How to Set up a Lead Nurture Program

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You have implemented marketing automation and you are generating some inbound leads. Great!  You have uploaded a database of contacts and these represent even more potential ‘leads’ (in the system). Now you need to manage all these leads. How do you convert them into subscribers and real sales leads?


Of course, only a handful of leads are likely to become MQLs – Marketing Qualified Leads ready for sales engagement. Also, sales will likely want to send some MQLs back to marketing for more nurture. You need an approach to manage all the leads and contacts in your marketing database and start to nurture them into sales ready MQLs.

How do you set up a lead nurture program to generate more MQLs?

The answer is simple segmentation. Tackle this in three simple steps:


1. Define your buyer personas. Start with a few (3-4 perhaps) and build from there if needed. Personas could represent your typical economic buyer, technical buyer, business decision maker and influencer.  Focus on personas that would likely value different types of content and messaging from you at a different cadence. Some marketing automation solutions will automatically generate lists based on the persona and corresponding drop down self-selection fields that new prospects can complete to self select one of these persona segments.


2. Define your custom fields. This is an important step to ensure the database has the parameters you need based on your specific business. Of course, the more data fields you track, the greater the segmentation options, but the harder it is to maintain and complete profiles for each contact.  Data fields (custom and standard) may include things like business function, industry segment, personal contact status, interest areas, client status, partner, analyst, consultant, etc. You can also use existing analytics, like behaviors (interests) and lifecycle stage to help further create target segments and lists. All these existing and custom fields will allow you to build highly targeted lists for nurture campaigns and sales focus.


3. Build a matrix of segments to nurture campaigns. Now you can create a set of segments using the personas and appropriate custom fields. These segments can each receive different engagement campaigns. Campaigns can be set up along the customer journey;  for example awareness stage, consideration stage and decision stage campaigns. Another campaign archetype could be general company news and updates. Build your matrix to define which segments gets which campaigns and agree this with the sales team.


Now that you have the database set with personas and custom fields, you can run queries and build targeted lists for specific sales / marketing campaigns and follow-up. Of course, the process between marketing and sales must be highly collaborative. You can answer a range of queries that may trigger a targeted campaign or sales prospecting follow-up, e.g.:

  • Who has visited the site and registered in the last 2 weeks ?
  • What people that we know, have we not reached out to in the last 8 weeks ?
  • Who made an initial visit to our site and returned n times to download what?
  • Who do we know at XXX Company?
  • How many [sector] contacts visited/registered/ and downloaded the Infographic or eBook?
  • Who has responded to our initial message?
  • How many contacts do we have in Segment A?
  • Who visited our site and registered – but we have not followed up with?

Contact us know if you want to discuss nurture strategies in greater detail.


Your Blog: Quality over Quantity

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There are likely different schools of thought on this and there are SEO metrics that can prove or disprove the visibility impact of more posts vs. fewer posts, but in my opinion less can be more and quality beats quantity. As the cobbler’s children, we are still enhancing our blog post capacity and shortly, our core team will be more consistently writing posts. But our objective is not to game the SEO system with inbound leads. Our goal is to share articles and perspectives that we think might add some value to our readers and continue the conversations we have every day.

With the increasing spamming of the social web, we are in danger of losing site of the true value of content. I get very concerned when clients consider mass article writing strategies – particularly those clients that market and sell a complex product or service to a sophisticated buyer. These readers know when they are being trapped with content proliferation. Now the buzz is content curation – we need to be careful here too. We don’t need someone to simply compile articles, but we do value an editorial perspective and a careful selection of relevant posts. If I trust you, I will trust the links and content you collect and share.

So, rather than stuff your website with trash blog posts and articles every day, if you are trying to reach a more discerning audience, think quality over quantity.