Monday, November 9, 2009

Lead Nurturing

I've been chatting this week with a former colleague setting up a simple lead scoring system for a small tech company where he runs the marketing team. He embraces the importance of automating his lead collection and management, nurturing the leads they gather as well as placing scores on each of the interactions he has with prospects as they progress through the lead funnel. Good stuff.

We've been debating though the amount of data he should seek to collect through this lead nurturing process, that is, how much data and when to ask for it. He's attempting to collect all relevant data with which to determine if the prospect is a viable lead IN THE FIRST CONTACT HE MAKES. Hmmm, I say... not good stuff.

We both agree that lead nurturing should be an ongoing process where we engage in a ongoing dialogue with a prospect with the goal of providing the prospect with high value information that makes him smarter/do his job better in exchange for his providing us proprietary data about what his needs are (or might be in the future). This suggests that this information exchange should be gradual and at a pace the prospect feels comfortable with in his learning process.

The lead nurture process is very much about your company gradually earning trust as a valued thought leader or provider of good ideas. As you become a trusted partner (you're not just about trying to sell product) the prospect will become more willing to gradually reveal more information about himself and his requirements. Very few people will tell you everything about who they are/what they need in that first marketing interaction.

I've always felt that the campaign forms I build are incremental and reflect where the prospect is in the funnel. I seek to gather just enough prospect data with the first marketing activity that permits me the chance to re-connect and prove my mettle again and again. My first forms usually ask just for a first, last name and an email address (always a 2nd email field to ensure there are no errors). Once I have that, I can enter the prospect into my marketing database and let the conversation grow.

Hopefully with each successive marketing transaction I provide sufficient value for the prospect to feel comfortable in exchanging more info about who he is and what his needs might be. A 2nd form might for instance ask for his title, company name, size, address and industry. 3rd touch forms might then delve into BANT information (budget, authority, need, timeline) where I begin to get a sense if there is funded project either now or on the horizon.

In future posts I'll go through how creating an offer portfolio which supports this lead nurturing process ensures a hand-off from one marketing transaction to the next and keeps the prospect engaged.

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