Lead Nurturing Guide Part 5: Elements that Constitute Effective Lead Nurturing Content
In the fifth installment of our lead nurturing guide, we’ll examine the elements that constitute effective lead nurturing content. Taken from the latest edition of Marketo’s The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing (@Marketo), previous installments in the series can be found here.
Create Compelling Story Arcs to Boost Engagement
Fans of TV shows, films, comic books, and just about any form of entertainment that utilizes narrative would be familiar with the story arc. Story arcs are extended or continuing storylines, and are commonly found in episodic media. Audiences instinctively look for a story, and marketers can harness this need to create engaging lead nurturing content.
Story arcs answer the question, “What is the business story I want to tell”? They lead your buyer down a specific and strategic path made up of the content you choose for your lead nurture tracks.
To lead buyers down that specific and strategic path, your story arc needs to be relevant and interesting, and should address specific pain points. You story arc also needs to adopt a strategic and personalized approach to move your leads further down the sales funnel. Story arcs need to “be buyer-centric and not all about you!” [See Figure 1]
Additionally, story arcs need to align with the business’s established lead scoring and segmentation system. Listed below are the elements that will help marketers tell effective business stories, as stated by The Harvard Business Review:
- Begin with a message: Marketers need to define their target audiences as well as the stories they want to tell. Once the takeaways have been determined, marketers can construct lead nurture tracks to illustrate that message over time.
- Mine your own experiences/ forge an emotional connection: To be truly effective, the business story needs to resonate with the audience. “You want your buyer to feel like you understand him, and by speaking in a humanistic way that calls on your own experiences with customer pain points, you can create that connection.”
- Avoid making yourself the hero: In order to create a captivating business story, the buyer needs to become the hero. By shifting the focus of the business story towards helping the buyer and not yourself in every nurture communication, you can amplify engagement and increase the willingness of your lead to buy into your message.
- Highlight a struggle: All good business stories carry a struggle (i.e. a pain point or challenge that must be overcome). Buyers have a problem, and it is your job as a marketer to help the buyer see that only you can resolve that problem. By highlighting the struggle and the solution (which you provide), you demonstrate that you are the buyer’s best ally.
- Ensure that your story is consistent across channels: As multi-channel lead nurturing has become critical to success, marketers need to ensure that they’re telling a consistent story across all of their most important channels—such as emails, website content, and social channels.
Maintain that Careful Balance between Helpful and Promotional Content
Effective lead nurturing means establishing a proper balance between helpful and promotional content. To help marketers strike that proper balance in their story arcs, they can utilize the so-called “411” rule,” a concept which was originally popularized by Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi), founder and CEO of the Content Marketing Institute (@CMIContent).
According to Pulizzi, for every four early-stage, informative content offerings marketers provide, one soft-sell offer (such as third party reviews) and one hard-sell offer (such as demos) should also be provided. This rule helps push the buyer to the next stage in the life cycle, and helps strike that delicate balance between providing helpful resources and asking for business.
Nurture content, at its most successful, is designed to teach and accelerate. You educate your leads by teaching them something new, but through the story arc creation, you must accelerate your leads through your sales cycle with content that encourages them to take the next step. [See Figure 2]
Nurture content can be broken down into three broad categories: original content, curated content, and user generated content.
Different Types of Lead Nurturing Content
- Original content: Original content can be produced in-house, outsourced, or commissioned from third party thought leaders. Giving your audience targeted and informative original content demonstrates your expertise and will encourage them to opt-in for your products/services.
- Curated content: Curated content is the process of collecting, organizing, and presenting high-quality, relevant content as part of your lead nurturing strategy. Curated content works well for blog posts, emails, as well as interactions on social media.
- User generated content: You could also ask your community to help create content. For example, you could send emails that link to polls you’ve created on social media. You could then post the results of the polls in another email. User generated content can also come from blog comments, customer testimonials, and customer reviews. Aside from producing more targeted and relevant content to incorporate into your lead nurturing strategy, user generated content also lends authenticity to your business and builds trust in your user community.
Stay tuned to our next exciting installment where we’ll discuss basic lead nurture segmentation.
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