How to Nurture The Great Unknown Leads

Michael Brenner Blog on Content MarketingIn a previous post on Paid Search, I reviewed a study by TechTarget and Google that highlighted one of the main challenges in demand generation for the B2B Marketer: inaccurate contact details. But there is tremendous value in these contacts as they are telling you exactly what you need to know, when you need to know it – if only you will listen.

In this post, I will explain how you can use your best content to nurture these early stage leads to the point where they are ready to take the next step in their buying journey – and to take it with your company.

If you’ve ever walked into any retail store and been hounded by a sales rep then you know how annoying it can be for a B2B decision maker or influencer who is truly “just looking.” The buying process begins with a stage of discovery where buyers are searching for clear definitions to problems and general information that will enable their teams to be better informed.

When a buyer finds valuable information early in this process that requires registration, they will often “hide” behind inaccurate contact details.  And like the person browsing in a retail store, they are not ready to speak with a vendor. According to the TechTarget and Google Study on Search by Buying Stage, almost half of all search responders provide incorrect contact details. The percentage of contacts providing accurate data is highest for email (66%) and lowest for phone numbers (21%).

(Source: The Google/TechTarget Behavioral Research Project: Phase 2)

The message: Don’t call me! But if you want to email me something valuable I might read it.

So how do you mine these contcts for leads? And how can you send them valuable information when you don’t know who they are, what company they work for, what industry they are in or what title they hold? You can spend money trying to match your email addresses to external databases but the results may not be as good as you hope.

Many B2B Marketers just stop here and give up. These contacts may even get tossed. Or they go into the company database where they receive the annual email from the CEO or an invitation to your company-sponsored conference. But they miss out on all those highly targeted offers.

One trick is to compile a list of all the best content from previous campaigns that you already have on hand.  Make sure you cover each buying stage. Include thought leadership whitepapers, customer videos, podcasts, case studies, demos and product comparison guides. In some cases, emails like this may be the highest converting and have the lowest opt-out rates of all your email blasts.

Now testing all these factors against your own objectives is very important. The list size should be large enough to test subject lines, landing pages and offer placements. You can test this “best offer” email vs. single-offer emails. You could even test emails from companies vs. personal emails (hotmal, gmail, etc).  Each successive email should get better and better.

With all this valuable content, you may have earned the right for a few more accurate phone numbers, a few more leads and a few more sales. The cost will be low since you used existing content, house-list emails and a general desire to help your customers make a quality buying decision.

by Michael Brenner, July 27, 2010

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Showing 5 comments
  • Brian


    I really enjoyed this post. My favorite line has to be “Don’t call me! But if you want to email me something valuable I might read it.” I may have to borrow that.

    • Michael Brenner

      Brian, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Feel free to borrow anything you see and hope it helps.

  • kenny

    1.3 million IT buyers tell me why do Vendors FORCE them to register for content. They are NOT interested in “download a sales call” lead bait disguised as content. :)

    • Michael Brenner

      Hi Kenny, thanks for the comment. It’s a great question and exactly why we need an integrated approach to marketing to understand our target market, understand their needs, and provide them value. And when thet are ready, they will tell us.

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