When you maintain the lines of communication in order to build rapport with leads it’s a process known as lead nurturing. One distinct feature of lead nurturing is that it’s an automated process that’s personalized based on where the lead is in the buyer journey.
Lead Nurturing Basics
You’ve drawn in leads with an inbound marketing campaign, but now what? A very small percentage of leads converted on their first visit to your website or app, and now you’ve got a lot of leads left in limbo. Valuable time and resources were spent to generate leads, and a huge chunk of the work has already been done. The next step is to implement a lead nurturing strategy.
Put simply, lead nurturing is the process of providing leads with valuable, relevant information to keep them engaged. The goal is to keep leads in the sales funnel so that they eventually become a customer.
The problem is many lead nurturing programs miss the mark. The majority of marketers recently surveyed by Demand Gen Report gave their lead nurturing programs an F.
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is forgetting that lead nurturing is about the lead first and foremost, not your business. Effective lead nurturing programs focus on addressing the needs of the leads. What information do they need to make a purchase decision? What problems are they having that sent them to your site in the first place?
Building an effective lead nurturing program can be boiled down to three steps:
Step 1. Understand the Buyer’s Journey
The first step to creating a winning lead nurturing strategy is understanding your buyer’s journey to figure out where leads are at within each stage. Walking alongside your leads on their buyer journey will give you a better understanding of what they are looking for, their awareness of the solution or options and whether they are ready to make a purchase.
The only way to know what content will resonate with leads and when it should be delivered is to think like a buyer. Putting yourself in their shoes will help you build rapport and trust with the lead so that a relationship beyond customer/supplier forms.
Step 2. Create a Lead Scoring System
How do you decide which leads become a part of the lead nurturing program? The simple answer is all of the leads. While no business wants to miss an opportunity to make a new customer, including all leads may not make sense for some businesses. This is often the case when a sales team is already processing the maximum number of leads possible.
The honest truth is that not all leads are the right fit for what your business is all about. And some leads just don’t have the budget for what you’re selling. A good number of the leads that come through your website will never get much further down the funnel. But that’s okay because there are other leads that will.
All businesses can benefit from nurturing marketing qualified leads (MQLs) that have shown an interest in your brand or product. MQLs are easier to identify if you use a lead scoring system. Lead scoring will define where leads are in the buyer journey based on a score, which effectively creates user segments for your lead nurturing program. How scores are generated is up to the business and what is perceived as valuable, but there are some common scoring methods:
Target Market Similarities – The closer a lead is to your ideal buyer the higher the score they will receive. You can collect the demographic, firmographic and other information needed to create a score by adding specific form fields to sign-up pages.
Interest and Engagement – Leads that show more interest and are more engaged get higher scores. You can gauge lead interest and engagement through user behavioral analytics and social media activity.
Scoring by Stage – User behavior will indicate how far along a lead is on the buyer journey. Leads that appear to be further down the funnel are given a higher score. Some marketers forgo lead scoring and instead tailor different messages based on which stage the lead is in.
You can use lead scoring to decide who becomes part of the nurturing program and which message or content should be delivered. Since lead nurturing is a segway between marketing and sales both teams need to come together to create the lead scoring system.
Step 3. Create a Personalized Content Marketing Plan
A good lead nurturing program is highly personalized. Every contact and piece of content has to be relevant to where a specific lead is in the buyer journey and help guide them where they need to go.
Lead nurturing is a very tightly focused type of content marketing, but the plan has to be spread across numerous channels. Email is at the core of a lead nurturing content strategy, but it should also include social media outreach, search engines, phone calls and any other effective outlets your business uses to get in touch with leads.
Teams that get this piece of the lead nurturing puzzle right are usually rewarded with new customers that spend 47% more than non-nurtured leads.
What You’ll Need for Lead Nurturing
CRM System With Auto Messaging
Automation is the technological backbone of lead nurturing. It makes managing hundreds or thousands of leads simultaneously a possibility for just a few people. Plus, today people expect immediate followup when they supply their information online.
Many of the leading client relation management (CRM) software programs offer auto messaging. You can use the feature to automatically email a new lead within seconds of receiving their information. CRM programs can also be used to create an email drip campaign that is automatically triggered. Some platforms can even alter the automated touches based on what the lead does.
A lot of lead nurturing happens through social media these days. Heavyweights like Facebook and LinkedIn even have features that aid lead nurturing efforts. Both social media platforms allow you to curate the posts that are shown to leads based on their email address.
Google Ad Account
An indirect way to stay on the mind of leads is with Google advertisements. Display and search ads can be shown to a specific user using their email address.
Content makes lead nurturing possible. It’s the conversation that you have with the lead that keeps them engaged, interested and moving down the funnel. It’s the offers that convince leads to consider making a purchase or learn more about a product. Before you can launch a lead nurturing campaign you have to develop the content strategy then build out the content pieces.
Lead Nurturing Strategies That Work
Make It a Part of Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
A lead nurturing program has to be an extension of your inbound marketing strategy. As such, it should be thought out and planned for when you’re creating the strategy so everything is as cohesive as possible.
10 Touches Across Multiple Channels
The golden rule for lead nurturing is 10 touches across multiple channels. There should also be a variety of offers within the 10 touches.
Make the First Touch Quickly
Automation is important because every minute counts when you’re nurturing leads. The quicker you reach out the more likely it is that an inbound lead will become a marketing qualified lead and ultimately a paying customer. Aim to contact the lead within five minutes of their submission to maximize conversion potential.
Educate and Entertain
Every time you contact a lead have to goal to educate, entertain or both. Leads won’t get annoyed at content that gives them helpful information or gives them something to chuckle at.
Plan for a Long Nurturing Period
Don’t expect leads to start buying the moment you reach out. In most cases, it takes time to build trust, and you don’t want to push leads away with overly aggressive marketing. Plan for a long nurturing period with touches spread out over weeks or even months. Little by little the relationship will grow and leads will become comfortable with the idea of being your customer.
No business likes to let leads go to waste. Unfortunately, keeping a lead engaged is much easier said than done. As long as you have patience and a rock-solid content marketing strategy that’s lead-centric there’s a good chance your lead nurturing initiatives will succeed.