Lead nurturing is the process of meaningfully engaging with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel and throughout each phase of the buyer’s journey. This involves both marketing and communication pushes and, most importantly, listening to your customer’s needs throughout each stage. Read on to learn more about what lead nurturing is, how it relates to your marketing funnel, and how to incorporate it into your marketing strategies to facilitate the process of interested prospects becoming customers.
Effectively marketing your business requires you to form relationships with members of your target audience to better understand and communicate with them. To understand lead nurturing, think about your own personal relationships. Some people are closer to you than others. Some trust you more than others. Some are not as close simply because they’ve just met you, while others you’ve known a while but haven’t been able to connect with them on a deeper level.
The target audience of a business is the same way. It contains different groups of people at different levels of engagement and stages of relationship with your business. All stages of your funnel are important, and each one has a different mindset to cater to. This is where lead nurturing comes in. Proper lead nurturing involves communicating with these different groups in a way that is most appropriate for that group and will help them feel confident in moving on to the next stage in the funnel.
Through consistent interaction at key points during the sales process, you’ll have a much higher conversion rate than if you were to go for the kill right off the bat. Lead nurturing is a lot like dating. Much like a first date, it’s highly unlikely that someone would be willing to make a commitment to you without having had more time to get to know you and what you offer as a partner.
The same goes for a prospective customer. People do not typically buy on their first encounter alone. You must build trust over a period of time to move your customers down the sales funnel, which looks a bit like this:
Before you can begin to sell something, people need to know you exist. This is a content-heavy phase, meaning your website, social media presence, blog posts, and advertising all fall within this stage.
Once you’ve put yourself on people’s radar, you must start the process of educating them and connecting what your product/service does with how it can improve their lives. Your website and other information sources are critical at this point as prospects will be doing their own research to validate what they learned in the awareness stage.
FAQ pages, how-to articles, social media pages, customer testimonials, etc. are great ways to ensure interested parties have access to all of the information they’d need to feel more comfortable doing business with you.
At this stage, your prospect will require a little space from you. Don’t worry, it’s not personal! Once they’ve gathered enough information from your business they’ll look to outside sources to evaluate and verify your claims. Providing other educational resources like links to other pages validating your products, customer success stories, or offering demonstrations can be of great use.
Get ready to perform a bit of a balancing act at this point. Ultimately, it’s up to the customer to either purchase or get off the pot and there’s only so much you can do to encourage a positive result without scaring them off. The best you can hope for is to keep your brand top of mind while they’re making a decision. Ask if they’d like to be added to your email list where they may continue to get information to help in their decision process, invite them to events or send them links to webinars.
Hallelujah! Your potential customer has just made a written or verbal commitment to buy from you! Ok, keep it together, we’re not out of the woods yet. Right now your customer needs the slightest nudge to complete the buying process so discounts, promotions, coupons or a membership program could be the extra push they need. You could also try having comparison sheets detailing how you measure up to competing products on the ready, stellar return policies, loyalty programs – any added benefit to them being your customer will help.
Your commitment to your customer doesn’t end once they’ve signed the receipt. Remember, it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one. Turning this person into not only a repeat buyer but also someone to advocate for your business is and help garner new clients will ensure your business maintains a healthy following.
Create a user community, ask for their testimonials, run social media contests for current customers or provide perks for bringing new clients or for a number of years as a loyal customer. Show your appreciation for their business!
Generic, stock communications can be sniffed out by prospects and quickly end up in their virtual trash bin. The opportunity to make automatic communications more tailored mostly shows up in Stage 6 of the sales funnel. Personalize each correspondence with customers’ names, suggest products based on past purchases, track their visits to specific pages of your site to modify communications based on their interests, and stay true to your brand’s voice. If you’re a law firm, don’t jump into casual jargon and vice versa.
There’s no point in building a marketing practice around lead nurturing if you’re not going to track your lead data. Tracking conversion rates (whether that’s how often people move from one part of the sales funnel to the next or actually make a purchase) will highlight areas in the process you should fine-tune. If you find that you get a lot of traffic to your FAQ’s page but never see a single order, that could mean that you’re lacking something in the Discovery Stage.
Create company standards around how long it should take your prospect to move through each stage of the buying process and time your lead nurturing activities around those milestones. For example, if you know it takes a prospect 3 weeks to move on from the Awareness Stage, your campaign focused on this group should have enough resources to fill that 3-week timeframe. Furthermore, your next wave of communications should be ready to go when that 3 weeks is up.
Sure, consistent communication is important but you don’t want people to feel like they can’t get rid of you. Marketing Advocate recommends sending no more than 9-12 emails per quarter and we concur.
Be able to decipher which phase individual leads are in so that you’re providing prospects the most appropriate information when they need it. Try doing this backward. Look at your existing resources like your website, social media posts, blog, newsletters, mailers, promotional offerings, and upcoming events. Now decide at which point during the sales funnel someone would find these resources most useful.