Mix Up Offer Content to Keep Nurturing Prospects Engaged

In a recent article (member access only), Marketing Sherpa offers up some intriguing research into how prospective tech buyers view email offer content, and how those views can differ dramatically from common assumptions held by marketers. The conclusions drawn in the article hold particular relevance for marketers engaged in lead nurturing, especially when those nurturing programs are constrained by a perceived lack of relevant offers.

It’s the working assumption of B2B marketers that prospects don’t want to be sold to. And indeed, when it comes to outreach programs designed to generate net new prospects, more educational offer content (e.g. white papers) tends to perform better than does promotional content (e.g. product demos) because the more educational material appeals to a broader spectrum of prospective buyers and not just those further down the sales cycle.

But prospects in a nurturing program are different, clearly, because they’ve already engaged with your company and expressed some level of interest, if not in your product specifically, then at minimum in solving the issue or problem that your product or service addresses. Two points from Marketing Sherpa’s research underline this fact in striking fashion:

* 92% of marketers believe that educational content increased the likelihood of a click, but only 65% of buyers felt the same way.

* Buyers said they would be more likely to respond to promotional content (70%), much higher than was assumed by marketers (42%). Competitive comparisons (73%) also scored highly in the buyer research.

* The type of content ranked most highly by buyers? News and articles, at 84%.

So does all this mean you should dump your white papers, research reports and educational webinars, in favor of product brochures and buying guides? In a word: no. Nonetheless, the data provides a compelling argument for mixing up offer content in your nurturing program if you want to keep prospects more engaged.

And here’s the good news for those of you for whom offer content is often a barrier to developing or expanding email programs: not every email in your nurturing stream needs to feature yet another new white paper or Webcast. As the folks at Marketing Sherpa recommend:

“Sharing relevant news links gives you an opportunity to stay in touch with prospects in between those high-value offers or other marketing touches.”

At Spear, when we design lead nurturing programs for our clients, we’re fervent proponents for using blogs as a way to deliver this type of news, views, and insight. Instead of the traditional email newsletter (hopelessly old-fashioned and an enormous hassle to boot), we recommend simply broadcasting blog content once a month using a custom email template. Not only does this serve to break up what otherwise might be a stream of white papers and webinar invitations, pushing out blog content via email has consistently shown to generate more blog traffic, expand the blog’s reach (through social sharing), and spawn additional subscribers via email, RSS and Twitter.

For a more detailed discussion of offer strategy, download a copy of our free white paper: “How to Choose Your Carrot: Effective Lead Generation Offers for High-Technology Marketers.”

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