Marketers tasked with lead generation face a difficult dilemma when gathering crucial information from prospects. The problem revolves around how much data we should elicit from lead generation forms. Typical form fields (i.e. name, email address, location, interests, motivations, etc.) inform our ongoing communication or nurture programs that aim to cultivate real-life customers from “interested” contacts. Here is the issue in a nutshell:
A. Ask for too much information up front, and form conversion rates will suffer.
B. Ask for too little information, and risk gathering unqualified leads about which you know very little.
With my own clients, I opt for the latter scenario in most cases. Sometimes I would rather have a high volume of prospects to which I can feed helpful, useful, informative content over a series of messages. A prospect’s reaction to and behavior with those messages and the content assets delivered provide helpful cues about her intentions to buy.
There are also some instances, where I would prefer to gather more information so I know exactly what to send prospects, which improves the likelihood that each touchpoint will be a positive one.
No matter what side of the issue you choose, know that every prospect is unique. Motivations are different. Interests will vary. Success of an email nurture series relies mainly on the set up.
It’s an (Educated) Guessing Game
I recently played a game with my family called, Headbandz. It’s an updated version of the “Who Am I?” guessing game you may have played before. Here’s how it works.
- Each player is assigned a card, which is placed on her forehead (atop a headband in our case). Every card in play has a word or phrase printed on it (e.g. “Las Vegas,” “Lollipop,” “Elvis Presley,” “Spoon,” etc.)
- Players can see other players’ cards, but not their own. No player is allowed to read anyone else’s card aloud.
- Each player must take turns asking the others “Yes/No” questions about her own card. This line of questioning, which could go dozens of rounds, ultimately helps each player identify the word on her forehead.
- The first player to correctly name the word on her card wins the game.
The best players (usually my wife or my nine-year-old in our family) follow a very well-constructed system for asking questions. They start with very general queries like:
Am I a person?
Am I a place?
Am I an animal?
Am I an object?
Based on the “Yes/No” answers to that high-level inquiry, a new series of questions opens up. Let’s say the “Am I a place?” question yielded a “Yes” response. The following questions would go as follows:
Am I a city?
Am I located in the United States?
Am I east of the Mississippi River?
Am I in the South?
This little investigation would go on until the player narrows down the options to the obvious answer. The “Yes/No” responses lead the player down different paths. The key to game play is this: without a logical system to ask questions, you can’t win. Also, a restrictive, linear path that does not allow for adjustments to questions following “No” answers, will likely lead you in the wrong direction.
“Who Am I?” : Game :: “What Do They Want?” : Nurture Series
A winning player’s approach to the “Who Am I?” game is not unlike the system a great email nurture strategist must devise. Each touchpoint (or question) informs the next. The only difference for nurture campaigns is that in addition to gathering valuable cues about a prospects motivations and intent, we must simultaneously deliver value in the form of education, information, entertainment, empathy, etc.
When multiple assets indicative of a prospect’s motivations and intent are positioned together in a single message, we can draw intelligence from their click behavior and engagement.
Assume nothing about your prospect and always let their behavior be your guide.
One Thing Leads to Another
To illustrate this point with an example, let’s say we are designing a nurture series for a summer camp. Our target includes parents looking to enroll their children in summertime activities. Motivations for selecting our summer camp over other options vary from Location & Timing to Activities to Cost/Value.
Upon signing up for additional information, prospects receive a Welcome message that includes content assets aligning with each motivation. Depending upon the asset(s) with which they interact, prospects then receive a second message that corresponds with their behavior. For instance, if a prospect reviews the Cost Comparison Cart in the Welcome email, she receives a second message focused on “the value of summer camp.”
As the automated series continues, we learn more about the motivations of each individual prospect and can deliver messages geared toward their interests. Let’s say we have a prospect click on the Activities Slide Show in the Welcome message, based on their interaction with the second message, they receive one of the following for Message #3.
With some trials and testing, we should be able to create a series (and a system) that ultimately delivers the most relevant message to each unique summer camp prospect.
Note: this process and systematic communications stream is dependent upon a few things.
- We have a wealth of content assets at our disposal or resources to build them out.
- We have licensed an automation program that can monitor and react to click behaviors.
- There is a very high click rate with each message. In the scenario outlined above, subsequent communication is defined by previous behavior. If a recipient does not click, we must also outline a “no click default” track whereby we continue to seek out the specific motivations of the individual.