By David Jones
Welcome to the Information Age, or as I call it, The Era of Intellectual Pollution. Same difference. You choose.
There can be such a thing as too much knowledge. If you need proof, try filling out a form for a white paper or “book” on a typical web site landing page. Soon blogs will flood your inbox, all titled five, seven or nine ways to do something, courtesy of the sponsoring company’s marketing automation program. It’s like spam, except that you knew it was coming the moment you provided your email address. If you’re like me you’re hoping for one titled, “3 Ways to Shut Up Spammers” or in moments of real frustration, “Spammer Assassination Made Easy.”
Not long ago I trialed several inbound marketing company’s wares, with the twin goals of driving lead generation for my own company and packaging the same tools in a new PR offering for clients in the technology arena. Make no mistake, inbound marketing is way, way cool. But like every other magical innovation promoted as being completely hands-free, inbound marketing has features that require human intervention. One such feature is leading nurturing, aka the “drip” campaign — the source of much good but unwanted information.
In principle, lead nurturing is brilliant: Once a prospect provides contact information in order to receive some freebie, the system begins selectively sending more info in a kindred vein. Gradually, so the idea goes, this sharing of helpful data builds trust and a strong relationship leading to a sale, or a long term client, or both. But here’s were a little human touch is required. You — the administrator — need to set the campaign’s rules engine appropriately to deliver just the right amount of content. Too little and you’re forgotten. Too much and you become a nuisance.
Case in point: My recent experience with one of the top inbound marketing companies. Ever since I entered the “sales funnel” a few weeks back, I have been inundated with blogs – 2, 3, 4 or 5 per day. At first I jumped on each one. Then the intrusion in my work day became a nuisance. Now I’m deleting all such uninvited guests to my inbox on sight, unread. That’s a real pity because the ones I’ve taken the time to peruse are truly excellent — informative, well-written, timely and each revealing something I need to know and didn’t.
Another IM vendor follows what to me seems a much smarter approach to the “drip.” Their system can be set up so that clients distribute supplemental content on a staggered basis, perhaps in intervals of 8 – 10 days. That way, every new offer comes as a pleasant surprise.
Marketers and PR people who engage in lead nurturing take heed: The mind can absorb only so much content. Delivered in reasonable doses, your offers will usually be welcome. But overload the customer with reams of content day-in and day-out and soon the biggest drip, in her or his mind, will be the pest who gives them no rest.