All businesses live and die by their ability to generate new leads consistently. But while the concept of lead generation is easy to understand, merely attracting a prospect doesn’t mean that he’ll be ready to become a customer immediately after coming to a business website, even if he’s interested in the offer.
That’s because each lead is different – while one person may be ready to purchase right away, another might still have some doubts or unanswered questions that keep him from committing.
That’s where lead nurturing plays such an important role.
With the help of lead nurturing, you can take your prospect wherever he might be on the buyer journey and guide him through the challenges he’s facing to the point of sale.
But What Exactly is Lead Nurturing and Why Is It Important?
Well, to put it simply, lead nurturing is used to identify each lead and then provide personalized and relevant information that answers questions, breaks through objections, and guides the prospect down the sales funnel. Using lead nurturing, you don’t have to rely on a single funnel or a single message to convert a lead into a customer, but can instead learn to recognize his current situation and approach him accordingly.
While we’d like to believe that all leads that come to your website are eager buyers, most of them won’t be ready to purchase just yet. In fact, up to 96% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy when they first come to your site.
That’s why you shouldn’t look at the first interaction as the only moment that you have to make the sale. Instead, you should develop a strategy that recognizes when a lead isn’t there yet and have a process for guiding him forward.
Usually, an effective lead nurturing strategy employs a softer approach instead of a hard sell – by providing helpful information, useful links, and multiple next step options, you’re giving your leads the opportunity to go at a pace that they are comfortable at.
This way, instead of alienating a large percentage of your prospective customers, you can instead establish instant credibility and start building your status as an authority in your field who truly understands their audience.
But how can you get started with developing your own lead nurturing strategy?
Well, here are a few tactics that you should consider.
Identifying Your Target Audience
Before we can even begin talking about advanced lead nurturing tactics and strategies, we must first remember the fundamental foundation on which any successful marketing campaign is built.
If you don’t have a clearly defined audience that you want to reach, it will be impossible to not only develop a lead nurturing strategy but to grow your online business in any way.
When you want to sell online, you need to have a deep understanding of who you’re targeting because that will dictate almost all of your decisions regarding the medium, the language, and the messages that you use to reach your buyers.
If you have prior sales, you can get develop specific customer profiles by simply looking at your best customers. Otherwise, surveys, interviews, and trial and error are your best bet for finding a group of people that are interested in what you have to offer.
This step can be time-consuming and require fine tuning before you’re able to reach a more definitive answer, but if you do it right, it will reap benefits in all areas of online marketing that you deal with.
Once you know who you want to reach, you can move on to implementing specific lead nurturing tactics that will help you get the most out of every lead that reaches your website.
Here are a few of the most effective tactics that have proven to work time and time again in lead nurturing campaigns.
Lead nurturing is all about providing your customers with the information that’s most relevant today, and email serves as the perfect medium for making it happen.
After all, it’s hard to expect your prospects to stick around and read your emails if you bombard their inbox with generic and sales-y content that’s not relevant to their current needs and situation.
Luckily, with email, you have endless possibilities to segment your list into smaller groups based on how they entered the list and their actions when interacting with your emails.
With time, it’s possible to develop email sequences that are tailor-made for different segments of your audience, allowing you to provide much more relevant content and significantly increasing your engagement numbers.
But merely being relevant is not enough – if you want your emails to have an impact, you need to ensure that they’re also informative and help the reader move forward in their journey towards buying your product.
Always go above and beyond with your emails (and other content, for that matter) – include useful links, point them to your other relevant content, and back everything up with numbers and case studies. You can also use email to showcase your brand’s voice and personality, establishing a deeper connection with the reader and maximizing your chances of turning him into a customer.
You can also add various personal touches to your emails to make your readers feel like they’re more than just a number on your list – even including simple gestures like the name or location of your reader can go a long way in making the communications more personal. If you can add personalization elements to the subject line, that can make a huge difference to your open rates as well.
Overall, taking the time to develop an immersive and personalized email marketing strategy allows you to grow your email subscriber list and turn more of your readers into customers, which makes it one of the best lead nurturing tactics you can employ.
Content marketing is an integral part of any comprehensive lead nurturing strategy. But for it to be successful, you need to have a solid understanding of how to develop content that matters to your readers, and how to display it to the right person at the right time.
If you don’t have a clear strategy for developing and publishing content, it’s likely that you’ll end up with a bunch of unrelated articles that don’t have any value for guiding your audience forward.
However, if you’re able to use the knowledge about your audience to personalize your content and provide useful and relevant information at the right time, your articles will never have a shortage of readers who will eagerly await your next piece of content.
But how can you use content for lead nurturing?
Well, since your prospects are at different stages on the buyer journey, you should use content to provide personalized information and guidance to each group of leads that you can identify.
Obviously, you don’t need to create a separate blog for each group, as a lot of the content will be overlapping, but having articles that cover specific obstacles or answer questions can be immensely helpful because you can use that piece of content as a way to guide the lead through your funnel.
Usually, personalized content for lead nurturing will be an integral part of your mid-funnel marketing tactics that take somewhat informed prospects and help push them forward toward deciding to buy.
But that’s not the only way that you can use content for your lead nurturing efforts.
Targeted content that’s crafted with a specific person in mind also works very well in the early stages of the buyer’s cycle – you can use it to present large amounts of information in a simple way, and then use internal links to help him navigate to areas that are more relevant to him.
With the help of marketing automation tools, you can track reader behavior and provide a more personalized experience based on their actions. You can also use customized opt-in forms in your content that help to add the prospect into an email funnel that’s the most relevant to their interests.
One of the most important parts of a successful lead nurturing strategy is making sure that you keep communication lines open with all of your prospects – if you don’t engage your audience, you can’t expect them to keep their interest in what you have to offer.
That’s why following up with each lead is essential – if you can provide relevant messages on a regular basis, your lead will move closer towards being ready to buy, and you’ll be able to make the most out of each lead you acquire.
Maximizing the potential of each lead should be the priority for any business, because with such a competitive landscape in most markets, acquiring and qualifying a new lead is very expensive.
Once you do have a prospective customer that’s shown interest in what you have to offer, you need to capitalize on that momentum and provide him with relevant and engaging information, personalizing the content in a way that matches up with his current situation.
You should also make sure that you follow up with your leads promptly – the internet is full of distractions, so if you don’t continuously engage your prospects, someone else is bound to capture their attention.
In fact, a Lead Response Management study found that the chances of successfully contacting a lead are up to a 100 times greater when he is contacted within 5 minutes after the first contact compared to when 30 minutes had passed.
Over time, you’ll likely be able to find the sweet spot of how long to wait before following up with your leads. But once you do, make sure you stick to it and that you allocate the necessary amount of time every day to make sure you’re able to fit it into your schedule.
Another essential factor when following up is making sure that you remain consistent. Use whatever information you have about the lead to make the follow-up more personal, and if possible, do it over the phone, as that helps to put more personality behind your brand.
Finally, remember that each lead moves at his own pace, so you can’t rush through the process of guiding the prospect towards the sale. Be patient in answering questions and helping them overcome objections, and don’t be too pushy with your services, as that can hurt your chances of converting the lead into a customer.
Once you start noticing the most common issues that your audience is facing, you might even be able to use follow-up email templates to automate parts of the process.
Social Media Outreach
Sometimes you won’t have the necessary information about your leads, which can make the lead nurturing process complicated.
Usually, you need at least an email address to stay in touch with a lead and provide him with more information, but even if that’s not an option, there are still things you can do to engage the prospect and educate them about your products and services.
If you encounter leads that you can’t identify and sort, you can use a process called seed nurturing, which is basically when a company starts developing a relationship with qualified leads even before they provide any contact information.
But if you don’t have information about your lead, how can you engage him?
Well, this is where social media can be so helpful – many of the top social media agencies use various social media platforms to nurture their leads at the early stages of the buyer journey.
Here are a few ways how you can use social media for lead nurturing, too:
- Share content. Social media provides unparalleled opportunities to reach a hyper-targeted audience that’s interested in what you have to offer. That’s why, to widen your reach, it always makes sense to share your content and get it in front of people who are interested in what you have to offer.
- Ask for email addresses. Social media also provides an excellent opportunity to ask for contact information from people who qualify themselves as leads. You can share gated content which requires to input an email address to read it, and if the content is valuable enough and relevant to your target audience, the people who agree are likely to be interested in your products or services as well.
- Respond to questions. Whether you have a strong social media presence or not, it’s all but guaranteed that your audience is already there, and often having conversations about your brand. If you want to use that to your advantage, you need to take part in that conversation – if you answer questions, listen to feedback, and help solve issues, it will showcase your brand’s values and attract customers that otherwise wouldn’t be interested.
- Use Paid Advertising. If you want to achieve quicker results, you can use the advanced targeting possibilities of Facebook and develop a lead generation method using paid advertising on social media. If executed properly, this can provide you with an endless stream of hyper-targeted leads that you can add to your funnel.
Lead Scoring – How Does It Work?
Lead scoring is a popular method of measuring and sorting leads by various values that are based on their behavior or other known information. In other words, it’s a way to grade prospective customers by their interest in the products you’re your company offers, which then decides where are they placed on the buying cycle.
Although the exact scoring methods can be different, here are a few of the most important questions that play a role in determining the value of a lead.
Does the Lead Fit the Potential Buyer Portfolio?
Every time you make a sale, you are gaining invaluable insights about who are the people that are the most likely to become your customers. And as you make more sales, you are likely to find trends and patterns that help you identify the people that have the most potential and are the worthiest of your time and effort.
Some of the information is pretty basic – data such the gender, age, location, and job title should be saved and analyzed, but more advanced info such as habits and actions on your site can also reveal patterns about who your best prospects are.
Does the lead show interest in your brand?
Once you have a rough idea about whether the lead is similar to your previous successful customers, you need to figure out if he is the right fit for your product and if he has expressed interest in your brand and what you have to offer.
By monitoring how your lead interacts with your content and responds to communications, you can gauge his interest in what you have to offer and make informed decisions on whether the prospect is worth pursuing.
Where is the lead on the buyer’s journey?
Finally, if the lead matches your typical profile and has expressed interest in your brand, you need to figure out where he is on the buyer’s journey and what is the best strategy for engaging him.
Once you figure that out, you can start delivering content that helps them move forward, solving their issues and answering questions. You can establish communications that resonate with the prospect’s current situation and maximizes your chances of success.
Having a lead scoring system allows you to handle your leads in the most efficient way possible – when you know how far the prospective customers are advanced in the buyer journey, you can send the ones that are ready to buy straight to the sales team, while those that are still not at the buying stage can be guided forward using lead nurturing.
It’s important to continue the customer journey after a sale, as it is much more cost-effective to upsell an existing customer than to try and educate a new lead.
But how can you implement an effective lead scoring strategy?
Well, the process can be complicated, especially when you consider that the score given to a lead initially can change at any time based on his actions. That’s why, it’s almost impossible to maintain a lead scoring system manually, and thus a customer relationship management software is usually required to establish lead scoring methods and auto-score leads without the need for manual interaction.
Acquiring new leads can be expensive, so companies need to make sure that they give themselves the best chance of converting each potential customer that’s available.
Using lead nurturing, it’s possible to identify and sort the leads based on their stage on the buyer’s journey and provide a personalized experience that dramatically increases the chances of success.
By using a diverse range of lead nurturing tactics and developing a comprehensive lead scoring system, companies can ensure that no prospects end up falling through the cracks and leaving because they weren’t engaged in the right way.
Over time, lead nurturing can provide you with valuable insights about which prospects are the best fit for your company, which can allow you to focus your resources and efforts into lead generation methods that produce the most valuable leads for your business.