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8 Steps to Optimizing Your Lead-Nurturing Program: Part 2
Takeaway notes from AMA webinar. By Aliza Bornstein, copywriter, Melissa Data

Lead nurturing is about fostering an ongoing dialog with your prospects and customers. But in a landscape filled with noise from email, social media, and a variety of outlets, how can you make the most of your efforts?

How can you cultivate better relationships with your prospects and leads?
There’s an ocean of prospects that require nurturing over time, along the path to sales ready status. Moreover, unique B-to-B sales leads are complex constructs, involving multiple decision makers.

Lead nurturing requires a human touch component. Sales people need to be aided by tools that make it easy for them to continue conversation and make appropriate offers based on behavior and engagement.

Lead nurturing automation tools must support lower volume, ad hoc delivery (drive conversations), and track multiple touch points (phone, email, online, in person).

Ultimately, you’re going to be looking for leads to nurture that would normally go to your sales team, but your sales team is focused on who they can convert in the next quarter or two. What you’re trying to do is cultivate them in a different way, at a different level.

There are five categories to go through with lead nurturing:

1. Search
2. Landing page
3. Form submit
4. Lead qualification
5. Sales

For those who are sending prospects immediately to sales after they submit their form, you’re missing out on potentially 60-70 percent of your revenue. This is because most of the time, leads are not free to talk to sales people. So you need to have nurturing in your sales process, until they’re ready to move through the sales organization.

In order for you to nurture, you have to have people to nurture, and to do that you need to qualify all of your leads and inquiries.

This article will provide you with the strategies you need to make your program more effective. Here are the last four steps.

Step 5: Message Development

Message Map Based on Role (Relevant)
These are some of the hot-button issues that sales are dealing with: longer sales cycles; fewer sales opportunities; a need to increase revenue; a need to increase sales effectiveness; etc. The messaging that worked a year or two ago may not be working today.

Ask these questions when going through this message mapping process, and through your existing customer base: Why do you keep working with us? What difference/impact have we made for your business?

The feedback you receive can be used to help future customers overcome their own challenges.

Step 6: Build Your Lead-Nurturing Library

Most of the content companies have is for the later stages of the company’s buying process. These include: success stories; product sales sheets; case studies; etc. This is helpful when a prospect knows what they want and they’re actively looking, but the goal with nurturing is you’re trying to progress with people who know they have a problem (although they may not be sure of what exactly the problem is) and they’re looking for a variety of ways to address that problem.

What you need to do next is gather and filter relevant content based on your message map that helps you progress someone from that early stage to the middle stage. Third party articles, relevant topics, and research reports can help people articulate what’s happening in their business.

Podcasts, webinars, blogs, and case studies position your sales team as a trusted advisor in the industry. Your goal with your content is to help progress people to a better understanding of what you can do for them, and it gives your sales team a business reason for a follow up call.

Reuse available content before creating new content. These can include: white papers; newsletters; how-to guides; videos; wikis; special events; or any of the content listed above.

Step 7: Develop Lead-Nurturing Tracks

When it comes to how you develop your process, you need to sift into the specific process aspects of lead nurturing. The big mistake marketers make is focusing on email only. There are many different channels you have to communicate with people and the goal is to look at these different channels and make decisions about which ones make the most sense for who you’re trying to nurture.

The multi-media lead nurturing resources available to you are:

Email
One-to-one; One-to-many; Blog/e-newsletter; Invitations

Phone calls
Identify sales ready leads; Identify and verify contacts; Gain internal referrals; Opt-in for content notification; Re-engage past opportunities

Events
Trade shows; Executive briefings; Webinars; Recorded events

Content
Expertise articles; Email templates; Blog posts; Niche content developments; White papers; Podcasts; Ebooks; Video; Microsites

Direct Mail
Personal letters; Direct mail with PURL’s; Dimensional mail

Social Media
Blog; RSS; LinkedIn; Twitter

Step 8: Executing Lead Nurturing

Tracking and Managing Your Leads
Try not to be overwhelmed by the lead-nurturing process. There is preparation that’s involved, because the heart of it is building relationships, adding value, and making an impact. But when it comes to the actual execution side, if you don’t have a process or tool in place, you’re not fully prepared. Having a central CRM, or another central place where all the contact information goes, is vitally important because as your nurturing process evolves, that can become the hub.

Tracking Lead Engagement Score

• Email interactions (clicks and replies, not opens)
• Web site visits (product or service pages)
• Collateral downloads (registration or clicks)
• Event attendance (webinar tradeshow)
• Request info (contact us form, email request)

The key idea here is you’re trying to track the different marketing touch points. These are the major categories of touch points that are tracked with lead nurturing that you need to pay attention to. Your goal is to look at the whole picture, not just one aspect of it.

Lead engagement doesn’t equal sales readiness! Use lead engagement to prioritize human touch follow up.

Marketing “To Do” List

1. Develop universal lead definition with sales team
2. Develop internal lead qualification process
3. Pass only qualified leads to sales team
4. Revisit your value proposition for your core audience
5. Catalog value added content for your nurturing library
6. Get input from sales on target companies and names
7. Get sales team input to co-develop nurturing campaigns
8. Connect sales and marketing in the same database
9. Leverage teleprospecting to add the “human touch”
10. Conduct close-the-loop meetings

Sales “To Do” List

1. Develop universal lead definition with marketing team
2. Provide marketing target companies and names
3. Pass back leads that are not active in your active pipeline
4. Regularly update lead records in your database
5. Define how you will close the loop with the marketing team
6. Provide feedback to marketing regularly on your leads
7. Develop a lead nurturing plan (with marketing)
8. Regular close-the-loop meetings

For those who aren’t doing nurturing today, hopefully you feel better prepared now. For those who are currently performing nurturing, hopefully this inspired you to up your game.

Did you miss the first four steps in optimizing your lead nurturing program?
Click here!

---Source: BtoB Magazine webinar on Nov. 10, 2009 (www.the-dma.org). Brian Carroll is the CEO of In Touch and the author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. Reach him at Bcarroll@startwithalead.com.

 

Melissa Data


 
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