Prospect Engagement is more than Content Creation

by Maria Pergolino on January 7, 2010

I have heard a few times from marketers about how they are not ready to use marketing automation because they don’t have a library of content available for lead nurturing.  I disagree with this idea and believe that you need to engage all prospects after a lead is generated, regardless of the size of your content library.

Marketo started interacting with prospects long before they had a bunch of white papers.  The first nurturing campaign was based on blog posts and other people’s content.  Marketo then added new pieces to the nurturing program as they built out content.  Now all of our nurturing tracks are infused with a mix of content- including white papers, webinars, blog posts, analyst reviews, and more.

Let’s say someone signs up for your company’s one white paper on VOIP.  You could still easily have a lead nurturing program without creating any other content.  Here is an example of a simple three month drip campaign: 

Day 1:   Thank you for requesting the VOIP paper, including link to paper
Day 15: Information about the future of VOIP, as posted by an analyst on their website
Day 30: Summary of a longer blog post about VOIP that your company did, with link to the post
Day 45: Information about big industry announcement, like X number of companies switching to VOIP, sharing excitement about the change, and linking to a post about it on a news site
Day 60: Summary of a video that your company participated in, even if not on your site, including link to the video
Day 75: Information about new books in your industry, summarizing why they may be interesting to read, and linking to the books
Day 90: Summary of and link to another popular post your company posted on your blog

In this example I used content by analysts, book authors, and other industry leaders to share my message without ever having created another piece of content other than some blog posts.  There are lots of options for this external content including:

  • Blog posts on your company blog
  • Blog posts by other bloggers in your industry
  • Guest blog posts on other sites
  • Analyst thought leadership
  • Partner thought leadership
  • Industry News- linking to news sites
  • Book reviews- linking to Amazon
  • Trade shows, industry events
  • Plus, any other thought leadership you can find that would be relevant to your prospects
  •  

    Because each of these emails are html and because they have links in the emails to content, you can collect opens, clickthroughs, etc. just as you would using your own content.  And because the campaign is going out to people you know it doesn’t matter that the items do not go to offers with registration.  You will still have all the benefits of sharing your own content.

    Don’t get me wrong, my job revolves around creating content and I am consistently working on new white papers, because I do believe they provide value.  The key is to understand that it’s not all or nothing.  You can still have a successful demand generation program that includes lead nurturing and scoring even if you only have one white paper or one webinar.

    Also, by not focusing on the quantity of content you have, you can focus more on the quality of the content pieces you do produce.

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    Many companies are struggling with the idea of their marketing going online, and even more so when it’s not on their website. This is often compounded because some marketers can’t even access blogs and social media sites due to company web restrictions. Here are some quick tips if this is happening to you:

    My company insists I use a pseudonym in emails:

    Marketing experts often say that conversations should be genuine and that emails should come from a real person at the company. Though some companies use a pseudonym instead of the name of a real person to avoid problems caused when their current employees move to other positions. Since your company insists on this, the only thing you can do is make the best of it. The goal here is to avoid having prospects upset when they find out that the sender is not a real person. This happens when they call up the general number and a sales rep says that it’s not a real person, or occurs when a contact tries to reply to the email they received, addressing the fake name.

    The best way to handle this is to prepare for this to happen before it does. First, inform sales of the policy, and script responses for them so they know what to say when they do receive these inquiries. Also, when this email receives replies, send responses from your email and name. The sender will assume that the email was passed to you because you knew the response to their question. Try to then continue the conversation through your account.

    My company insists that all emails go out as marketing@mycompanyname.com:

    One way to sway management on this is to do a test to see if emails from your name get a better response than those from a generic email address. If they allow the test, look at the results and see if that supports the use of a real name, instead of a generic email box. Don’t just look at the open rate. Also, look at the click through rate and number of people that reply to each since prospects often feel their email will end up in an unmonitored email box if they reply to the generic account. Take this information to management in hopes of change.

    If the results don’t support your case or if management won’t permit a test, do the best you can to make sure that you monitor that email box as if it was your own personal account. Make sure prospects know that everyone at your company will be responsive to them, even if they send an email to a generic account.

    My company insists I tweet out as my brand, not as a person:

    I think it is okay for a brand to have a corporate account not associated with a real person. I often find that I want to follow a corporate account to be made aware of new products and services, new blog posts or pieces of thought leadership, and coupons or discounts. I don’t like when corporate accounts try to hold personal conversations and constantly interact with people through the brand name. Try to use your corporate account to keep prospects and clients up-to-date on your company. Also, use the account to promote industry happenings, so followers know they can find out everything going on in an industry just by following your corporate account. Once that proves to be a success, approach management about creating a personal account to have more genuine conversations on social networks.

    My boss or legal team wants to approve every social media post before it goes out:

    I know a number of marketers that struggle with this issue. First, try to explain the need for the most up-to-date info on your blog or social sites and how the approval process may slow down news, making the posts obsolete before they have even gone out. Present examples of the companies who are doing a good job with social media, highlighting those in your particular industry. Also show how your competitors are beating you to stories because of the extra steps before posting.

    If that still doesn’t work, propose that you get an approval on a topic before posting, but not the individual reply or post. For example, let’s say you plan on promoting a new product through social media. Put together a list of all approved collateral and ask legal or your boss if you can tweet out about or post blogs about the content that is already approved in these assets. Then when doing posts make sure not to use any facts that are not already okayed. This is a nice way to keep communicating, but only about the topics your boss is comfortable with you sharing.

    My company won’t allow comments on our blog:

    Companies are struggling to accept negative comments, on their website, or on social media sites. One way to overcome this on your blog is to moderate comments before posting. This will allow you to remove any from competitors, remove spam, and prepare responses to any negative posts before they are shown publically. If your company still won’t approve two way communications, I would still continue making blog posts, as this is better than nothing at all.

    My company won’t let me do any inbound marketing. We don’t have a blog, we don’t any search engine marketing, and I’m forbidden to use social media:

    If your company won’t allow these efforts, your competitors will be happy to take advantage of this opportunity. As competitors starts making these efforts present them to management, showing any new sales or successes that have lead from their online marketing efforts. This may help change their mind.

    Good marketers who face extreme restrictions that prevent them from blogging, using social media, regularly updating web content, or presenting at industry events should consider moving to other companies or using free time to create their own blog or help a small business do inbound marketing (or all three). I know this isn’t an easy solution, but inbound marketing is transparent, and future employers will be able to see your online marketing efforts. It will be harder to find a job later as online marketing skills become a requirement for many companies. Another great way to build these skills is to help a charity with their online marketing. You can use the time you already put aside for helping charities to do this, and will get some great work references at the same time. When your company does realize the error in their ways you will already have the skill set to help them succeed.

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