In the age of content marketing, delivering the right content assets to the right audience at the right time is crucial. Lead nurturing is an essential part of your demand generation efforts. It is a continuous process, regardless of where a lead is within the sales cycle. There is no denying the value and power of lead nurturing but lead nurturing programmes need content to feed their contacts. And here come the FAQ's - what type of content, where, how often and how do we know when a lead is ready for a specific content asset etc? Hold your horses, folks - it's all about mapping. But first things first.
Content Marketing Essentials for Successful Lead Nurturing
Before you jump on the lead nurturing bandwagon, make sure your content marketing is in place. Here are some essentials you need to have in your toolbox before you even think about nurturing leads:
2. Buyer Personas: The success of your inbound marketing efforts greatly relies on well-defined buyer personas. Is your content marketing strategy built on who you're targeting? It should be.
3. Balancing Content Creation and Content Curation: You know what I do when I visit the social media profile of a brand and the only content I see is linked to their blog? I leave, good luck nurturing me. Content curation is like the cocktail bar rule - if you walk into a bar, start engaging with strangers and you only talk about yourself, at the end you will find yourself drinking alone. Same thing with content marketing - if you are only promoting your original content and don't curate relevant and interesting information from other sources, leads will eventually draw back. Nobody likes a narcissist!
Modern B2B Marketing: Mapping The Right Content, To The Right People, At The Right Time
There's art in designing customer-centric content - sharing the right information at the right time is crucial for a successful nurturing campaign. While we're at it, let's make one thing clear - nurturing leads is not the same as generating them. A lead nurturing campaign starts the moment a lead has given permission to communicate and the marketers' role is to keep the leads' attention until their scoring qualifies them as SQL (Sales Qualified Lead). Considering the fact that the majority of B2B buyers turn to online sources before making a buying decision, marketers should become accustomed to the processes of analyzing leads' online behaviour, interpreting gathered data from the marketing automation system and developing content designed to respond to the different stages of the buying cycle. And here is what a typical content mapping for lead nurturing should look like:
1) Identify a pathway to take a lead through the buying cycle (awareness, evaluation, purchase):
When identifying the buying cycle pathways for your leads, determine the directions a lead would take through the sales funnel. Implement multiple possible scenarios where a lead converts into a customer, and trace back which action they took from their initial conversion. For example, with Pardot's marketing automation software, you can access the progressive profiling capabilities of the Detailed Contact Profiles. This solution will equip you with vital information for each lead - location, preferred language, detailed user behaviour and online activity. Identify the leads' pathways and deploy the appropriate content.
2) Deploying appropriate content assets to advance leads along the buying cycle:
The next stage of a successful lead nurturing is mapping the appropriate content assets - what's the direction a lead might take to convert into a customer? And more importantly - what type of content asset should they receive to nurture them along the way? Aligning the appropriate content assets with the buying cycle stages is a crucial step in lead nurturing, therefore you need to map the philosophy of the content assets accordingly:
- Awareness: The content assets most appropriate for this stage of the buying cycle should educate your lead on their problem/need rather than your solution. Such assets include How-to/Tips blog posts, eBooks, Whitepapers and educational-related content assets.
- Evaluation: During the evaluation stage, you should inform your leads on how your product/service can solve their problems/needs. The content assets should bridge the gap between educational content assets and product/service related assets. Appropriate content for this stage would be Case Studies, Product Webinars, Demo Videos.
- Purchase: During the purchase stage, your lead/prospect should start acting based on the educational and product content assets they have consumed. Such actions may include asking for Consultation, Live Demo or Free Trial.
3) Aligning content assets with buyer personas: This one is for the content marketers - in the process of content creation, a must-have component is alignment with buyer persona. Who are you writing this for? To whom are you speaking? What does that person need to hear/learn from this unique content asset? Make sure you tweak your messaging accordingly so the targeted audience can relate and respond to it. Otherwise, your content marketing efforts will have been in vain.
The importance of marketing automation software for conducting successful lead nurturing cannot be overstated but neither can the psychological and creative techniques of modern content marketing. Don't underestimate the value of lead nurturing and content mapping - embrace the complexity of these approaches and enjoy your Return On Investment!