How to create a lead nurturing strategy

Did you know that 8 out 10 of your possible sales opportunities are lost?

We put a lot of effort into generating traffic and leads to fill up our marketing funnel; ad spend, time, producing great content. And then we learn that we lost most of the leads that took a step or two in a buyer’s journey. Of course, we can’t expect each and every prospect to qualify into a customer; there should be some drop-off, BUT 79% OF THEM? That’s a lot. The reason here is that 73% of leads that come in contact with you aren’t even sales-ready yet. That means that a sales pitch is the last thing they want to hear, they’re just looking to learn something. It actually requires a lot of patience and great content for a lead to trust us enough with a purchase. Easier said than done, of course, it takes a lot of time, but it’s possible. To stop our leaking marketing funnel and help the leads become qualified for sales we need strong lead nurturing strategies. This is what we’ll discuss in this blog post.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing means that you guide your prospects through the buyer’s journey with relevant, valuable content, easing them into enough certainty that they want to do business with you. It’s a warm-up for purchase, so to speak. There are two different main concepts when it comes to lead nurturing campaigns;

Drip campaign: Keep your brand name top of mind by sending out a series of content in quite regular intervals. It could, for example, be a welcome-flow, newsletters or a product/company information flow.

Lead nurture campaign: You could say that it’s the 2.0 – version of a drip-campaign. Whereas drip campaigns are based on timing, lead nurture campaigns are based on leads’ behavior and/or other attributes. For example, a click about a certain product triggers an email relevant to that specific product.

So the idea is basically the same, they’re just triggered differently.

Design, time and structure your lead nurturing flows however you please. There are a thousand and one journeys you can come up with to nurture leads, it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

What’s your goal?

In order to know how to design your lead nurture flow, it all comes down to what you’re trying to achieve. Each goal requires their own lead nurture flow so to speak so just one flow is not quite enough. Below, I’ve listed different types of goals and suggestions of what kind of content flows would suit them.

GOAL: Attention and interest

The first phase in the buying process (or marketing funnel if you will). In this stage, the contacts look to learn something, not to buy. This is where you can showcase that you’re the expert in your field and the recipient can start trusting your knowledge.

  • Newsletter campaign: the most common example to engage or educate. This is the perfect opportunity for you to share insights, trends, and tips that don’t necessarily always talk about your business offerings.
  • Welcome flow: do you have loyalty clubs or memberships? Make your new contacts/members feel really welcome with relevant messages so they really get to know you, the club and what they benefit from it.
  • Re-engagement: Target contacts that aren’t active and need a little push. A flow to remind them that you exist and that you’re good at what you’re doing.

Just make sure you have the contacts’ permission to send marketing emails to them. Thanks to the new EU law General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you must have consent from your contacts to email them.

 

GOAL: Close the deal

The stage further down the funnel where the contacts have taken a step to give your product a shot, or at least get to know you a bit better.

  • On-boarding: Are you offering a trial or a test period for your product or service? It’s important to not leave them hanging just because they entered a trial. Send them messages to help them uncover all features of the product and discover the potential it offers. You just increased your chances of actually buying the product when the trial is over (or stick with the product if they’ve already bought it).
  • Promotions: When a closing is so close you can almost smell it, but there’s still something holding it back. Help the lead become a customer with discounts or other free stuff. “Sign up today and get a month for free” or “get 2 for 1” – who could resist? Here you could also include testimonials; How can anybody know that you’re as good as you say you are? The most credible sources are your customers. Build “success stories” with examples of how your product or service helps them. That’s a great piece of content for potential buyers and you get to brag a little bit.
  • Product-focused: Once your recipients are ready to learn more about the product itself, you don’t want them to go look elsewhere to find that information (imagine the horror if they found that information with a competitor of yours!). You’re the first person they should go to when they’re ready for more product-specific information.

GOAL: Keep your customers

Once the credit card is swiped, you indeed scored a new deal. But that doesn’t mean you can leave your customers hanging. After all, 80% of your future income comes from 20% of your already existing customers. Here are some suggestions on how you can take care of them.

  • Upsell: Keep educating your customers about your product and service, whether it’s tips and tricks to help them use your product more or inform them when you’re offering something new, like an update to the product or a brand new product release. You encourage them to discover more potential, plus you can get some extra cash with paid upgrades or add-ons.
  • Get feedback: Make sure that you learn something from your customers as well. This is easily done with a quick survey. Allow your customers to tell you what they like and what they think could be improve. The important thing to remember here is to actually use the feedback you gain. If you keep on asking your customers for feedback and they don’t see that you’re listening, well, they’ll stop helping you out.
    You won’t just get suggestions on how to improve, but you will find the “unhappy” customers that might be about to leave you and the ones that absolutely loves you. This is your opportunity to tend to the accounts that require some extra attention from your sales team to avoid churn. For happy customers, ask them to advocate for you in testimonials or success stories.

As you can see, there are a few ways to go about lead nurturing. Determine what you want to achieve before you start designing flows and creating content.

LEAD MANAGEMENT

Here’s the thing; a marketers main goal is to help the salespeople sell. You might very well create great and impressive lead nurturing flows, but if your sales team is unaware of what’s going on, that job is in vain. The sales team won’t know who to contact nor when it’s the right time to contact your leads.

Here’s what you need to do about it:

  • Determine the different stages in the funnel
    As your leads travel through your flows, decide what actions can be interpreted as a purchase signal. In other words, what does a lead have to do to become a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and later on a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)? It could be a link click, brochure download, sign up for an event and so on.
  • Decide when sales should be involved
    Decide when the lead is ready to be sent over to sales. Right when they become an MQL or wait until they’re further down the funnel? Take the discussion together with sales to make sure that you’re fully aligned and that you’re both aware of what it takes for a lead to convert.
  • Ditch the excel sheets
    Now, how should you hand over the information about you’re MQLs and SQLs to the sales team? A lot of businesses today still do the dull, manual work by sharing excel sheets among each other, not knowing of the great tools out there that can do this automatically for you. Choose a marketing automation tool that speaks with the sales team’s CRM. That way you can build automations that doesn’t just trigger content and marketing actions, but it also “shoots” the information you choose to the sales team. Automatically! In real-time! No more excel sheets! I suggest you check out eMarketeer’s integration with SuperOffice CRM to learn more about how to align your sales and marketing team.

By aligning sales and marketing, you “close the loop” and no more sales opportunities are lost.

HOW TO GET YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS

Ok, you have your goal and you have decided what flows you want to design. In this section, we’ll talk about how to get your message across. Yes, lead nurturing flows can come in all forms and shapes but what they all have in common is that they require a bunch of content.

A common mistake marketers make is that they become too “salesy” too soon. They want to learn something so instead of writing a text that goes straight for the sell, try to go for a tone that’s more empathetic. “You understand their problem, here’s a suggestion on how to solve it.”

Content can be sent over various channels and platforms; mobile, web, landing pages, etc. Then your best bet is a software where you can manage all these channels in the same place. But I would say that emails are the basis for lead nurturing flows (especially if you’re just getting started with it). As we mentioned previously, campaigns like this trigger on timing or different actions. A marketing automation tool is not only important for your sales & marketing alignment, but it’s also a must-have to distribute your message. You just build the emails and set up the triggers you want, for example, if you want to send an email three days after someone clicked a certain link. And then the whole flow is on autopilot! You could say that marketing automation is the engine behind smart marketing and lead nurturing.

Like any of your lead nurturing flow needs a purpose, so does each one of your emails. What do you want the recipients to do when they see your email in their inbox? Click to the web site to read an article, download something, watch a video? Always add a call-to-action to your email so it actually generates clicks that you can measure. I suggest you keep an email spreadsheet where you fill in what the email contained, what the call-to-action was and what your goal with that specific email was. For example:

That way you can get a quick but detailed overlook of your flows and content and what might be missing from it.

 

I’d love to hear your experiences with lead nurturing or if you have any tips on lead nurturing tactics. Let me know in the comments!

As Digital Marketing Manager, Josefine oversees strategies, production and processes for all content marketing efforts, including social media, email and blog. She also introduced videos into their content marketing strategy, in which she shares her best tips on different marketing topics.

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