In this 2-part article, we are going to dive in and look at how to improve your marketing automation nurture programs. This article is for marketing automation users who already have a nurture program setup and for those who understand the fundamentals of nurturing leads. If you need to learn about getting started, check out Marketo’s webinar on Creating Engagement Programs.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s dive into how to best understand Nurture Program effectiveness. In this post, we examine the content and the goals of the nurture program. We’ll discuss structure, reporting, and systems in Part 2.
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to use Marketo language. Marketo calls their nurture programs “Engagement Programs.” The concepts are the same and completely transferable across the top marketing automation platforms, but if you are not a Marketo user, you may be unfamiliar with the naming utilized.
Step 1: Goal Review
This step is, in my opinion, the most critical step that is often overlooked. It is answering the all-important questions of: “Who?” “What?” and “Why?” We have all been there when the boss says “we need to nurture our leads” or perhaps you’ve listened to a keynote speaker at a marketing event saying you “need to nurture your leads.” With that as the only motivation, you go and with your best intentions, grab content, toss it into an Engagement Program and check that box as yet another best practice complete. Check out my colleague's recent blog on “best practice ruts” if you can’t relate to the “checkbox completing marketers” many of us have become.
While getting something built is not a bad place to start, if we are going to review and improve on the Engagement Program, we must first ask ourselves a few critical questions:
Who are we wanting to speak to?
What are we wanting them to do?
Why are we wanting to nurture people?
If you can’t answer these basic questions, stop reading this post, and focus your attention trying to figure out the answers. As a starting point, here’s a post on finding your ideal customer profile (ICP) which is the new buzz acronym for understanding your target market.
Let's narrow the focus to a specific Engagement Program scenario by answering those three questions:
Who: Prospects looking for a solution to a problem that your SAAS platform could potentially solve. The prospects have also signed up for and attended a recent webinar, but have not engaged with Sales.
What: The goal is for prospects to move through the Customer Journey (from Awareness into Consideration), to become a Qualified Lead looking to engage with Sales and reach the Decision Stage.
Why: To make prospects ready for sales engagement and ultimately sell them your SAAS tool.
Step 2: Content Review - Is it Relevant & Timely?
The second step to reviewing an existing Engagement Program is to look at the content and determine: Is it still relevant? When first building engagement program streams, we all strive to fill them with evergreen content that will remain fresh and relevant.
However, we have seen clients want to include awards or other industry mentions that perhaps are valid for a year. Or they may have won an award again and just need to update dates and relevant sections.
We also need to think about where the best place for a lead to enter the Engagement Program. Many of us utilize streams aligned with the “Awareness”, “Research”, “Consideration”, and “Decision” funnel stages, but how many of us are guilty of turning around and tossing all of our leads in at the start of the program? How many of us haven't sorted out our content, tested where it fits best in the decision making journey, and don’t know where it will slot in best?
Relevant and timely content is the key to winning over new business. Let’s revisit our SaaS scenario as an example. I recommend that someone who has already attended a webinar you hosted through a partner enter into a nurture during perhaps the consideration stream, as they are already aware of your company.
Depending on the content and other context however, it is very possible they are still in the Research stream, but generally, they should be past the Awareness stream. The key point remains, we need to be thoughtful when we discuss the entry point to our engagement programs and make informed decisions. This is often best done with your partner in crime, Content Marketing.
Step 3: Content Review - Is it Valuable?
We all love to talk about ourselves, it’s human nature, especially when we love our products or services like they are our own children. That attachment and passion are great, but sometimes being too close to something can make it hard to express what it is you are offering. We start to share what we want or what we think our prospects or customers want to know, but we don’t listen and provide the information that they are asking for.
With marketing automation, that listening begins with data. We look at open rates and click rates. We get excited when they go up, and freak out when they are down, but do we truly react and investigate which pieces of content are performing? Do we test and experiment and look to see where best in our engagement programs content fits, or if maybe it is causing people to unsubscribe? In order to truly understand the value we are offering, we must dedicate ourselves to reporting and looking at the right information.
In Part 2 of this blog, I dedicate a complete section to reporting and what types of reports can help you get the most value, along with ways to improve the structure of your engagement programs to get the most out of your nurturing strategies.
While you wait for part 2, consider learning more about how DemandLab has helped companies like Magento increase global engagement with a highly targeted nurture campaign. If you’re ready to see results like this, we can help!
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