Lead Nurturing Strategies Everyone Should Know

lead nurturing

Thursday August 13, 2015

By: Charleen McManus

Did you know that a whopping 79 percent of marketing leads never convert to sales? The most common reason cited by Marketing Sherpa is a lack of lead nurturing. Don’t know much about the topic? Let me assure you, if you can keep a houseplant alive, you can nurture leads. (And even if you don’t have a good track record with plants, we’ll bet you do better with leads.)

Lead nurturing is developing relationships with potential customers who aren’t yet ready to buy, in hopes that when they are ready, they’ll turn to you. Generating leads can be fairly simple. It’s what you do with those leads that makes the difference between a sale and a fail.

How do houseplants fit into this? Leads, like plants, require a certain amount of care and feeding. You can’t just set a plant in a dark corner and hope it thrives on its own, or inversely, give it too much sun and water. Similarly, you don’t want to leave your lead in a spreadsheet to die a slow death, or pepper a lead with annoying emails.

Where to begin? Incoming lead processing campaigns are all about making a positive first impression. When you get a lead, figure out how “hot” or “cold” they are — how close they are to being sales-ready. This will dictate whether they are nurtured or passed on to sales.

Next, figure out what kind of information a potential customer wants from you, and how often they want to hear from you. This opting-in establishes permission for you to send future messages, and sets the relationship off on the right foot as the lead will not only expect to hear from you, but anticipate it.

Stay-in-touch campaigns are for those leads who are not yet ready to buy or interact with sales. The idea is that by nurturing with periodic messages and information, your brand will be the one they think of when the time comes to buy. You’ll want to synchronize your lead nurturing with the four stages someone goes through when they are buying: awareness, consideration, research, and purchase.

Wherever they are in the process, the content you send leads as you stay in touch is highly important. It must be:

  1. Readable. Make your content concise, easy to take in, and engaging. Get to the point fast, and get out. Treat lead-nurturing emails like mini blog posts a reader can look at quickly.
  2. Valuable. Your content needs to be valuable to your prospective customer. Put their needs ahead of your own. Make it relevant to them, and don’t be too self-promotional.
  3. Personal. Start off with designed emails, then engage later with text-only emails from sales. This provides a personal touch, though be careful not to be pushy.
  4. Timed. Successful lead nurturing typically means contacting no more than once per week, but no less than once per month.

If you really want to get advanced with lead nurturing, try an accelerator campaign. (Kind of like Miracle-Gro for plants.) This is a series of little “nudges” that help move a lead along in the buying process. When you see that a lead has visited your website, opened all your emails, or downloaded content, use those as triggers telling you it’s time to act. Have a plan in place to respond to their action with more information or an elevated offer. As the lead shows more interest, move them down the path toward a sale.

Do leads ever become stagnant or get lost in the process? Sure. You can minimize this with a lead lifecycle campaign, which insures movement and interaction continues. Have a clear lead-handoff process between marketing and sales so leads don’t slip through the cracks. Recycle leads by kicking them back to marketing if sales determines they aren’t actually ready to buy.

Once you have a new customer, don’t stop there. Send them a welcome message, and make them a part of stay-in-touch and accelerator campaigns to cross-sell and up-sell. Keep them abreast of what your company is up to and they may just repeat as customers.

If you have any questions on lead nurturing, contact us. We can guide you through the process! We’re also happy to answer any questions on plants, to the extent our green thumbs allow.

As Inbound Central’s account manager, Charleen is marketing mission control, keeping everyone up to speed on goals, deliverables, and timelines so that agencies and their clients stay informed and happy. Charleen also serves on the Board of AMA-Richmond as Co-VP of Programming. Follow on twitter @charleenmcmanus.