If Lead Nurturing is the Question, is Software the Answer?

I was reminded today of just how successful the marketing automation vendors have been (to their credit, it must be said) in defining their solutions as the answer to today’s marketing problems. That conclusion was prompted by this question, posed on Focus:

“We want to start doing more lead nurturing with our leads, and really aren’t quite sure how to go about it. Do you use a specific software for lead nurturing? If so, what do you use, and how does it help build your pipeline?”

And here’s my response:

“There are plenty of good software options there for lead nurturing. At our firm we use Marketo, which works extremely well for us. However, I suspect you’ll be hearing from many of the software vendors shortly, so let me answer your question in a different way:

Software is not the solution. Yes, marketing automation software will most likely enable and empower the kind of lead nurturing you’re looking to do, but first and foremost I suggest what you really need is a lead nurturing strategy – i.e. a formal workflow and plan designed specifically to address your precise objectives, and tailored for your specific audience.

I only say this because whereas marketing automation software is wonderful stuff, it is only a platform – it will NOT tell you what to send to whom, when. It will not design the emails and the landing pages (though it may make that process easier), nor define an offer strategy, nor dictate what emails to trigger, at what intervals, based on what demographic or behavioral criteria.

I have seen many companies, beguiled by the promise of marketing automation, who purchase software with the expectation that they can flip a switch and lead nurturing will just happen. It won’t. (No matter how good the software.)

By all means explore your options, software-wise, but my counsel would be to also (and concurrent with your software research) develop a plan and strategy. Not only will it increase the ROI when you do take the plunge into marketing automation; it will help also you choose the best solution because you’ll have a better idea of what your needs are.”

You’ll find the rest of the discussion here. What do you think? Has marketing automation attained critical mass to the point where marketers are starting to devalue the contribution of small matters such as strategy, offer, and creative?


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