When LinkedIn acquired Pulse earlier this year, it was obvious they believed they could improve the way they deliver content to their users. LinkedIn Today already provided a custom content experience based on what the social network could cull from each user’s connections, groups, follows, and likes. But Pulse’s deeper social interactions are taking LinkedIn’s efforts to tailor content to a user’s specific needs to a whole new level. LinkedIn knows that if it delivers business professionals the information they need, more frequent use will push each user further towards their premium services.
This concept is a powerful way to increase the effectiveness of content marketing. While traditional “interruption marketing” is increasingly moving toward more authentic content and native ad models, content marketers can raise their game by connecting with potential customers on the level LinkedIn has achieved. This kind of lead nurturing – that is, going beyond providing engaging material to the point of targeting content to a lead’s specific needs – is an effective way to advance your sales efforts.
These days, closing sales, particularly with B2B customers that need a lot of specific information, requires a customized approach. With CRMs and powerhouse marketing automation platforms such as Marketo and HubSpot tracking every point of interaction, marketers know more about their customers and prospects than ever before. That knowledge is a powerful tool, but without a means of segmenting your messaging, you can lose this advantage. How can you get that one-to-one marketing experience?
Content Nurturing Closes the Marketing Automation Gap
Purposeful content that zeroes in on your customer’s specific needs helps you gain a deeper level of engagement and develop customer loyalty. With a steady stream of useful content, you achieve the goal of all marketing automation plans – regular and personalized contact with your customers that opens up sales opportunities.
So how do you segment, target, scale, and measure content nurturing?
5 Key Steps to a Great Content Nurturing Campaign
1. Determine Prospect/Customer Segments
Proper segmentation of your audience is crucial to content nurturing success. Your CRM is your best resource for information about your customers and leads. Set some standard reports to help you understand who wants and needs what.
Surveys are also a great way to find out more details about your customer’s interests and pain points and how you can best target groups within this population.
Here are some additional tips for further breaking down your lead and customer lists:
- What problems do your customers share?
- What educational effort would get leads further down the conversion funnel?
- Could at-risk customers be retained through industry validation? Do new customers need more guidance as they begin to use your product?
- How do they consume content? Social? E-mail? Reading your blog?
- Finally, what content topics or themes do they click on most?
2. Organize Content Types By Segment
Now that you know who they are and what they want, determine the kind of content each segment needs.
How can news, research, and your perspective on timely events help keep existing customers engaged with your business?
Some need timely articles on certain topics, while others need white-paper-level documentation that explores their problems, and others still might want infographics that highlight solutions for them. Breaking down your content into different types can help you organize your regular messaging.
Original content works well for product information, case studies, videos and white papers that are useful for all prospects and customers. However, hand-creating every piece of customized content for your segments isn’t a practical solution.
Curated content is an emerging marketing option that can increase your ability to target deeper and more refined segments in your CRM. Your original commentary can put curated content into the right context for each segment with far less time and effort than manually creating a new piece of content for each group.
Finding the perfect content mix of original and curated content will allow you to scale your communication across segments.
3. Create Segment-Driven Content Campaigns
Consider each segment’s needs as you design your campaigns.
- Regular customers are usually willing to hear from you more often than less frequent users of your products.
- Less frequent customers need updates on changes in the industry, newer technologies, or even recent developments in your product or services.
- More lucrative customers or prospects may warrant an investment in deeper, more frequent communication, premium content, or information campaigns to educate them about how a top-tier product like yours will solve their problems.
Designing specific campaign parameters can ensure that you don’t overload some customers with information or miss an opportunity to close new sales.
4. Publish & Measure
Use Google Analytics, Omniture or marketing automation tools to review each targeted campaign. Duplicate and develop successful tactics and note what you can learn from less successful campaigns so you’re ready when you target that segment again. Factors to track:
- Open rates
- Clicks into your site
- Clicks to different content topics or themes
- Clicks to products embedded within your content
- Closed sales
When you measure, make a plan to revise and re-launch campaigns. As you can see what is working, focus on using the type of content that is grabbing your customers’ attention properly and driving those sales, clicks on the site, or interactions on your social platform.
While your business may not have the detailed social interactions that LinkedIn Pulse is obtaining from their users, personalized content nurturing can help ensure that every conversation you have with your leads is meaningful and helps them solve business problems. By segmenting prospects, leads and customers and providing useful, personalized content to them, you can more effectively take advantage of an increasingly sophisticated set of marketing software tools and analytics.
Effective content nurturing can help make your leads look forward to the useful information you are sharing with them, paving the way to more closed sales and a longer lasting customer relationship.