When you develop an automated nurture track, you should think about the specific goals of the track in question. You don’t want to send a series of emails to a prospect for no reason. But you also don’t want some of your prospects to be left behind with no communication whatsoever. You do want to have a plan for every person who fills out one of your forms based on who they are, what they need and where they are in their buying cycle.
Below are lists of general types of nurture tracks you should be using today to keep in touch with your prospects as they become ready to buy.
- Welcome: When a visitor to your website fills out a form, he has identified himself. He has said, yes, I am interested in your company, and I trust you enough with my email address for you to send me more content. Your first email will be the form’s auto-responder. If it’s not a contact me form, they don’t become a lead right away. But you want to stay in touch for as long as possible, not in an overbearing way, but just to let him know you’re there. So you send him through a welcome program, experimenting with different variations of content with the hope of fast tracking him into a faster nurture track with more calls to action.
- Inform: A prospect has been welcomed, she receives your emails once every two weeks and has finally expressed interested in a particular area of your content. Start sending her follow-up efforts focused on that content. That way she’ll get the information she needs to make her decision, and she’ll start trusting you as her preferred source of advice on that decision.
- Engage: A prospect has expressed interest, and now you want to nudge him towards a buying decision. Speed up the process by providing those pieces of content that relate to buying your product or service. Once he takes an action in this track, you may be ready to call him with a sales pitch.
- Wake: Some prospects will come to your site and then go inactive. For these prospects, try anything new to see if they take an action. You want to send periodic efforts to shake them up; wake them and push them into one of your other tracks.
- Follow up and assess: When someone becomes a customer, send them some follow up materials to judge their satisfaction or if they need any customer service help. Don’t just close the sale and forget about them.
- Refer: Make sure you have nurture campaigns built around your referral program as well. A happy customer is worth more than a single sale.
Types of content
The types of content you create can be tagged with the above criteria. Maybe one of your demos is meant to really engage a prospect, or a white paper to inform them about the specifics of one of your products. Below is a list of content types and where they likely fit into the above nurture tracks.
- White papers & articles: Usually informative, these pieces of content are text-heavy and non-biased. In building your brand as a thought leader and trusted advisor, a white paper or article shows prospects that you just want to educate them on your area of expertise.
- Videos: Also informative, a video is much like a white paper, but in a different medium. In fact, you can easily repurpose the content of a white paper to make it more interesting to different types of prospects.
- Demonstrations: A product demonstration is meant to engage your prospects. When they look at how your product works, they are more interested in buying what you may have. Include this sort of content in your engagement nurture tracks.
- Price guides: Again, when someone is looking to buy, they want to know pricing and offer structure. Do you offer a free trial or money-back guarantee? If a prospect looks for this, it’s time to score them well and send them to sales.
- Case studies & surveys: A case study or survey will fall between informing and engaging your prospects. Both case studies and surveys show how other companies in the prospect’s niche have succeeded using your product. They can each help make the case to purchasers that you offer value for the price you’re charging.
- Events (webinars or live): Any prospect attending an online or live event is engaged. This content can be repurposed demos, a presentation of survey results on a particular industry or general information on your company’s relationship to your prospects’ niche.
When you nurture prospects or send them different pieces of content, you’re leading them down a certain path that will hopefully end in a successful sales call. But don’t come on too strong. If someone downloads a whitepaper on your site, start slow with a welcome track. If they express more interest, push them into an informative or engaging track that will speed their way to different decisions along your buying cycle.
You want your prospects to take actions that raise a flag to sales that they are a hot lead, looking to buy. You can even design your tracks and assets to raise that flag with some information on how to respond. If someone is looking at price guides, call them with an offer for a free trial. If they view a demonstration on how your product helps a particular industry, call with a case study in mind to reinforce where you can help. In this way you can educate your leads to about the right decision before selling to them.
1 Comment for this entry
January 4th, 2012 on 4:41 am
All well said! Would only add the need to tailor content to the requirements of the vertical market the prospect is in, and the product or service they’re buying (such as mid-range storage vs. outsourced finance and accounting). The more specific the better, and focus your efforts on expertise on your truly best prospects. Thanks again!
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