What marketing tactic is best described by the following statements?
- Builds brand awareness and preference
- Improves sales efficiency
- Increases the velocity at which leads flow through the funnel
If you answered “cold calling” you are wrong, and sadly may also be stuck in the 1990s. But, if you answered “automated lead nurturing” you are spot on! It is an understatement that lead nurturing is a key driver moving leads through the funnel, but how do you know if your efforts are impactful?
Recently at Marketo, we have placed more emphasis on the rate at which leads flow through the funnel and developed ways to accelerate the rate aka shorten the buying cycle. With this aggressive push strategy, we have to be extra careful not to overdo the outbound flow while finding a good balance of informative and promotional content.
I have listed 3 things to consider when pushing your leads through the funnel.
If you are too sales heavy in your content, leads will put their blinders up. But, if you are too conservative and completely refrain from hard promotions of your product/service, you may miss out on your end goal. At Marketo, we combined our early and mid-stage nurturing tracks in order to infuse more promotional content earlier in the decision making cycle. We leveraged the 4-1-1 approach from Twitter, familiarized by Joe Pulizzi and Tippingpoint Labs, in order to have a good balance of value and promotion. For every 4 educational or entertaining emails, we send one soft promotion (i.e. 3rd party report) and one hard promotion (i.e. demo request).
Another approach is leveraging accelerator campaigns to move leads along the buying cycle faster. If you give leads a reason to act, you can identify the fast movers from the tire kickers. These campaigns are sales-y in nature so be cautious to not overuse them.
When building content there is a fine line between saying what YOU want to say and saying what THEY want to hear. A fatal flaw is to forget what your audience cares about. Remember you need to engage them in a relevant conversation. An example of what we do to target our messaging to our audience is to tag behavioral attributes in what we call “topic of interest”. If you attend one of our webinars around the topic of email marketing, our immediate post-event follow-ups will be on the topic of email marketing. We will then drop you into an email marketing drip campaign, and for the next few communications we send out, you will receive information and assets on your topic of interest. We have seen great email performance success with this approach since the messaging is timely and relevant.
Another approach we’ve taken to be relevant is to leverage dynamic content in our nurturing emails. For example, we segment our nurturing tracks based on two variables: role (marketing, sales and exec) and buying stage (early/mid and late). If we wanted to add a third variable (let’s say size of company), we would have to create more tracks, meaning we would have to create more emails to put in those tracks. The more variables you add, the more tracks you would have to account for. With dynamic content, we can use the same email in the same track, but create multiple versions based on the size of the company. This has been super helpful when sending case studies and video testimonials.
To learn more about how to create engaging, relevant lead nurture campaigns be sure to download our new ebook.
Have More Coverage
Lastly, with all that the marketing team has done to push leads to the sales team, be sure to beef up the sales outbound efforts. Sales reps are expensive, which means that their time needs be spent focused on closing deals. But they won’t be able to close deals if they can’t connect with the leads. We provide our reps with marketing email templates that they can send out to their leads. They can track the email using our software, and automatically log an activity in the CRM system. The marketing team controls the message and branding, and the sales reps are able to cover more leads and not waste time crafting individualized emails.
We also created an automated drip campaign for our sales development representatives to use. If a rep is having trouble connecting with a lead or has an influx of leads and can’t contact each one within the SLA period (good problem to have by the way), they can drop their leads into an automated email campaign. This initiates a series of three emails across a three week span, which look like personal reach outs from the rep, asking for a few times to schedule a meeting. The key here is to put some dates and times to make it look authentic. The reps love this campaign – they focus on hot leads, while the automated campaign helps them get meetings on their calendars.
How are you pushing leads through the middle of the funnel? I’d love to hear about your strategy and tactics.