What's the right way to nurture MQLs?
With B2B buying teams now ranging from 7-12 decision-makers, deciding on how to connect with these teams and nurture them during their buyer journey presents challenges and opportunities. Having the right lead gen strategy in place that determines levels of interest is crucial to campaign success. However, generating an MQL is only the beginning. Nurturing and further qualifying each account in a meaningful, personalised way is what audiences demand and what yields the greatest impact.
Defining the right nurture paths for MQLs presents a myriad of omnichannel options. Setting the right segmentation, content, and follow-up channels whilst maintaining a seamless, automated, personalised and highly-engaging experience for the audience requires a comprehensive structure in place. We look at five areas to consider when choosing how best to nurture your MQLs.
1. What’s the goal?
Whether the objective is awareness or directly attributed to the sales pipeline, defining the end goal will help set the strategy and tactics required. Personalisation, persona mapping and account engagement intent scoring all help contribute to increased understanding across each account and the decision-making personas within them. This can help establish the right nurture streams. At a high level, the goal might be to generate 1,200 MQLs in Q3. However, the overall FY goal might well be a % of the sales pipeline attributed to marketing activities. As marketing becomes a more revenue-focused business unit, having the right nurturing strategies in place that increase the commercial yield of MQLs brings how marketers approach these leads into sharp focus.
2. Quality v Quantity
MQLs can come with various levels of qualification. Ensure there is a clear path to segmentation depending on the type of MQL generated and campaign goals. Relying on a relevant scoring mechanism that monitors behavioural and engagement data on each account can provide clarity of the intent level within each account - helping you distinguish between those that are actively engaged (and of higher quality) versus those that require ongoing nurturing.
Large volumes of MQLs can typically come from a content download pushed out into the target account list. Although there is a clear signal of interest, it does not yet qualify for sales escalation. When balancing volume and quality leads, enhanced content syndication programs that include elements of profiling can help further qualify an account and gather vital intel (Find out more about Profiled MQLs here). These can be customised to the needs of the marketer to align with goals, especially if the goal is providing sales with higher intent-based leads. Supporting display, programmatic, and retargeting can further evidence account intent and help zero in on a particular product or solution focus. Ensure these engagements and insights are aggregated to help qualify and present to sales.
3. Define nurture streams
MQLs provide a good foundation to begin the nurturing journey across each account. Having multiple nurture streams with relevant content that speak to specific personas and industries can drastically improve engagement and conversion. Advanced segmentation can help generate a higher quality MQL in the long term, with the view to graduating these to SQLs. These streams can be automated - having multiple or dynamic landing pages that correspond to a particular industry, behaviour or earlier segment classification. Dynamic programmatic that can serve specific accounts with relevant messaging, or suitable on-demand content all help nurture and increase engagement. As a guide, define nurture streams by:
- Business Unit
- Initial Engagement - Type of content (segmented by industry, persona, business unit)
- Relevant follow-up material for each stage of the buyer journey
- Benchmarks that define how qualified the account now is
- Escalation/lead routing to further the conversation
- Reporting/Attribution measurement
Using the above points as a guide and combined with your overall goal, will help you define what structure each stream should look like.
Having the right content and serving it to the right person and the right time will help increase relevant nurturing across your accounts. Understanding where each account is in the buyer journey by monitoring historical and real-time engagement data can help you score and define where exactly each account sits and what type of content to serve them. As a guide the below can help you define what type of content to serve at each stage:
Guides, steps, infographics, blogs, research & insights, explainer videos
Product/solution overview, podcasts, live/on-demand webinars, product/solution video, client case studies
Help with their decision:
Demo/Trial, meeting request, 121/F2F meetings, product spec sheets, analyst reports
Personalising and adding multiple segments based on key indicators such as persona, industry, business unit and level of engagement will help create valuable lead nurturing for both you and your prospective customer.
5. Lead follow-up & Sales Enablement
Defining targeting, developing content, nurturing streams, assets, etc and multiplying it by 3X, 5X, or 7X (depending on the number of segments you want to create) costs a significant amount of resources and time. Ensuring those higher-quality MQLs that have gone through the nurturing process are then capitalised by sales development teams is critical to bringing the campaign full circle to ensure as high an attribution for marketing efforts as possible.
Some argue that this is the responsibility of sales however, marketing has a responsibility to ensure sales colleagues are best prepared to then take on the lead and nurture further and the consideration stage. As marketers, we can do this by providing additional collateral for sales teams, from one-pagers, battle cards, and specific scripting and copy to help with their online and offline outreach.
Weekly syncs and follow-ups with sales ensure that marketing is still part of the conversation and continues to have a managing say in how the leads continue to be nurtured. As alignment between sales and marketing strengthens, arguments for under-qualified leads or poor quality are to fade as nurture streams become more personalised and mature and sales receive increased support materials and guidance.
There’s no one, straightforward path to effective lead nurturing. Having an end-to-end process that supports your goals will provide clarity and structure. Understanding your audience, buyer groups, industries and where they are in the buyer journey will help set the foundation to build appropriate nurturing and qualification streams.