In a recent webinar, sales thought leader Brian Carroll took an in-depth look at the topic of lead nurturing. Communicating consistently with potential buyers has become a critical part of the lead qualification process. But of course, not just any type of communication will do if you want to continuously move prospects through the buying cycle.
“We know who the right people are. We know we want to engage them,” explains Brian. “The question is, what do we say? And what do we say it with?”
Enter content development, which he described as one of the key steps to effective lead engagement.
These days, a lot of people assume content marketing is geared toward generating inbound leads alone. But for marketers, creating engaging, relevant content is also a valuable tool for nurturing the leads you already have. Content-based lead engagement can also help create more truly qualified opportunities for your sales team (and as we all know, when it comes to defining “qualified leads”, sales and marketing teams don’t always see eye-to-eye). But perhaps most importantly, Brian pointed to data stating that using content to nurture leads can help to just about double your reps’ proposal-to-win ratios.
The question is, how can you design your content library in a way that’s most relevant for lead nurturing and engagement? Here are four takeaways from Brian’s presentation that can help put you on the right path.
#1. Identify your personas. You already have your database of leads. Who among them are the key decision makers? Who else at the company can influence those decisions? Without first identifying who you’re going to be engaging with, you can’t develop content that is most relevant to that audience. In other words, leverage the knowledge of your sales reps to find out what those specific people are challenged by, and develop content around those areas.
Brian suggests starting simple by first targeting the person who is driving the buying process (like a CIO). Then, depending on how many contacts you have, you can expand your content strategy to target key influencers as well (IT directors, for example).
#2. Choose the right delivery channels. Once you know who to target, you next need to decide how to target them. As Brain points out, most marketers these days use email as their primary marketing channel, but of course there are a number of others to consider. Blogs, landing pages and microsites are now common tools for engaging with potential customers via search, newsletters, RSS feeds and so on. Event marketing through live webinars or road shows is also an effective ways of using content to connect with buyers.
Of course, as I’ve said a million times, different people consume content in different ways. Target the channels that make most sense for your specific audience, but don’t limit yourself from other opportunities for content delivery.
#3. Leverage your resources – all your resources. Deciding to create content for a target audience is all well and good. But not all marketers have the experience or expertise to know what a specific set of potential buyers needs to hear. As Brian suggests, this is where it’s important to leverage the expertise of your sales reps, as they’re the ones who have a stronger understanding of the needs of the people they sell to.
He also recommends compiling vendor-agnostic, third-party resources for your reps to share with their prospects. (I’d take it one step further, by creating blog posts or emails referencing those resources, but adding your own commentary in line with your messaging.) Either way, the purpose here is to build relationships with nurtured leads by shifting sales people away from “always be closing” to “always be helping,” allowing them to become a trusted source of information for their prospects.
#4. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. I already noted how different people react to different types of content. So when you have information or messaging that can be adapted in different formats, it’s important to take hold of those opportunities to meet your content demands.
Brian makes a great point about how a research or data sheet could be interpreted for a short video clip, which could also be repurposed as a blog post, which could then be delivered as a personalized email. Creating multiple assets out of one original content item is a great way to get the most impact out of your efforts.
More specifically, Brian gave the example of a typical sales follow-up after a webinar. Instead of just having reps call/email prospects following the event, why not create a content item that breaks down the key takeaways? Better yet, why not create a personalized video message just for them? That way, you arm your reps with content containing information that’s actually useful to the people they are talking to, further bolstering that relationship, and nurturing the lead toward the finish line.So ask yourself again, is your content designed for lead engagement? For more from Brian on the keys to effective lead nurturing, check out the full webinar on-demand, and visit the MECLABS site for even more great info.