Cross-Channel Lead Nurturing: It’s Time to Move Beyond Email

According to Gartner, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human. Given trends in social media, you can bet a significant portion of these interactions will move away from the inbox.

The July 2012 “State of Lead-To-Revenue Management” report from Forrester Research highlighted this trend stating “B2B tech marketers have adopted lead nurturing as a best practice. However, very few we speak with claim to be using advanced lead-nurturing tactics. Many marketers are looking to advance from their current state of play: a single nurturing stream for all target audiences; touches that are about the company or its products; engagement primarily through email…”

In a B2B context, businesses don’t make purchase decisions, people do; and people are inherently multi-channel and perpetually connected these days. Marketers that are relying on email alone to nurture potential customers aren’t optimizing their communications or maximizing the potential for revenue and market share.

This post will spotlight three different channels (outside of email) that can and should be incorporated into your lead nurturing programs.

The Web

Static landing pages and content offers are primarily used for lead acquisition, not nurturing. It’s sort of like fishing with bait. You create the landing pages, drive traffiCross Channel Lead Nurturing: It’s Time to Move Beyond Email image Lead nurturingCross Channel Lead Nurturing: It’s Time to Move Beyond Emailc via SEO, PPC, and social marketing, and wait to see how well it worked. While critical, they don’t necessarily take into account where individuals are in the buying process unless they are promoted and triggered as part of a nurture campaign. According to Forrester Research (Behavioral Targeting Powers Customized Content & Increased Conversion), “Impersonal or generic content leaves money on the table by failing to present the right offers and customer experience elements that boost productivity and provide relevant information.”

Marketers should be using real-time interaction management capabilities to extend the lead nurturing process to the brand website. This would allow your organization to offer website visitors the next best asset or message based on who they are, what they’ve consumed previously, and their propensity to buy based on lead scoring algorithms. It’s like having a digital concierge online. This is a much more sophisticated approach to website offers and it’s one that will likely form the future of highly personalized web experiences online.

Social Media

Social media has a symbiotic relationship with email. It’s easy to add social profile and sharing links to email messages, but, unless the content is so compelling that people feel obligated to share it, it’s really not all that valuable. But, social media provides a valuable way to share visual and easily digestible content as part of the nurturing process. The more engaging the content, the more likely it will be shared within networks of like minded individuals.

In much the same way content can be dynamically presented via a website, social marketing tools can also deliver dynamic personalization on social media sites. For example, Facebook brand pages can include exclusive content that is customized based on a recommendation engine that dynamically serves the next best asset to inbound visitors.

Social media can also be used as an alternative to the inbox. Some companies are using social media to reach out after an email remains unopened for a pre-defined period of days. Business rules can trigger a Twitter direct message (DM) with a link to the same asset that was offered via email. Keep in mind, the communication should always be orchestrated to aesthetically link communications across channels to a common campaign. The worst thing you can do is shotgun different messages and creative across a variety of different channels.

Mobile

Mobile is the ultimate relevance engine. It is estimated that over 75% of mobile phone users read email on mobile devices. That makes mobile a critical destination for highly relevant communications via email as well as other channels, including the web and social. Therefore, messages must not only render well on a plethora of devices, but the path to the website, social profiles, and mobile apps must be consistent and seamless.

According to Nielson, consumption of mobile videos via Smartphone’s and tablets increased by 35% from 2010 to 2011. With YouTube alone gaining 100-140M unique visits each month, mobile is surely a compelling channel to tap into, especially for video content.

Companies can tap into their mobile apps as a unique communication channel to share educational videos and other rich content. Today, it’s possible to send 1:1 push notifications informing prospects about a relevant content asset and redirecting to an in-app page where it can be viewed. You could even make a tailored content or video library accessible via a mobile app. In addition, SMS messages can engage prospects by location with highly relevant communications given the event, destination, or activity.

Summary

Email will likely continue to remain the most compelling means of engaging and nurturing prospects. But, it shouldn’t be the only means your organization relies on for prospect and customer communication. It’s important to keep in mind that relevant communications are the only way to rise above the noise, and that means reaching out to prospects where they want, when they want, and in a highly relevant and personalized way. That means looking to other channels, as well as email, to engage prospects as part of the lead nurturing process.

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