Note: Updated with edits and new information.
I’ve been speaking at a number of conferences recently where marketers and sales people are quite interested in adopting a demand generation discipline within their organization. Frequently, a marketing manager or director will ask me the steps necessary to start developing a lead nurturing program .
The answer is simple as A,B,C.
Here’s a framework I’ve used with dozens of companies in the past to help start their marketing program planning:
A is for Audience
Here is where you define who you are looking to talk to in your campaign. Confusingly, even though you’re going to be talking with many people at once, you have to define a specific “who” in order to rationalize the creative material you develop. The solution is touse personas, or what OgilvyOne used to call CustomerPrints. Personas allow you to define a specific customer with all the traits – attitudes, needs, behaviors and attributes of a set of customers. Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, writes extensively about how to develop customer personas on her blog.
B is for Behavior
Once you’ve defined the audience you want to communicate with, next map out what you want them to do as a result of your nurturing program. Think in terms of verbs – should they download a longer form paper, listen to a podcast, watch a customer testimonial, call a sales representative for more information, visit you at a trade show? By determining what call to action you want your persona to follow, it will clearly direct the next step in the process.
C is for Content
Here’s the creative part. Now that you know who you want to communicate with and what you want them to do, you create compelling visuals and copy that will resonate with your prospective customer. The advantage to having done the previous two steps is it allows you to have a specific conversation with the copywriter and designer putting together your material. Ask yourself “does this layout resonate with the persona we described?” There are a lot of great blogs on writing compelling copy and one of my favorites is Copyblogger.
D is for Delivery Channel
You know who you’re talking to, what you want them to do and what you want to communicate with them. You also need to plan for a delivery channel. Will you be nurturing via email (the most common method)? Will the email come from the marketing department or a sales rep who’s assigned to the lead? Will you be using LinkedIn groups or Facebook pages? Generally, lead nurturing is done via a long-form medium, which means it uses different delivery channels than, say, Twitter, which is great for customer engagement, but not entirely appropriate for an automated nurturing program.
E is for Evaluation
Finally, start your program with the end in mind. What are you going to measure? The ease of collection data in the digital realm makes data easier than ever to grab, but actionable intelligence much harder to glean, as you have to sift through much more information in order to make decisions. Make sure that all of your metrics are designed to answer a question, like “how many?” or “what is compelling?” or “when do they…?” And, determine in advance what actions you may take as a result of that information.
By using this framework every time you begin planning a lead nurturing program and communicating it out to your team, you’ll find it easier to communicate with the right person at the right time with the right message – which is the goal of a well designed lead nurturing campaign.
Note: This is a revised and updated version of an article I originally wrote for the Savvy B2B marketing blog.