Sometimes it’s possible to complete the whole buying process online. A visitor sees an ad or a link and follows it, completes some action and then ends up buying from you. These sorts of transactions typically happen with smaller ticket items with short sales cycles and low education thresholds for buying.
More commonly, online marketing involves the generation of leads using some sort of conversion funnel. This could be as simple as an ad + landing page or it could involve an inbound marketing offer where users are trading information in exchange for some sort of content or access to services. In these cases, business owners are able to generate leads that need to be nurtured in order to convert to being buyers.
Lead nurturing is an important aspect to understand when it comes to inbound marketing. We often can’t get people to buy with just one touch online. They need to have multiple touches in order to be led into making a purchase decision. Of course, not all of them will buy, but if you can remain top-of-mind and steer them where you want them to go, you will be able to convert a larger proportion of the leads you gather.
At its most elemental level, lead nurturing is the process of delivering highly educational and relevant content over time to people who have already expressed an interest in your organization. You should maintain a certain framework while delivering content to your prospects:
Deliver content that is relevant to areas of your organization, products, services or other content they’ve already expressed an interest in. For example, if they have downloaded an eBook about how to write a resume, sending emails with links to eBooks on how to build an effective LinkedIn profile would be appropriate.
Stay on top of your leads. If they give information to your company for some reason and you don’t follow up with them for weeks, they may have moved on. There may not be a hard rule here; however, if someone has downloaded content from you, follow up within a week with emails, social posts, or other communication representing first steps in the lead nurturing process.
Each touch you have with your prospect should nudge them further in a direction to making a purchase from your business. This is the entire reason you are communicating with them in the first place. The direction you push them in and what you ask them to do will vary based on what it is you are trying to get them to buy. In theory, all of the content on your site that they have access to download is in some way (or should be) related to your services or products. If your campaign is designed to increase sales of a specific service then nudge them in the direction of buying that. Send them information or offers related to those services.
Yes good old tracking should always be a part of what you are doing. Measure each time you send out communication to see how your messaging is received. Do people click on your links? Do they come to your website if that is the goal? Do they open your emails or, in general, do they perform the tasks you have outlined for them? By measuring your activities, you can see what worked and what didn’t. You can try new things that may push you in the direction of having success with your lead nurturing campaigns.
Forms of Lead Nurturing
You could accomplish pretty much any sales or business related goal with a lead nurturing campaign, but there are some common ones to get you going if you are just starting with this.
This type of lead nurturing gets prospects introduced to who your company is and what the mission is. This might be news related content or items from your blog. It could be a newsletter. People in these contact databases should not be leads who have expressed specific interest in a particular product or service. Instead, they may have entered your system under more general circumstances. Maybe you purchased a list somewhere or have a general signup form on your website.
Incoming or “Hot” Lead Campaigns
These are leads you may have gained through some sort of specialized conversion funnel or inbound marketing offer. For instance, you may have generated a list from offering an eBook on a specific topic, or maybe a prospect filled out an online quote request form.
These prospects should be sent messaging that helps push them down the line to purchasing relevant products and/or services. You would start by sending them communications on similar content they may find valuable and then a “soft-sell” email where you prompt them to make a purchase decision.
Naturally, if you have a goal in mind for what you want people to do, go for it. Lead nurturing is about having a conversation of sorts. Leads are people, and they have already taken the first step of initiating contact with a company. You can keep the conversation going by sending timely, relevant and interesting communications and content their way in an effort to push them closer to becoming a full-fledged customer.
What lead nurturing strategies do you use? Join the conversation by commenting below.