Lead Nurture is Absolutely Essential – Even for Presumed SQLs
5 minutes

Lead Nurture is Absolutely Essential – Even for Presumed SQLs

Jan. 20, 2023

Government marketers are juggling competing priorities. This includes navigating the evolving landscape of an economic downturn, ever-present workforce challenges, and other trends impacting the public sector. 

Consequently, effective marketing strategies have never been more important to make every dollar go further. That’s why GovExec assembled a team of experts to share their top five marketing strategies to set you up for success in 2023. In this five part blog series, you will learn about utilizing insights, digital products, content, and events in a holistic B2G marketing strategy.

Our third strategy of this series comes from Allie DeNicuolo, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Operations at GovExec. DeNicuolo oversees the execution, delivery, and strategy for digital advertising, demand generation, and audience marketing across GovExec. She is responsible for managing marketing strategies to grow brand databases and audience reach, developing effective digital products, and improving the efficiency of campaign delivery.

Strategy #3: Lead nurture is absolutely essential – even for presumed SQLs

Everyone has a need for lead generation; it’s a major component of how Govexec helps its clients. While lead generation is crucial for success, lead nurture is absolutely essential, yet sometimes forgotten. Lead nurture is the best tactic to turn a Marketing Quality Lead (MQL) into a Sales Quality Lead (SQL). Simply dumping leads into a database and hoping they convert at the first sales interaction will inevitably produce a low conversion rate. Most prospects will not be ready for a sales conversation in their first interaction with your company. Lead nurture fosters quality leads as opposed to inundating a large quantity of prospects before they’re ready.

“It takes a single touch point for a user to see your brand or products, but it takes multiple touch points for them to really remember your branding.”
-Allie DeNicuolo, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Operations at GovExec

You want to interact with your users as much as possible. Connect with them in a variety of ways to give them multiple opportunities of exposure to your brand and products. Remember that prospects need to be comfortable with your brand and/or products before they will be willing to enter into a sales-related conversation.

Have materials prepared to distribute as users become leads, and deploy every tactic at your disposal. DeNicuolo suggests putting prospects through email journeys, using display advertising and branding websites that they interact with, launching social media and lookalike campaigns, direct InMail, and newsletters, to get multiple touch points with leads. Nurture programs do not have to be as high-tech as many assume. Utilize the same tactics as your other digital marketing campaigns, but target a package to users who have already interacted with your content. It takes a single touch point for a user to see your brand or products, but it takes multiple touch points for them to really remember your branding.

“The key to a nurture process is building familiarity and trust.”
-Allie DeNicuolo, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Operations at GovExec

When it comes to timing, don’t rush the process. Your prospects need to get to know your brand without being bombarded after their first engagement. Make sure you build out a sufficient timeline to allow them ample opportunity to see your brand/products, to get comfortable with them, and to revisit when they’re ready. When prospects are overwhelmed with marketing materials, they are less engaged and tend to shut down rather than download your materials. Make sure you are thinking about your users’ journey and the timeline they’re on. Tell your brand’s and/or product’s story according to that timeline. 

The key to a nurture process is building familiarity and trust. Time, money, and cost go into lead generation for your sales and business development teams. Therefore, it’s critical that you focus your efforts on making them not just leads, but potential customers once they are ready for that sales pitch.

“I like to see nurture programs take, at a minimum, four weeks.”
-Allie DeNicuolo, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Operations at GovExec

Although the hope is that conversions happen as quickly as possible, you want to make sure you give your prospects time. DeNicuolo recommends that the nurture process take four weeks at a minimum. A four week minimum allows your prospect to get to know your brand and product, step away, then come back, building familiarity. 

An important component of the nurture process is evaluating where they fall on the spectrum from MQL to SQL. Develop a system to rank or tier users while you analyze their engagement over time. Prospects who rank on the higher end are SQLs and those on the lower end are MQLs. Something as simple as an email journey is a great way to easily track your prospects through their process. You can see how often they’ve opened your emails, what and how much they clicked, or if they are not engaged at all. 

“If [you] can prove or see that they’ve interacted more than two times with something, they’re ready for a sales conversation, because there’s a lot in front of them and they’re choosing your brand or product.”
-Allie DeNicuolo, Vice President of Marketing and Digital Operations at GovExec

A lead is well-nurtured when they have interacted with multiple marketing materials and they’ve seen different products that you’re offering. Leads with the highest interaction rates can be sent to your sales team for a conversation. If a user has only downloaded one piece of content, they aren’t ready for a conversation, and if you approach them then, they will likely be a waste of a lead. With all the clutter out there, if you can prove that a user has interacted with your brand more than two times, they are likely ready for a sales conversation. This shows that out of everything they have been inundated with, they are choosing your brand.

If leads aren’t converting, don’t throw them away! Have a separate marketing gameplan for them. Put these leads into a different type of nurture database, engaging them once a month or sending newsletters. Continue to track their progress and see how they interact over a six month period. They might not be ready to be the customer you need at that moment, but they could be in a few months.

Strategy #1: Lead with data-driven content for an always-on marketing strategy.

Strategy #2: Gather information to educate your customers AND yourself.

Can’t wait for the next post in this series? 
Our experts broke it all down for you in this free webinar: 
Top 5 Marketing Strategies for Success in 2023. 
Register today and access it on-demand!