In most organizations, “long-term nurture” is either a meaningless phrase, or an out. I will illustrate my point by sharing a conversation I recently overheard at a marketing event:

Marketer 1: What do you do with your leads that don’t ever respond to offers in your targeted nurture programs?

Marketer 2: We put ’em in long-term nurture.

Marketer 1: What does that mean?

Marketer 2: It means we send them a random email every once in a while.

Marketer 1: How is that nurturing?

Marketer 2: It isn’t, but what else are we supposed to do? Also, it just sounds better to call it long-term nurture.

Get the point? I think most B2B marketers, if we’re being honest, must admit we’ve done or are doing something similar to Marketer 2.

Believe it or not, there’s another way to think about long-term nurture that leading marketers use to address common lead nurturing challenges and drive improved results. Here’s the deal….

The goal of long-term nurture is to learn more about prospects where little is known so that they can be moved into, or back into, more targeted and compelling programs. Assuming that segmentation and targeting are accurate and messages and content are compelling, the primary reasons prospects don’t respond to offers are timing (aren’t interested now, but maybe in the future) or the offer simply went unnoticed. Since the majority of contacts in any targeted nurture program are non-responders, a rigorous long-term nurture approach is key to an efficient demand creation process. Just delivering the same offers over and over, or dumping these contacts into a database to be contacted randomly, is not sufficient.

Instead, build structured long-term nurture programs that align with offer maps designed to drive responses across a range of relevant topics and offers. If offer maps are built correctly and adhered to, any response to an offer should act as a transition signal that triggers the contact being moved out of long-term nurture. Many organizations also try to identify activities and behaviors that occur outside the long-term nurture flow. The goal should always be to move prospects into the hands of receiving functions or more targeted programs as quickly as possible. This means that it’s essential to have well-defined disposition rules as well as more narrowly focused nurture flows deployed prior to initiating a long-term nurture program.