I had a great chat with a client the other week, and he had a very simple model for nurture marketing. It's a topic that a lot of people seem to over-think, when it comes to managing the who-has-received-what-message, and how-do-I-add-more-content issues that come up as soon as you want to make sure that everyone is nurtured BUT people aren't hit with similar messaging multiple times.
The model for this one was very simple - he called it Pachinko - the Japanese game that's half pin-ball, half slot machine, and I think I'll steal that term from him. The concept is to keep a very simple set of independant messages - the high level, educational, value add messages that you need to use in nurture marketing - and cycle prospects through the set continously like the marbles in a Pachinko machine.
The trick is that you need to manage the messaging within each box to make sure, at that level, that the person has not received the same message before. To do this, he had a simple two bucket control mechanism; people who had received the message and people who had read the message (by clicking through the email to read the full article).
Each "attempt message" breaks out into a quick routine, as pictured, and puts everyone flowing through the nurture program into "has been sent" and "has read" groups. Messages are never resent if the person has received it before (from this nurturing program, or from any other source).
The beauty of this approach though is that it is completely self-contained. You can add contacts to the program at any time, and at any place, and they will only receive the messages they have not received before. Similarly, you can add new messages to the nurture program at any time, and it will intelligently deliver them only to the right people.
The fact that this system cycles people back to the start continually means that any new content will be immediately picked up and delivered, while if they have received the content before they will receive nothing. Great for staying top-of-mind without overcommunicating, and any new connections can be added to this nurture program automatically.
Nurture marketing is a great way to stay in touch with prospects who have great potential, but are not ready to buy yet... borrowing a few ideas from Pachinko gives us an easy way to nurture without the headache of trying to manage who has seen what message.
If you're an Eloqua user, there is a more detailed view of how to build this here: http://eloqua.blogspot.com/2008/12/building-pachinko-machine.html