You’ve sent countless emails, created new web content, and invested in search engine marketing all in the name of lead generation. Yet, “We need more leads,” continues to be the refrain from the sales department. What if we told you the issue isn’t the quantity of the leads, or even the quality? It’s how you’re nurturing (or not) those leads once you’ve got them.
According to Marketing Sherpa, “Seventy-nine percent of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance.”
Generating leads is like planting seeds of awareness among your potential customers. But like any successful crop, leads need to be nurtured in order to fully mature and grow into sales.
“Nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads,” according to The Annuitas Group, which is why a Modern Marketer like yourself understands the importance of nurturing leads throughout the sales cycle.
So, what does an effective lead nurturing process look like? It’s an ongoing, purposeful conversation with your customers that builds trust in your company.
No matter how your message is delivered, it should be both impactful and consistent across all channels.
First, you create awareness by educating customers about your product or solution. Then, you generate interest with content that informs customers about solutions to their problems. Next, you engage with the customer by providing targeted content designed to influence their purchasing decision. Finally, you inspire action that leads to the holy grail of conversion.
It sounds simple enough, right? So why is it that so many leads fail to thrive and never convert into sales? It’s hard to know for certain, but it’s reasonable to assume that at some point the conversation between marketer and potential customer faltered. That is why it’s so important to remember that one of the pillars of Modern Marketing is to build connections with individuals.
Here are a few tips to help you develop the kind of personal connections that nurture strong, healthy leads that eventually grow into to sales and longtime customers.
Like any relationship, in order to make a lasting connection, you must first understand your customers. Gathering data through forms and analytics is a good first step. But taking the time to conduct interviews with real customers is an even better way to gain a deeper understanding of who it is you’re trying to reach. Using your findings to build a series of buyer personas can help you focus your marketing efforts to provide the kind of relevant content modern customers seek.
It’s important to remember that not all leads are created equal. Some may come to you ready to buy, but others—likely most—come to you thinking they might possibly consider making a purchase… someday. Trying to close a sale at this point is a waste of your time and theirs and, frankly, can be off-putting. However, it’s a great opportunity to begin an ongoing dialog that will help build trust in the relationship. Give them content they can use. Provide a webinar, white paper, or ebook that educates, but doesn’t directly sell, and demonstrates expertise and leadership in your category.
Content is your most powerful tool when it comes to creating a successful lead nurturing process. However, one size definitely does not fit all. True lead nurturing means you’re giving customers what THEY need to thrive. This is where those buyer personas you created earlier become really useful. You need to create a mix of content that can be targeted to different buyer personas depending on their unique needs and where they are on their buyer’s journey.
When we say “lead nurturing campaign” your mind most likely goes directly to email marketing. And while email is an important tool, an effective lead nurturing process makes use of omnichannel marketing. Salesforce estimates that an individual will encounter six to eight touches before converting to a qualified lead. So it makes sense that you would want to use multiple channels to reach your audience—from digital, to print, to social media, and beyond. The right mix of channels will depend on your customer personas. But no matter how your message is delivered, it should be both impactful and consistent across all channels.
Today’s marketing technology and automation make developing a successful lead nurturing process easier than ever before. You can reach larger audiences in less time and on a more regular basis. However, nothing beats the power of a well-timed follow-up call or email in converting a lead to a sale.“Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales ready leads at 33 percent lower cost,” according to Marketo. After all, developing personal connections is a key to successful lead nurturing. What could be more personal than a phone call or an email in direct response to an action by a lead?
Developing an effective lead nurturing process can seem like a daunting task. However, if you follow the tips outlined here and focus on having an ongoing conversation with your customers, you’re sure to see your leads (and profits) thrive.
Struggling with generating leads in the first place? Learn how to use LinkedIn to generate the leads you’re seeking.