Because the buying process has changed and sales cycles are lengthening, marketers need to develop consistent content over time if they want to keep their prospects engaged. And, with so many influencers involved in the buying process these days, it’s not enough to just convince whomever you’ve determined is the decision maker.
During this webinar, Brian Carroll, CEO of InTouch invites B2B marketing strategist Ardath Albee to show you how to create a lead nurturing program that parallels the way your prospects move through the buying process and how to develop a content plan to engage them at each stage of their purchase decision. You’ll learn how to create a framework for execution and how to measure the results.
In this webinar you will learn:
* The Nurturing Cycle
* How the Buying Process has changed
* Mapping content to buying stages
* How to conduct a "Buyer Q & A" to create a content plan
* Why you need a style baseline
* How to learn from the content buyers read
* How to measure meaningful results
* And much more...
64% of marketers with nurturing programs are dissatisfied by the results. Marketing Sherpa The reason why there’s so much dissatisfaction is that companies who think they’re nurturing really aren’t. The cause is often a disconnect between the budget timeline and the buyer dynamic. Sales cycles are lengthening. Buyers need to be nurtured across their entire buying process, not just for the length of a campaign. Lead nurturing is not: emails sent once a month with whatever is on hand. a 3-touch campaign that tells one story, followed up the next quarter by totally different messaging that leaves your prospects wondering what happened? company focused messaging and promotional offers
This is because marketers are stuck between budget timing and meeting the needs of the short-term sales focus. As marketers, we’ve got to learn to focus on both. I’d like to share with you the results of a nurturing re-engagement project. We set out to re-engage 653 leads. Although we achieved a sales-ready state for 44% of them in the first month. That’s pretty good, right? Many companies would stop there and move on to the next thing. But we stuck with it. We continued to convert a steady stream each month, but what we learned is that 28% of them took longer than 3 months to become qualified. That’s 185 leads that eventually became sales ready that would likely have been money left on the table had we stopped. “80% of [marketing] leads disqualified by sales go on to purchase a solution in the next 24 months” - Sirius Decisions, 2009
Nurturing is building a trusted dialogue with prospects who want to hear from you – one step at a time. It’s that last part that trips people up. We’re so focused on getting them to buy from us, how great our products are and pressure from sales people for volume that we forget the goal of incremental advancement. The goal of marketing is actually to get the sales conversation, not to sell. So, if we reframe our thinking and step into the perspective of our buyers, we can actually deliver what they need to help them raise their hands for the sales conversation. Info overload Catching attention – and keeping it Think about what it takes to get attention You likely have about 3 seconds when they come across your email That first sentence had better say something they need to know If the top is a banner graphic that takes up the preview pane, rethink. If the first sentence starts out “Our company is, or Our company provides…” rethink. If your email talks about your products instead of what your products enable, rethink. Seriously. Think about how you evaluate messaging from people who want your attention. When you see a message, you immediately think – do I need to know this? Then you think, WIIFM – is there an impact I want? Then, how much effort is likely? I have to download something. Will there be a registration form? Do I have time? You also look at the “from” – the brand part. Do you know who the company is? Whatever you know about them will also play into your decision to engage. And all of that happens in fractions of a second, mostly subconsciously. So think carefully about the immediate impression your messaging makes. That’s why it helps to focus on one step at a time. It makes you slow down and it makes you focus on one thing at a time. Not throwing in the kitchen sink because you’re reaching for the sale, instead of the click through.
Let’s talk about the nurturing cycle. Nurturing is different from Lead Gen. Nurturing is what begins after you’ve generated the lead. Your goal is to keep their attention. To do this, your nurturing program needs to set expectations through your storyline through the value you deliver with content You want to set the stage so leads look forward to and anticipate your next communication, or take a trip to your website in the anticipation of finding more relevant and related information that matches their interests. Each nurturing send or touch must be focused on moving them to the next step toward the sales conversation. Finally, you need to get them to the point that they match the criteria marketing and sales have agreed defines a qualified lead. You need to achieve a sales-ready handoff. But notice that this is a continuous cycle. Marketing also needs to be ready to take a lead who turns out not to be ready back into nurturing and continue to re-engage them until their circumstances change.
So let’s talk about the buying process. In a complex sale, the process is longer. But the buying dynamic has also shifted. Notice that in the past, marketing was mainly focused on lead gen and then handed leads to sales when they did anything. Downloading a white paper was cause to hand off to sales. Throwing your business card into a fish bowl at a trade show earned you a sales call. That doesn’t work anymore. Notice where the NOW line is. This is how much farther marketing must reach through the funnel to transition leads to conversion. And it means we need the content and communications that will do so over time. Status Quo: Prospects have not yet recognized the problem as one they need to solve. Priority: The problem has been recognized but prospects are unsure which route is best for solution. Research: Prospects are now actively engaged in learning what they need to know, building confidence. Options: Learning about solution sets that will best fit immediate and future needs is underway. Step Backs: Something has arisen that’s made the prospect return to an earlier stage to verify beliefs. Validation: You’re on the short list and now the prospect wants to know if you can deliver on promises. Choice: The decision to buy must move from intent to reality with the purchase and implementation.
A complex sale also includes a number of people who have to agree to the purchase decision. It’s no longer enough just to convince whoever you’ve determined is the decision maker. Influencers hold a lot of power. Here’s the interesting thing about influencers – they don’t have the authority to say yes. But they absolutely have the ability to say NO. And that can be disastrous to your potential deal. You’ve got to realize that influencers’ interest in the project is likely different than that of your primary decision maker. You need to make sure you have content created that addresses their specific needs. Whether you can expand your reach to get in contact with these influencers directly or whether you provide the information to your decision maker to pass along, you need to help set up and influence these conversations that will happen when you’re not in the room.
So how do you do all this? You focus on what buyers need to know. Moving from the bottom upward, you’ll see an example of the types of questions buyers will ask as they move through each stage of their buying process. In addition to your lead definition, answering these questions (and others like them) will show you just how to construct the storyline that will engage your prospects over time. In fact, each answer you come up with in response will show you the topics and types of content necessary to create a well-structured nurturing program.
Because sales cycles are lengthening, this means that to nurture across the buying cycle will require the development of consistent content over time. The best way to ensure each content resource is telling an extension to the last touch point in the storyline is to create a style baseline. A style baseline serves as a cheat sheet to ensure your content doesn’t slip back into the company-focused messaging that’s second nature for all of us. Discuss the chart.
I know I’ve said this, but it’s pretty much the most important thing to focus on when you’re creating your content. In order to create really compelling content, you need to know your buyers.
There are three types of content most effective in nurturing programs: education, expertise and evidence. If you’ve done the Buyer Q & A, you’ll already have an idea of how these content types will fit into your content development plan. Education: Your prospects likely have a lot to learn before they can make a considered purchase decision. Education is essential in the early stages of the buying process. Focus on revealing why the issue must be dealt with, industry trends driving the solution of the problem and what types of setbacks to their business objectives could result if they choose to put off addressing the need. Expertise: It’s likely that another similar product is easily available. Since most products are commodities—especially true from your prospects’ perspective—it’s imperative to show what difference your company’s secret sauce will bring to their project. Buyers are looking for vendors that are partners who deliver a value add in addition to the capabilities their products and solutions bring. Showcase your expertise through thought leadership and become the coach they rely on to get the results they’re charged to deliver. Evidence: No matter how good your product offerings sound, it’s unlikely that your buyers will just take your word for it. You need to present the proof that your company delivers on promises. Since customer success stories are also a valid sales tool, consider creating two versions. The first version is usually the two-page story that highlights your customer’s company, problem and the solution. The late-stage success story should include more detail about the project—issues not apparent at the start, obstacles overcome during implementation, overlap discoveries that impact other departments, and more, that will help your prospects see that your expertise is truly an added value they won’t get if they buy from your competitors. Analyst reports and media mentions are also worthy evidence that your company can be relied upon to be there when the rubber hits the road.
As you roll out your nurturing program over time, you’ll see there’s a flow to telling your buyers a story that keeps them engaged and helps them to buy. Transitioning a lead to a sales opportunity is also reliant on how your buyers view their future once their problem has been solved after your product has been implemented. Set them up to see how they’re now prepared to conquer future needs by choosing your company to solve their existing ones.
Research is showing that it takes increasingly more touchpoints to engage a lead and cement an idea. Sometimes as many as 12. That means you need a lot of content. The trick to easing the strain on content development is to focus on a storyline and getting more than one touch out content development projects where possible. For example – in this slide you see a sample of
Beyond developing your themes and topics for nurturing content, you must never lose sight of the fact that interactions are what transition prospects to the next stages of their buying process. Each content piece needs to be designed to create an interactive experience with your prospects. This means you want to encourage their involvement. In the beginning this means to get them to click on your links and follow the story you’re sharing. Over time, the interactions should increase in effort expended. Examples are opting in for a download, registering for a webinar and watching a video on the topic to learn more. The willingness of prospects to interact with you and share more information about themselves and their level of interest is a direct result of their interpretation of your content’s value and relevance.
How To Design Email Lead Nurturing Programs That Drive Sales
How to Design Nurturing Programs to Drive Sales Twitter: @ardath421 @brianjcarroll Twitter Hashtag: #b2bleadgen Sponsored By:
How to Design Nurturing Programs to Drive Sales Create a Content Strategy for Lead Momentum Presented by Ardath Albee CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist
Nurturing Needs Strategy 64% of marketers with nurturing programs are dissatisfied by the results. - Marketing Sherpa
Without effective nurturing… 79% of marketing leads never become opportunities Marketing Sherpa/KnowledgeStorm
Nurturing is… Building a trusted dialogue with prospects who WANT to hear from you–one STEP at a time.
Create a Style Baseline Element Use Don’t Use Subject You, CIO, IT, etc. Us, We, Our, Company Problem Words prospects use, focus on internal biz challenges & benefit value. Product names or external benefits that don’t directly impact their business. Keywords Long-tail search terms and phrases Jargon or buzz words innovative, leading, etc. Value reduce or increase X Intangibles – improve effectiveness Proof Customer success examples Stand-alone statistics about feeds and speeds
Content Engagement Equation <ul><li>Focused on them </li></ul><ul><li>Promotes thinking & learning </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative </li></ul><ul><li>Help, not Hype </li></ul>
Create a Content Plan Word of Mouth – Referrals, Recommendations
Create a Content Plan Drip Description Type/Format Stage 1 Discuss the Problem– Pros and Cons of Solving Education Article Status Quo 2 Business Value of Proactive Change – Industry Trends Education Article Status Quo 3 Talk with Industry Expert about the business impact of the issue – reasons to solve Education Webinar or Video Priority 4 Transcript of Webinar with addition of your expertise Expertise White Paper Priority 5 Best Practice approach to addressing the issue Expertise How-to-Guide Research 6 Approaches from #5 in action – business value Evidence Case Study Options
Invite Interactions <ul><li>Click through </li></ul><ul><li>Follow the Story </li></ul><ul><li>Reply </li></ul><ul><li>Refer </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue </li></ul><ul><li>Opt in </li></ul><ul><li>Register </li></ul><ul><li>Inquire </li></ul>
Match Touches to Buying Process Campaigns are not Nurturing Programs