Over the past couple of months, we’ve covered several aspects of a successful cloud marketing strategy as part of a six-part blog series. We’ve discussed Emotion in Design, Content SEO, Website Speed SEO and Organic Content Development. Next up – Lead Nurturing best practices.
If you read our blog, How a Customer Journey Funnel Qualifies Leads, you learned how lead nurturing at each stage of the customer journey – the awareness stage, consideration stage and decision stage – is imperative for converting leads into sales. Since 88% of consumers research before they buy, consulting an average of 10.4 sources, the key is to nurture these leads while they are consulting these sources, by sending them appropriate content to meet their needs at the given stage of the buyer journey.
Lead nurturing can be frustrating – 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales.
It also takes time – 30-50% of B2B leads are not ready to buy when they first inquire about a business.
But it’s worth the wait – ¾ of these leads will become sales ready within 12 to 18 months.
Why are the conversion rates of lead nurturing so poor? Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of poor conversion numbers.
So, Why Aren’t We as Marketers Doing Enough to Nurture Leads into Sales?
Well, there may be a number of reasons for this. Possibly poor buyer funnel strategies or a poor content marketing strategy. According to a collection of lead nurturing stats, collected by HubSpot, the following may be a contributing factor to this problem.
- 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales
- 65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing
- 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel
So whether it’s because companies are wasting time on non-converting leads, or they haven’t identified their buyer funnel, leads aren’t being nurtured to their full potential. Again, I ponder why we as marketers aren’t doing more, as the benefits are astounding. I will once again consult my lead nurturing stat compilation from HubSpot to demonstrate:
- Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost.
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
- Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months.
We can agree that lead nurturing is essential to a successful cloud marketing strategy, so in this blog I will focus on how you can nurture your leads to their full potential, improving your chances of converting them into a sale.
What is Lead Nurturing and How Does it Differ From Lead Generating?
Lead generating is garnering consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business. It’s done by making contacts which may lead to a sale or other favourable outcome.
Lead nurturing is building a relationship with a potential customer before they are looking to buy a product or service. By developing this relationship, the customer will be more willing to choose a company when it’s time to buy. It’s done by guiding that lead down the funnel towards a conversion.
How is a Lead Nurturing Relationship Formed?
At TPM, we focus on helping our customers establish a relationship with potential customers through consistent and quality content. We focus on getting information to them when they need it, leading up to the time when they are ready to buy. This can be through informing via emails, educating through webinars, or creating communities through social media.
How do you develop this relationship and successfully move them along the customer journey funnel towards a sale? There is a seven step process of lead nurturing best practices that companies can follow to engage the customer and lead them down the rabbit hole to conversion bliss.
7 Lead Nurturing Best Practices in 2015
1. Know Your Objective
Before you implement a content strategy, you have to determine your end game. What is the overall goal for the organization? Is it to increase sales by 10%? Do you want to build your contact list by 500 people, or convert 20 people a month from email marketing efforts? Regardless, determine your objective first and build a campaign around this.
2. Understand Your Customer Journey
Understanding your customer journey is extremely important. Before you can determine how to reach and engage with your potential customers, it makes sense to become familiar with the journey your customer will take towards your product and services. Know exactly who your customers are, what problems they are looking to solve and determine what information you can provide them that will be relevant for their given stage of the buyer journey.
3. Segment the Audience
You will increase your chances of resonating with your potential customers if you segment your audience and communicate accordingly. If you segment your audience according to demographic, geography, or buying cycle and then customize messages for each group, you will have a better chance of providing content that is useful to them. This relevant content may be what helps them make a buying decision, creating a connection with your company.
4. Map Out Your Strategy
Once you are familiar with your potential customers’ journey and you segment your audience accordingly, you can begin to map out what messages will be distributed at what stage of the cycle. Determine the best user experience for your customer, assign goals, a timeline and the requirements to the deliverables.
5. Content Creation
Next up, determine the content that will be most effective to meet the goals you originally identified, as well as provide information that will help answer potential customer’s queries at each stage of the buying process. When creating your content, make sure that it is educational, relevant and engaging. The key is to communicate with your leads consistently.
Using marketing automation software will allow you to streamline your marketing efforts into a cohesive package. Automation software will send out timely information to a potential customer based on their actions on your website. For example, if someone visits your website and searches for hybrid cloud, this will trigger the software to launch personal correspondence, perhaps an eguide on moving an organization to a hybrid cloud, content aimed to answer possible inquiries the customer may be looking to answer by searching on your site. Automated lead nurturing greatly helps pinpoint potential leads and will also free up your marketing resources in the process.
What automation tool works best?
There are a number of automation tools out there – Marketo, Infusionsoft and Salesforce Pardot, to name a few, but at TPM we use Hubspot for our inbound marketing. We use the user-friendly automation software for TPM’s marketing as well as our clients’ marketing. We love it so much that we are a Gold Certified Agency. What makes Hubspot great?
- We can segment the audience and send personalized content based on buyer preferences
- We can analyze our marketing efforts and understand which channels attract qualified visits, leads and customers
- We can examine the conversion rates between the different lifecycle stages
- We can provide a personal UX for each viewer on a website
- We can create keyword monitoring streams that trigger an alert when someone mentions TPM or one of our customers – this allows us to engage in the conversation
The list can go on and on, believe me, we love it. Check it out – http://www.hubspot.com/
7. Measure Success
Are you moving the potential customers to the next stage of the customer journey or driving desirable action from your call to action? If you measure the success of your campaign you will be able to modify the flow of communication based on a customer’s behavior and avoid losing a customer during the journey.
80/20 rule of lead nurturing – 80% of the benefit of lead nurturing is achieved by the first 20% of effort.
Tips for Lead Nurturing
Ok, so you’ve understood the seven lead nurturing best practices, but are you ready to set out and nurture those leads? If you aren’t sure where to start, and not exactly clear on how to actually nurture leads into a sale, here are some lead nurturing tips to get you started.
Get Permission and Stay in Touch
When you have initial contact with a potential customer, get permission to send them information. Once you have permission, this is your opportunity to send them quality content to engage them while in the funnel. Some ways to make the initial first touch with a customer to ask their permission include:
- Blog Subscriptions – Ask blog readers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter
- Social Media – Ask your following to link to your website and sign up for updates
- Events – Hold draws or ask event attendees their permission to send regular updates on other events and product information
- Opt in – Include opt in on all landing pages, thank you pages and on your website
Middle-of-the funnel CTAs are a great place to nurture leads. What better place than where your potential lead is at the stage where they are considering a purchase? A strong call-to-action that is strategically placed in your funnel will help turn the middle-of-the-funnel leads into potential sales while they are in the consideration stage. CTAs should be relevant to the information that the lead is searching for. Don’t ask to sign them up for a newsletter that they already subscribe to. Don’t offer them a white paper that they have already downloaded, make sure the content is applicable to their buyer decision. You can create visitor rules that will automatically create a CTA based on where the prospect is in the buying decision. An effective CTA should be:
- Promoted through multiple channels
- A/B tested to determine best user experience
Knowing what to talk to your potential customer about is extremely important. If you can precisely pinpoint the exact problem people are looking to solve, you would have a better chance of solving their problem. Sales and Customer Service are in direct contact with the customer on a daily basis, they hear their woes and listen to their needs regularly. Sit down with some of your key sales and customer service employees and get an overview of what the customers are saying. Focus groups are also another way of getting information from potential and existing customers. The information you gather can be analyzed in order to create the best content to service their needs.
Don’t Give up on Unengaged Leads
If you have old lists or if you have leads that aren’t engaged, warm them up with new, engaging content. Sometimes you may need to re-introduce your knowledge, product and or service to the unengaged lead. Look for something of relevance that may have come up in the news that you can use to start the conversation again.
Link, Link, Link
As mentioned, the more ways you can provide your potential lead to connect with you the better. If you send an email to your contacts, ensure that you include other ways in which they can connect with you. Include social media, link to your blog or provide them with the ability to subscribe to your newsletter. The more ways you provide them with to get in touch with you, the better opportunity you have of getting them to subscribe and follow you.
Integrate Your Content With Social Media
Regardless of what you send out, make sure that when you do, you integrate it with social media to maximize your reach. When you post a blog article, post a teaser on social media and link back to your blog from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This allows you to share your content with a larger audience. If you have a substantial email list, create an email that links back to the blog and invites to follow on social media.
Make sure that your blog, email and landing pages all include social media widgets with links to your social media sites. This will help your changes of increasing your following on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t forget your thank you pages too, if you have a thank you page for downloads, ensure that you add your social media widgets there too. The more points to contact you have the better and the more you share, the better chance you have of reaching a larger audience.
Scour social media to find lead generating opportunities. Set-up alerts on twitter to look for keywords that are relevant to your brand, products and services. If you are a hosting provider, you can set-up alerts for keywords such as “cloud provider”. When you are alerted about chatter about “cloud provider” this is your opportunity to chime in and provide a potential lead with answers to possible questions they may have.
Some companies frown on allowing their employees to be active on social media, but the advantages sometimes outweigh the disadvantages. If you allow your employees to be active on social media, it can help your corporate image. If your employees share with their followers the great things going on at work, for example charity fundraisers, team building or employee recognition events, this shows exactly what the company is all about. If a lead sees your happy employees loving their jobs, why wouldn’t they want to do business with you?
How Can You Connect With Potential Leads?
- Website forms
- Contact forms on landing pages
- Webinar sign-up
- Opt-in email
What Content Works for Lead Nurturing?
Some Last Helpful Tips to Consider When Implementing Lead Nurturing Best Practices
- Respond to emails, inquiries on social media and blog comments immediately
- Deliver what you promise – within 24 hours
- Offer more value
- Ask for business
Lead nurturing doesn’t happen overnight, it is a process that requires time and effort. If you don’t have the in-house resources necessary to develop and implement a strategy, hire someone to do it for you. A successful lead nurturing strategy can substantially improve your business. If you are unsure of how to implement a lead nurturing strategy for your business, give us a shout, we would love to help. Contact us today to learn more about how Total Product Marketing can help you implement lead nurturing best practices in 2015.