Nurture Marketing: Improving on the Heart of Marketing Automation

Today’s sophisticated marketing automation technology gives marketers the ability to do very advanced nurture marketing, allowing marketing teams to build brand preference and loyalty before a sale and in between multiple purchase transactions. Unfortunately, too many marketers are stuck just managing a simple drip nurture program, sending “a one size fits all” newsletter or product announcement every few weeks.

In this month’s column, I have outlined five types of nurture programs that you can deploy for your organization, helping improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing department.

1. Drip Nurtures: This is where most marketers start dabbing with nurture programs, sending out an email every week or two. Every recipient receives the same message, usually containing new product announcements, company highlights, or upcoming events. It is fine to start here to get the hang of how nurtures work. However, you should immediately put together a plan to leverage more of the capabilities in your marketing automation platform to provide your customers and prospects with tailored, individualized messages.

2. Multichannel Drip Nurtures: Similar to an all-email nurture, multichannel drip nurtures incorporate other marketing channels, including traditional “snail mail,” phone calls by an inside sales organization, or even SMS messages. I especially like the idea of including traditional mail. Because so few marketers are using this tactic anymore, you have a chance of really standing out from your competitors. Send a well-designed and eye-catching mailer driving prospects to a microsite with a Web form on it. This will entice prospects to learn more about your products and services, and keep you top of mind when they are ready to make a buying decision.

Similar to the simple drip nurture, however, all of your recipients will still receive the same content, so you need to up the ante to build and deploy the more advanced nurtures described below.

3. Data-Driven Nurtures: Now things will start to get interesting! Begin collecting important information from your prospects and customers such as industry, company size, and/or biggest challenges. Store these values in your marketing automation database and use these elements to customize your nurture. Incorporate dynamic content to personalize each message.

Paper Style, an Atlanta-based purveyor of stationery, gifts, and invitations, asked visitors to the wedding section of its website if they were planning their own wedding or their friend or relative’s wedding. The Paper Style marketing team then used this data to drive a unique nurture for each audience. The results? Email open rates increased 244 percent, click-through rates increased 161 percent, and revenues increased 330 percent over generic nurture email! I’m sure everyone would love to see results like this! By the way, you are not limited to personalizing on just one data element; collect a number of different data points that matter to both you and your prospects and use them liberally as rule sets in your communications.

4. Persona-Driven Nurtures: Analyze all of your top customer segments and determine the contacts that are involved in the buying decision. Then, dig a bit deeper and understand their challenges and what is important to them. Finally, examine all of your existing content and align it with each persona. Don’t be surprised if you have an abundance of content for one or two personas, yet very little for others that are part of your buying cycle. Don’t panic – just work to create additional thought leadership geared to the personas where you are lacking.

When visitors come to your company website, ask about their areas of responsibility or their job category (explicit profiling) or infer their area or responsibility based on where they are clicking on your website (implicit profiling). Use these data points as the basis for a specialized nurture. If you have a content management system (CMS), you can combine it with the power of marketing automation and use rules to determine which persona content is displayed on your website. So, you are not only sending personalized email, but your corporate website is also customized based on each buyer persona. Do this and you’ll find that visitors will stay on your website much longer, engagement rates will climb, and you will qualify more leads.

5. Specialty Nurtures: Once you get the hang of setting up automated nurtures, the sky is the limit for how you might use these capabilities! Consider new customer on-boarding, lead recycling, or even sales rep initiated nurtures.

Nurtures are one of the most powerful core capabilities found in nearly every marketing automation platform. Make sure you give your customers and prospects the awesome experiences they deserve, leveraging all of the advanced functionality and delivering a highly personalized message based on who the customer or prospect is and their specific needs, interests or challenges. Please comment below with ways you’ve implemented sophisticated nurture programs – I always love to hear new ideas!

Image via Shutterstock.

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