Marketing automation and lead nurturing seem to go hand-in-hand. In fact, according to the 2014 B2B Enterprise Demand Generation Study conducted by ANNUITAS, 75% of respondents stated they are using lead nurturing. Yet despite the widespread use of lead nurturing as part of a demand generation strategy, only 2.8% of respondents stated they are having success with their demand generation programs. Where is the disconnect?
In discussions with enterprise marketers and in analyzing the results from the study, there are a few common reasons why so many companies are not getting the most from their lead nurturing and overall demand generation efforts:
1. Marketing Automation Does Not Equal Lead Nurturing
Multiple studies show that those who have purchased marketing automation do so because of the lead nurturing feature. To be clear, lead nurturing is not a feature, it is a strategy that is then enabled by technology. Technology will not deliver lead nurturing anymore than buying lumber and nails will build a home. Marketers need to develop a strategy to nurture leads and then build that (enable) within the marketing automation platform. It doesn’t happen automatically.
2. Creating Lead Nurturing Campaigns
The phrase “lead nurturing campaigns” should be struck from the vocabulary of demand generation professionals. A campaign is a point-in-time event that starts and stops. This is not the idea or intent behind lead nurturing. When connecting with the buyer through the multiple steps of the buyer's journey, the goal should be to align your content in order to engage, nurture, and convert the buyer, not just connect via a one and done campaign. Nurture content is essential to bridge the gap between initial buyer engagement and conversion i.e. the sales process.
When organizations treat nurturing as separate campaigns, this continuous sequence breaks and becomes much less effective. When planning demand generation programs, which should be perpetual, think holistically, not tactically.
3. Confusing Drip Marketing With Lead Nurturing
Many organizations talk about their lead nurturing approach and describe a program where a prospect will receive an email with an offer every two weeks, for several months. This is not lead nurturing. Lead nurturing should be determined by the buyer’s interactions and behavior, not a pre-planned sequence that doesn’t enable real-time interaction. If buyers continue to consume your content, you should continue to respond accordingly with relevant and timely content.
Lead nurturing is vital to connecting with your buyers, as most B2B buying journeys are not linear and have certain levels of complexity. Organizations need to think more strategically about their approach to lead nurturing and understand the role it plays in holistic, buyer-centric demand generation.
Author Bio: Carlos Hidalgo is an innovative thought-leader with over 20 years experience as a B2B marketing practitioner and industry visionary. Carlos is widely recognized for his expertise in strategic integrated marketing, demand process and marketing automation. As CEO and Principal of ANNUITAS, Carlos drives strategy and leads core practice teams to transform demand for enterprise clients globally. Carlos has been named one of the 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management for the last five years. Prior to ANNUITAS Carlos was responsible for global SMB marketing at BMC Software and held a similar role at McAfee.
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