The times, they are a changin’. The prerequisites for a company to be successful have intensified. And the prerequisites for a marketing team to be successful are no different.
The past few weeks I have been writing about how to identify your unfair advantage and how to utilize your unfair advantage to punch above your weight. Both of these topics, I believe, are essential for staying ahead in this tough environment.
Unfortunately, they can also be a little abstract, at least in terms of taking real, actionable steps toward marketing success. So, today I’m going to talk about a specific marketing strategy and its primary corresponding tool, both of which dovetail incredibly well with utilizing your unfair advantage to punch above your weight.
As you might have guessed from the title of this article, I’m talking here about nurture marketing. And the corresponding tool is marketing automation. Both powerful, both rising in popularity.
But, what is nurture marketing? Truth be told, there’s not a lot of great information about it. There’s plenty about the concept of lead nurturing, which is part and parcel to nurture marketing. According to Marketo, lead nurturing is defined as helping “marketers communicate consistently with buyers cross-channel and throughout the sales cycle—addressing the gap in time between when a lead first interacts with you and when she is ready to purchase.”
And being that Marketo is, well, Marketo, that definition sums up the act of lead nurture pretty well. Still, lead nurturing is an act, it’s a tactic. Nurture marketing, on the other hand, takes this tactic of lead nurturing and applies it as a philosophy to all marketing efforts and communication. Marketing automation, then, is the center of this strategy or philosophy. It holds this designation due to its ability to automate messages and communications with speed, efficiency, and personalized relevance.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – isn’t marketing automation limited to email? It certainly is based in email. Many marketing automation tools are becoming hubs of all marketing communications, though. And even for those that aren’t, or at least haven’t yet, email is like the ground zero of marketing, anyways. It’s the one space where you can communicate personally with individuals who have expressed interest in your brand. It’s what the rest of your marketing materials should flow around, according to nurture marketing.
And the way that nurture marketing and marketing automation apply to punching above your weight with your unfair advantage is two-fold. Marketing automation allows for punching above your weight in a more technical sense. By using technology to streamline what otherwise could be a tedious and resource-draining process of creating, delivering, and measuring personalized communications, marketers can use even the simplest of tools to cut costs and reduce efforts. That way, more resources can be put into the development and leveraging of an unfair advantage.
And this leads me to the other side of the two-fold benefit—nurture marketing and marketing automation allow you to do more than point at an unfair advantage, claim it, and then sit on it. The ease which with you can spread relevant messages across the buying funnel allows marketers to truly utilize unfair advantage messaging in an impactful way.
And impactful nurture marketing is. Take these statistics courtesy of Hubspot as proof—though they’re just the tip of the iceberg:
- Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Forrester Research)
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group)
- Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. (Jupiter Research)
- Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%. (Aberdeen Group)
In fact, the agile and effective use of nurture marketing could become your unfair advantage.
Developing a Nurture Marketing Culture: What It Takes to Successfully Adopt Nurture Marketing
Lead nurturing is essential but really owning nurture marketing takes corporate commitment. It requires transformation. It leads to transformation, too, though which is why it’s worth it. If you’ve had a momentary lapse and thought ‘why would I restructure my marketing around a fad’ refer back to the stats above and consider the fact that nurture marketing is more than likely here to stay.
And on we go.
Traditionally, marketing is responsible for Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and sales is responsible for Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). There’s an unaddressed gap there, though. We know well enough by now that MQLs aren’t automatically ready for purchase and often a too-early contact from a salesperson can scare them off.
That’s just the first of many gaps marketing teams are facing. There are gaps between specialists and strategists, leading to disjointed messages. IT teams and marketing teams are rarely on the same page, which can result in uneven and unsuccessful marketing technology usage.
Until now, marketing has been thought of as a collection of different channels, all requiring their own strategists and specialists to execute on channel-specific tactics. As we talked about above, though, nurture marketing requires communication on a personalized basis or even individual basis, if possible, across multiple channels and throughout the buyers’ journey.
So those gaps—or, more accurately, walls—between the above listed groups need to be removed.
Realigning Around Nurture Marketing
Most organizations and marketing agencies are organizationally silo-ed and channel focused. What’s the key to transforming this set up? Think ‘What’s the message you want to send?’ then begin to refocus around how channels work together to create and deliver that message. The goal is to be less channel focused and more aligned on overall activation of a message, i.e., your unfair advantage.
Visualizing where you’re headed by identifying your goals and knowing what success looks like to you is as integral to this process as the actual outcome. This practice of setting expectations will mitigate the tendency to set the bar too high while providing a strategic road map for rebuilding your team. Of course, one of the most damaging mistakes marketers can make is not backing up his or her nurture marketing efforts with the manpower or budget necessary to achieve goals. By realigning your entire team behind your goals, though, this problem can be avoided.
Finally, and most importantly, building a nurture marketing culture requires a nurture marketing champion. I know, that sounds hyperbolic. If you have even one person, though, who understands the ins and outs of marketing automation as well as how it plays into SEO, social, content, paid advertising, CRM, and more, you’ll have the common thread necessary to maintain alignment. This champion should be open to change, understand technology, and have the ability to bring people together. By operating on a strategic, not tactical, basis, a nurture marketing champion will empower your team to break down barriers and send an impactful message to your audience.
Making good use of your unfair advantage within your marketing efforts can be simple with nurture marketing. Marketing automation can help you punch above your weight and put you in the big leagues. Nevertheless, without the proper infrastructure, achieving either of these will be near impossible. Leading transformation internally is necessary to attain transformational results.
Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Punch Above Your Weight: Why Digital Favors David, Not Goliath to discover how identifying your unfair advantage is key to operating above capacity.