In addition to learning that lead generation is the top marketing priority for tech marketers, IDC's 2012 Tech Marketing Barometer Study asked them about their perceived effectiveness at lead nurturing. In reponse to the 22% who said they use regular nurturing touches geared to buying stages that include more than email and web-based multi-step campaigns, Kathleen Schaub, VP-research, CMO Advisory Service at IDC, said:
“I don't believe this, or people don't understand what nurturing means,” Schaub said. “I talk to a lot of our clients and people in the industry, and I know for sure that people are not nurturing well.”
Based on what I've seen, I agree with her. Kathleen also made the comment,
“A lot of people look at nurturing as, "Now we can program our campaign system to deliver six emails in a row.'"
Hence the need for this post. Yet again.
Lead nurturing is not about sending out emails on a regular schedule just because you can. Or just because you think that constant communication (regardless of relevance) will help you sell something. It won't.
And it's evidence that marketers have missed the point.
Lead nurturing is about providing education, expertise, and evidence that help prospects learn what they know during each stage of the process and build the confidence to make a buying decision in your favor — or to gain the consensus from those involved in the decision to get the deal done. It's about positioning your company as an expert that can bring more value to the project than the product would alone.
Let's face it, perceived value, expertise and credibility are the true differentiators in today's marketplace. Otherwise it would just be a price war.
Stringing together 6 emails as a set-it-and-forget-it program won't do this. Don't misunderstand. It's not about the number 6, but the laziness behind the robotic campaign that sets my teeth on edge. Based on the length of the buy cycle, 6 touches may do the trick — if they're relevant and build the right story.
The problem with robotic email campaigns is that they:
- Lack the consistent provision of relevance and value
- Irritate your prospects (based on the above)
- Don't build your credibility
- Are likely focused on feeds, speeds and products
- Don't take into account buyer behavior during the campaign
- Are a campaign, not a strategy
- Have no progression of story that builds momentum
- Have no cohesive story
- Do not differentiate your company
- Are more about timing than context
- Do nothing to stimulate dialogue
- Create another marketing silo
- Don't integrate with programs in other channels
- Probably push the sale for lack of anything better to do
- Are instantly forgettable
- Train your prospects to achieve speed records in clicking delete
- Are about you, not them
- Let you check the box without achieving objectives
- Put you squarely in the marketing fluff camp
- Usually aren't tied to revenue
- Make your company irrelevant
- Don't provide ideas worth sharing (or even pondering)
- Lack the ability to stimulate curiosity
- Repel engagement
I can probably think of more, but you should get gist.
Please understand that this has nothing to do with marketing automation. I think every marketer should have it. It's what you do with it that counts.
Lead nurturing is a process. It's the unfolding of a story that helps the buyer understand why they need to solve a problem, options for solving it, why they should change and why they should choose you to do so. It's never about buying a product. At least not overtly.
This takes thought, planning and the establishment of a lead management process that's managed to goals and objectives.
And it takes the chops to develop outstanding content designed for buyers.
It also means that you need to think outside the Inbox. Lead nurturing happens with every asset your prospects come in contact with in whatever channel they're using. Whether they see a Tweet and click to read a blog post or receive an email with a link to an article or white paper, or find your infographic using search, the result should be the perception of value and time well spent.
So before you go hook up 6 emails in a row to send out on a schedule, take some time to think about the experience you're creating for your buyers. If you need more motivation, review the list above highlighting the consequences of using robotic emails.
Picture courtesy of Robot Pictures