Lead nurturing, when done well, is an extremely effective business tool.
It can enable you to establish a relationship with potential customers long before they are ready to talk to you on the phone, or keep them engaged and interested when their initiatives are delayed or budgets put on hold.
But only if it’s done well.
Successful lead nurturing involves a combination of key elements that need to work closely together. These include developing actionable buyer personas, mapping the decision making process, form strategy, email and web design, planning and originating content, copywriting, telequalification, data management and search engine marketing.
“Search engine marketing?” you may well say, “What has search got to do with lead nurturing?” The answer is that in truly integrated B2B marketing the two are totally interdependent, involved in a constant feedback loop. Here are just 4 examples of the ways in which lead nurturing and search engine marketing work together:
1. Planning nurturing content
Search analysis is a key starting point for a nurturing campaign. Keyword research can inform you what your target audience is searching for and the language they are using to search for this information, and this in turn can inform the content you create. A search audit covering searches made by your target audience on your web site, competitor sites and on the broader web will enable you to compile a comprehensive list of keywords related to your products and services – and critically, the issues they help customers address. Many buyers’ searches relate to the problem they face, rather than the solution they hope to find.
2. Identifying buying signals
Research shows that buyers search throughout the decision making process – not just at the outset. Search keywords can equally help with the definition of buying stages and buying signals. How does your audience search at the start of their journey? And how do they search when they are on the point of making that all-important purchase? The keyword list compiled in the search audit can be segmented according to buying stage. Search terms used can determine the point at which a contact enters a nurture program and scores can be attributed to different search terms used and fed into your lead scoring algorithm. A long tail search is a strong buying signal and should be scored as such.
3. Growing your database
It’s all very well having a sophisticated lead nurturing program, but too few companies have a coherent strategy for feeding contacts into that program on an ongoing basis. Lead nurturing is not just about communicating with your existing database – it’s also about growing it. By optimising all relevant pages of your site including landing pages according to buyer-related searches, you can rank well for key terms, drawing in search traffic and feeding your nurturing database. By retargeting unknown visitors to your website with appropriate pay-per-click ads on Google and other search engines, you have a chance of bringing them back and converting them into “known” contacts.
4. In-depth search feedback
Nurturing tools such as Eloqua and Marketo provide a level of feedback that goes far beyond standard analytics, combining multiple sources and touch points – email traffic, search traffic, direct traffic – downloads, page views, repeat visits – and all through one system. A lead nurturing campaign can therefore provide invaluable feedback on the keywords selected for search engine optimization and paid search campaigns. Not only can you analyse whether they have helped generate traffic, you can also look at the likelihood contacts using those keywords will convert to leads further down the funnel.