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  • July 1, 2010

4 Questions Likely to be Keeping Marketers up at Night

Marketers very quickly understand that there is no silver bullet to many of the challenges they face every day. In their journey to optimize their processes, many wrestle with questions about the best way to attract new leads, the right frequency of nurturing communications, the most effective segmentation and personalization strategies – the list goes on and on …

MarketingSherpa editor Sean Donahue, and Eloqua Best Practice Consultant Jennifer Horton teamed up to address some of the most common questions about lead management during a MarketingSherpa Webinar. Which one of these questions plagues you the most?

Question #1: How can I add names to my nurturing funnel?

A one-size fit all strategy is simply not going to work – you need a mix of tactics to appeal to a broad range of prospects. Give prospects a reason to raise their hands - different personas will have different needs, and require different content. That’s why it is important to take a portfolio approach to generating opt-ins. Someone who is not interested in subscribing to your email newsletter might instead be interested in registering for a white paper download, so you want to have a wide range of offers to draw in buyers.

In a recent survey, MarketingSherpa asked marketers to rate various techniques for generating email opt-ins according to the volume of opt-ins they produced and the quality of those names. The top five techniques or channels that marketers cited were: free trials/downloads, sales alerts/product announcements, newsletter offers, trade events, and check boxes on registrations forms. In addition to testing different tactics, it’s important to keep it simple for prospects to share their information with you. So, don’t ask for everything up front, instead ask for the minimal amount of information and continue to profile prospects over time. All you need is their email – your objective at this point of the game is not to qualify them or send them to sales, but to build a relationship with them and keep them engaged.

 Question #2: What’s the right frequency and timing for messages?

There is no universal rule for the right timing or frequency of communications. In order to know what works for your customers and prospects you need to test and experiment with different frequency scenarios. Your prospects’ engagement level depends on where they came from, how long they’ve been in your database, and many other factors. Start by testing at least three communications per nurturing track. Take advantage of the “honeymoon” period. Someone who just opted-in to your communications tends to be more receptive and hungry for information – expect higher engagement levels within the first 30 days. This is your window of opportunity to be more aggressive and communicate more frequently – maybe by adding them to a welcome program  – but make sure to scale back your communications as time goes by.

Question #3: How can I customize messages to be more relevant?

Go beyond basic segmentation. Start by identifying and describing your buyer personas and making assumption on what motivates them. Once you’ve documented each persona, map out their buying journey. Focus on what motivates the individual and take it to a personal level by asking the following questions: What are they trying to achieve in their careers? Where do they go for validation? Where do they go for information as they engage with your brand? It is only by knowing and understanding the answers to these questions that you can begin to customize your content for each persona. As a next step, do a content audit and determine content gaps. Identify what content answers the questions that your buyers have and test what formats and delivery channels work for each persona. 

Question #4: How can I close the loop with sales, measure results, and get back leads that need further nurturing?

Having a shared language across the business, a locked down service level agreement, and a defined follow-up process, will go along way. Start by taking a hard look at business definitions across sales and marketing. Once you have a shared syntax across the business, the next big hurdle is to do an audit to determine if your sales and marketing systems are configured to support your business definitions and processes. In any scenario, it is helpful to leverage a Campaign Object either in CRM or marketing automation system so that campaign history can be tracked and mapped to closed opportunities appropriately.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out this MarketingSherpa Q&A with Sean and Jennifer. Also, you can check out the slides on SlideShare and get more tools on lead management in the Eloqua lead management toolkit.

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