What is lead nurturing?

Marketo describes lead nurturing as: ‘the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. Lead nurturing focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.’ Whilst us communication professionals know the importance of putting the audience’s needs first, some may be guilty of not always doing so.

lead nurturing

(Above) The sales funnel explained

We will focus on the awareness, consideration and preference section of the sales funnel. We must personalise our lead nurturing strategy depending on where our lead is in the buying process.

There are many benefits of lead nurturing:

  • Most of our leads aren’t ready to buy
  • Credibility and trust can be built by sharing useful information
  • Each lead is given individual attention, which improves their customer experience
  • On average marketers see around a 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads (Forrester, 2014)
  • It can also be automated to save time!

So, how we can go about building a sustainable relationship using a lead nurturing strategy?

Know your audience

Like every aspect of our marketing strategy, we need to know who our audience is and how they interact with our content. We’d suggest conducting persona mapping to dive deeper into audience segmentation in order to gain a better understanding of how/ when they are likely to prefer being contacted.

Understand the different buying cycle stages

Many lead management tools offer a feature that allows users to assign scores to leads depending on how engaged they are with us. Usually, every time a lead interacts with our content, they’re given a score. For example, if they listen to a live webinar they may receive 20 points, if they download an ebook they may receive an additional 10 points if they click a link in an email campaign they may be scored 5 points etc. Only once they’ve received a certain amount of points (usually 100) they’re sent to sales as a marketing qualified lead on the basis of high engagement with our brand. We can personalise the strategy if preferred and boost the score when the audience member interacts with a particular type of content, such as visiting case study pages.

Scores are categorised into groups that relate back to the purchase funnel stage so that we’re able to send relevant content to leads at a particular stage. For example, the awareness stage may be 1-25 points, the consideration stage 26-75 points, the preference stage 76-99 points, and then the lead is qualified.

Target content based on lead score

lead nurturing

We should cater our content depending on how far our lead is in the sales funnel.

What content to post when lead nurturing? 

Awareness stage content:

It’s good practice to initially provide someone who is in the awareness stage with content that doesn’t take up much of their time. Content should be educational and not pushing product. Blogs, articles and infographics are a good place to start as they can easily be skimmed. If our lead clicks these links and interacts with the content, scoring over a certain amount by doing so, then we can take content up a level and target them with more “consideration” based content.

Consideration stage content:

Once a member of our audience reaches the consideration stage of the purchasing funnel, we can target them with invites to webinars, events, eBooks and gated content.

Preference stage content:

When the lead is getting to the point of choosing whether to buy, persuasive content is useful. We should show our leads how great our products really are with testimonials, reviews and demos.

Be careful with emails

Many of us marketers are swamped by emails. As a result, many of us don’t open marketing or sales-focused emails. Whilst our audience may not work in marketing, they too are experiencing this dilemma. Therefore, we should ensure the emails we send are relevant, conversational and strategic in the hope they’re more likely to resonate.

We should also (where possible) address emails to the person (rather than it looking like a mailshot to thousands of people). Wishpond lists 13 types of trigger emails that marketers can use in their nurturing flow. By using a conversational tone of voice in email communication, we encourage interaction. Check out this post to learn how we can create an effective tone of voice.

Utilise Social Media

Email isn’t the only channel we can use for nurturing prospects. Social media is a great opportunity to gain new leads and build relationships with current clients. When someone subscribes to our mailing list or fills out a form, encourage them to follow us on social media. Including widgets in email communications is a great way of doing so.

Fast responses

Timing is everything. We know how demanding our customers can be; as discussed in our previous blog 72% of our customers expect fast responses to complaints on social media. When someone engages with our website/ with us on social, we need to respond quickly while we are still top of their mind. It would be naive to believe that potential leads aren’t looking at competitors too. If they respond faster, they might win business so it’s safer to have an agile nurture programme that allows grants flexibility and allows us to act quickly.

That’s it for lead nurturing! Have we forgotten anything? let us know hello@meltwater.com