There’s a radio ad running in the Northern California/San Francisco Bay area for a digital marketing agency. The announcer lists off dozens of marketing activities with ever-increasing speed and a tone that suggests a frustrated, bewildered marketer. How on earth can small business owners and operators make sense of the dizzying array of marketing tools? How do they put all these things in place to stay competitive? What does SEO even mean? When did all this stuff come about, anyway… and how in the world do I put it all together?
I chuckle every time I hear that spot. I know from talking with customers (and being a former Act-On customer myself) that this is a very real, two-fold problem: not enough time to do it all, and no easy way to integrate all the efforts in a way that doesn’t look and feel like a patchwork of marketing noise.
Listening to the advertisement, I smile. One of the bullets in the announcer’s long list of marketing doo-dads is lead nurturing. This particular exercise is an answer – not the question!
Agencies can be really helpful in getting you started or expanding your capabilities in digital marketing, no question about that. The right one will work with you as an extension of your team and help you scale. But if you’re starting out or going it alone, digital marketing really doesn’t need to be such a welter of confusing possibilities. Let’s look at one of the single most effective things you can do: lead nurturing.
True to its name, marketing automation lets you automate key processes, saving you time and effort. “Drip marketing” is one example. Here you set up an email program that sends a series of emails over a period of time. (Pretty labor-intensive to do by hand, pretty easy and repeatable with marketing automation.)
“Lead nurturing” is an example of a drip marketing program with a specific purpose: To send a series of emails to targeted prospects that help them grow comfortable with your company and learn what they need to know to make a purchase, through a series of progressive steps. It works; studies show nurtured leads close more often, with higher deal sizes.
For the sake of brevity, we’ll skip the technology pieces involved in lead nurturing programs in favor of some of the best practices you can use to integrate the many facets of your marketing efforts. (In essence, if you know how to create an email and send it to a list, you can do nurture marketing.)
To start, here are a few times and reasons where using automated programs make a lot of sense:
Simple ideas for integrating a variety of marketing tactics in an automated lead nurturing program:
- Pick winning horses. Do your research and make sure the content pieces you plan to integrate into your automated lead nurture campaign provide value and have high viewership/conversion rates.
- Use self-nurturing tactics whenever plausible. This will help you increase overall engagement with your prospects, and it offers a great behavioral data foundation to build upon.
- Link to blog posts that pertain to the core content or theme you’re offering your prospect. If you’re discussing how your target buyers are having success with a particular part of your product, link to posts that offer more detail on that product.
- Use customer testimonials and case studies as secondary content to show credibility. As we like to say, “Don’t take our word for it…”
- Take advantage of 3rd party reviews and press about your company. Use custom links to capture the behavioral data so you can keep counting clicks and score the page visit properly.
- Include social sharing buttons – not just the links to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or Pinterest profile pages.
- Offer “fast pass” links throughout programs. This is your demo signup, Contact Us form, or other inbound track. When your prospect is ready – make sure you have an open door close enough for them to walk through.
- Divide and conquer. Use proper audience segmentation – whether that’s demographic or firmographic – and serve up dynamic content as a way to boost performance and conversions.
- Know when to stop. Have clear rules to identify when nurturing should cease. In many cases you may want to build in a “toggle switch” – a control feature that allows prospect owners (sales) or customer success managers a way to exclude certain people from a nurture program.
Wrangling the Digital Marketing Landscape
Integrating your various digital efforts into a cohesive marketing program is only as hard as you care to make it. It certainly shouldn’t lead to hyperventilation, as the radio ad suggests. Putting the right technology in place to wrangle the digital marketing landscape certainly helps… and automated programs will save you time and deliver fantastic results. Give them a shot.
Want to learn more about lead nurturing? Visit the Act-On Center of Excellence for a wealth of resources to get you started.