My discussions with B2B marketers who want to implement a lead nurture program or enhance existing programs almost always begin with one major misconception about the true meaning of lead nurturing. Many marketers describe lead nurturing as a process that involves an automated response to a broad set of targets, followed by a series of emails offering potential buyers a wide variety of assets. That sounds a lot like a drip marketing program! And drip marketing isn’t the same as a true lead nurturing effort.

Here are some tips to help you make this distinction and guide the development of a focused, effective approach to lead nurturing:

  • Segment and categorize leads. Unlike a drip marketing program, which may involve sending the same automated response to all responders, nurture involves segmenting and categorizing your leads, based on where they sit in the demand waterfall, to determine what type of treatment (i.e. content, offers and messages) they will receive to influence further engagement.
  • Guide buyers through the buying process. Lead nurture is designed to facilitate a buyer’s journey through the buying process and influence his or her decisionmaking process along the way. Unlike drip marketing, in which all responders receive the same message and offers, lead nurturing takes into account individual buyer preferences and delivers relevant messaging and content within the context of the stages of the buying cycle.
  • Determine how leads will be transitioned. Drip marketing programs tend to have a standard, impersonal method of followup. Lead nurturing involves the identification of specific signals that indicate a potential buyer is ready to move back into an active demand state, and a disposition that is tailored to the needs of the buyer and his or her stage in the buying cycle.
  • You can read more about the four pillars that define lead nurture in the post “A Foundation for Focused and Effective Lead Nurturing.”