According to analysts at Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. Who wouldn’t want to do that and improve the quality and quantity of their pipeline?
So what is lead nurturing? Well it’s the process of building effective relationships with potential customers, throughout the buying journey; and it has truly become an integral part of a successful marketing strategy.
Using technology to help advance your strategy
Using technology can greatly help advance your lead nurturing. Marketing Automation tools are at the core of this, enabling B2B marketers to automatically nurture leads. With time constraints and many demands on the busy marketer, using technology to nurture leads is becoming increasingly the norm.
IP lookup / web analytics technology
Using a tool like Workbooks Web Insights that can identify your website traffic and what they are looking at on your website is an excellent starting place for your lead nurturing strategy. Knowing what a prospect wants before they tell you is key to being perceived as an expert or trusted advisor. Using visitor tracking technology, you can understand where these leads go on your website and, as a result, where they are in the buying journey. Combined with lead scoring methodology, you can justify what qualifies as an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) and SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) too.
If you use email marketing tools such as GatorMail, you can automatically nurture these leads. Feed them into a nurture stream based on where they are in the buyer journey, which web pages they’ve looked at or what topic they are interested in. With more than 75% of website leads claiming they are not ready to buy the first time they land on your website, this technology is vital to warming up leads for your sales team.
Lead nurturing is not drip marketing. It’s not just about the speed at which you send information, but about WHAT information you send. With nurturing workflows in place you can make sure you are sending the right information at the right time to the right lead.
The Difference Between Drip Marketing & Lead Nurturing
Putting your prospects first
Many B2B marketers will argue that if leads don’t know what they need then they need to be told by the marketing team. Not so. Prospects will know immediately if you are sending them irrelevant information and be quick to label you a spammer. If you want to be successful, try implementing a ‘prospect first’ lead nurturing approach. So what do we mean by putting your prospects first?
Invite your prospects to opt-in to your communications
Opt-in audiences engage more, convert higher and generally perform better overall. Yes, an opt-in audience will be smaller than a normal audience. This is where marketers have to prove their worth. Prospects will opt-in if they know you are offering them something of value. With the GDPR approaching too, opt-in or even double opting-in might become mandatory so there is no time to waste.
Let your prospect set the pace
We all know that if you send emails too frequently, you’ll tire your audience. So let your prospects set the pace. Whether you define that by setting a requirement for your prospects to get to a certain “score” before you send them the next email or you want to take a weekly approach, make sure you don’t overwhelm your leads with too much information before they are ready.
And if your subscribers are sleepy and unengaged – ask them what information they would like to receive and how often. Using a preference centre, you can start to record how your leads like their information and indeed what information they want. The more relevant and timely your messages, the more agreeable your subscribers will be to tuning into what you have to say.
Record your progress monthly
Remember, while one lead might take a month to come to a decision, another might take 6 months to reach the same conclusion. Lead nurturing is not an overnight success story. It takes time. You need to monitor results and progress so you can see which marketing campaigns are working, and which could use some adjustments to become effective. Don’t change your campaign tactics weekly just because you don’t see an improvement straight away. Monitor results monthly, change tactics quarterly if you have to… but remember, lead nurturing is a long-term goal. There is no short-term solution.
Mix and match your lead nurturing tactics
And remember. There is not one strategy that fits all. As we’ve established, each prospect is unique and individual. That is why our final top lead nurturing strategy is one of mix-and-match. Where before, lead nurturing fell into sales hands, now it is marketing’s responsibility to nurture leads. However, if both sales and marketing worked together to nurture leads, there would be a more effective cross-over and smoother pipeline. The result? Leads wouldn’t feel like they are being passed from team to team.
Nurturing cold contacts
Of course, we recommend that you nurture website leads with nurture email campaigns. However, we know there are still SMEs out there using cold call lists and purchased data to try and engage with a wider audience.
For sales, we would recommend sending them an email with a PURL (personalised URLs). If the contact clicks on the PURL, you’ll then be alerted to their engagement and be able to track what they are interested in on your website.
For marketing, we would suggest creating a marketing workflow with plenty of different content topic ‘touch points’. Personalisation and individuality are key to engaging with cold data, but you can’t write manual emails for a whole purchased data list.
Nurturing based on content
Content marketing used correctly can be the foundation of your lead nurturing strategy. Both sales and marketing can use content to effectively nurture leads.
For example, if your prospect engages with a handful of blogs, send them a whitepaper on a similar topic. If your prospect has engaged and built up a lead score, but won’t commit to a meeting with sales – send them a case study that could sway their opinion.
Content marketing isn’t just about generating interest – it can be used to convert your prospects into customers too and can be leveraged with great success across the entire sales cycle.
Nurturing inbound leads
Often, marketing teams tend to throw inbound leads at sales and tell them to convert them immediately. After all, inbound leads have come to you – they MUST be interested in buying. While PPC adverts have a typical conversion rate of 3%, sales teams often find that these leads aren’t ready to convert to a sale on their first visit.
Therefore, a mix-and-match approach can be taken here too. Yes, by all means, if the inbound lead is asking for a pricing request or demo then pass them straight over to sales. However, using lead scoring, if the lead has simply downloaded a whitepaper from a PPC advert – perhaps it would be best to put them through a nurturing email campaign before passing them to sales. Use your common sense here to judge what is best for your target audiences.
Lead nurturing isn’t hard if you do it right. With the right tools, techniques and tactics in place, you’ll be able to nurture more leads through to close, driving greater efficiency and effectiveness… ultimately positively impacting revenue.
This blog post was inspired by Communigator, the provider of the technology behind Workbooks GatorMail and Web Insights.