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How to Use Lead Nurturing to Get Conversational

The idea of conversational marketing isn’t exactly new.

In fact, it first made its appearance in 2007 with Joseph Jaffe’s Join the Conversation. Jaffe’s intention was to teach marketers and businesses how to engage media-weary customers through community, partnership and (most importantly) dialogue.

But even nearly ten years later, in the real world, creating a two-way conversation between marketers and prospects still typically occurs through high-cost, high-impact channels like trade show interaction or sales calls.

Good news: those engaged interactions can be mirrored through lower-cost channels with savvy use of marketing automation. Make no mistake, building a bridge between lead nurturing and an effective, repeatable program is complicated. It requires translating an authentic understanding of the prospect’s needs through an interaction that can seem canned.

Consider these stats:

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert to sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause for poor performance (MarketingSherpa).
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost (Marketo).
  • Nurtured leads makes 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group).

The characteristics that make lead nurturing impactful—targeted communications and calls-to-action, and time- or activity-driven engagement—also make nurturing programs a challenge to build.

The key to those challenges? Know your buyer!

Ask yourself: who is the target audience for the solutions you provide? Pro tip: identify who has bought in the past to uncover patterns that reveal commonalities. Those commonalities, which are the foundation of effective buyer personas, can help associate certain buyer movements with demographic and predictive scoring models, enabling you to assemble tight nurturing tracks.

Sound complicated?

Marketing automation, lead generation and lead nurturing aren’t complicated, but using them correctly is. Once those different tracks of information are assembled, the next step is to correlate them to messaging that buyer personas are likely to respond to.

Here’s an example: If a CFO prospect is consuming lots of “top-of-funnel” product information on your blog and clicking the “Share as Email” button on each post, should you throw him into a bucket to attend weekly webinars? Probably not. There’s no correlation.

Instead, provide him with progressively more in-depth, ROI-based information and cap it off four weeks later with a call to action asking him to forward the e-mail to a midlevel colleague. Boom.

In this case, the goal is to create a secondary conversation with the influencer, not the buyer, based on known behaviors of CFOs who had purchased in the past.

What we’ve done here is conduct detective work based on what the prospect’s digital footprint told us. As we provide more results-based information, we can track engagement and, when the iron is hot, strike with a message to which the buyer is likely to respond.

We’ve created a two-way conversation where we listen to the prospect’s concerns, determine the preferred engagement method and automatically take the conversation to a deeper level.

This process doesn’t have to be rocket surgery. What we’ve done is adapt marketing strategies to ensure that we’re serving our audience’s needs and wants in the best way possible. Isn’t what what marketing is all about?

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