Did you know that 79% of marketing qualified leads (MQL’s) never convert into sales due to a lack of lead nurturing? Given this fact, it may be time to revise your lead nurturing strategy to optimize your selling success, especially since companies that excel at lead nurturing were found to generate 50% more sales (source: Social Media Today).
Relying on just email campaigns to lead nurture is like fishing: cast the net wide and pray you catch something. But true sales and marketing professionals understand that successful selling in today’s world is actually about connecting, nurturing and building a relationship that in time may yield a sale.
Here’s some proof! – In a survey of more than 5,000 business customers, it was discovered that of all of the possible factors that could drive customer loyalty — including brand, product and service quality, and price-to-value ratio — by far the biggest driver is something most companies don’t even think about: the sales experience, accounting for 53% of the overall total. So what keeps customers coming back to your brand is a function of how you sell, not what you sell. More specifically, prospects choose the suppliers who “offer unique and valuable perspectives on the market” and “educate them on new issues and outcomes.”
What is lead nurturing?
“Lead nurturing” could basically be renamed “relationship building,” because this is exactly what sellers and marketers are doing. They are building a trust-based, authentic relationship with potential customers even if they’re not currently looking to buy a product or service. This may in time lead to a sale. It could even be said that lead nurturing is the most crucial part of the buyer’s journey. The primary goal is to make the company more enticing to the potential client, so when it’s time to buy, the company remains top-of-mind.
It can be tempting to assume the internet has rendered relationship-building obsolete. But in fact, the internet has made relationship-building more vital than ever before. Businesses now have the potential to reach thousands of prospects with ease, but it is important to have the right lead nurturing strategy to help them stand out.
Here are some things to keep in mind when creating or revising your lead nurturing strategy. Always keep in mind that your strategy objective is to move leads closer to being sales-ready.
Use multiple channels to nurture leads
- Website – Your website is often where your leads became leads and so it makes a great choice to continue the conversation through. You can do this by providing personalized content on your website’s business blog based on lead’s attributes.
- Retargeting – You can carry on nurturing these leads as they browse the web by using retargeting pixels to display ads to them.
- Direct Mail – The majority of lead nurturing is done through email but getting buyers to actually read them is a bit hit-and-miss. To get noticed, remember, short and sweet is the name of the game. You’ll want to include a short intro where you relate to the target persona, and highlight some great content you think they’ll like. Highlight a few bullet-points on why the content is useful, include links where they can read more, and then close with a CTA.
- Social Selling – It’s not enough to just rely on your leads reading direct emails. Leveraging social media sites gives sales professionals higher visibility and the opportunity to engage directly with their buyers. Respond to tweets, messages and comments across various virtual platforms to carry on building a relationship with your audience and leads. LinkedIn’s social selling index is a handy tool for fine-tuning your social selling technique.
- Phone Call – Never underestimate the power of a simple phone call. Your sales team can speak directly to leads, offering solutions and giving the advice to continue building the relationship and trust.
Use engaging content to nurture leads
Creating valuable and relevant content is not only the most challenging obstacle to lead nurturing success, it is also the most effective tactic to use.
If you are honestly focused on helping customers be successful, you cannot force them through the sales process. Selling with content is about enabling (and sometimes provoking) potential customers to move themselves to a close. This requires your sales team to leverage content, whether it be unique, curated or user-generated content, that resonates, educates, entertains, and challenges. Your prospects must see your sales people as trusted advisors.
You can make content engaging by adding a bit of humor, dropping the formal corporate speech, use real-life anecdotes and don’t take yourself too seriously. The aim of the game with content is to carry on building relationships with prospects by telling stories of experiences, telling them of struggles and how you overcame them and gave advice and tips to help them.
A successful lead nurturing strategy should include an array of different content types to keep prospects attracted.
Types of Content that Prospects Love to Share:
- Infographics – remains a loved and powerful way of getting across important—sometimes complex—information. Infographics are excellent for communicating almost any message, especially when you are working with numbers, research and statistics. So it’s no surprise that a study by BuzzSumo found that infographics had three times the sharing potential than other forms of content.
- Lists – Online readers love to skim through content. Lists allow these readers to quickly and easily scan the content from top to bottom and, hence, easily share them with others. But don’t forget that lists still need to be detailed and have real substance to them. Be insightful and provide real value under each subheading. And in the event that readers do stop skimming and actually read the entire text, you want to be sure the content meets their expectations.
- Videos – Videos can come in many forms: explainer videos, webinars, product reviews, company culture videos and guest interviews, etc. Videos simplify the sometimes tiring task of reading full articles and absorbing complicated material. Information overload and instant connectivity have led to shorter attention spans, as low as eight seconds per visit. Videos are a great way for engaging these attention-deprived visitors. When done properly, videos communicate a message in a succinct and memorable way that can be extremely persuasive.
- Long Form Content – The rise of mobile reading has established a misconception that with smaller screen sizes, one must write shorter, “snackable” content to satisfy the short attention spans of audiences. However, studies by BuzzSumo, and an analysis of the most emailed articles from NY Times by the University of Pennsylvania, have shown that longer content offers greater shareability. Longer content goes into deeper detail on the topic at hand. Depth (not breadth) of expertise is directly translated into higher brand authority and trust and, therefore, better results.
- ‘How-to’ Content – Everybody loves free, detailed, expert opinions, commentary, insights and methods of solving problems, don’t they? When creating ‘how-to’ content remember that the more thorough your explanation, the better the engagement.
Regularly analyze and optimize
There is always room for improvement which is why you should never stop testing, analyzing and optimizing your lead nurturing strategy including using some social selling tools. Once your strategy is in place, you must continuously review how well it is working. By studying the numbers and metrics you might discover one element outperforming the others and have to shift focus on why that might be. Your strategy should always be changing with your customers. If not, you’re doing something wrong. Just like face to face sales, email marketing should be able to pivot to turn leads into customers with a little information.
Here are few things you should be analyzing:
- The frequency of communication with prospects (follow up within the hour they fill in a form as opposed to the next day).
- The conversion path that leads to higher conversion rates (traffic source and funnel)
- What type of content leads to more conversions (traffic source 1 vs. traffic source 2)
- What method of communication works best in building relationships?
- Which email structure and layout such as subject lines, wording, and image.
So there are some things to think about when creating or revising your lead nurturing strategy. At the end of the day, always put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Would you want a disconnected experience consisting only of batch emails hitting your inbox, or a well-coordinated series of touches that take you through a journey based on your interests? Lead nurturing can seem like a long and tiresome process, but you can be sure that its benefits far outweigh the effort and patience in getting there.