The Ultimate Guide To A Successful Lead Nurturing Strategy
With more companies adopting inbound marketing as a strategy to effectively increase sales, lead nurturing becomes a must-do activity for every marketer. The reality is that the majority of leads when acquired are not ready to buy. For this reason, having a lead nurturing strategy is essential for your company’s growth.
Lead nurturing is like dating. You know someone and you find him attractive. You might also start thinking that he might be the one. However, you know for a fact that before commitment happens from the other side, there will need to pass some time. He will need to know you better and understand the type of person you are.
The same happens with new leads. They go through a similar process in terms of assessing your business. They are scared to be scammed, so they need to trust your company before making the big step: buying. The process of knowing and trusting your business is what lead nurturing is about.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Marketo has a great definition:
LEAD NURTURING IS THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP WITH BUYERS AT EVERY STAGE OF THE SALES FUNNEL AND THROUGH EVERY STEP OF THE BUYER’S JOURNEY.
Implementing a well-planned lead nurturing strategy will help your startup score more business.
Inbound Marketing & Lead Nurturing Strategy, Some Hard Facts
Here below you can find some stats about lead nurturing that will make you change your point of view on this strategy.
- 75% of marketing leads are not ready to buy (MarketingSherpa)
- Yet, 65% of B2B marketers are not implementing any lead nurturing strategy (MarketingSherpa)
- However, it has been reported that implementing this process can increase sales of 15-20% of those leads that are not ready to buy yet (Gleanster)
- On top of that, having a lead nurturing strategy in place can increase the purchase size of about 47% (Annuitas Group)
- Companies that excel in this process can generate 50% more of sales leads at a 33% lower cost per lead (DemandGen Report)
- And have a sales cycle that is on average 23% shorter (Market2Lead)
- If that’s not enough, lead nurturing helps your company establishing better communication with leads, as lead nurturing emails have a 3-4 times higher response rate, compared to normal email makreting campaigns (DemandGen Report)
Lead nurturing should be considered as an omni-channel approach. Of course, emails are one of the most used means for communication; however, your content marketing andsocial media strategy should also be aligned. Everything that you put out there should have a clear goal in mind, converting more leads into customers.
Implementing A Successful Lead Nurturing Strategy
Here below we summarise the best practice to implement a successful lead nurturing strategy in your day-to-day activities. It is important to note, however, that this should not replace your existing marketing strategy, rather adapt to it.
For sure, there are already things that are working well within your marketing activities and you shouldn’t change them. Lead nurturing should neither replace nor be a static add-on to your activities. You will need to constantly evaluate and adapt it to the results you get.
1. Personalize Your Communication
When implementing a lead nurturing strategy, all your email communication with leads should be personalized. Tailoring the emails to behavior, demographics and also geographics will allow you to connect much fast with those leads.
When capturing leads, make sure to ask name, company and anything else you believe could be relevant for establishing a stronger relationship. Then, when sending emails, segment the leads according to important metrics to create user cohorts with the same interests or behaviors.
Email personalization has proven positive effects:
- Click-through rates (CTRs) improve by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. (Aberdeen)
- Transaction rates can increase up to 6 times (Experian Marketing Service)
2. Match The Content With The Customer Journey
As part of the personalization activities, matching the content you share with where the prospects are in their purchasing journey is crucial. When thinking about what content to send in your email communication, make sure you sit down and analyze where that cohort is at.
Generally speaking, you can identify 3 phases:
- Awareness – To successfully move the lead down the funnel you should inform them about industry trends and statistics. The lead is thirsty for knowledge, don’t give them a product demo.
- Consideration – At this stage, the lead is thinking whether your solution is the right one for them. Now it’s the time to invite them for a webinar or a product demo.
- Decision – Here the lead wants to be reassured your solution has provided value to others. Share case studies and success stories.
Matching the content alone, however, won’t make a big difference. You need to make sure that you associate a strong (and studied) CTA for every stage that the lead is in. Do not overlook this part while matching your communication style.
3. Don’t Forget To Optimize
Once you start implementing a lead nurturing strategy, you should not forget what you have done until that day. As said earlier, you have already been engaging with your leads to a certain extent and there should be something that works. Like any other marketing activity, to succeed, you will need to A/B test and check on performance.
What said above is true also for your new type of communication. Testing CTAs, content and combining communication types with different audiences become crucial for improving your results. You should not be extremely granular in your segmentation but you can customize and test to get better results.
Audience segmentation, as seen in step 1, is fundamental when it comes to lead nurturing. You should have already created buyer personas, so going through a lead segmentation shouldn’t take you too long.
4. Apply The Sales Cycle To Email Timeline
Your business has a specific sales cycle and your lead nurturing strategy should follow that timeline. Aligning when you send out an email to what you expect from a lead can help you achieve greater results.
During a lead nurturing campaign, according to HubSpot, is good practice to have 2-3 touch points with the lead. So let’s say that your sales cycle is 3 months, you should plan to send out emails at the end of month 1, month 2 and then month 3.
Implementing email automation can help out in this point.
5. Re-Engage But Don’t Push It
To be successful with this strategy you need to be patient. It’s important to remember that you can’t rush the sale. There’s a funnel and the lead needs to go through it.
In case you notice that leads don’t engage (or open) your emails, re-engaging with them is also something you should keep in mind. To do so in a successful way, you should
- Ask for feedback
- Offer something unique, perhaps a discount or incentive
6. Email Is Not Everything
When implementing a lead nurturing strategy, email is not your only mean of communication with the leads. As said, it goes without saying that the content should be aligned with the ultimate goal to convert a lead, however, that is not the end.
The website should also reflect your efforts on nurturing leads. Having static messaging won’t help leads convert when visiting your website. Think to implement dynamic calls-to-action, basically targeting the CTA for the visitor.
7. Score Leads To Increase Effectiveness
Scoring inbound leads is a common practice when it comes to inbound marketing. Your company should implement this step in the nurturing process as you want to make sure to feed the sales team only with relevant leads.
The more irrelevant leads you bring down the sales funnel, the more time you will waste trying to close the wrong clients for your business. It will be even worse if you actually onboard clients you shouldn’t.
Aligning marketing activities with your sales effort is crucial for the success of your business. For this reason, developing a proper lead scoring system is fundamental to maximize results of your activities.
The first important question for scoring leads is to ask about their fit to your business. The ideal prospect fit is a status that your business should try to reach to drastically increase the revenue and value you bring to prospects and clients.
There are two clear advantages in scoring leads:
- You will be able to onboard only clients that according to your standard can perform best with the current resources.
- You will waste less time chasing leads that cannot add any value to your bottom line
Increase The Effectiveness Of Your Lead Nurturing Strategy
As briefly pointed out earlier, automation is key to increase the effectiveness of your strategy. Timing is essential to hit the lead with the right messaging. Keep in mind that 79% of the top successful companies have been using marketing automation for more than 3 years
Success is not the only part of the equation here (although not the smallest one). Your time is also very valuable. It doesn’t matter if you are a marketer or a startup founder, you have limited time to do everything and time saving is listed as the biggest benefit of marketing automation.
Marketing automation is a technology solution that allows brands to streamline and automate their marketing efforts across various channels, to improve efficiency and drive more sales.
Implementing a lead nurturing strategy can sound very complicated and time consuming. Like anything else in marketing (or in business for that matters), it takes time to get everything sorted and correctly implemented. However, once you get everything in place, you will see leads conversion increasing dramatically.
Success doesn’t come with sweating, you know that already. Taking your business to the next level, thanks to new strategies, won’t be easy as well. The results, however, will amaze you, if you follow these steps.
Have you implemented a lead nurturing strategy in your business? What actions have you taken to engage with leads during the customer journey? Have you seen any improvement after you implemented such a strategy? Share you experiences in the comment section below.