Be Relevant or Die: The New Nature of Nurture



Nearly three-quarters of online customers are frustrated by brands that showcase irrelevant content and promotions. Is your marketing department contributing to your prospects’ frustration and harming your pipeline – or even worse, your bottom line?

Harnessing relevance in your marketing efforts involves engaging , relevant , personalized content – you’ve heard it all before. But the simple truth? Companies who are doing ‘the relevance thing’ well aren’t in the majority. Many marketing organizations are struggling to differentiate segmentation from personalization; others are still pushing out batch and blast email campaigns.

Relevance is the New Game in Town

Soliciting prospects used to be more of a numbers game. Think of an old fashioned factory manager, dealing with high turnover rate and constantly trying to keep all of his work stations staffed. His goal wouldn’t be to find the best employees – he’d probably hire anyone who applied. Compare this to a successful, modern company, where job recruiters carefully select employees who fit with the company culture, and who are most likely to stick around.

Lead generation also used to be more of a numbers game. You marketed to as many people as possible, regardless of their fit for your product or service. Today, marketers are more like those modern recruiters – they think of potential customers as future advocates.

Instead of a numbers game, it’s now a relevance game. Reaching your prospects in a negative way (read: marketing to them with irrelevant messaging) will affect your ability to recruit new customers and to maintain current customers. As marketers, we’re trying to maintain the delicate balance between creating brand messages with wide appeal, and creating highly targeted journeys for our buyers. And we’re not only doing this for the sake of revenue – we’re doing it for the sake of customer success.

Humanize the Masses

Thanks to increasingly sophisticated data collection technology, marketers now have the option to track and collect massive amounts of information about their prospects and customers. But the point of tracking isn’t to lump everyone together – it’s to understand how each individual experiences our products. Combined, user behavioral data and explicit user profiles produce a rather solid picture of our prospects – and if used appropriately, can almost guarantee a happier customer story. When your customers willingly share their personal information, they rightfully expect an improved user experience.

That’s why marketers might choose to deploy sophisticated marketing automation tools, to strengthen customer relationships, increase social engagement, and boost visibility – in short, to enhance user experiences. Once you understand what your customers are looking for, marketing automation can help you both adjust and execute on that understanding. Remember that prospects are not faceless companies; they are people who are motivated by pain or curiosity.

4 Components of a Relevant Campaign

To create relevance, you’ll need to do more than implement the right tools. You can begin to humanize your lead pool by gaining insight in four areas: prospect intelligence, lead intelligence, lead scoring, and lead nurturing.

1. Prospect Intelligence: Track even anonymous prospects with personalization tools, which can provide you with behavioral/demographic/firmographic analysis of users who are cruising your site.

  • Personalization tools can look up the IP address of site visitors, giving you critical information about anonymous visitors, telling you which company’s server hosts each visitor’s computer.
  • When prospects from ideal target companies are visiting your site, analytics will help you determine which pieces of content to prioritize and which companies are likely to convert.

2. Lead Intelligence: Lead intelligence is the captured data that reveals behavioral activity on your site combined with external behavior about an individual and their company.

  • Lead intelligence helps to determine where your prospect is in the buying cycle (kicking the tires or intending to buy). Use lead intelligence to create a lead profile enabling you to send relevant, targeted content tailored to your lead’s needs/pain points.
  • Information sources/metrics for building a profile: Web forms, web pages viewed, emails read, social media interactions, company firmographics, company business events (triggers).

3. Lead Scoring: Identify quality leads by assigning value to each lead based on its professional information, website behavior, and/or interaction with your content.

  • Scoring helps you weed out leads that will be a waste of your time, or accelerate leads who are getting closer to a purchase decision.
  • But on top of that, lead scoring enables you to filter leads based on their stage in the buying cycle. For example, a lead who has only downloaded an introductory-level whitepaper will delete your hardcore sales email, but they might latch onto an offer to receive automatic updates about more articles on the topic, or even a demo/webinar that will speak to similar pain points.
  • It’s important to remember that the more time a lead spends with your content, the more “educated” they become. The more informed they are, the more likely it is they would be interested in hearing from sales.

4. Lead Nurturing: Targeted lead nurturing campaigns allow you to identify your leads’ preferences so you can speak directly to their needs – also known as relevance. Gradually educate your leads and answer their questions before passing them along to your sales team. Most people gain slight pleasure from the act of clicking the delete button on an irrelevant email – so don’t put it past them. Some will even tell their server that your address, or domain, is spam.

  • Imagine two CMOs: one who has downloaded a whitepaper about SEO, and another who downloaded the same whitepaper but is also attending a major conference in your region, and has connected with your company on social media. Should both CMOs be receiving the same message? The former isn’t ready to be sold, but the latter might be ready to have a conversation about solutions.
  • And what about a copywriter who has downloaded several of your ebooks? It’s likely that the copywriter was doing research, so there’s no point sending a sales message. But what if that same copywriter takes two more separate actions that reveal a deeper interest in your product? If you choose to contact her, you’ll be prepared with a decent amount of information – much better than going in blind

And when you’ve accomplished those four? You’re now ready to launch informed, micro-segmented campaigns that are full of relevant, contextualized marketing messages. Time to get relevant!