Nurture Marketing – Is it just a new buzz phrase for marketers or is it a smarter approach?

Marketing techniques are forever changing, especially in the digital age, where crowd sourcing and social business is becoming commonplace. Never has it been more easy for prospective customers to find out about a company, product or service – online forums, reviews and blogs all at the click of button, influencing the decision making process. B2B customers like domestic consumers are increasingly spending time researching online, obtaining information from third parties and their peers. Due to this vast instantly available knowledge source, much of the decision making process is often taking place before a brand has even gone to market; as such these brands could be missing out on vital sales, because they haven’t been part of the conversation or taken the opportunity to bear influence.

So how can companies influence their suspects, prospects and customers earlier in the buying cycle?

Take the ’sales and marketing’ adage – ‘right message, right product, right place, right time’ – this certainly still stands. However, in increasingly competitive and complex markets with longer sales cycles and multiple decision makers to influence, it’s much more difficult to gauge the ‘right time’ element. Furthermore, with the available information and, more importantly, available independent opinion, customers are better equipped to self-select. They have become suspicious of the traditional pushy sales message. Websites are increasingly becoming information portals and the less ’hard sell’ the better. The need now is to build ongoing relationships between people and brands. When brands solve human problems they become incredibly valuable and in many cases loved – Think about the relationship anyone of us has with our smartphone!

Marketers now need to be more fluid in their approach and think differently about how they engage with the market.

This new approach known as ‘Nurture Marketing’ is about new and extensive engagement with customers. Listening to and understanding their challenges; being available for them 24/7; providing them with valuable information related to their needs. Brands can offer intuitive insights promoting the concept of ‘thought leadership’, ultimately garnering brand affection and resulting in long-term brand loyalty. Done right it ensures that a particular brand is top of the list, as customers journey through the sales cycle.

Nurture marketing is nothing new, you may know it as Customer Relationship Marketing, Lead Nurturing or Drip Marketing.

However, with marketing automation tools becoming increasingly more sophisticated it is now possible to nurture audiences in a far smarter manner. The rich functionality in these tools means that marketers can use technology to automate lead scoring and segment an audience in much greater detail than ever before. Automation helps to expedite the process and allows greater granularity, especially around behaviour for example; has the prospect visited your website; if so what pages did they view; what content did they download; how long were they on the page for; did they visit ‘high value’ pages and content such a product page; And do prospects respond better to offers and incentives! The list goes on.

By scoring prospects, understanding and influencing their buyer behaviour and segmenting them into ‘buckets’ of criteria and persona now enables marketers to undertake campaigns on a more individual basis – tailor communications accordingly; displaying relevant content based on their search and viewing habits whilst at the same time creating communities around products and services via social media.

Nurture marketing then becomes a valuable mechanism to building credibility and trust, by the sharing of useful, relevant and timely information. Customers will begin to believe that a brand understands their problems, knows ways of solving them, is seen as a trusted ‘thought leader’ and thereby increases the chances of being selected for consideration and ultimately purchase.

So, in answer to my opening proposition, is Nurture Marketing just the new buzz phrase or is it a smarter approach? I would say it’s both. The smarter approach inevitably leads to a positive outcome and can yield greater results with increased return on investment for both intelligent marketers and sales alike, which has to be a win win scenario!