By Dan McDade, PointClear, LLC
One of three predictions I made for 2015 was that nurturing would be the marketing word of the year. Lead nurturing is so powerful you can triple the return on most marketing investments simply by continuing to work certain non-lead outcomes.
I asked a panel of experts to weigh in on the best lead nurturing programs (and processes) and what was new on the horizon for 2015.
Here are some snippets:
Carlos Hidalgo, ANNUITAS: “Lead nurturing is not an isolated activity or stand-alone 'campaign,' as so many in the industry have described it. Rather, nurturing is a key stage in the overall progression of a holistic ‘Demand Generation Program.’”
Brian Carroll, MarketingSherpa: “For an investment [in nurturing] of less than $50,000, within three months the IT company gained $1.2 million in sales from leads that had essentially been untouched or forgotten.”
Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing: “I think the most valuable elements of lead nurturing are often the simplest. Set up alerts that give you excuses to reach out to people on a daily basis. Birthdays, job changes, news coverage, etc.”
Ruth Stevens, eMarketing Strategy: “Nurturing programs need to be informative and educational, not sales-y. The fundamental goal of nurturing is to remain in contact, and top of mind, when the prospect is ready to buy, or at least close to it…[Nurturing is] designed to deepen the relationship, versus any intrusive, high-handed messaging that is likely to be unwelcome.”
Chris Tratar, SAVO Group: “We’re also seeing a greater mix of human intervention in nurturing campaigns coming down the pipe. Sales organizations will continue to rely on automated lead nurturing, but the part that will change into a more hybrid model is where reps get engaged with a prospect or customer once they hit a certain critical moment in the buying cycle.”
Chad Burmeister, ConnectAndSell: “Voice nurturing! Emails often get lost, they “pitch” products, and carry no trust (20% written word is trusted vs. 90% via phone). By using automated sales acceleration technology, voice nurture is finally possible to guarantee that sales professionals can talk to their prospects on a regular basis to establish trust, build value, and sell more.”
Hidalgo quoted Laura Ramos on the ANNUITAS Blog, February 4, 2014: “In earlier studies, Forrester found that at least half of B2B marketers surveyed did not have well defined [lead-to-revenue-management] processes or failed to follow the ones they did have in place for activities like lead scoring, nurturing and recycling and management. The impact? Interviewees told us that they end up spending two to three times the initial start-up costs.”
I have enjoyed reading Laura Ramos’ blogs for years. On reading the quote from Carlos’ blog, I thought back to other blogs written by Laura and decided to do some research. Here is what I found:
Laura Ramos, Forrester’s Blog, July 22, 2008: “Moving a lead from MQL to SQL…provides a way for sales to return leads to marketing for further nurturing if they get cold.”
Laura Ramos, Forrester’s Blog, Oct. 24, 2008: “All parts of the selling organization need to get more involved in educating and nurturing demand...There isn't an unlimited amount of demand out there to draw upon, so marketers need to figure out which ones to invest in to grow into a relationship.”
Laura Ramos, Demand Gen Report, Oct. 13, 2009: “Nurturing is the most underdeveloped part of lead management. It can take on many forms from simple 'stay in touch' campaigns to programs that accelerate buyers through the purchase process based on response or event triggers.”
Interesting, isn’t it, that Laura Ramos and others (including yours truly) have been writing about the importance of nurturing for years, yet with very little adoption in the marketplace? Many will take exception to this insisting they have been using marketing automation for nurturing —which I find hit or miss — not to mention that marketing automation is more successful with lower level decision-makers and smaller deals than it is with senior decision-makers and larger and/or enterprise sized deals.
So, what stands in the way of the greater adoption of best practices in lead nurturing today? It’s mostly the fact that each year marketing is paid to deliver more leads for less money than the year before (this has been a trend for years). And, with marketing software it is now possible to get more, poorly-qualified leads to sales faster than ever. Marketing is incentivized according to the number of leads, while sales is driven by revenue — and the two are not compatible.
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Dan McDade(@dandade) is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a firm established to help B2B companies with complex sales processes drive more revenue through effective lead generation, qualification and nurturing. Connect with him on LinkedIn.