Marketers are deluged with information and opinions that purportedly inform you how to do your job better. Although there’s a lot of useful stuff out there, sometimes misinformation and myths masquerade as expertise. We want to set the record straight about some of the common mistakes we’ve seen in the marketing automation space.

Lead nurturing requires lead scoring. Some people believe that marketers cannot nurture leads without scoring them. The score itself becomes the only link to behaviors that drive choices of follow-up actions (e.g., which email template to use).

Relying on scores at the outset is not the best choice. A good scoring process requires the development of sophisticated algorithms, constant measurement and frequent tweaks. That can be daunting for neophytes or for the faint of heart. We advise people who are starting out to monitor behaviors directly. Get some experience with raw data before creating your first scoring algorithm. You need to dirty your hands by examining that data and inferring the rules that will constitute the algorithm.

The sales organization doesn’t have a role in lead nurturing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although nurturing seems close to a marketer’s heart, the sales folks have always practiced this and know better than anyone how to establish and maintain relationships. The only significant difference: In sales, they have actual conversations with prospects. Marketing transforms those conversations to asynchronous communications, typically via email, web sites and good content. The sales team already has an instinctive sense for – or a formal definition of – the nurturing process, and as such can offer valuable guidance.

Nurturing ends when a lead moves to the CRM system. The overall sales cycle is a continuum of linked processes, some of which are called “marketing”. Your company is building a relationship with a potential customer who does not want to experience an abrupt change because something triggered a move to a different system or organization.

It’s important to think holistically about nurturing and the customer viewpoint. Although we agree that “hot” leads need prompt action to close a sale, more often than not the nurturing continues in the sales organization. Don’t let arbitrary boundaries or semantics cloud the need to support a prospect seamlessly through his/her purchase cycle. Even existing customers need this kind of nurturing!

A successful nurturing track never needs to be changed. Don’t bet on it. The environment changes constantly, and as such you can never be certain that yesterday’s success will work equally well tomorrow. Monitor your tracks constantly and optimize as required.

Startups or small business don’t need lead nurturing. Not true! Nurturing is the best way to scale when you have fewer resources. Company size is irrelevant.

Lead nurturing requires no human intervention because it’s automated. Nope! Although automation enables huge productivity gains and the ability to scale, measuring and optimizing nurturing tracks is a necessary manual process. As well, it’s important to rotate content and to keep it fresh. Those tasks require judgment and can’t be automated.

Nurturing leads doesn’t cost anything. Completely untrue. Although marginal costs associated with scaling are low, there are fixed – and substantial – overhead costs associated with any marketing track, including setting it up, content development, optimizing, measuring and capturing learnings for future use.

All of these myths have been passed around as facts. You need to remember some basic guidelines when considering advice: Customers are rarely ready to purchase when you first contact them. Lead nurturing and content marketing are a powerful combination that helps your prospects chart a path down a purchase cycle. Finally, otherwise excellent advice may not be applicable to your situation. You know your business and your customers better than anyone. Use that knowledge to evaluate critically any expertise you receive.