When was the last time you made a big purchase without researching similar products, reading reviews, or shopping around for the best price? We can’t remember either — and this is exactly why lead nurturing is a critical brand building strategy deployed by the most successful B2B and B2C companies around the world. At its core, lead nurturing is using a brand awareness strategy to educate your audience about who you are and what you do, to begin building a relationship with your potential or current customer.
If you need more convincing on why a brand content is so important, the chart below shows HubSpot’s Global State of Inbound Report which concluded, “69% of marketers say converting leads into customers is their top priority. While an additional 29% of marketers want to reduce the cost per customer acquisition.”
Now that we’ve solidified that nurturing leads is important, your question (and why you clicked in the first place) is likely, “How do I get started?”
Tip #1: Create a Lead Nurturing Strategy
They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem and this is no different. You must first understand what it is you’re trying to solve for.
Figure Out What the Goals Are
Are you trying to increase the conversion rate of potential buyers to sales? Are you trying to shorten the sales cycle? Or are you trying to gain incremental purchases from current customers and increase your overall lifetime customer value?
At Sparxoo, when we start to tackle these questions, we look to quantify our baselines and determine what is a realistic goal over the next 30-90 days and beyond.
For example, if a client is looking to improve the conversion rate on their website, we first have to pull the number of online conversions that occurred for a given period (keeping seasonality in mind) and then divide the total number of visits to the site or that page during the same period.
If we’re trying to shorten a sales cycle, we may look at the start date of all opportunities in Salesforce or other CRM platform and determine when those opportunities were closed, calculating the duration between the two dates for an approximate sales cycle.
Determine Who You’re Trying to Nurture
In today’s world of ubiquitous data, understanding who your current customers are, what they do online, and who they are connected to is easier than ever. This information and data is why they say “data is the new oil”, because when you can better understand who to speak to and how to speak to them, you can have a much more targeted and precise conversation.
When creating a persona, which is just a fictional list of general attributes for your ideal customer, you want to try and put yourself in that potential customer’s shoes and ask yourself questions like:
- What does a typical day look like for this persona (are they up early, working late, might they be more likely to have families or long commutes?)
- What pain point does your product or solution solve for this persona?
- What are their work responsibilities?
- Does this persona make the final decision to purchase your product or do they have the power to influence those that do?
- What are the anticipated or most common objections when this persona is looking at your product or service?
Doing a deep dive into the psyche of your customers is so important when you’re trying to craft content that they will find useful and valuable. It is truly no different than if you were preparing to speak in front of 50 CEOs. You would want to know what to speak about that would provide the most value and establish your credibility so that you can have a long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship.
Lastly and maybe most importantly, think about personas you may not want to engage or speak to. As your company begins to move further upmarket, you may no longer want to speak with companies of a certain size or below a particular revenue threshold because your research shows they are likely not an optimal user of your product or service.
You need to be okay with this and accept you can’t be all things to all people.
Choose a Tool to Help You Track Your Leads
Now that we’ve figured out what we’re trying to do and who we’re speaking to, it’s time to assess if we have the best tools for the job.
To launch a lead nurturing campaign, you’ll need a lead list or database and the most common tools we see used to nurture and score leads are:
- Constant Contact
HubSpot and Marketo are pure marketing automation software, while Mailchimp and Constant Contact began as email clients that have begun pivoting into the marketing automation space.
Whichever platform you choose, and there are many, be sure that you choose one that is the right size for your business and allows your team to easily track who their leads are, as well as each marketing touchpoint from emails to website visits and phone calls.
Tip #2: Map Your Content to Your Marketing Funnel
With a clearer picture of how you define success, who you’re speaking to and how you’re tracking it, it’s now time to figure out what you want to say to your leads and prospects.
Build a Content Plan
At Sparxoo, we’ve found one exercise most beneficial when developing a content strategy and that is “mapping” all existing content you already have to the section of the marketing funnel it belongs to.
As a refresher, the marketing funnel can be viewed in terms of buying stages (from a customer-centric perspective) or from an internal perspective of how leads move through the funnel (sales/marketing based perspective).
To begin mapping your content to the various stages of the funnel, you may start by looking at assets like your blog. Let’s assume you have the following blog headlines:
- [Your Company Name] Who We Are and Why We’re Different
- See How Our Fortune 500 Clients Optimize Their Business With Our Product
- More Investment Upfront May Mean Better Long Term Value
- How to Pitch a Business Case for [Your Product] to Your C-Suite
When looking at these headlines in regards to the marketing funnel (below) you can see how different pieces of content are designed to influence buyers at different stages of their buying journey.
|Blog Title||Section of Funnel Being Targeted|
|[Your Company Name] Who We Are and Why We’re Different||Top Funnel
|See How Our Fortune 500 Clients
Optimize Their Business With Our Product
|More Investment Upfront May Mean Better Long Term Value||Mid Funnel
|How to Pitch a Business Case for [Your Product] to Your C-Suite||Lower Funnel
In doing this exercise, you should consider all pieces of content your brand creates, from websites, to emails and even pieces of print collateral that you may use at trade shows or in your stores.
Identify Your Content Gaps
Once content is mapped, we often find that brands have gaps and are typically either top heavy, meaning they have too much high-level brand awareness content or too mid to bottom-heavy, with VERY detailed information about their product or service.
In both instances, balance is what is needed. Ensure that you are building brand awareness with your target audience and also providing them with enough information and detail to nurture those leads. Develop your brand in their eyes and minds, allowing them to arrive at the decision that they want and need your product or service.
Tip #3: Drive Brand Awareness to Increase Leads for Retargeting
Let’s assume that after your content mapping exercise, you’ve realized that your company lacks high funnel brand awareness content. The symptoms? You have many detailed blog posts, social posts, sales and marketing manuals, but they just don’t seem to attract new prospects or customers like you had hoped.
That is because you’re jumping right into the details that your team knows best, without having educated the prospect or lead on who your company is and why they should care.
Create a Brand Awareness Strategy
In evaluating some of the common brand development strategies and tactics below, you’ll see that brand management can take many forms, from blog posts to how-to videos to an e-book.
The three things that all brand awareness strategies have in common?
- They help a prospect or lead understand they have a problem and you have a solution.
- They add value to the lead or prospect immediately, proving the relationship is worthwhile.
- The strategy is executed consistently (i.e. creating one blog post per week) and pivots quickly based on data from your prospects/leads.
Drive Website Traffic With a Purpose
Regardless of which channel or tactic you decide on, that brand awareness strategy should map back to your overall lead nurturing goals. What we have found to be a top key performance indicator for brand awareness is website visits.
No kidding, you might be thinking to yourself — however, we like visits as a KPI for brand awareness because it gets us volume at the top of the funnel where we can then pixel our website and begin to collect data on those prospects and leads.
From there we can retarget prospects who visited our website and bounced immediately, or we can segment prospects and leads based on what pages they visited and how long they spent.
To date, retargeting is the single most beneficial tactic that we use at Sparxoo to engage and increase conversions for our customers.
Tip #4: Fall in Love With Optimizing the Middle of Your Funnel
“What is the secret to optimizing campaigns?” is a question we get all the time and the best answer we have is that there are no shortcuts. Regardless of what machine learning and algorithms exist to help you understand what content is resonating with your audience, you still have to create high quality content and make decisions based on what the data is showing you.
Create, Implement, Analyze, Repeat
Finding someone on your team, or with an agency partner, that is skilled in understanding how to pull and organize data is a huge asset when looking to optimize your funnel.
When it comes to the middle of the funnel, optimizing your content using KPIs that map to your overall goals is the name of the game.
For example, if you’re just starting out, you may establish KPIs such as clickthrough rates to determine which content is resonating best with your prospects and leads. To calculate you may simply take the number of clicks to each blog post and divide by the total number of blog page views for the same timeframe.
Better yet, you might run multiple blog posts or assets on LinkedIn and have that information accessible once a prospect fills out a form with their contact information. From there you may assess which assets generate the highest form conversion rate and then see how those leads differ as they move through your funnel.
One example of how Sparxoo and Red Hat optimized the funnel is by using cost per conversion as one of our overall KPIs. Below, you can see an example of how we ranked the top digital assets by dividing the media dollars invested by the number of conversions that entered the funnel through a particular asset for a cost per conversion metric.
Tip #5: Get Personal and Embrace 1:1 Marketing Again
When it comes to bottom funnel content, you will often find yourself answering questions such as, “How can we overcome the price conversation?” or, “How can we show them that we are better than our competitors?”
Now is the Time to Get Specific
Depending on the price of your product or service, you may take the time to produce a singular piece of content, like an email or even a video, that addresses one of the aforementioned objections — especially if one conversion would easily cover the overhead costs to produce it.
One example of this is when a B2B client of ours was occasionally coming up against a sales objection that included a cheaper, up-and-coming competitor. We suggested doing a side-by-side comparison of the two solutions. We also included testimonials from other end users who could provide third party opinions while building credibility.
Another favorite example is leveraging social media to understand your decision makers and then sending personalized and hand-written letters to let them know you appreciate the opportunity to do business with them.
I recently received a sleeve of golf balls with a note that said, “Our CEO and I would love to play a round of golf next week,” indicating they had probably seen my recent Instagram posts from the links.
From persona building to brand awareness, through the market funnel with special attention to one-on-one content, taking the time to employ these strategies — and execute them well — can make the content you’re already investing in more effective than ever.
Still feeling unsure about tackling your content marketing strategy? We’re happy to help. Get in touch with us, and let’s talk about how Sparxoo can guide your potential clients through the funnel, and help you build long-lasting customer relationships.