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What Does Lead Nurturing Really Mean


Chris Butler: Welcome to the Newfangled Agency Marketing Matters Podcast. I’m Chris Butler.

Lauren Siler: I’m Lauren Siler.

Holly Fong: I’m Holly Fong.

Chris Butler: Holly, this is your first time on the podcast. Welcome to the table.

Lauren Siler: Yes, welcome.

Holly Fong: Thanks guys.

Chris Butler: Since people have already heard from us and know what we do, maybe you could take a moment to explain a little bit more about what you do at Newfangled.

Holly Fong: Yeah, of course. I am the Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Newfangled. I lead the digital marketing team here.

Chris Butler: So you’ve probably got a lot to share with us today, our topic is going to be talking a little bit more about lead nurturing. What we normally like to do before we get into a topic is share some things that we’re interested in right now. Who would like to go first?

Lauren Siler: I’m going to nominate the newbie.

Chris Butler: Alright.

Holly Fong: Of course, initiation.

Lauren Siler: You’re welcome.

Holly Fong: One thing that I’m super interested in right now is, Act-On is going to be reintroducing adaptive journeys. Which is really going to be able to predict and deliver messages that are going to be more relevant to the audiences. That’s a new and exciting tool that our business partner Act-On is coming out with.

Chris Butler: Very cool. Have you been able to demo that? Or hear a little bit more about what it’s going to do?

Holly Fong: Yeah. They have a promo video up, but it’s not something that is actively working currently. They’re in the process of trying to get it built out.

Chris Butler: I’m excited to hear more about that, maybe next time you’re on the show you’ll have used it.

Holly Fong: Give us an update.

Chris Butler: Yeah, hear what it’s all about. How about you Lauren?

Lauren Siler: I’m interested in these two tools that I know a number of people here are using. I don’t know if you guys are actually. One of them is called Grammarly. Have you guys heard of this?

Chris Butler: I’m using that as a plugin, yeah.

Lauren Siler: I’m really digging it. I think I was a late adopter in the office. I’ve been using it for the last month or so. It’s cool. Basically what it is is an extension that you can install into your browser and it basically follows you around as you’re written various things. Whether it’s emails or even if you’re inside of Salesforce, taking notes, wherever you are. It’s helping make sure that you are grammatically correct in what you’re writing.

But what’s cool, as opposed to just correcting you as you’re going on the fly, it sends you these weekly round-up emails that’s kind of neat. It tells you what your most common mistakes are, it tells you how accurate overall you’ve been, it can compares your use of vocabulary against other Grammarly users. I don’t know, it’s interesting insight into your typical habits when you’re writing things. It’s been illuminating for me to see what my common mistakes are. That’s kind of neat.

The other thing that is interesting is, and this is in beta, the GoToMeeting analytics tool. A lot of us here are consultants and we work with agencies all over the country, so we’re in a lot of web meetings, a lot of web conferences. What this tool does is when you are using GoToMeeting for that, for those meetings, it is analyzing your use of language during those presentations, and then it’s spitting out … Chris is looking really freaked out right now.

Chris Butler: I had no idea it did that.

Lauren Siler: Yeah.

Holly Fong: Someone’s listening.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. You’ve got to get past the weirdness, big-brother-ness of it. Anyway, it’s listening to how you’re presenting that information and then it’s spitting back this data that’s like, “These are the filler words you use. This is how much you were talking versus how much the other participants were talking.” There’s even this really interesting feature, which you can choose to get offended by, it says how often the attendees were viewing the GoToMeeting viewer screen versus a different tab on their computer. So you can get a sense of are people multi tasking or what. It’s interesting. Again, it’s still in beta so you have to go and request access to this tool, but it’s kind of interesting.

Chris Butler: In both cases I was immediately thinking of the privacy implications. For Grammarly, that means that any text input in the browser is being scraped.

Lauren Siler: Correct.

Chris Butler: You think that would include any keystroke, if you’re entering your social security number into something, or your phone number, or your credit card.

Lauren Siler: It doesn’t work in certain instances though. It doesn’t work with Google Docs is one thing.

Holly Fong: That’s true, it’s not in Google Docs, yeah.

Lauren Siler: But I have noticed on forms that I fill out online, sometimes it will popup. So I don’t know if it’s specific forms.

Holly Fong: I wonder, there might be settings you can adjust inside of the …

Chris Butler: That would have been a smart design choice.

Holly Fong: Use at your own risk listeners.

Chris Butler: That’s basically to be said about the entire internet. Those are really interesting tool. I’m going to definitely check out the GoToMeeting one, for sure. My thing is off the beaten path, sort of. I was actually a guest on another podcast a couple of weeks ago, a podcast called Getting Work To Work. The reason, that came about because I know the guy. The guy who started that podcast I met through Office Hours, which I think I’ve mentioned on this podcast before.

It’s a online community that was created by another friend of mine, really with the idea that we can all give a little bit of free consulting time to one another as a means of building community and sharing what we know. It allows you to request 15 minute consultation sessions to ask a question to somebody. I met this guy, Chris Martin, on that platform and then we got to talking. Had a lot in common and he invited me on his podcast. It was really neat. We talked a lot about what we do here at Newfangled, so what does it mean to create opportunity for other?

That was really what he was interested in talking about. He said, “You talk about this a lot in your material, what does that really mean?” We had about an hour long conversation, but there’s a lot of other stuff that came up in that conversation that may or may not be of interest to this audience. I think he has a great podcast. If you’re interested in managing the kinds of work that we do with life in general, Chris Martin’s podcast is great. You can that at, or you could just Google, “Getting work to work,” or search any podcast platform for that.

Holly Fong: Very cool.

Chris Butler: I mentioned before that we wanted to talk today about what? About lead nurturing. When we were gathered together to brainstorm this topic, the thing that kept coming up was, what does it really mean to nurture a lead, especially in light of all the other stuff that we are advocating our clients do in terms of contact strategy, content strategy, et cetera? There’s a lot to talk about here. How do we want to get into this topic? Where’s the best place to start?

Holly Fong: I think an interesting place to start would be to make sure that we’re drawing a clear line between lead generation and lead nurturing. Right?

Chris Butler: Yeah, exactly.

Holly Fong: Because I think a lot of times that’s where we begin, where we are first trying to make sure that our clients have an appropriate that they can then nurture. Building up a quality database, that’s the lead generation part. Of course that’s going to grow and we need to think about strategies for generating future leads ongoing, but you’ve got to get things up to a critical volume in order for the nurturing part to really matter, if that makes sense. Sometimes that is the easy part, and then it’s nurturing those people on-going and really pushing them gently through different stages of the buying cycles that becomes the trickier question.

Speaker 4: Right, because lead gen gets you names. It gets you names and other possible data about people who may or may not be interested in what it is you’re offering to the market. That where’s the nurturing piece comes in. It’s to figure out, what level of interest are they actually exhibiting here? Are just interested in learning from me? Are they interested in something more? The distinction that you brought to the table I think is critical. That came up in our conversation before, which is that let’s say that you begin your new marketing program with acquiring some contacts.

You do a list purchase and you vetted that list. Let’s say it’s 5,000 names, you just generated 5,000 leads. The question now is, can you nurture it in such a way as to bring about future conversions from them that are indicative of their interest and their qualification as a right fit prospect to you? That’s all about nurturing because you’ve already done the gen part. I think you’re right, we always think about gen because you’ve put this content out there and you hope that somebody new is going to discover it and then raise their hand and let you know that they’re out there. That’s the traditional inbound lead generation.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. It’s interesting, I think that once that initial lead gen box has been check, when we turn our focus to a smart nurturing strategy, the on-going generation piece, that’s taken care of by proxy. Really I think the more complicated question is, what does it mean to develop an effective lead nurturing strategy once we have a critical volumes of lead generated.

Chris Butler: That’s a question for Holly, our resident expert. You’re at the table because you help our clients answer this question pretty much every day. I would imagine the answer looks different for many different clients, but maybe you could share a little bit from a big picture perspective. What kinds of things should somebody be thinking about once they’ve gotten some of those names into their system? What do we do with that now?

Holly Fong: Yeah. One of the biggest mistakes I think clients make is they get a bunch of leads in their system, and then they don’t email them for a long period of time. There’s a few things that happen there. One is that some of those names go bad, people leave those companies and so the list isn’t as good as it once was. The other is it’s a missed opportunity to start that initial contact with those individual. You want to make sure that once you’ve started that initial contact, that you continue to keep up with those individuals.

I think another thing that happens is they send that first email and they see that it doesn’t perform as well as they maybe hoped or expected, and then they stop sending emails for a really long time. Part of lead nurturing is to continue to get in touch with that contact and continue to provide them with valuable interesting information on an ongoing basis.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. That point is so important. I think you’re right. I think that it’s really easy to send out that initial blast. Often times if the agency is relatively novice or kind of new to their digital marketing experience, getting that first email out, it feels like the biggest accomplishment in a very long time. It’s a huge deal, so they put a lot of hours, a lot of effort into it. There’s a lot of upfront thinking and then, yeah, they see those performance metrics come back and they don’t quite meet the goals that they had set out, and that’s deflating and so they don’t do it. But what our research has shown year over year over year, is that the more frequently that you are in contact with the right list, as long as your prospect list is targeted, the more frequently you communicate with them, the more engagement you actually see on those emails over time.

Holly Fong: Yeah, especially if you’re sending engaging content that’s relevant to them. That’s another piece, is creating the type of content that they’re really going to be interested in.

Chris Butler: You mentioned at the beginning the idea of that first contact. You mentioned that a lot of times the clients you work with wait too long. Maybe they don’t feel they’re read or they think that there’s a particular way that they should be going about, especially their purchase list, warming up what they would call the cold list. You hear about that all the time, “How do I warm up a cold list?” If your recommendation is do it sooner than later, how do you recommend that that is done? What’s a good way to go about emailing somebody who doesn’t even know you’re going to email them?

Holly Fong: Yeah. I think it’s important that, like I was saying before, you talk about things that they’re going to be interested in. You’re picking an article or a gated piece of content on your site that you think is going to be most relevant and interesting to the individuals that you’re sending that to. Then the piece about not waiting, this isn’t as relevant for a purchased list but it is relevant for setting up automated programs for individuals that are coming in through your website. Making sure that when individuals are filling out forms on your website you have different programs in place to get in touch while they’re considering you and while they’re interested in the content that you’re producing.

Chris Butler: Right, so back, one more question though about that initial email. Let’s say that for instance the client or the person that is envisioning doing this, they’ve just purchased a list, already has active campaigns. They were already scheduled next Thursday to send an email to their existing list with some form of content that they put together. I’ve heard a number of our clients that, “Oh well, if it’s going to be my first email to the purchased list, I shouldn’t include them in this campaign. I should do a separate campaign specifically for them and measure it, eventually fork the two or merge the two together.” But it sounds like you would recommend just folding them into the normal campaign and measuring them separately. Is that right?

Holly Fong: Not necessarily. I think there are certain circumstances where the regular send that you have going on might not pertain to the list that you’re initially sending to. It might not be the best content to showcase to them as their first initial view of your brand.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. I think that’s critical because when we’re thinking about the first impression that you’re making a cold list, you have to think really carefully about what the messaging strategy is going to be for that communication. That’s going to be different than a warmed up list that’s used to getting communications from you every other week or something.

For a cold list, for people who’ve never heard from you before, I think a lot of the questions I hear are, “Do we go with a messaging strategy that’s going to introduce ourselves as an agency because these people don’t know who we are? It’s like, ‘Hi, we’re this and this is what we’re about.’ Or do we just dive right in with a piece of content?” That’s always asked with this, “Of course I would not do that,” sort of tone.

But the answer I always give is yeah, don’t waste their attention or their time on spending a lot of time talking about who you are and what you’re about, because these people, they didn’t ask to be purchased by you, they don’t really care. But if you’ve got something interesting to say that’s relevant to what their interests are, you need to lead with that. Pick your most compelling or your smartest or most relevant piece of content that you can get in front of them as soon as possible. Lead with that and then work on introducing who you are afterwards.

Holly Fong: Yeah exactly. Give them a reason to care. I would also say, presenting a fix for a problem that they have or content that’s going to be useful for a common problem that you know that persona has, is usually a good place to start as well.

Lauren Siler: Starting with the prospect and thinking of their perspective first is always important. I think that goes against our instincts as marketers sometimes because we’re always so concerned to what we what to sell or what we want to market, and make sure that people understand who we are and why we’re different and important. But thinking about it from the recipient’s point of view first is actually going to lead you to a more compelling and interesting messaging strategy.

Chris Butler: Yeah. There are a couple of things that I think would be worthwhile to cover before we conclude on this topic. We’ve talked a little bit about, what does it really mean to nurture, especially in light of the predicament that most agencies today find themselves in, which is what we’ve had, this audience that’s assembled organically. Then we’ve got this other audience that we’ve gone about curating. I think what would be good to talk about a little bit are a few ideas for specific nurturing tactics. Other than just saying, “Yeah, we want to continue to keep our outbound fresh and make sure they’re seeing some content.” Specifically, mechanically, what ways can we do that? Two, what should they expect to see? What are indicators that this is successful?

Lauren Siler: I think there’s a few things. One, when you’re thinking about what does it mean to successful nurture a prospect you can look to see how far along that prospect has, how many progressive profile sets they filled out, how much information about themselves they’re willing to give you. That’s one measure. Another would be seeing how their web activity on your site has changed. The content that they’re viewing when they are first introduced to you versus the content that they might view later down the road would be an interesting measure of that.

Chris Butler: That’s an interesting point. We’ve got tools that we use internally to look at session data. Obviously as long as somebody’s been using Google Analytics, they’re pretty familiar with things like a user session, depth of session, number of pages per session, that kind of thing.

That’s really fascinating to look at but what you don’t know is who that person is. You’re looking at aggregate data. We’ve got tools that will actually show you what they’re looking at and in what sequence and what brought them in. It’s almost like a cover flow view of their experience on a site. It’s interesting for you to point out that how those behaviors are going to change over the lifetime of someone’s experience, because it’s not just that they come to your site once, do a bunch of things and then leave and never come back.

They might come back because you’ve sent them an email. That email might bring them to a particular piece of content. Then the question is, what do they do next? What kinds of patterns would you, if you were to see a certain pattern, what would be one that would tell somebody, “Hey, that’s interesting and that’s working?” Would it be that you sent them this piece of content for this particular article or this email for this particular piece of content, but notice that after that they’re going back to this key positioning page or they’re taking this kind of action or they’re contacting in this kind of way. What kinds of things have you seen?

Lauren Siler: Yeah. One is kind of what you were saying there, as far as them not only going to the page that maybe you recommended, but them going further, looking at other related articles, maybe starting to look at some later stage content, like case studies and things like that, maybe starting to sign up for gated content or registering for a webinar, that’s a good indication they’re moving along as well.

Chris Butler: Something that I’ve seen in the data for us, and that’s where I spend most of time, as opposed to you’ve probably seen way more client aggregate data than I have. But something I see in our data is that we might email somebody a piece of content, like the last article that Lauren wrote or something like that, and they’ll read that piece of content, and yeah they might go to a related piece of content. They might go to a parallel piece of content horizontally, but what I see a lot is that they go into our, what we do, section.

That’s really great because that is content that’s written for somebody who’s evaluating whether or not our firm is the right firm for them. To see that, you see a session that might have come in six months ago, they looked at what we do, then they went away. They came back because of an email we sent. They read some content but then they go back into that section and read about a specific service we have. To me, when I see that kind of repetition, that’s telling me something interesting about our prospect. That yeah, they might not be on an urgent time table but they’re thinking about our services in a way that somebody who’s only reading education content is not.

Holly Fong: Yeah I think that makes sense. I agree. I think I’ve observed that pattern as well. Something else that we see with some regularity with prospects who have recently finally taken that step that we want people to take, of getting in touch with on the site. When you go back and look at their session, they do something similar. They come in through an email and they’re looking at the article, and then maybe they’re clicking around some related articles. And then yeah, they go to those positioning pages to really get a sense of who we are, and then submit the contact form.

But in between the time that they submit the contact form and we actually have the call, when I go back in to look at their session, they’ve been ravenous on the site. They go in and they consume anything and everything all over the place. That’s where having a diversified content portfolio can be really helpful, because not only are they coming on that original content type, but they’re realizing, “Oh, there gate white papers here. Oh, there are webinars,”, or podcasts, or whatever. They’re able to get a more holistic picture of the expertise inside of the firm, which is good to know, that that’s informing their perspective when you’re going into that initial conversation with them.

Chris Butler: Yeah. It also goes to show that tools like that, that actually give you a little bit more insight into specific user session activity serve both marketing purposes, as well as business development. That’s what’s critical. I think analytics doesn’t give business development much insight, it gives marketing some insight. But when you’re able to actually tie that to people who volunteered information and look at them as individuals, see what they need, it all of a sudden becomes a really powerful tool for business development.

It gives you a sense of, is my time well spent talking to this prospect? Something I’m really personally interested in that I hope will mature over time is what you were describing a moment ago, and you as well Holly, sort of goes right into lead scoring. The idea of what are indicators that this person is actually taking the kinds of action that we want to take note of? The problem with lead score is that it’s always tied to actions that are being taken, sort of indiscriminately. Did they look at this page? Did they fill out this form? Did they look at these pages?

You get to add or subtract numbers based on those activity, but what it’s not good at taking into account is, are there outside of page-type activity, it could but for instance that pattern I noticed, where someone might six months ago have gone through this pattern, then they come back, they go through it again. It doesn’t take into account that kind of latency, the time in between. There’s probably something to lead scoring, when it takes into account that type of pattern and the time’s role in it.

Lauren Siler: This is an interesting point. It goes back to your original question of, what are strategies for lead nurturing? Because you’re right, that that kind of pattern would be difficult to be measured through a lead scoring application, but I bet you could get to it with segmentation.

Chris Butler: For sure, yeah.

Lauren Siler: Then, when you’re being smart about your list segmentation strategy, mapping that to its respective lead nurturing strategy is a really interesting way to think a out that. Because the way that you would nurture a list of people who have exhibited that pattern you’ve just described a couple of times, would look different than the people who just purchased for the first time.

Chris Butler: I think something that’s really of interest as well right now, and this is something relevant to a case study that Lauren’s in the middle of writing, has to do with almost algorithmic measurement. You’re not just looking at this one discrete metric, but looking at metrics that are only relevant to other metrics. For instance, something that is going to be basically the conclusion of the case study that Lauren’s writing right now …

Lauren Siler: Spoiler alert.

Chris Butler: Yeah, we won’t say who it is or what. It has to do with what you mentioned, which is in what time period is somebody going through the progressive profile? For those who are listening who aren’t sure what that means, that means having a potential full profile, 15 to 18 fields that you think you need to know in order to properly vet your prospect. Those might be asked of a prospect over six different forms.

It depends on how long they spend on the site and what forms they fill out. You might get that over a week, over a month, who knows, of them repeatedly filling out forms. The question is, what’s an indicator of success there? If you have a lead that came in through a purchased list, and they’ve gone all the way through the progressive profile in a week, is that good? Is that normal? Is that bad? That sounds pretty amazing, right?

Lauren Siler: Yeah. That sounds like they’re consuming a lot of content because they’d be having to fill out a lot of forms to get there.

Chris Butler: Exactly.

Lauren Siler: That’s a really good sign.

Chris Butler: That is a metric that you can’t just measure through one field. That’s a metric that’s based on compound measurement. I guess that’s a better of putting it, compound measurement. This is another thing, that you can’t really do compound measurement without doing lead nurturing, right? Lead nurturing is trying to draw that out. I had another question for you and now I can’t remember what it was Holly.

Lauren Siler: Make one up.

Chris Butler: Actually, let me ask you about that. That idea of the compound measurement of progressive profiling. You help all of our clients establish what their progressive profile ought to be, what is the master set of fields, and for every client it’s different, it’s what they need to know to properly vet their prospect. How often do you … what do you observe there? How often do you see our clients have prospects that get all the way through there? What’s normal?

Holly Fong: It’s directly related to the amount of gated content they have.

Chris Butler: Gated content specifically.

Holly Fong: Yeah, exactly, and if they’re sending emails promoting that gated content. For clients that are doing that on a regular basis, and by regular basis I mean at least once a quarter if not once a month, they’re going to see a much larger percentage of their list get through all those progressive profiles sets. Now, if that client only has signed up for your newsletter in a contact form, you’re really not giving them the opportunity to get through all of those progressive profile sets. The most they could get through is two, because they would fill out that insides form, it would go away and then they would be ready to contact you, which usually they’re not in between that time.

Chris Butler: It’s an interesting implication of what you just said, which is that it’s almost that if you build it they will come kind of thing. You’re basically saying that, “Look, if you have that content and it’s behind a gate, an info gate, people are going to fill it out.”Because you’re saying, the difference between somebody who has prospects regularly get to the end of their profile and those who don’t, it’s just a matter of how many forms they could possibly fill out? Basically the conclusion is, if you have gated content people will get through that gate.

Holly Fong: Yeah, typically.

Lauren Siler: And just as a quick aside here, if you’re hearing this and you’re thinking, “I don’t have the time to produce gated content,” it’s not true. Go to your site and pick your five smartest blogs and stick a gate in front of them. The idea that gated content has to be this thing that you invest hours and hours and hours and time into, and therefor you don’t have time to get it up on your site, it’s a myth.

I think, as Holly’s describing here, it’s really critical to not only the success of your content strategy but it is fueling the success of your automation strategy. Really think differently or creatively about how you can go about getting that gated content up on the site so that you can make use of these tools in the most effective way.

Chris Butler: That’s a great place to wrap up for today. Holly, thank you for joining us for the first time at the table. You’re going to join us next time too, right?

Holly Fong: Yes. Thanks for having me, again.

Chris Butler: Alright, as we always do, we like to wrap up by giving people something to check out on a site, maybe as a follow up to this conversation. Do you want to start with a recommendation?

Holly Fong: Yeah, sure. Inbound versus Outbound? How About Both? by Mark, was written in October of 2015. I think that that would definitely be worth checking out. Talks a lot about the mix between contacting your list on a regular basis, but also how they’re going to organically come to your site, and how those two things work together.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. We talked about a few lead nurturing strategies today, but one we didn’t have time to get into was account based marketing. We’ve actually got an article on the site up about that. It’s called, Getting Started With Account Based Marketing. It talks about how to think about a really specific lead nurturing strategy that’s all about targeting your ideal companies and organizations that you’d want to work with, and how that might differ from marketing to the masses so to speak.

Chris Butler: We should really do an episode of this podcast about that topic, because we haven’t really done that.

Holly Fong: You know, I now have a place in our handy-dandy spreadsheet, because it’s like every other podcast we say, “We should do a podcast about that.”

Chris Butler: Yes, put it in there.

Holly Fong: I’m going to put that in there right now.

Chris Butler: Awesome. While you’re doing that, I’ll recommend another article from back in October 2015. Chris Creech wrote an article called, a Look at Our Lead Qualification Process. Really what he’s talking about there is soup to nuts, but he has a whole section on lead nurturing. What I like about that is it gives you a primer on that, but it puts in perspective in terms of everything else that you might be thinking of mechanically that’s related to marketing automation. You can find that on our site, check it out. In the meantime, check us out on iTunes, give us a rating if you would. That will really help new people find us. You can always get more of this content at

Holly Fong: Yeah. Thanks for listening

Lauren Siler: Thanks.

Chris Butler: Bye.