Would you ever ask someone to marry you on the first date? Probably not. Like most relationships, a customer typically needs nurturing before they’re ready to make a purchase – this is especially true when it comes to life’s most important decisions – whether it be buying a car, home, or maybe even an engagement ring. For marketers, the process of lead nurturing means delivering relevant information to a target consumer at each stage of their buyer journey – and when successful, expediting their path to a purchase decision.
In this episode, we’ll discuss the process of lead nurturing, common tactics, the power of optimization and more with our special guests, Mia Mendola, Social Media Strategist, and Atena Moosavi, Paid Media Strategist.
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How does the practice of “lead nurturing” manifest itself in your day-to-day work?
Mia: Yeah, that's a really great question. So from the social media and content perspective, of course content can be a lot of different things. It can be an email, it can be an e-book, it can be optimizing some of your product page. So really, in my day to day work, when I'm creating a piece of content, I have to be really hyper-focused as to what part of the journey I'm speaking to within that piece of content, and who is going to benefit the most from that piece of content.
Mia: So making sure that we're really hyper-focused in that content creation, and also creating promotional plans for all pieces of content that we're creating is a really big piece for us. Because whether we're making, like I said, an e-book, an email, et cetera, we're going to be taking a user from a certain piece of the journey and directing them to hopefully help to further their action down the funnel. If we drop them off on a piece of content and then let them be, they won't come back. So making sure that we have a promotional plan in place to understand after we lead someone somewhere, what's the next step? What's the next step after that?
Reid: Right, and that's your part on the content team, social team, things like that.
Reid: Now, on the paid media side, same part, what's in your day to day part?
Atena: Yeah, absolutely. Lead nurturing is essentially a daily activity for us with paid media. Almost all of our strategies are based around how to nurture those leads and take them from capturing them at the awareness level, moving them down the funnel to consideration, nurturing and building those relationships, and then ultimately converting them at the conversion level.
Atena: With today's age content, there's so much noise out there, so it's very, very challenging. Really our job as marketers is to capture peoples' attention with all that noise out there. So capturing the attention, building those relationships and nurturing them, and then keeping them, and then further converting them down the funnel is really what we formulate most of our strategies around.
Atena: So some of the tactics that we use are based around what type of content are we going to produce and push out there to capture those audiences? How are we going to keep them? Which essentially alludes back to your analogy with marrying someone on their first date, we're not, it's very unlikely that's going to happen. So courting them at the awareness level, dating them for a little while, maybe a little bit longer for some people, and then popping the question, is really the tactics that we're looking for and we're seeing most success with.
Can you explain the relationship between Social & Content and Paid Media in the process of lead nurturing?
Mia: Yeah, so we work together extremely closely. We're communicating on a daily basis, which I would say is one of the advantages to being, having a full cross channel marketing team. But it's a really two prong approach. Sometimes, like I mentioned, we're creating a singular piece of content for a brand and need to think holistically about, "Okay, and now in which channels are we going to promote this on," being a promotion plan.
Mia: And in that case, I would bring Atina in to really help me understand, "All right, for this audience, what media channels should we be running this on? And after they see this message, what's going to happen next to them in their media journey to make sure that they're continually moving towards the path to conversion?"
Mia: And then on the flip side, a lot of times we'll have campaigns or retainers that are simply paid media and I will come in and help Atena really understand, "Okay, what content should we be serving to each person at this stage of the funnel? What content is already available? What content needs to be created?" And really working together to make sure that's a super clear path.
Mia: It sounds so simple, but it's really just talking, collaboration. Every day making sure if I'm creating a new piece of content or she has a new media strategy, that we're in sync so that we know what the consumer is experiencing and making sure that they have this really seamless experience.
Atena: Yeah, definitely. And just elaborate, a lot of collaboration there from the inception of building or formulating a media or marketing plan, that's really when it starts. And so a lot of research goes into it through audiences, through current, for example, social media channels. What type of content are these audiences engaging with, and how can we take those insights to help influence? How are we going to formulate these paid media campaigns and what we're going to push out there?
Atena: And then vice versa. How are some of our findings from our paid campaigns, or paid social campaigns, based on performance, how can that help build future content calendars for social media, for example? So a lot of collaboration. It's very easy, like Mia said, having a cross channel team, to have those regular communications and work together. But essentially our goal is to create this well-oiled machine in the social, paid and organic sense, incorporating the content.
Reid: And to create a well-oiled machine, it doesn't always just start with, "Hey we had the one idea and we just knocked it on." There's optimization that's going to have to happen.
What are some of the typical optimizations that occur during a lead nurturing campaign?
Atena: Yeah, absolutely. There is always ongoing optimizations to be made. With the nature of digital marketing, it's something that's always changing, evolving, and so optimizations are something that never end. You can't just set a campaign and forget it essentially.
Atena: So there's things such as testing, lots of testing. We're always testing. Different creatives, ad copy messaging, types of creative or content that we're pushing out there, audiences, segmenting different audiences. It's not really linear, a lead's journey.
Atena: So for some people, they might convert after watching two videos. For some, customers that might convert after downloading 10 white papers for example. But essentially testing and segmenting and serving the right content to those audiences on an ongoing basis, those are the ways that we optimize on the paid media front.
Mia: Yeah. From a content perspective, I think I've even said this in a past podcast, so shoot I'm repeating ideas, but the term "content re-purposing" is so hot in the industry right now, which is how do you take a piece of content and make sure that it has a million different legs?
Mia: So that's something that we definitely practice at Red Door is we have this piece of content, because we know it communicates this one consumer truth, we don't need to recreate the wheel, let's just make a lot of different promotional creatives, messaging, et cetera. And making sure that all those different creatives and copy is being served across different channels to find the best approach. Stick with that approach and move forward.
Mia: So Atena and I have worked together on a lot of campaigns, one of which I'm thinking of for SDG&E. Can I talk about them?
Reid: Yeah, let's talk about it.
Mia: Great. I'm looking at you like, "Can I say that?"
Mia: We were really trying to communicate a really simple concept that there is now so many electric vehicle charging stations in San Diego that it's easy to drive electric. And so of course, the first part was really just awareness and getting users to understand and remember that brand message. So Atena I had this singular message that we then created probably five or six different creative and copy themes, and then variations off of those themes, that all communicated the same message. But we wanted to make sure that we had enough room for testing and understanding what the consumer was going to latch on to.
Mia: And especially using media as a promotional tactic, it becomes clear very quickly what message and creative the consumer's really opting in towards. And then a lot of it comes down to measurement, of course. Daily looking to see, "All right, we know we're driving traffic to this one piece of content. What are users doing when they get to that content? Okay, let's reassess in two weeks. Are they taking the same action? Okay, we really need to change our promotional tactics, or we really need to adjust the content on this page to drive more action."
Mia: So it's definitely, of course being a data-driven agency, something that we don't just look at the, our metrics once a month. We're constantly trying to understand how users are engaging with our content.
Reid: One of the thing that's interesting here is, because as I'm listening and I know what the team does look like, I mean we're talking to two people here talking about lead nurturing, but it takes a village to do this. We're talking about optimization, we're talking about the different creatives.
Reid: I mean, in order to do all this stuff, what do you guys have behind you guys helping you do what you're doing?
Atena: Yeah, absolutely. I think that data is a huge part of it and analyzing that data. So working with our analytics team to pull the proper KPIs and metrics that we're looking at, and help us dissect it and tell the story about what's going on, and finding ways to optimize. And then bringing the content team, creative, whatever elements that we're seeing room for optimization, bringing in those teams as well. A lot of it turns into larger brainstorm sessions in which we, together as a team, decide on how we're going to best move forward to move the needle here for our client.
Atena: And so STG&E is a great example of us as a team, how we came together to do that. We initially launched that campaign with a lot of different ad variations, a lot of different styles. And so taking those gatherings and those learnings through the data, and then letting that kind of dictate how are we going to move forward and develop new content. We saw really great results with that.
Reid: Yeah. And those results come from, in more efficiency of spend, it comes through more leads, it comes through a ton of different ways of kind of cutting the information.
Atena: I think being able to identify those opportunities quickly and being agile can really make a difference in campaign performance and how it's going to, how you're setting it up for the future. Like I mentioned, it's not something that you can kind of just set and forget. So optimizing on a regular basis is really essential, and what we really practice very closely here at Red Door.
Reid: Yeah. We're talking a lot about the lead side of things, but I mean, leads aren't entirely done at kind of a purchase or a conversion. I mean, that's not the end of the nurturing campaign in this case now.
Is a “purchase” or “conversion” the end of a nurturing campaign? What about customer retention?
Mia: Right, yeah, that's a really good question. Especially because I would say with a lot of clients, of course the main focus is going to be return on investment. So how do we make sure that we're capturing leads and driving new revenue? But there is so much value in customer retention, and we learned more about this yesterday from Ron Hadler, who's our Senior Data Scientist. No, gosh ...
Reid: He's a data guy.
Mia: He's a data guy.
Reid: He's a data guy. He will absolutely appreciate all of that.
Reid: Data guru. He'll go by a lot of different titles.
Mia: Right. We talked about how we can use machine learning to segment different customers into lists and help then see what customers are converting the most, how much value they're providing. And your customers that are sticking around and continuing to purchase your, not your content, purchase your products, engage with your content-
Reid: At the end of the day, they really do purchase your content first.
Mia: Yeah, they do.
Reid: At the heart level.
Mia: I like to believe that they love and purchase my content. But those are going to be the customers that have the most lifetime value. And so we don't want to just capture someone as a lead and then let them get into a cycle where they're not engaging with the brand, because they will leave and go find another brand, potentially a competitor.
Mia: So I think that is when it really comes down to channel strategy and what channels are best to continue to engage someone who has already purchased from you. Social media being a great place where typically you see brand fans and brand loyalists being your biggest chunk of your audience. And so continuing to engage and send messages there, and then of course utilizing email, is going to be a huge piece of customer retention. Just continuing to make them feel involved in the brand with your content and your messaging, and giving them offers, information, things that make them feel like they're part of your brand and they're growing with you as a brand.
Reid: In a segmented way, to make sure they're getting the right stuff at the right time, and not just getting everyone getting everything all the time.
Mia: Right, yeah.
Atena: A hundred percent. Yeah, definitely.
Mia: Yeah. No, I think the ... As we are talking around this, your point Reid, segmentation is the most important piece of lead nurturing. Which also back to the point that we have a huge team behind us that helps with that, from the analytics team, to ensuring that tracking is set up properly, to Ron's team of data scientists that help us segment our customers into these certain lists. That's the most important piece of this. Once you have that, really sky's the limit as far as what content you can serve, on what channels, to who.
Mia: I think customers in that loyalty phase are quite interesting because you want to be careful not to serve them messages or continually just serve them messages about purchasing, but also they may be the most prime to try a new product or because they love your brand so much, they want to continue to invest in your brand by trying these new things. So it's definitely interesting from a messaging perspective when we think about, "Okay we have a new product launching, do we want to continue to hit these people who have already purchased from us or are continuing to maybe purchase something different?"
Mia: And typically the answer is yes because we want them to continue to grow with the brand, and change how they're interacting with us, just so that it doesn't become stale. So yeah, it's definitely a balance between how often do we continue with the people who have already purchased and get them to purchase again or more. It's a really delicate balance with that.
Reid: This is a part of nurturing that applies. We let led in with these big important purchases like homes or things like that, but what we're talking about here applies to shoes, to ... I mean any number of products. Because at that point, you're nurturing a customer regardless of how the volume or how intensive this purchase is.
Mia: Right. Absolutely. I mean even even with Shea Holmes and Trilogy, who's a big client of ours that Atena and I work together a lot on, I mean we're talking about buying a home and you think, "Oh, you buy your one home and you're going to live there 40 or 50 years." And that might be the case, but there's so many different variations of that.
Mia: You might purchase your first home and then at one point want to move into a larger home, or your family changes, or your location changes. So even with big purchases like that, you want to make sure that you're top of mind when your clients are looking to maybe have a change that is unexpected or something along those lines that might shorten their typical journey.
Atena: And also with these brand advocates, a big part of it is utilizing them as referral sources essentially, is that they'll be the walking, talking billboards for your brand if they're having this awesome experience. Even as purchasing a home with Shea or with Trilogy, referring their friends and other family members or whatnot. So there's tons value with continuing to nurture those relationships as customers, to then further generate some more business down the road as well.
Reid: Yeah. Probably referring some of them to maybe another Shea neighborhood or something. Maybe not so close.
Mia: Right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It depends how good of friends they are. Yeah.
Atena: But yeah, that's a whole other podcast topic. Referral programs and loyalty programs, and things like that. But even large brands like a Shea Homes does have a referral program, which is super cool.
Reid: Yeah, yeah. So this is something that applies to so many of our listeners, and I do appreciate you guys coming in to talk about all of it. Mia, Atena, thank you very much. Thanks for joining us.
Reid: And for our listeners, be sure to check out show notes from this episode and more. And as always, subscribe to The Marketing Remix and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, or whatever platform you guys are using.