This is a guest post from our friends at Kapost - The Content Marketing Software Platform
Your company blog is stellar, social media channels are active, website visits are up, and good leads are entering your marketing automation system. So what happened? Everything seems just grand–well, at least at the top of the funnel. But once you start “nurturing” those leads with email blasts and product announcements, your conversion rates start to slip. The most promising prospects unsubscribe. All those leads you worked so hard to attract turn into missed opportunities.
Well, let’s start with the definition of nurture:
1. to feed and protect
2. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster
3. to bring up; train; educate.
When buyers at the middle of the funnel aren’t quite ready to buy, it’s the modern marketer’s job to nurture them. How? Feed them a regular dose of content they care about, help them overcome their challenges, encourage them to engage further with relevant content, foster a relationship of trust and thought leadership, and educate them on how to be more efficient and successful.
Each person is different, with different needs and concerns. Modern marketers must read the signs, tailor campaigns to specific interests and goals, and most importantly, treat each lead like a human being.
With that in mind, here are five key steps you should consider before creating any nurture campaign:
1. Know Your Buyer
Before you can persuade, you need to know who you’re talking to. That means creating detailed persona profiles for each type of customer.
You have to know who your buyers are and what they’re looking for before you can get them interested in your organization.
And you need to go beyond job titles and company size. What are they struggling with? What do they care about? What keeps them up at night? The answers to these questions will become your guide for creating engaging, interesting content that keeps leads coming back for more. As Dave Lewis, president and CEO of DemandGen, said in a recent interview, “the content that really resonates best … is personable, conversational, educational, and entertaining.”
2. Set Clear Goals
Nurturing isn’t just about entertaining your leads, though. If it were, you could just send them pictures of kittens.
In addition to engagement, you also need to move your leads further down the sales funnel. That means you need a step-by-step plan to get them from A to B.
Each nurture campaign should have a specific goal. Think about how you want your relationship to develop during the course of the nurture. For instance, if your lead doesn’t know much about your organization, your goal might be to build trust and brand awareness. For people more familiar with your brand, you might want to educate them on how your product can solve their problems.
3. Create Targeted Content
Now that you understand your buyers and goals, you’re ready to start creating content. Engaging, targeted content is the heart of any nurture campaign. High quality content is so important for nurturing leads that there’s an entire content marketing eBook devoted to it.
Every time you send a communication through your marketing automation software, you need to provide the recipient with something relevant, timely, and valuable. If you’re not giving them content they care about, you can bet they’ll be hitting the “unsubscribe” button faster than you can say “spam.”
Nurture content should have a logical flow. You want people to feel they’re part of a conversation, not being blasted with a series of disjointed emails.
You’re not just chatting, though. Keep buyers moving down the funnel by including a clear and subtle call to action in each piece of content, such as clicking a link or watching a video. That way they always know how to take the next step when they’re ready.
4. Make Multiple Tracks
People enter your nurture tracks from a lot of places and are looking for different types of information. In order to get the right message to the right leads, you need multiple nurture tracks.
Someone who has only visited a how-to article on your site, for example, might not even know who your organization is and what it does. A nurture track for those people might focus on introducing your brand and establishing yourself as an expert in your area.
If you’re not sure how many tracks you need, creating one for each of your buyer personas is a good start. For other ideas, Meagan Eisengberg, VP of Demand Generation at DocuSign, recently suggested creating nurture tracks based on where the buyer is in their journey. That allows you to create a hierarchy of nurture programs that protects the buyer from too much communication or communications they’re not ready for.
5. Plug the Leak
You’ve carefully led your prospects step by step down the funnel, they’re showing the right signs and it’s finally time to turn them over to sales. Mission accomplished?
Before you kick back with a celebratory glass of champagne, answer this question: what happens if the lead still isn’t ready to buy?
Buyers that get all the way to sales are top quality. They already know your brand and have a need for your product. But if you don’t have a plan to stay in touch when they aren’t ready to buy, you’re letting some of your best leads leak out of the system.
Plug the leak by creating a nurture track just for this special group. That way, your organization has a chance to stay in touch until they’re ready to buy.
To get more great tips on lead nurturing for content marketers, we sat down with experts like Todd Wheatland, VP and Head of Marketing at Kelly OCG and Dustin Grosse, Senior VP and CMO at DocuSign and asked their advice on how to use content marketing to nurture leads. Watch the video below to hear their advice on guiding your leads to the sale:
Just like with any content marketing effort, the key to lead nurturing is thinking strategically and remembering to focus on your buyers’ needs. It takes a lot of up front work to create a successful nurture campaign, but once it’s plugged into your marketing automation software, you’ll get to sit back and watch as your leads make their way down the sales funnel.
Christine is a writer, content marketer, and recovering attorney. Before joining the Marketing Team at Kapost, she worked at a law firm on employment issues. Born and raised in Florida, Christine’s still getting used to the sight of mountains outside her window. She lives in North Boulder with her boyfriend and two giant cats. In her spare time, she can be found hiking, biking, and teaching herself to program.