Bob Lamkin recently joined Zift Solutions as part of the Marketing Advocate acquisition, bringing more than thirty years of channel sales and marketing expertise to his new role as VP of Business Development. We’re pleased to add his voice and thought-leadership to Channel Chatter as a contributor.

hands nurturing plant on cracked earthChannel marketing leaders often play their cards close to the chest. Just how are they closing deals with businesses and leads that didn’t seem ready to buy? What are they doing to move stale prospects toward sales? I’m going to share an insider tip: The answer is lead nurturing.

According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. Lead nurturing keeps your products and services top of mind across today’s longer sales process and is essential to move seemingly stuck prospects through to close. In the spirit of true visibility, here are 7 key secrets of lead nurturing success.

#1: Educate Across the Buyer’s Journey

Just like buyers, every stage of the sales cycle is unique. The same content that worked to initially introduce your projects and services is not going to be effective when a prospect is ready to make a buying decision. Successful lead nurturing requires targeted, relevant content that aligns directly with the buyer’s position in the sales cycle. By mapping content to specific stages, and leveraging Content Syndication, you can educate across the buyer’s journey and automatically deliver targeted, relevant content to match a buyer’s interests.

#2: Automate Lead Distribution

Stop trying to share and track leads manually. Just stop. Even the most conscientious channel sales and marketing teams let opportunities and leads slip through the cracks when they rely on manual processes. Instead, put qualified leads right into the hands of your channel partners by automating lead distribution directly into their CRM and SFA systems. Zift’s Lead Distribution solution also lets you share valuable profile and historical data on each lead, including campaign and email details and previous marketing activities to further nurture leads and drive sales.

#3: Create Custom Campaigns

Content that is too generic or too frequent can also alienate prospects. To make the most of your marketing efforts and dollars, you must develop and deploy highly personalized campaigns that match your prospects’ digital behavior. Co-branded email templates, dynamic content and custom campaigns with built-in analytics will go a long way to improving your conversion rates.

#4: Make it Multi-Touch Marketing

No single tactic is going to make much of a difference in your marketing efforts. Instead, utilize multi-touch marketing and leverage multiple tactics across the sales cycle to carefully target prospective buyers and qualify leads. Integrated campaigns and Through Partner Marketing Automation (TPMA) that combines a variety of tactics, such as online advertising, social media, email and telemarketing, will increase lead-nurturing touches and lower costs per lead.

#5 Consider a Co-Branded Microsite

Co-branded microsites are a great way to offer a personalized experience for each prospect, nurture leads and broaden your reach. Microsites allow you to push tailored messages to your audience, can be targeted to match topical interests and serve as a valuable extension of your corporate website.

#6 Leverage Lead Scoring

To ensure that you’re sending the most qualified leads to sales at the right time in the sales cycle, be sure to leverage lead scoring. Detailed lead scoring across multiple touch points coupled with consolidated reporting across key marketing activities lets you develop a more comprehensive profile of your prospects and map nurturing activities to the specific interests of a lead.

#7 Measure Results

Why wonder how you’re doing when you can measure results? Closed-loop analytics and integrated reporting are no longer “nice-to-haves” – they are “must-haves.” When you can easily measure and share results, it becomes easier to target your lead nurturing activities, track campaign and overall program effectiveness and close more deals.

Share Your Lead Nurturing Successes

I have no doubt that these tips will help you give those languishing leads a nudge in the right direction and boost your conversion rates. Consider picking one or two lead nurturing tactics to start, then add more as you integrate lead nurturing into your marketing outreach efforts.

We would also like to hear your ideas and successes. What are you doing to better qualify and nurture leads? Have you seen or experienced the value of lead nurturing first-hand? Share your story in the comments section.