At this week’s UK Inbound Marketing Conference I ran a breakout session on lead nurturing. In preparation I had researched and composed a bunch of slides on how to use sophisticated tools and techniques to pull prospects down the marketing funnel and generate marketing qualified leads.

Just before the session started I realised that time was too short to work through the material and so I decided to spend a good portion of the session asking the group of about 70 content marketers about their concerns related to lead nurturing.

It was impossible in 30 minutes to discuss all these concerns and tap into the collective wisdom and experience in the room which meant that the session provided more questions than answers. However, a number of things occurred to me when reviewing what they said which I wanted to share in this blog and which might have made for a better session agenda (isn’t hindsight great!).

concerns related to lead nurturingContent marketers’ concerns related to lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is irrelevant if you have not got your Top of the Funnel process right

Initial effort on developing your personas and creating remarkable early-stage content will help generate the audience you need.

A focus on using conversion techniques to ensure enough of your audience take the step of sharing their details for your content is necessary

You don’t need to be producing vast amounts of content to do nurturing

Even with only one persona and one offer you can produce a couple of great content pieces which can quick-start your lead nurturing (maybe re-purpose some content assets that you already have).

But for longer term consistent results you need to have multiple campaigns running with more and better content.

Email is not the only route

You can nurture leads by automating more than just an email. You could try an automated social media response (like following them) or showing them personalised content on your website when they visit or triggering an automated SMS or voicemail response.

Segmentation is for everyone

Regardless of your resources you can now automate the segmentation of your leads based on their web behaviour and demographic information they share when completing a download form. This enables you to be so much more targeted in what content you provide to them and in turn raises the rate of conversion to a marketing qualified lead.

Lead scoring is hard but necessary

This is the process of assigning a score to certain actions that your leads take online. When you first do this it will be guesswork as to what content activity is most significant. That’s why you need to measure everything and refine continuously.

You need the right tools

You will find this almost impossible without using toolsets like HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, ActOn and Pardot. If you try and do this manually or by sewing together email marketing systems with Google Analytics you will spend more time sewing than reaping!

Photo courtesy of Eric Lim Photography