Tuesday, January 5, 2016

How to Generate Sales Qualified Leads With Lead Nurturing & Content Marketing

Digital marketers will agree that their biggest challenge (other than proving ROI, of course!) is to make sure that the leads generated by their inbound marketing efforts don’t slip through the cracks. But it happens in several cases.

There can be two main reasons for this to happen:

  1. Lead nurturing process is not streamlined, and/or it is not a part of the digital campaign management team
  2. Lead nurturing process is not mapped correctly with the organization’s content marketing strategy.
In this article I am going to focus on the strategy to develop your lead nurturing process that is well-mapped with your content marketing strategy; and my focus of discussion is keeping B2B organizations in mind. (I am assuming here that your organization has a proper content marketing strategy in place).

To start with, let us revisit the Inbound Marketing Funnel and see what digital marketing should achieve at each section of the funnel. Accordingly, we need to take actions for implementing our lead nurturing strategy.

Top of the funnel (ToFu) – Build, build, build, and build more! Build as much traffic as possible so that the odds are higher that the conversions of qualified leads will be higher. You need to do this through Social Media Marketing campaigns, AdWords campaigns, and your regular SEO best practices.

Middle of the funnel (MoFu) – Build a database based on how you have captured the leads. The database should be segmented based on the content type where the prospects have provided their contact details through your inbound efforts.

Your lead nurturing starts from this step onwards.

Use the segments that you’ve created for lead nurturing through Email Marketing OR Account Based Marketing through LinkedIn Sponsored Updates or through LinkedIn Sponsored Mails.

Bottom of the funnel (BoFu) – At this section, further segment the above database based on the actions taken by the prospects. Use Email Marketing for lead nurturing at this stage. Repeat segmenting the database of the prospects based on the actions that they take after every lead nurturing effort. Do this till your prospect is ready to meet the sales person for a demo. Your marketing qualified leads are now sales qualified leads.

Now that we have segmented database of marketing qualified leads, which content should be used at which stage? Here’s a figure which will help you understand just that.

Click on the image for larger view

It is evident that content marketing plays a big role in driving successful lead nurturing campaigns. There will always be an overlap of content type that you can use in your inbound marketing efforts, and as a fall-out, an overlap of content type that you can (rather should) use for your lead nurturing campaigns. As you proceed with your campaign and re-segmenting the database that you collect at various levels, you will realise that the content assets that you already have, can be (and should be) re-purposed.

With content marketing mapped with your inbound marketing funnel, you can have the following types of lead nurturing campaigns:
  1. Qualified leads whose details were captured through SEO
  2. Qualified leads captured through AdWords campaigns, and
  3. Qualified leads captured through Social Media Campaigns
For every email series (or for every lead nurturing campaign) you should divide your content based on the purpose that it serves. Your goal should be to build a matrix of targeted relevancy of content. Here are various types of content that you should utilize based on the purpose that they serve:
  1. Educational/Informational messages – send Whitepapers, blogs, videos, podcasts, invitation to Webinars, Infographics, and eBooks
  2. Testimonials – send customer testimonial videos, industry reports showing your leadership, case studies, Infographics, Newsletters
  3. Free product demo/trials, consultation request
With this you will have a sound lead nurturing process in place that will help reduce the sales cycle in your organization. A Demand Gen Report Survey shows that 61% of respondents found that with lead nurturing process they generate more warm and sales-ready leads. The study also highlights that nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.

To maximize your inbound marketing efforts, look for an aligned lead nurturing process in your organization.