Combine explicit data with implicit behavior

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An effective lead-nurturing campaign starts with bringing leads into the funnel, no matter what the source—webinars, search marketing, banner ads, offline or events. The key is to combine explicit data about a prospect with implicit behavior, such as e-mail opens rates, Web site visits and white paper downloads, said Steve Gershik, VP-marketing innovation at lead generation and management vendor Eloqua Corp. “You take all that data and it becomes the basis of a lead score,” Gershik said. “If they're ready, hand them over to sales. All the rest are held out by marketing.” Anticipating the economic downturn, Eloqua recently executed a “wake-up” campaign specifically targeted at leads that had gone dormant. “In a bad economy, we are turning more to our in-house database,” Gershik said. So Eloqua ran its reawakened leads through a five-step nurturing program focused on education. (Given that it sells nurturing programs, it even revealed to each prospect their score in the Eloqua system.) “It became a fun, interactive game to see what would happen to their lead score,” Gershik said. Is it better to slam a prospect with a lot of messages or try to time the perfect message? If the content is good, Gershik said, it doesn't matter. “The most important thing is content,” he said. “If it's relevant and hits the sweet spot for that customer, then frequency, and format and timing isn't [issues].” One of his tricks: Engaging content such as ROI calculators, Excel-based tools and PowerPoint decks. “Being a marketer, I like to sit in on sales calls,” Gershik said. “My favorite thing is when [a potential customer] tells a salesperson, "Oh yeah, I already know about that. I found out about that on your Web site.' You can have a lot more interesting conversations with a [well-nurtured] prospect than just "Hello. Who are you? Tell me about your business.' You can get right to the point.”
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