According to Forrester Research , companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost. If this is the case, then why are only 49% of marketers taking advantage of lead nurturing tools , as evident by Loopfuse's Marketing Automation Study ?
One of the main reasons marketers fail to adopt lead nurturing as part of their marketing mix is a lack of content. To effectively execute a lead nurturing program, you can't exactly have a deficiency in content. You need enough of it in order to keep your lead nurturing emails interesting and relevant at every stage in the sales and marketing funnel, from a lead's initial discovery of your business all the way through to purchase-readiness.
Furthermore, while many of the more basic lead nurturing campaigns focus on delivering content solely by leads' stage in the sales cycle, the most successful lead nurturing campaigns deploy content specifically tailored to the needs of different marketing personas, too. According to the Aberdeen Group , personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14% , and conversion rates by 10% . But this also translates to a whole lotta content, so it's no wonder many marketers are hesitant to get started with lead nurturing.
But here's a little secret: you don't need to create all this content from scratch. If you have even just a general baseline of marketing offers, you can re-work this very content to suit the needs of your various marketing personas and segments, saving you a lot more time and effort than crafting brand new content from scratch. Here's how to do it right...
Identify Your Personas
The first thing you'll need to do is identify your various buyer personas, which serve as detailed profiles of the people who are most likely to make great customers for the products and services you sell. If you don't already have well-defined personas for your business, that's where you'll need to start. Ask yourself the following 9 questions when developing your personas ( we elaborate on them here ):
- What is their demographic information?
- What is their job and level of seniority?
- What does a day in their life look like?
- What are their pain points?
- What do they value most? What are their goals?
- Where do they go for information?
- What experience are they looking for when shopping for your products and services?
- What are their most common objections to your product or service?
- How do I identify this persona?
As you're thinking about these questions, you'll identify clear distinctions between each persona, and you'll begin to understand why it's important to treat each differently in the content/offers you provide them through your lead nurturing campaigns. Using these questions as your guide, create detailed profiles for each of the personas you've identified. These profiles will be helpful to reference as you start tailoring the content you have to suit each persona.
Depending on your business, industry, and how many different products/services you sell, you may find that you have 1, 2, or 10+ personas (or anywhere in between). Businesses that sell a lot of different products for various target audiences, for example, may identify several very unique personas. And the more personas you identify, the more content you'll need (sigh).
As you complete this exercise, you may even start finding that you can nest specific groups of personas under broader persona categories. But when you're first getting started targeting your lead nurturing content so you can base campaigns on personas as well as stage in the sales cycle, we recommend you start catering to broader groups of personas first. You can always get more granular as you build up your content arsenal , and it'll get easier and easier to more closely tailor existing content once you get started.
Select Your Best Marketing Offers for Each Stage of the Sales Cycle
As I mentioned earlier, most of the more basic lead nurturing campaigns are based solely around stages in the sales cycle. The process sounds kind of like this: A lead converts on a top-of-the-funnel offer like an educational ebook , so they get nurtured with similar top-of-the-funnel content. Then, once they're ready, they convert on a more middle-of-the-funnel offer like a product demonstration, a consultation, or a free trial, thus getting removed from the top-of-the-funnel nurturing campaign and swapped into the middle-of-the funnel campaign to get nurtured by content/offers more appropriate to that stage in the buying cycle. And so on and so forth. Make sense?
Most sales cycles can universally be boiled down to 3 distinct stages in the sales cycle: awareness , evaluation , and purchase . You can learn more about each of these stages and how to appropriately map types of lead nurturing content/offers to these stages in this post , but here is a brief rundown:
So, in order to have content for each persona to nurture leads in each stage in the sales cycle, you'll need to identify 3 of your best generally targeted offers for each stage: 1) your best top-of-the-funnel offer (which caters to leads in the awareness stage ), 2) your best middle-of-the-funnel offer (which caters to leads in the evaluation stage ), and 3) your best bottom-of-the-funnel offer (which caters to leads in the purchase stage ).
And by "best," we mean top-performing, so consult your marketing analytics to determine which offer you have for each of these 3 stages has the best conversion rate . For top-of-the-funnel offers, you should be looking at visitor-to-lead conversion rate; for middle-of-the-funnel offers, look at lead re-conversions; and for bottom-of-the-funnel offers, look at lead-to-customer conversion rate.
Tweak Content to Cater to Each Persona
Once you've chosen your 3 general offers, it's time to tweak them to suit each of your personas. So if you've identified 2 personas to start out with, you'll need to tweak each of your 3 offers for each persona, meaning you'll end up with 6 separate offers. Whether you're tweaking a top-of-the-funnel ebook, a middle-of-the-funnel product webinar, or a bottom-of-the-funnel live demo, the following tips as well as the detailed persona profiles you created earlier will help you tailor your offers to suit these individual personas.
Cater to the Persona's Individual Needs, Problems, and Interests
Think about that persona's individual needs, problems, and interests. Is there anything specific they might care about or need a solution for that your offer doesn't address because it was meant for a more general audience? If so, work these concepts into the content.
For example, if you're a school that provides horseback riding lessons to learners with a variety of skill levels, you may have 3 different types of students -- beginner riders, intermediate-level riders, and more advanced riders. If these are your three personas and you've identified that your best top-of-the-funnel offer is your ebook on The 10 Skills Every Horseback Rider Needs , you'll probably want to tweak this content to cater to the 3 skill levels of your students. If this is the case, the skills that advanced riders need probably aren't very applicable to skills needed by beginner riders (and vice versa).
Adjust Formatting, Depth, and Length
To piggyback off my last point, because different personas will likely have varying interests, the way you present certain information may need to vary. For example, if you're catering to an advanced horseback rider in your ebook compared to a beginner, that content might lend itself to more in-depth explanation of certain topics than content suitable for a beginner, who may prefer bullet point summaries of the topic. In other words, the way you present your content -- in format, depth, and length -- may vary depending on the individual persona you're targeting. Keep this in mind.
Modify Language and Tone
Another modification you'll want to make involves changes to the language and tone used in the offer. Do your different personas respond to the same type of language, or do they prefer to be communicated with differently? Do they prefer language that is more formal and professional, or a more informal and casual tone? Are there any variations of the jargon these different groups use to describe similar things?
Sticking with our horseback riding school example, let's say you were tweaking your bottom-of-the-funnel offer, which is a free-20 minute horseback riding lesson. In your lead nurturing email to promote this offer, you'd likely want to tailor your language based on the skill-level of that prospective student. An advanced student, for instance, would probably have a wider knowledge of advanced horseback riding terminology, so it'd be suitable to use this jargon in your email. The language used to promote the lesson to a beginner-level student, on the other hand, who probably isn't familiar with advanced terminology, would need to be much more basic and novice.
Incorporate Industry/Persona-Specific Examples
Another thing you'll want to do is make sure your content/offer is as specifically relatable to each persona as possible. A great way to do this is to incorporate examples that resonate with that particular persona. Does that persona correlate to a specific industry? If so, replace general examples with industry-specific ones to illustrate your points in a more targeted way (or add these examples where there are none). This makes it so the content is even more personalized to the needs, interests, and problems of that particular persona.
Let's refer to our horseback riding school example one last time. If you were creating a middle-of-the-funnel webinar discussing the teaching methodology your horseback riding school follows, and you were targeting an intermediate-level rider, you could include a case study of an intermediate rider who came to your school and, as a result of your methodology and training, became one of the top riders in their division and moved on to compete with more advanced-level horseback riders.
Modify Your Lead Nurturing Campaigns
Once you've tweaked your content/offers based on persona, then you're ready to start incorporating them into your lead nurturing campaigns! Using your marketing analytics and lead intelligence, determine which characteristics to use to categorize individual leads by persona. By identifying which leads correlate with what personas, you can then use your lead management system to segment them into different lead nurturing campaigns based on their stage in the sales cycle as well as their persona.
In what other ways can you tailor your lead nurturing content and offers to better suit your individual marketing personas?
Image Credit: Hello Turkey Toe
Originally published Mar 14, 2012 3:30:00 PM, updated February 01 2017