Josh Hill, a Marketo Champion and a prolific best practice producer, has published a post called the Lead Nurturing Waterfall Framework where he examines multiple approaches for designing B2B lead nurturing content programs.

TheHeroWithAThousandFacesIn the post, Josh outlines a framework that loosely follows Joseph Campbell’s famous Hero narrative. We found it particularly compelling, because it very clearly puts the recipient at the center stage, instead of the product, solution or brand being sold. Also because Campbell’s work is such a seminal piece on comparative analysis of world mythologies that you’d be hard pressed to find true geeks (ahem) who’re not familiar with it, so obviously we were intrigued.

Anyway, per Hill’s post, when adapted to lead nurturing, the waterfall framework translates into some interesting guidelines.

Consider the following.

  • Each email is an invitation to continue the story.
  • Each email or whitepaper is a chapter.
  • Each chapter can be across channels or offer types.
  • Use cliffhangers.

It’s easy to see why we like this model so much. Simply put, it forces the marketer to think ‘story’ and ‘goal’ instead of ‘asset’ and ‘call to action’. Yet before you run off to apply it, consider a couple of warnings.

Lead nurturing doesn’t behave like a book or a film

This is a  key insight. When you watch a movie or read a book, you experience the narrative and react to the story linearly & continuously. Each scene follows from the previous ones. You can’t appreciate the third act if you’ve missed the second. Normally, unless it’s a really dumb action flick, you can’t just walk away and come back an hour later and still enjoy the story. You’ve missed too much plot.

As a marketer, you have to assume your readership will experience your messages non-linearly. Few will open and read all your emails, while most of your audience will either ignore most of the messages or read just one or two of them. Thus, your story must allow for discontinuous experience so that even those who haven’t read the first three emails in your nurture flow will still be able to understand and react to the fourth.

Achieving multi channel nurturing is no easy feat

In fact, it’s very hard. Synchronizing messages across multiple mediums like web, mobile app and email, where the unique identifier for an individual is different, is no trivial affair. Marketing automation vendors vary in their approach to solving this. Some ignore the issue completely, while others provide some built-in workarounds that address two or three channels in addition to email. We’ve yet to see a sufficiently effective solution to address it. Bottom line – assume email remains your primary medium for delivering your story, and cautiously proceed from there.

photo credit: Paulina Kim Joo @Flickr


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About Idan Carmeli

A B2B marketing veteran with a penchant for the written word and a geeky fascination with technology. Through Converto, a marketing services agency he's founded, Idan combines his professional passions to deliver the benefits of marketing automation to B2B organizations large and small, especially through intelligent, well crafted lead nurturing programs.