Do You Need Marketing Automation to Do Lead Nurturing? Sort Of

A prospective client asks: “We’re just getting our demand generation programs ramped up, and I’m not sure I’m ready for marketing automation. Do I need it in order to do lead nurturing?”

My answer:

Do You Need Marketing Automation to Do Lead Nurturing? Sort Of. image old fashioned lead nurturingDo You Need Marketing Automation to Do Lead Nurturing? Sort Of.“It depends how you define “lead nurturing,” but technically: no, you don’t need marketing automation in order to nurture leads. After all, a simple monthly email newsletter to your database – something you can accomplish with only the most basic email service provider (ESP) – nurtures leads. It’s just not a particularly sophisticated way of going about it.

And therein lies the difference. Without marketing automation, nurturing is relegated to only the most simple “batch & blast” campaigns – that is, one-time batch broadcasts to a fixed list. Can a regularly scheduled calendar of batch campaigns serve to maintain brand awareness and keep your company top of mind? Certainly. But as I wrote in this previous post, today’s lead nurturing has long since graduated from a simple, calendar-based system of “one size fits all” emails.

The biggest difference between basic ESPs and today’s modern marketing automation technology is the ability to design and deploy automated, triggered, multi-step campaigns. Marketing automation simply takes nurturing to a whole new level. It enables you to deploy lead nurturing programs that are more timely, relevant, and, ultimately, effective. If you want nurturing to mean more than just simply “staying in touch,” and if shorter sales cycles, better qualified leads, and higher sales productivity could all make a tangible difference to your bottom line, then marketing automation is worth the plunge.”

Here’s a short list of what else marketing automation can do that your ESP likely can’t:

• Responding immediately and automatically to sales-ready behaviors (like visiting certain high-value pages on your Website)

• Ensuring that inbound sales leads are all followed up with promptly and personally, independent of sales bandwidth

• Tailoring email content automatically to demographic criteria like persona, industry, and company size, as well as where the prospect is in the sales cycle

• Pre-populating landing pages with information previously provided by the prospect, thereby increasing conversion rates and campaign performance

• Tailoring registration form questions based on what questions an individual prospect has already answered, and what else you need to know about him/her

• Structuring multi-step drip campaigns that respond automatically to whether a prospect opens, clicks, or responds to the campaign (or past campaign behavior, or demographic criteria)

• Reflect campaign information (sent, opened, clicked) automatically within your CRM system, giving sales reps more information about prospect behavior

• Measure email campaign performance by true ROI vs. just opens, clicks, and leads (and compare campaigns side-by-side by the same criteria)

• Integrate social media seamlessly into email campaigns in a way that extends the reach and value of the campaign

What other differences did I miss? Comments welcome.

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