The “2015 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study” has been published by the nice people over at DemandGen, their second annual report. Here are some of the “main findings” of that report, in one perilous paragraph:

Lead nurturing, an important piston in the demand generation engine, is growing in sophistication and moving beyond simple campaigns that blast the same email to the entire database. Marketers are seeking to improve their use of data to target their lead nurturing campaigns to prospects in various stages of the buying cycle and predict who will be more likely to convert.

This, my friends, completely illustrates the problem with most marketing advice, and why tools like “Constant Chimp” and general autoresponders are so prolific in small businesses.

Here’s the deal:

“Blast[ing] the same email to the entire database” is NOT effective lead nurturing; it never has been. Not by any stretch of the imagination. That is plain old “batch and blast” email marketing, and it is, in most deployments, mainly advertising – not marketing. It’s talking, but it’s not listening. It’s watching – with a limited view – but it’s not responding.

Please, small business people, I beg you, please – do not think of batch-and-blast emailing as lead nurturing. You are not nurturing anything when you’re simply blasting the same email to the entire database with every send.

“True effective lead nurturing is the art of sending relevant content, at the right time, to the right people.”

Let me take it one step further – addressing the other term used in the article, “drip marketing.” Technically, that isn’t effective lead nurturing either. Too many use these terms interchangeably, and it’s just not right. Drip marketing is just progressive emails, usually along a same topic, that gets dripped to your entire list. You aren’t doing anything to alter the drips based on the behavior of your leads, so it’s not nurturing anyone either.

Lead nurturing is guiding leads along their journey. It always has been. The idea that some august authorities are propagating the idea that lead nurturing is, or has ever been, “blasting the same email to the entire database” is completely wrong and totally misleading.

I find myself wondering if the success of the “Constant Chimps” of the world is because many people believe that they are doing lead nurturing, when in fact they are not. I wonder if people think that simply sending an email on a regular basis is actually lead nurturing. I wonder if, when we talk about lead nurturing, many people think they already know all about it, because they’re doing it the way that “Constant Chimp,” and now this report, proclaims it to be.

Good people of the small business community, do not believe it.

Lead nurturing is so much more, and, when you employ true lead nurturing, your results are statistically likely to blow your competitors, the ones who only think they’re nurturing leads, out of the water.

True, effective lead nurturing is the art of sending relevant content, at the right time, to the right people. You do this by “listening” – which, in marketing terms, means that you track their clicks, their page views, and look at their activities. You allow your leads to segment themselves – to declare their interests with their clicks, views, and downloads, and you respond with appropriate content to lead them through the journey of choosing to do business with you.

It’s an art, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. We have a training course called “Online Marketing Essentials*” that walks you through the process of planning, implementing, and then extending your lead nurturing over time (that’s PIE – Planning, Implementing, and Extending).

You can nurture your leads with whatever time you have available to do your marketing, and, at some point, you’ll have a self-running marketing machine – a marketing engine, if you will, that will nurture your leads and bring you more customers.

It’s an art, yes, but it’s also fun and interesting – and you’ll be amazed at the insights you’ll get about the interests of your leads – way beyond a click or an open. Most importantly, though, your results will be up to 70% better than what you’ll ever get from batch-and-blast emailing.

Now that’s something you can believe in – and use to grow your business.

*The “Online Marketing Essentials” training course is part of the WP Marketing Engine Pro Training, available to our customers.

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About Margaret Johnson

Margaret is a business and technology veteran who started marketing accidentally nearly three decades ago - when she was five and a true marketing prodigy (ahem). When not coming up with awesome ideas, presenting webinars, or teaching about marketing, she's living with two cats, a crotchety fellow, and a house full of antiques and collectibles. She does not use Pinterest.

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