In our discussions on the basics of content marketing, we talked about how this inbound tactic can be used to generate leads and why B2B companies, in particular, should jump on the content marketing bandwagon.
But something that stumps budding marketers is how content marketing can also be used to nurture newly acquired contacts. The marketing community calls this process lead nurturing. Think of it as the formation of a prolonged relationship with prospective buyers that guides them through the Buyer’s Journey to a point of purchase. This is accomplished by stringing together touchpoints such as helpful downloads that offer information needed during each stage – awareness, consideration and decision – in order to move potential customers closer to a desired end goal, whether it be a consultation, first purchase or a successful upsell.
Because the ideal content marketing campaign is structured around these three stages of the Buyer’s Journey, if you produce quarterly campaigns then you’re already prepared to bring your content marketing to the next level. Read on to learn a few popular ways that smart marketers blend lead nurturing efforts with content marketing.
Marketing automation is a great example of how the integration of inbound and outbound tactics can attract qualified leads and bring in big ROI. Email marketing is a form of marketing automation that can easily align with content marketing campaigns. A lead nurturing email campaign can consist of regular outreach emails or a full-blown email workflow that links timed outreach emails, follow-up emails and reengagement emails to connect all three content marketing stages.
In order to be truly effective, an automated lead nurturing email campaign will feature some type of personalization and be consistently tweaked to improve open and click-through rates, as well as other important email marketing KPIs.
On a basic level, personalization can mean autofill greetings, but look past the “Dear [NAME]” and spend time changing up email subject lines and body text using smart segmentation and messaging. Don’t forget to change the email sender address to a team member’s name (avoid sending from a “email@example.com”) and think about including a salesperson or company leader’s signature at the end of emails when appropriate.
Marketing automation for lead nurturing can take other forms besides email marketing. Explore LinkedIn InMail and other social channels and set some of your marketing budget aside for paid advertisements that focus on lead nurturing as opposed to lead generation.
Lead Scoring and Segmentation
Segmentation and automation go hand-in-hand; the best email campaigns contain segmented email lists and materials, created according to leads’ buyer personas and specific standing in the Buyer’s Journey. Segmented lead nurturing campaigns also open up the opportunity to experiment and optimize using A/B testing to learn what successfully moves leads through the marketing and sales funnels.
Lead scoring also helps inform segmentation setup by breaking down the value of a lead relative to your overall marketing strategy. The most informative and useful lead scoring happens when sales and marketing teams are aligned and take the time to clearly define company SQLs and MQLs.
Begin by identifying the “relationship status” of each lead and adding in multiple factors like priority leads to influence their total lead score. Ask questions like:
- What pieces have they read, downloaded or interacted with?
- On what channels do they find our company and how often do they engage?
- How valuable would their business be to our quarterly goals?
- Do we need a client from an unexplored industry to expand our service capabilities and experience?
Then consider the lead nurturing tactics you can use to nudge leads up a stage.
- Send cold leads: An invitation to subscribe to your blog or to view a low-risk awareness stage content offer
- Send warm leads: A separate outreach email offering consideration stage content
- Send hot leads: A personalized email containing a case study or handpicked product or service that explains how to solve the lead’s direct needs
Quick Tip: Automated hot lead outreach is the perfect time to implement personalization in the form of salesperson or leadership signatures. Leads will take notice and be more likely to respond.
Do you currently employ lead nurturing efforts or are you solely focused on lead generation? A well-devised, integrated marketing strategy takes both into account. To learn how lead nurturing can help solve your biggest marketing challenges, schedule a free Marketing Plan Consultation.
In this consultation, we’ll review your current marketing efforts, challenges and goals to provide our expert recommendations. Your takeaway will be a free Marketing Plan Summary delivered within one week of your session.
Are you interested in B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.