Here is the fifth of the seven ways content marketing improves lead generation.

5. Content Marketing Provides the Ability to Nurture Prospects that Are Not Ready to Buy

Research has shown that 70% of the new leads generated by today’s marketing campaigns are “interested”, but are just not ready to make a purchase now. In the past, before marketing automation was available, sales professionals were trained to simply discard the leads that weren’t ready to buy in a timely fashion, regardless of their level of interest. Now, with content marketing supporting lead generation, lead nurturing, and brand promotion, new leads who are interested but not ready to purchase can be put into a lead nurturing process to be continuously engaged until such time as they can move forward toward a purchase.

Many sales organizations were taught the “BANT” method of qualifying prospects. A prospect could not be considered to be fully qualified until it had met all four BANT criteria: Budget, Authority, Need, and Time, with “Time” meaning that the prospect had to confirm that he or she would be making the purchase decision within a “reasonable” period of time (usually 60 to 120 days, depending on the type of product being sold).

When new sales leads were followed up by salespeople, the most important thing to do (and still is) was to rapidly qualify or disqualify the prospect. The problem was that when a lead indicated that they were interested but not ready to buy yet, there was no alternative for the salesperson except to discard the lead as unqualified. With an estimated 70% of new content marketing leads being legitimately interested, but not meeting the “Time” qualification, this meant that over 2/3 of all marketing lead generation efforts were being wasted!

Today’s content marketing and marketing automation capabilities allow marketing and sales to identify new leads and responders who are interested but cannot begin a purchase process in the near future and easily move them to a new stage of lead generation: nurturing.

Drip lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of identifying a content marketing campaign responder as interested in your product, determining their role in a future decision process (economic buyer, technical buyer, influencer, roadblock, coach, etc.), and taking them back out of sales’s hands and into the stage of nurturing. Marketing then uses pre-configured email automation to deliver a steady “drip” of personalized emails of related and interesting topics to those leads that have been tagged for nurturing.

Typical nurturing emails are very brief, and of the “Hi Jim, I saw this article on network security breaches and thought it would interest you” type. The idea is to steadily “drip” friendly, non-salesy emails to your prospects that keep your name and brand in their inboxes with relevant topics so that they think of you in the future when they’re ready to start engaging in a serious purchase discussion.

Lead nurturing utilizes the same modern email marketing, inbound marketing, and CRM database technologies as outbound content marketing, and enhances lead generation results by keeping your prospects thinking of you.