What is lead nurturing? And why is it so vital?
Once you have done your lead generation, it is lead nurturing which can deliver the conversions which we cherish as marketers. But what exactly is lead nurturing, and why is it so important in the quest to attract buyers? In this blog, we look closer.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing can be described as the encouragement of interactions between a business and prospects which they have identified as potential customers. By educating the prospect on your product or service, fostering trust, and building familiarity with your brand, you can move your lead through various stages of the buyer's journey.
It must be remembered that in the internet age, prospects typically have many options open to them, and so lead nurturing must be done carefully, with an emphasis on avoiding the 'hard sell'. Choosing the right content to send, the right time to send it, and ensuring the right call to actions are in the content is key.
What is a call to action?
Call to actions are critical to your lead nurturing campaigns. They are the avenues you open for leads to follow in your content - an invitation to call or email, or links to high performing landing pages, i.e. lead pages that convert. Choose them, and place them wisely.
How to qualify your sales
A big incentive in lead nurturing is how to qualify your sales. What is a qualified sales lead? This is a lead which has been assessed by your sales team, and in some cases scored; based on the fit of the lead (the background and job position of the contact), the interest the lead has shown (through engaging and following your call to actions), and the lead behaviour, which can reveal how much knowledge a lead has about your offering.
Substance over style
Successful lead nurturing campaigns prove that it takes more than a flashy website or a big social media presence to achieve conversions. The best lead nurturing drives are anything but 'hit and hope', their objective is pinpointing exactly how to engage with leads so that they are nurtured along the buyer's journey and pushed down the 'sales funnel'.
The case of lead nurturing
If you needed any more incentives to begin a strategic lead nurturing campaign, look no further than the following evidence:
- A research project by Gleanster showed that some 15 to 20 per cent of customers classed as "not yet ready to purchase" were converted using lead nurturing tactics.
- According to a leading automation provider, companies which blog more than 11 times a month get four times as many leads as those who blog only four to five times a month. They also revealed that 74 per cent of companies say that converting leads is their top priority, underlining the importance of lead generation.
- Market research firm Ascend2 found that nearly half (49 per cent) of businesses say that their leads need nurturing over the "long cycle", using several influencers.
So there's some food for thought on why lead nurturing can be so imperative to business growth. All that's left now is to work out the best metrics and strategy for you.
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Marketing in a business sense can be simply summarised as an activity intended to attract leads. But that would be ignoring the vital process of lead nurturing, which can be critical to making the conversions which can have a positive impact on growth. So in this blog, we get to the bottom of lead nurturing, and ask - what is a lead nurturing campaign?
Lead nurturing can be divided into two important elements - content marketing and lead scoring. Content marketing, as you might already know, involves channels such as your email list, website and social media. Lead scoring refers to the 'score' which is assigned to each lead, based on the way they opted in, and other information you might have about them. The score determines which type of lead nurturing campaign they are placed into.
We can view lead nurturing as the process of keeping leads engaged with your brand while you guide them through the marketing and sales flywheel. Emails, spaced out over a few weeks, typically play an important part in reaching out to leads, and offering them opportunities to engage, and thus become a conversion. Should they take up a call to action in any of the content you send them, they are then placed in another lead nurturing campaign, which is designed for leads further down the 'buyers journey'. What is a call to action? Those are the pathways to conversion in your content, including an invitation to visit a landing page, follow a social account, or call a phone number.
Making the tweaks which matter
Should your lead nurturing campaign not be performing as you would like, you might look at the quality of leads you are capturing, and if you are able to qualify your sales. What is a sales qualified lead? This is a contact which is judged by your sales team to be ready for the next stage in your marketing flywheel. In other cases, you might feel that you could try different activities when it comes to enticing your qualified leads to engage. Whatever the issue is, you should know that there are some helpful lead nurturing solutions on your side.
Behaviour-based marketing automation doesn't only save you time, it allows you to send the right information to the right leads, at the right stages of the buyer's journey. These solutions allow you to scale up or down, depending on the size of your database, taking up a fraction of the resources required by manually conducted campaigns.
The importance of integration
It is absolutely essential that your lead nurturing is a joined-up campaign, which is closely assimilated with your various conversion paths. That means giving leads a clear route to channels such as social media and your website landing pages.
Social media channels can be easily integrated into email marketing campaigns by using follow and share links. These 'buttons' will allow a lead to follow your social media account (be it Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram) with a simple click. You can also use share buttons which allow your content to be posted quickly and easily by a lead on their account.
The landing pages which you direct leads to will depend on their score. Ensure that you make use of the lead pages that convert and perform best in your lead nurturing, and try to make each landing page as relevant as possible for each lead - although perfection is unrealistic in this area of lead generation.
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How do I achieve more conversions? It is a common conundrum for businesses which have a presence online. But occupying the middle ground between lead generation and the ability to attract buyers is lead nurturing.
The way in which you nurture leads can be 'make or break' in respect to whether they become customers.
So in this blog, we offer eight handy pointers when it comes to coaxing your leads into the later stages of the buyer's journey:
1. Every lead is different
That means you don't need to send every email to every lead. You need a way of assessing your leads, allowing you to qualify your sales. What is a qualified sales lead? It is a lead which has been judged on its 'sales readiness'. You can do this by segmenting the background, interaction level and knowledge level of each lead, which then determines what to send them, and when.
2. Educate your leads
Depending on which stage of the buyer's journey your lead is at, you will need to educate them accordingly. For example, fresh leads might benefit from general awareness blogs and interesting video content which gets them interested using information that identifies a problem or pain point that they are experiencing. While a lead which has already shown a level of interest might be ready for a demo or discussion with your sales team, so that they learn more about the product.
3. Personalisation and customisation
If you are using mass mail outs to contact your leads, you are missing the point entirely! You should try to personalise every element within reason - from addressing leads by their name, to name-checking their location or organisation. There are solutions which can help you automate customisation.
4. Let your leads breath
Don't bombard your leads. An email a day is far too frequent. Space out your communications and allow your leads to consume what you send them.
5. It's not all about email
Remember, there are other ways to nurture leads aside from email marketing campaigns. They include ensuring that there are calls to action on your best performing landing pages, i.e. your lead pages that convert. What is a call to action? These are the pathways you offer leads in your content, such as invitations to visit a certain page, call a number, or send an email.
6. Get going!
You should be the proactive party in your interactions with leads. Don't wait until they enquire by email or telephone, once you have generated a lead, make contact with them as soon as you can, even if it is just to send them a piece of content that will be of interest to them and remind them who you are.
7. Understand pain points
A massive part of nurturing online leads is to understand what makes your prospects tick. Once you know their pain points, you should endeavour to address these in all forms of your content.
8. Create ways to re-engage
Finally, if a lead goes silent, how do you get them interacting again? Keep some tricks up your sleeve, such as offering a special offer or discount, or asking them for feedback on your content.
We hope you found these tips useful. Remember that nurturing leads is more similar to a marathon than a sprint!
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Right at the heart of many productive lead nurturing campaigns is lead scoring, which offers a calculated method of assessing the stages of the buyer's journey each lead is at, and ultimately, attract buyers more effectively.
But even before you look at how to conduct your lead scoring, you need to be sure that the technique is right for your business. Let's look closer...
Is lead scoring right for my business?
There are a few indicators which can suggest whether or not your company could benefit from lead scoring.
Lead generation volumes
If your sales team is dealing with a small number of leads, there might be no need for lead scoring until you achieve a volume which warrants it.
Quality of leads
by the same token, if your sales team is not happy with the quality of leads which they are getting, there might not be any point in starting lead scoring until you have solved this problem.
aside from the leads themselves, lead scoring requires demographic and behavioural data for the system to be based on. If you don't have this data, you may need to reassess.
A method to attract buyers
Before you can get to the holy grail of attracting more buyers, lead scoring can help you to identify which level of the Buying Stage your leads are currently at. There are three main elements of a typical lead scoring system which can help you make this judgement and qualify your sales:
1. Lead Fit
This is the initial component of lead scoring, and is based on key background information which you have gathered about the prospect. It could be the organisation they are from, including size and estimated buying power, or it could be their job role, and how influential they are in terms of procurement. These are important variables when it comes to how to nurture a B2B prospect, but there are also parameters which can help to assess the fit of B2C prospects. Take potential customers who are considering a high spend purchase. They could be assessed based on their lifestyle, job, disposable income and stage of life.
2. Lead Interest
This is where your website, email and social media data will come in. Just how engaged has a lead been with your brand? How many emails have they opened? Do they follow you on social media? And how frequently have they visited the lead pages which convert on your website? You need to measure the number of proactive steps which have been taken by the lead to interact with your company through calls to action. What is a call to action? Think of the opportunities you give leads to interact - from social media to landing page visits and email enquiries.
3. Lead Behaviour
While it might not seem as important as lead interest, lead behaviour can tell us a lot about a lead's intentions. Look at which kind of content they have consumed - does it suggest they have a good knowledge of your product, or that they are still trying to understand your offering?
Calculating lead score
By scoring using the categories above, you can define a lead score and your prospect's position at the buyer's stage. This will allow you to determine what is a sales qualified lead. Whether you use a scale of one to ten, one to 50, or one to 100, is up to you.