Making the Case for Customer Nurturing

 In Demand Generation Best Practices, Lead Management

snakeplant There’s a plant in my home office. A snake plant. He’s a very hardy plant. He’s also lonely, because he’s the only plant in the house. It’s not that our family doesn’t like plants. We are quite fond of nature in fact. We are just very proficient at killing them. When someone buys us a new plant (we know well enough now not to buy one ourselves), we do a reasonable job of nurturing it while it grows. Water, sunlight… But then we eventually stop nurturing it until one day we notice it’s time to compost it. Many of the clients we work with have a similar practice when it comes to nurturing. Great strides have been made in the past couple of years by many organizations in driving early stage lead nurturing. Even recycled nurturing of closed lost leads is becoming more common.

The Forgotten Nurture Segment – Customers

We are all familiar with the time-tested truth that it’s easier and cheaper to sell more to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Despite this, most marketing teams we work with are not focusing to a significant extent on customer nurturing. There are a couple of common reasons for this:

  1. Marketing’s mission is customer acquisition
  2. Product ownership is not captured in their CRM

Customer Acquisition and Nurturing

In the case of a customer acquisition focus, we are in agreement that marketing should play a lead role in engaging and educating new prospects through the early stages of their buyer journey. Doing so doesn’t need to come at the exclusion of customer nurturing. Most sales organizations are more proficient at, and focused on, hunting rather than farming. So, if both marketing and sales are hunting, that leaves farming customers to a random series of non-planned touch points.

From marketing, this most often takes the form of batch and blast emails that are not tuned to the current customer deployment. Instead, we recommend a prescriptive series of well-planned customer nurture touches through an engine such as Marketo’s Customer Engagement engine. Nurture streams throughout the customer lifecycle are purpose-built to educate, build loyalty, and maximize cross-sell and up-sell revenue. Relevancy is the key. Distinct nurture streams are built based on product and service ownership, industry, persona, stage in the customer lifecycle and other key factors.

The CRM Issue

The relevancy challenge for many organizations is that product ownership is not accurately captured in their CRM. There are a few remedies for this:

  1. Leverage the pre-built integration that exists between many financial and CRM applications to import product ownership. Do so at the account and contact level.
  2. If pre-built integration does not exist, use the API to build integration. It will cost some money, but the return should far exceed the initial outlay.
  3. Do a batch import on a monthly basis of this data.
  4. Leverage data from your customer support database to increase the accuracy of product usage at the contact level

We know that one of the concerns that organizations have is that product ownership from a procurement persona in a financial system doesn’t mean the contacts in a CRM and Marketing Automation platform are using that product specifically. This is a valid concern. We still believe it’s not a reason that should prevent you from nurturing altogether. You are touching customers today with random batch and blast emails that are not highly relevant. Accept the fact that a contextual customer nurture program will not be 100% accurately targeted because of this issue, but it’s a much more progressive approach to customer nurturing that should yield significant results. That’s all for today – it’s time for me to go and water my plant. ☺

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