Why Lead Nurturing is an Art AND a Science



Lead nurturing, or the process of developing relationships with prospects over time, is a rare co-existence of two opposing variables: creativity and logic. In other words, it’s both an art and a science. Your nurture team needs to produce content, but it also needs to perform complex marketing operations. 

On some marketing teams, all of your lead nurturing will be managed by one person; on other teams, it’ll be divided among several. Regardless of whether this function is filled by one or several people, here are the roles and responsibilities of your lead nurture team.

The Art Side

There are two roles on the the creative side of your lead nurturing team – keep in mind, both roles might be filled by the same person. These roles are that of a nurture content manager, and that of a nurture content coordinator.

Nurture Content Manager

Because advanced nurturing automates communication with a lot of different segments over a set period of time, it requires a lot of content. The goal of the nurture content manager is to make each piece of nurturing content as relevant to your audience as possible. The person in this role doesn’t create the content, but they do assign each piece of content to the appropriate segment.

Responsibilities include:

  • Designing a content plan or roadmap, based on which types of content perform best for each segment. An effective content manager knows which content resonates with which audience, and how each content piece is performing over time. If you’re using a tool like Marketo’s Customer Engagement engine, you can examine your overall Engagement Score. You can also use marketing automation to determine multi-touch revenue attribution, or how many opportunities are attributed to a nurture email.
  • Setting the standard for content quality. This isn’t just from a performance standpoint; it also applies to tone, positioning statements, and key message points.
  • Balancing early-stage and late-stage content. Early-stage content pieces engage your newest prospects with broad, educational, entertaining information. Late-stage content is more product focused, such as demos or customer case studies.

When you’re hiring someone who will manage your nurture content, here’s what you should look for:

  • Messaging comprehension. An understanding of what your different markets want, and which messages will resonate best with each.
  • Editing skills. A sharp grasp of language, along with the ability to clearly communicate how a piece of content should be positioned.
  • A head for numbers. The manager should be familiar with email performance metrics, and able to assess that performance over time.

Nurture Content Coordinator

The content coordinator needs to be able to write well, and write fast. The principal responsibility of a content coordinator is to churn out content for emails. If your company doesn’t have a design team, or software that allows you to create emails without HTML, it may fall on the nurture content coordinator to write simple code as well.

Looking at this role in more depth, here are the responsibilities of the nurture content coordinator:

  • Translate the vision of nurture content managers. They should be able to write emails that will perform well based on basic email metrics, such as opens and clicks, but also emails that match qualitative standards such as brand alignment and messaging.
  • Write consistently. The nurture content coordinator needs a comprehensive understanding on the company’s voice, tone, and core competencies.
  • Produce at a high volume. Enough said.

When looking for a nurture content coordinator, here are the qualities you need:

  • Writing skills. This one should go without saying.
  • Listening skills. To write effective emails, the content coordinator needs to hear audience pain points, and address them through the voice of the company.
  • Willingness to experiment. Your coordinator should love to experiment, but should also know how to monitor results.

The Science Side

To balance out all the creativity (because life, unfortunately, cannot be all about magical unicorns) your nurture dream team needs a strong dose of logic. These responsibilities might fall under a nurture operations manager and a coordinator.

Nurture Operations Manager

The nurture operations manager probably has the toughest job on the team, especially at a company that uses advanced lead nurturing. It’s up to these operations managers to determine how nurture flows work, and which filters will be used. Nurture operations managers need to design nurture flows that meet complex business needs, but are possible for the entire team to use. Luckily, tools like the Customer Engagement engine make this job a lot easier – you can set up a workflow, or add an email to a workflow, with a simple drag-and-drop.

Here are the granular responsibilities of your nurture operations manager:

  • Determine the best data fields to reference. If that data isn’t available, managers need to figure out how to obtain it.
  • System checks. This role monitors advanced nurture campaigns, and verifies that those campaigns are running correctly. Frequent system checks are important.
  • Balance business needs with sustainable practices. Effective nurture operations managers constantly look for ways to simplify their operations, and are responsible for implementing procedures to mitigate potential issues.

Here’s what to look for in a nurture operations manager:

  • An engineering background. You want someone who thinks in terms of stages, products, and procedures.
  • Product management experience. To build a strong nurture workflow that truly meets business needs, your nurture operations manager should understand company infrastructure.
  • Attention to detail. Execution tends to be the easier part of nurture operations, but the devil is in the details.

Nurture Operations Coordinator

In the same way that the content coordinator needs to be able to write, the operations coordinator needs to be able to execute. Effective coordinators have a broad understanding and high comfort level with all aspects of your marketing automation platform. Attention to detail is an absolute must, because if a campaign incorrectly references a field, it affects the entire nurturing ecosystem.

The responsibilities of this role are:

  • Execute. The coordinator’s most important responsibility is executing the vision of the nurture operations manager.
  • Provide feedback. The coordinator should be aware of every success and failure, and communicate those results to the manager.
  • Troubleshoot. The coordinator comes up with solutions to any roadblocks, and then executes those solutions.

Here are the qualities of a successful nurture operations coordinator:

  • Comfort with technology. The operations coordinator will spend a lot of time within your marketing automation system.
  • Curiosity. The coordinator should be unafraid to test programs, and naturally inclined to ask questions or make suggestions.

As I’ve mentioned, not every team is lucky enough to have multiple people filling these roles. In fact, it might be that one person has to manage all these roles. But that’s no reason to hesitate in building a nurture program – you can always start small. As long as you’re using a marketing automation platform that can scale with you company’s needs, you can increase your staff size, and the complexity of your nurture programs, when you’re ready.

If you’re already running lead nurturing campaigns at your company, how do you organize and structure your team? Do you think of lead nurturing as an art, or a science? Let us know in the comments below.