The sales cycle has changed. Customers are now doing more research prior to first contact with companies. This has altered how you approach lead generation and nurturing, with the emphasis placed more on the latter and less on the former. The goal is to create hot leads that salespeople can convert now, rather than giving them prospective cold leads and having them start from scratch.
In 2013, lead nurturing will continue to be a priority of brands nationwide, and distributed marketing automation will help this effort. Companies are now beginning to realize the perks of lead nurturing and are seeing better conversion rates by taking this approach. According to one MarketingSherpa survey, brands that nurtured leads over a period of time instead of blasting them with frequent communications generated a 45 percent increase in return on investment.
Lead nurturing requires marketers to take a more active role at the top of the sales funnel. In years past, this was firmly the territory of the salesperson. However, it’s now marketers’ jobs to reach customers with the right content at the right time through the right channel. These professionals must be able to understand how to be effective nurturers so they can provide sales-ready leads to reps and agents.
One key recipe for the success of lead nurturing initiatives is content. Destination CRM accurately describes content as being a “central” part of the lead nurturing discussion. Content is the fuel that drives customers through the sales funnel to the point at which they are ready to be engaged by salespeople. Understanding when to reach consumers with specific types of content is critical.
If your business just blasts customers with irrelevant communications, you may turn a potential lead into an annoyed prospect that’s more difficult to convert. At the same time, if a salesperson approached these cold leads, they may not convert because they aren’t interested in the product. Having a content strategy enables you to nurture leads so salespeople can later convert them once the time comes.
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For example, let’s say you offered construction software that helped builders produce estimates more quickly. You know they have a problem – calculating project estimates is time-consuming and difficult – but they might not know there is a solution – your software. You could start by publishing blogs and social media updates about the hardships of calculating estimates.
After the ground stones are laid, you could drive prospects further down the sales funnel by sharing tips for simplifying estimating and offering whitepapers about how software can expedite the process. This will make them aware of your brand and when salespeople engage them, they will be familiar with the brand and more receptive to the message, potentially leading to an easier conversion process.
Executing Content Plans
Distributed marketing automation tools can help with the execution of robust content strategies. The actual execution of these campaigns can be one of the most time-consuming parts, with businesses creating tailored content for customers and the channels they are using. The lack of specific assets or the difficulty of leveraging myriad channels can put a serious damper on content efforts.
Distributed marketing automation, combined with digital asset libraries, can make this process easier for everyone involved. It gives marketers the ability to control their message, and salespeople the ability to create the content that will best suit the prospects they are engaging.
With marketing automation in tow, marketers will spend less time on execution and more time on brand management and campaign planning, further ensuring the success of future campaigns.