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
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,
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
2. Landing page
3. Form submit
4. Lead qualification
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
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
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:
One-to-one; One-to-many; Blog/e-newsletter;
Identify sales ready leads; Identify and verify
contacts; Gain internal referrals; Opt-in for
content notification; Re-engage past opportunities
Trade shows; Executive briefings; Webinars; Recorded
Expertise articles; Email templates; Blog posts;
Niche content developments; White papers; Podcasts;
Ebooks; Video; Microsites
Personal letters; Direct mail with PURL’s;
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
5. Catalog value added content for your nurturing
6. Get input from sales on target companies and
7. Get sales team input to co-develop nurturing
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
2. Provide marketing target companies and names
3. Pass back leads that are not active in your
4. Regularly update lead records in your database
5. Define how you will close the loop with the
6. Provide feedback to marketing regularly on your
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?
---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