues of ecommerce sites quadruple within 18 months.
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