3 Advanced Lead Nurturing Programs That Drive Demand

These days, marketing teams spend a lot of time and money developing content that is supposed to be the ticket for generating leads. In fact, according to a recent report from NetProspex and Ascend2, B2B marketers agreed that the creation of marketing content is the most effective tactic for driving inbound marketing demand. The 270 respondents also conferred that it has been the most difficult to execute.

Half of those same marketers surveyed also said that improving lead quality for their sales teams was the most important objective for the year ahead.

And it’s no wonder. To qualify better leads, you need the right content strategy. To execute your content strategy, you need a solid, scalable marketing automation foundation and alignment with your sales team to follow up with the leads generated.

Luckily there is one place in your marketing efforts where these two challenges align: your lead nurture programs!

Is it White and Gold? Or Blue and Black?

Have you ever tried to sit down and map out a lead nurturing strategy? It’s tough. Just like lead scoring, there is no one right way. You have a lot of options and each business is specific in its needs and has the potential to use distinct variables that are particular to them. Sometimes having nearly limitless options feels harder than having none at all, which is what makes the challenge of creating the most effective lead nurture program for your business a unique challenge.

Here are a few ideas about how to create advanced lead nurture programs that are guaranteed to drive demand and generate the insight you need to make more informed content strategy decisions.

#1 – Lead Nurturing by Lead Stage

Criteria:

Entry for the nurture program hinges upon the prospect’s lead stage.
Movement in the nurture stream is controlled by the prospect’s buyer journey stage.
Email Segmentation is done using buyer personas.

Nurture Program: Lead Stage – Inquiry

Advanced-Nurture-Program-1

You could repeat this program setup for each lead stage you would like to nurture. For instance, if you have five lead stages such as Suspect, Inquiry, AQL, MQL, and Recycled MQL, you would create five different nurture programs.

Insights:

In this option, the goal is to move prospects either across the nurture stream by engaging them with nurture content and advancing their buying journey stage from awareness to research, or to move them down the funnel by advancing their lead stage as they take action on the demand generation call-to-action (CTA).

This type of nurture program allows you to analyze how much content your prospects are consuming, and when each persona consumes what type of content.

You might also find that a specific persona consumes Consideration content at every stage of the buying journey and rarely consumes Awareness content, which can help you better tailor your content strategy to that persona.

#2 – Lead Nurturing by Buyer Journey Stage

Criteria:

Entry for the nurture program hinges on the prospect’s buyer journey stage.
Movement in the nurture stream is controlled by the prospect’s lead stage.
Email Segmentation is done using buyer personas.

Nurture Program: Buyer Journey Stage – Awareness

advanced-nurture-program-2

You would repeat the program setup for each of your Awareness, Research and Consideration (ARC) stages.

Insights:

In this option, the goal is to move prospects forward in the nurture program stream, advancing their lead stage by getting them to engage with and download content. It is likely that in type of nurture program, a prospect’s stream might change from one to the other, but that should be secondary to actually advancing a lead through to your sales qualification team.

This type of nurture allows you to align your nurture with waterfall groups of “pre pipeline” and “mature pipeline” prospects. You could potentially run nurture programs for your entire pipeline at the same time without having to worry about prospects being in more than one nurture program at a time.

This kind of nurture also yields insight into how well you’ve categorized your content and messaging to each ARC stage. If you find that the Awareness stream almost never gets a prospect to engage and move to the next stream, then your content might not be right for that persona. Alternatively, if you find that your Awareness stream does a much better job of moving a prospect through each stream than your Consideration stream, then you know your Consideration content isn’t that strong.

You also might find over time that the kind of content that your leads have consumed in the past has no bearing on their ability to progress in the nurture stream now. That’s fine, but you won’t know that until you analyze their behavior.

#3 – Lead Nurturing by Buyer Persona

Criteria:

Entry for the nurture program hinges upon the prospect’s buyer persona.
Movement in the nurture stream is controlled by the prospect’s lead stage.
Email Segmentation is done using the prospect’s buyer journey stage.

Nurture Program: Buyer Persona 1

advanced-nurture-program-3

In this option, the goal is to move prospects forward in the nurture program stream by having them engage with your content so that they drive themselves to the next lead stage.

Insights:

This setup could potentially define how many nurture programs you need to manage, depending on the number of buyer personas you choose to nurture. Using this kind of program yields valuable insights on the buyer journey as a whole as experienced by a single persona. This kind of nurture can also tell you how well the arbitrary classification of content into ARC stages aligns with what your actual target audience is looking for in each stage of their buyer journey.

You could also flip the X and Y axis on this kind of nurture program, so that entry for the program hinges on buyer personas, movement in the nurture stream is controlled by ARC segment, and the emails are segmented on lead stage. Either way, your insights will be similar. It just depends on which way you would rather determine forward progress—by assumed buying stage (as in the example above) or by explicit ARC action and behavior (in which case, flip the X and Y).

See the Real Color

Advanced lead nurturing programs require a lot of content, and they require proper analysis and insight to drive demand. So if you’re just getting started with lead nurturing, you should start simple and scale your way to complexity. If you have the basics and are looking to use your nurture programs as a way to generate real demand, consider the above examples.

Ask yourself these questions when analyzing your advanced nurture programs:

  • Which lead stages are the most actively engaged with my nurture emails?
  • What kind of content seems to drive the most engagement (Awareness, Research or Consideration)?
  • Do my ARC content classifications drive the intended demand at the right time?
  • Does only a single buyer persona really seem to be engaged with my nurture? Or are all of my personas engaged?

Ready to do more advanced lead nurturing? Check out the Marketing Automation Owners Manual for more ideas about how to architect lead nurturing programs, employ lead scoring and buyer cycle scoring, and measure and optimize your programs for success.

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