Jacobs and Clevenger

Jacobs & Clevenger

Social IMC  Nurture Marketing Jacobs & ClevengerJacobs & Clevenger is a digital agency in Chicago that wanted to incorporate a Nurture Marketing strategy into their business.[i] Ron Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs & Clevenger, said, “I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when we first started exploring the idea of content marketing as a vehicle to drive website traffic. With roots strongly planted in response-oriented marketing, I wondered how something as soft as content could possibly drive action.”[ii] This case is a great example of how to use the Nurture Marketing strategy not only to increase a company’s social footprint but also to increase the total number of leads and sales using a social strategy.

Jacobs & Clevenger established very specific social and marketing goals they wanted to achieve with their marketing program. According to Sheera Eby, Executive Vice President of Strategy & Client Services, the goals they established included the following:

  • Generate web traffic.
  • Convert web visitors to leads—by an increase of three- to four-fold per month.
  • Build a pipeline of leads for nurturing—by an increase of three- to four-fold per month.
  • Move unqualified leads to a sales-ready state—seeking a 5 percent conversion of leads.
  • Gather valuable information for lead nurturing as well as marketing and sales follow-up.
  • Provide a vehicle to package thought leadership content that can be leveraged for presentations, client education and other purposes.

Notice the mix of social and business metrics. Nurture Marketing is a mix of social and traditional business metrics. Rather than growing their Facebook or other social networking sites, their goal was to drive prospects to their website to fulfill their requests to download their relevant content. They weren’t interested in the size of their social footprint on these sites as most business prospects came directly to their website. With a Nurture Marketing strategy, you can grow whichever sites are best for your high value markets.

In establishing their Nurture Marketing goals, Jacobs & Clevenger examined other lead generation programs to establish their conversion goals. Notice that they also wanted to be sure they built a database rich with key interest and other information to drive follow-up marketing activities. Their last goal regarding thought leadership is focused on the creation of highly relevant content for their target market. One of the best measures to help you know your content will be relevant and valued is to ask the influencers in the marketplace.

Target Interests

In establishing their target markets, Jacobs & Clevenger wanted to find executives who were looking for ways to improve the bottom-line performance of their marketing programs. These would be executives passionate about improving their businesses by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of their marketing programs. Like all passion markets, these executives would actively consume relevant content focused on these types of improvements. Jacobs & Clevenger wanted to build the program to engage with these passionate executives.

Create Relevant

Talking with influential bloggers and experts is a great way to identify the types of content that will work. While this type of analysis and research is one way to learn what will be relevant, Jacobs & Clevenger took another route that was just as effective.

Social IMC  Nurture Marketing Jacobs & ClevengerTo identify the most relevant content, Jacobs & Clevenger looked at the search behavior on their site. They examined the direct and indirect keywords that generated the most traffic and identified key topics being searched by their target markets.

One of their findings was the use of long-tailed search phrases. While lower in volume, they often revealed exactly what specific topics were being sought in the marketplace. For example, one big search term was “e-mail marketing,” but a longer-term keyword, like “successful e-mail marketing campaigns” was more illustrative of the challenges their markets were looking to address.

Once the company identified the topics of greatest interest to their markets, they looked at their website to see if they had content that would support their program. Their logic was that when they engaged with an individual using their behind the wall content offering, they would not be considered a thought leader if support content was not on their website. As a result, as they built their relevant content offerings, the website was restructured to ensure there were key pages on hot topics with supporting articles and other types of information. This allowed Jacobs & Clevenger to link readers of their relevant content directly to the appropriate pages on their website to build a stronger and longer lasting relationship. This was something they would measure with the cookie they placed on the computers of their relevant content downloads.


Go Fishing

To market this relevant content, the company developed a marketing strategy using social and traditional marketing channels. The company posted messages on Twitter and other social media to engage their target markets. They also created graphic messages to post on community sites, their website, and other sites attracting their target markets. Each message carried its own tracking code to allow the company to determine which combination of graphic and message produced the strongest responses. These become the roll out messages used in the program.

Social IMC  Nurture Marketing Jacobs & ClevengerJacobs & Clevenger made a series of landing pages for each relevant content item used in their acquisition effort. This allowed them to test different messages to find the one that produced the best results. When an individual clicked on their Go Fishing message to read articles or receive e-books on topics of relevance to them, they were taken to the landing page.

As we saw in the methodology, each landing page accomplished two things. First, it presented more sales copy to engage the reader and move them to action. Second, it gathered critical information Jacobs & Clevenger could use to identify the persona segment of each individual.


The information they gathered was placed into a centralized database that is linked to their customer and prospect marketing systems. This allowed them to unify their social, telemarketing, and traditional marketing programs. When the company received an inbound call, the company could quickly see all of the visits and activities of the individual, regardless of whether they were a customer or prospect. They were able to take their Nurture Marketing contacts, overlay them with descriptive data and track every inbound (customer initiated) and outbound (company initiated) conversation and marketing effort. The added cookie gave them the ability to track all activity by their social prospects on any of their websites and social systems. They had a system that gave them a unified view of all of the activities and key behaviors of the individual.


To build the relationship, Jacobs & Clevenger sent different types of e-mails based on each persona segment and their current status with the company. Their relationship development efforts started with a Thank You e-mail immediately after the individual downloaded their first e-book or read their first article. In the thank you, the individual was offered other support materials matched to both their interest area and their persona.

Social IMC  Nurture Marketing Jacobs & ClevengerFrom the first thank you e-mail, Jacobs & Clevenger monitored each offered article and began to learn from each action their Nurture Marketing prospects made. For each download link used, the company refined their knowledge of the individual and improved in their ability to determine where they were in their product purchase lifecycle. The individual’s response to their company initiated, personalize e-mails produced key metrics that allowed them to tailor future offers and vary the contact cycle. People who were just exploring the topics were given different treatments than to those moving more forcefully toward taking action.

Their Nurture Marketing system also allowed Jacobs & Clevenger to monitor nonresponse behaviors on their website. Even if an individual was not directly responding to an e-mailed communication, each time they went to the company’s website, their visit, what they examined, and how long they were there were added to their marketing database record. Whether the individual was directly engaging with the company or coming to them outside the nurture system, their information was recorded and used to better determine each individual’s needs and wants. This allowed Jacobs & Clevenger to continuously improve their knowledge of each individual and track them from first download to becoming a customer of the company.

What Were the Results?

Did their Nurture Marketing effort work? From an interview with Sheera Eby of Jacobs & Clevenger, this program was a success. Keep in mind Jacobs & Clevenger wanted to increase leads and sales as well as move toward becoming stronger thought leaders on topics of importance to their target markets. As of today, their Nurture Marketing program achieved the following results:

  • Doubled the number of pages on the website within ninety days, helping to establish thought leadership in key areas of importance to the target markets.
  • Increased inbound visits to the website by more than 900 percent, versus a baseline from the month prior to initiating the program to ninety days later.
  • Generated fifty times more qualified inbound leads.
  • Increased the number of inbound links eight-fold in ninety days and twenty-five-fold in 120 days.

Keep in mind these results were achieved by a very established company with an established sales force and a strong position in the marketplace. Because their Nurture Marketing program reached a high value audience in a new way, the results were outstanding. By shifting from a company driving sales through a traditional sales approach to moving toward one in which they help customers by providing thought leadership on topics important to their passion for success, Jacobs & Clevenger was able to use social to drive business to their business.

Jacobs & Clevenger Summary

When developing the Nurture Marketing chapter, I was looking for a great graphic that would overview the entire process. In doing my research, I had the opportunity to speak with Ron Jacobs and Sheera Eby of Jacobs & Clevenger.[iii] Located in Chicago, Illinois, USA, Jacobs and Clevenger are experts at developing, deploying, and managing Nurture Marketing strategies. They wrote the book on direct marketing and are one of the pioneers in helping companies develop their Nurture Marketing strategies.

The graphic, shown on the next page, illustrates the flow of the Nurture Marketing Strategy. It starts on the left with the acquisition effort, moves to the database and, then to the nurture program. This is a holistic program once the individual responds to the acquisition content. It’s effective in managing the relationship from first response to the first purchase of their products and services.

Social IMC  Nurture Marketing Jacobs & Clevenger

[i] http://www.jacobsclevenger.com/

[ii] http://www.jacobsclevenger.com/blog/can-content-marketing-really-drive-website-traffic-2/

[iii] http://www.jacobsclevenger.com/

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