- Mar 22, 2017
- By Jeff Fosco
- In Marketing Strategy and Planning
5 Signs You're Ready to Add Lead Nurturing to Your Marketing Strategy
In a perfect inbound marketing world, your ideal customers would find your content online and be drawn to your website where they would read a few blog posts, maybe download a whitepaper and then make a purchase or reach out for more information right then and there. Of course, it never really works out that way. You may get many new leads to your website, but those leads don't go anywhere. Enter lead nurturing: the path you set down for yourself to help guide a person as they make the journey from a person who finds you at the awareness stage to a buyer.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with people who are at various stages of your buying cycle or sales funnel. The focus of a good lead-nurturing campaign should always be on the customer and finding ways to show that you are not only listening to their problems, but also uniquely qualified to solve them. There is very little sales in lead nurturing; this process is based on educating your readers by providing answers to their questions and removing roadblocks to a sale.
Most lead nurturing can be handled with automation software by carefully analyzing the various paths and developing a response, usually in the form of helpful content. For example, your software can be setup to analyze the past purchase behavior of your customers and then suggest complementary or related products. Or, if someone is showing early interest in your products by downloading a whitepaper, you can follow up in a few days with the next set of information or a video that further explains your solutions.
Are you ready to add lead nurturing to your marketing strategy? See if any of these apply to you:
You Are Ready to Maximize the Value of Your Leads
Most marketers know that every lead is precious and shouldn't ever be taken for granted. Even if you have a ton of leads pouring in, not every lead has the same value for your company. Not everyone will be a good fit for your services or need your products. Evaluate your best leads and see how they are using your website. Do they follow the same journey or take the same amount of time to complete a conversion path on your site? By understanding the typical paths and information people stake, you can create a lead nurturing workflow that meets their needs and yours. Lead nurturing allows you to work with the needs of your leads at a pace that works for them. By engaging only when certain milestones are met or events are triggered, you'll keep yourself at the top of the person's mind without being there so much that you become irritating.
You Need to Free up Your Sales Team
While you want your sales team to be sharp and ready at all times, you don't want to have them dedicating this energy toward potential customers who are very early in the buying process or who won’t convert. The majority of people at this stage are happy to collect information on their own or receive messaging that is tailored to their individual journey.
Your sales team should contribute to the setup of your lead nurturing strategy by helping to define a qualified lead and identifying which types of content leads will want at different stages. You'll want to understand the process for fresh leads, bringing cold leads back to life, upselling or cross-selling past purchases and recapturing sales from abandoned purchases.
As time goes on, your processes will become more refined and serve leads better which means less time from your sales team interacting in the early stages and fewer resources from your marketing team developing content. Each team will then be able to dedicate their time and resources to closing more deals and finding more ways to draw in new leads.
You Have Expert Content to Share
One aspect of a successful inbound marketing strategy includes the development and creation of expert content. The purpose of this content is to educate current and potential customers about your products and services while also communicating the values and personality of your company so people can align themselves with your goals.
This is the same kind of content that is necessary for a successful lead nurturing marketing strategy, too! In other words, you already have the majority of the content that you need to bring people down your sales funnel so you might as well make it work a little harder.
You Have a Segmented Audience
Even the most straightforward products and services tend to appeal to a broad audience, each segment of which has a different set of needs and problems. If you already divvy up your audience based on their problems, preferences or even demographics, then you are ready to include lead nurturing in your marketing strategy.
A segmented audience will allow you to send targeted content to your leads making each point of contact more successful. It also helps you avoid sending irrelevant content to leads and potentially alienating them. Segmentation also allows you to focus your content distribution across different channels more effectively as you'll know who is likely to engage with different media types and tailor your messaging accordingly.
You Have a Defined Sales Cycle
Most prospects will follow a fairly defined sales process even if specific needs and preferences vary by segment. For example, consider the purchase and rollout of a new software package for a company. The early stages for that buyer include identifying what's wrong with the current software along with perks and features that users would like to see with a new package. At that point, there may be a few different people within the organization who head to the internet to start researching solutions. This process looks very similar whether the company is searching for accounting software or a database solution and regardless of what products and services that company offers.
If your company has a defined sales cycle, a lead nurturing strategy will be a natural fit whether it's a manual or automated implementation. You already know what questions tend to arise at the various points during the cycle and which aspects of the cycle tend to turn potential buyers off. Having ready-to-go content solutions to address these issues is much more cost-effective than individual attention — especially in the earliest stages when consumers tend to want to do the research themselves without any pressure from a salesperson.
Patience and Adjustment
Like most long-term processes, when using lead nurturing as part of your marketing strategy you must give it time to work. The time investment will be more significant upfront, however, in exchange for that added effort, you'll be able to spot bottlenecks and other jumping-off points where you may be losing leads. Plus, if you're using an automated lead nurturing system these will show up even faster.
The result of these efforts mean better retention of leads to keep them in the funnel and a boost in conversion rates as people receive more content that is better targeted and less content that doesn't apply to their situation. It also means a more streamlined internal process so your sales team will be able to focus on only those who are ready to make the leap, and your marketing team will be able to spend more time creating new content and fine-tuning processes and distribution to maximize results.