Basic Information about Lead Nurturing
Problem with acquired leads
Marketers very often face the problem of lead immaturity: they invest time and money in acquiring leads which turn out not to be sales ready, because they simply don’t have enough data about the product and the company to make a purchase decision.
Combine such early stage lead with too pushy salespeople and you will get a recipe for disaster: lost relationship and wasted resources invested in attempts to establish it. Definition of Lead Nurturing Problem with acquired leads.
Lead Nurturing solves the problem.
The term lead means a contact to a person, who gave us his contact data, so we can include that user in our communication and marketing action. Yet we don’t know whether our lead is really interested in the product, how much does he know about it and whether he will become our customer finally.
Examples of lead:
- A person who downloaded our ebook, giving us his email address,
- A person who registered on our webinar ,
- A person who subscribed to our newsletter.
Most often a lead is not ready to buy after the first contact. Probably he is facing a problem our products can solve, but we need to make lead aware of that.
Not sales-ready leads can’t be simply moved to sales. Presenting them offer too soon and pushing into purchase decision might backfire and you will lose your leads.
That’s why we set up Lead Nurturing program – an automated series of emails to early stage leads that educate them and prepare for contact with sales reps. It the process we try to deliver all knowledge necessary for lead to make a decision.
For that reason Lead Nurturing is often compared to gardening, hence marketer acts here as a thoughtful and patient horticulturalist, who cares for the plant, waiting for it to blossom. And bear fruit. He knows that it takes time.
Lead Nurturing is an automated set of emails with educational content sent to early stage leads.
Why to implement Lead Nurturing ?
Real relationship with a client
The idea of Lead Nurturing stems from a need to build a real long-lasting relationship with the customer, not just induce her to shop once. It means marketers should really try to understand customers and to earn trust which becomes a solid base for a relationship.
- Provides customers with knowledge and data necessary to make a shopping decision.
- Respect user’s independence: today customers prefer to control most of the shopping process, they search for information on their own, compare offers and don’t want to be pushed to decide. Marketers’ role changed: now we should deliver knowledge that helps customer decide on her own instead of pushing and tempting to buy.
- Shows that the company is an expert in the field, generous and happy to share their knowledge and tools.
- Gives substantial value to the customer, what makes customer grateful rather than pushed to purchase. Positive emotions are much better base for the customer-bran relationship.
Nurtured lead become sales opportunities 20% more often, according do DemGen report.
Only 27% of leads you acquire are sales ready. What are you going to do with the rest?
Nurtured leads buy 47% more than non-nurtured ones (Annuitas Group). Why? Because well educated customers feel secure about the purchase, trust the brand and know exactly what do they pay for.
More leads When to introduce Lead Nurturing?
- When you offer an innovative product, unknown before.
- When you conduct B2B company.
- When your product has a long sales cycle and is preceded with long research and consideration.
- When customer’s knowledge works good is beneficial for you (e.g. when you sell high quality clothes or ecological food, you want to explain precisely what do customers pay for).
What exactly is Lead Nurturing and how it looks like?
Cycle of emails
Lead Nurturing mostly takes shape of a cycle of email message in which you welcome customers and introduce customer to new knowledge. It can also evolve in a full omnichannel campaign (more on that later).
An example of minimal plan
Lead Nurturing can be a cycle of 7 emails, sent once a week, including basic information on the problem solved by out product or service.
Number 7 isn’t random: research shows thay such amount of encounters with a brand is necessary for a customer to engage.
More advanced implementation include bigger amount of messages and lead segmentation: a different version of Lead Nurturing is prepared for each group of users (e.g. decisive and non-decisive people undergo different educational traits).
What do you need to implement the basic Lead Nurturing?
To implement Lead Nurturing you need:
- The profile of your customers (Buyer’s Persona)
- Educational content
- Marketing Automation Software
- Employees to undertake the following tasks:
- Research on the customers (unless it hadn’t been done before),
- Content creation,
- Campaign planning,
- Monitoring, analytics and optimization,
- Using a dedicated software.
Don’t focus on the brand, but on the audience.
What problems do they face? What do they need? What kind of content would be useful? Lead Nurturing is not an ad, but a conversation about customers’ problems.
It’s like a conversation. Ask for feedback and choose topics basing on analytics and research on what customers need.
Sound human – Marketers tend to perceive customers as abstract ideas, not real humans with feelings and emotions. Developing Buyer Persona will help you with that: the more you know about your customers, the better you can address your communication to them.
Write like you speak – Be simple and easy to understand. Don’t attempt to fill your texts with difficult, professional terms. Make it approachable for laymen.
Care for your customer’s time – Don’t waste it for badly written text for laymen.
Brand uniqueness – Person who found your Lead Nurturing searching for information, probably check also competitor’s offer. In education stress the problems which only your roducts can solve. Try to gently accent your strengths.
Plan of email sendings
Send first email in 24 hours from the moment user entered the website. Otherwise she might not remember you.
Divide information into small chunks. Don’t try to tell too much at once.
Care for coherence. All messages should make a sensible, logical whole.
Optimize: each business and each recipient is a separate audience. You have to find best content, form, volume and frequency by testing and constant optimizing.
Harmonious combination of all messages. Does your nurtured lead gets other messages from you? How do they match Lead Nurturing?
75% of leads don’t make a purchase due to lack of Lead Nurturing Program (Marketing Sherpa).
Introducing simple Lead Nurturing program
Know your lead
Before you start designing your educational materials, you need to learn precisely who your lead is. You might use Buyer Persona as a tool to know your audience, but generally you should just be able to answer the following questions:
- What problems she wants to solve, what she wants to achieve?
- How buying process looks like? What motivates her to shop, what stops her from making purchase, what are her shopping habits and routines?
- What aborts the shopping process?
- Does she use your competitions solutions?
- Who is responsible for the decision (crucial for B2B)?
- How much she knows about the product? Where does she get her information from?
- How does she consume the content? What are her favorites type of content?
Where do I get that information from?
You can build your consumer profile using the following sources:
- Interviews with customers and leads (both in person and via Skype or Hangout),
- Focus research,
- Website analytics,
- Monitoring online behavior, including demographic data,
- Feedback from salespeople, and customer service,
- Customer comments and feedback on your website and on social media (research also your competition),
- Data from contact forms.
The more sources you take into consideration, the better: your customer profile will get more reliable.
Universal Lead Definition
Lead Nurturing can deliver results only if sales and marketing departments work closely together and produce common definition of what lead is and when should he be passed to sales. It ensures coherency of leads’ journey throughout all the stages.
Having such knowledge on your customers, you can start creating educational content. Start with writing down questions your customers would like to know answer to, e.g. How to generate more leads in small business? How to conduct a low-price social media campaign? Try to be as precise as possible. Select most crucial ones (you can use the rest as blog posts inspirations).
If you’ve had a blog before, you might actually possess some useful content: it only needs refreshing. See if all the facts are accurate and whether any corrections are necessary.
More than a blog
The right tone
In what style should you write your Lead Nurturing? A lot depends on expectations of your audience, but for the beginning follow the rules below:
- Use approachable, simple language,
- Avoid jargon and buzzwords,
- Use terms your customers and prospects use (if you have developed your Buyer Persona, you probably have a list of these).
Shaping your emails
Remember to apply the same best practices you adopt when sending any other email:
- Be relevant and concise,
- Ensure that both message and landing page are responsive,
- Send email at the right time (preferably tailored to individual user’s preferences),
- email should no wider than 600 px., so it reads conveniently.
What to begin with?
When you know what information you want to deliver, you have to divide it into portions and decide about the succession of emails. What should go first? How to plan customer education?
Start with explaining all terms you will use and basic concepts. It can take a form of a glossary post or ebook. Then relate to main problem leads face. Don’t start from detailed or peripheral issues, even if you find them most interesting. Pick a challenge recipients can relate to, because it will help you establish a connection with lead.
The purpose of individual email
- Delivering specific information,
- Identifying decision maker,
- Obtaining answer to a question,
- User subscription to an event.
Build leads’ knowledge gradually and systematically. Flooding them with massive amount of knowledge won’t make them learn faster, but only discourage. Also too frequent messages might seem annoying, not helpful.
Sales cycle is 22% longer than it used to be a couple of years earlier. The reason? More people are involved in decision making.
Learning about your customers
Demographic and behavioral data gathered in the system as well as Digital Body Language technology will enrich your Buyer Persona tremendously. Huge advantage of that method is that you learn about actual actions your customers take, not plain declarations (which tend to vary from reality).
Scoring is a tool that enables you to get more precise image of user’s knowledge and engagement. Thanks to that you can tailor messages more precisely (e.g. Move user to sales if he seems ready to buy). Your Lead Nurturing doesn’t have to be a rigid structure: adapt it to individual lead.
Testing and optimization
As mentioned above, testing is a crucial part of developing your Lead Lead Nurturing. You can’t expect to find textbook rules that will enable you to prepare it perfectly right away – it takes time and experiment to discover best way of communicating with your leads. That’s why you need advanced analytics Marketing Automation software provides.
65% od B2B marketers don’t set up Lead Nurturing campaign.
Test and optimize
Regular testing and optimization is marketer’s key to success. It applies also to Lead Nurturing.
What should you be testing:
- Length of emails
- Email frequency
- Email subject
Rules of testing
- Run tests on regular basis.
- Draw conclusions. Modify messages and educational materials according to users’ feedback.
- Choose size of testing groups carefully, so you get relevant
- Test one variable at the time. Otherwise you won’t know what caused improvement or decline.
The main metrics for Lead Nurturing campaigns is Click-Through Rate (CTR). You can also measure Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR): multiply Open Rate (OR) by CTR. On average, it amounts to 11 – 15%, while in best campaigns it can achieve 16 – 20%.
Also keep track of unsubscriptions – they’re a sign that your emails are not welcome. If that metrics go up, try to find a reason. It doesn’t have to be Lead Nurturing as such, but might stem from dubious lead acquisition practices. Grow your base organically to ensure that your recipients expect your messages.
74% leading campaigns implement Lead Nurturing.
Advanced Lead Nurturing Campaigns
Solutions for Intermediate Marketers
When you know how to build basic Lead Nurturing Campaign, you get hungry for more and want to test more sophisticated ideas. We listed some inspirational examples of more advanced Lead Nurturing campaigns.
- Customer segmentation. You can segment your leads basing on their interests or role in the company, and prepare different program for each group, e.g. one version goes to marketers, the other one – to sales reps; or one go to specialists, and the other one – to managers. That way your education will answer the specific challenges each group of recipients meet.
- Win-back campaigns. Lead Nurturing can be also addressed to inactive customer to re-establish bond and encourage to shopping. Such programs are also useful in the process of database cleansing and removing idle contacts.
- Retention- oriented program. Lead Nurturing doesn’t have to apply to new leads who just discovered your company, but can also serve maintaining and strengthening relationship with existing customers. Such program focuses on delivering more advanced knowledge and innovations. It should also express how much loyal customer means to the company. Appreciate his engagement!
- Lead Nurturing on given topic. If you have a lot of content, you can rearrange it in thematic blocks. That way you can send a cycle of emails on given topic to a group of users who are particularly interested in it.
Solutions for Advanced Marketers
- Segmentation according to two criteria. Advanced users of Marketing Automation platforms, who generate a lot of leads, sometimes segment leads according to two criteria, eg. occupation (marketers and salespeople) and role in the company (specialists and managers), so finally we divide leads in 4 groups instead of just 2. We don’t recommend introducing more than 2 criteria, because your program might turn out too overcomplicated and difficult to manage. If you feel like it, examine your Buyer Persona: maybe you lack precise definition of your customers?
- Omnichannel Lead Nurturing. Because you can identify user thanks to Marketing Automation software you can issue educational campaign in many channels, so tailored messages will be addressed to lead in many touch points. These might include: social media, dynamic content on the website, RTB networks or engaging sales reps to conducting non-sales educational talks.
- Acquiring more data. Another purpose of Lead Nurturing might be obtaining more data to complement your contact profiles. Knowing more about your leads will help you improve personalization and enable sales reps to prepare better for calls.
- Lead Recycling. Lead Nurturing isn’t a one way road. For many reasons leads might not be sales ready after completing educational program, so instead of torturing them with unwanted sales calls, move them back to marketing and subject to another Lead Nurturing campaign, focused on giving more knowledge and more reasons to buy.
Lead Nurturing emails show slightly higher unsubscription rate when compared to other messages, what proves that they’re successful method of capturing valuable leads. Interestingly, they also show 2 x higher CTR.
Customers don’t behave according to your plans. Prepare for the situation when someone is sales ready right after you acquired his email. Maybe he has done some research earlier? Maybe he is in hurry? The reason doesn’t
matter, the point of not to subject him to standard Lead Nurturing campaign when he should be moved to sales immediately. Try to indicate actions that are signs of purchase readiness and give a lot of scoring points for these, so you can immediately recognize a hot lead and alert sales team. Don’t waste time!
Behavior indicating sales readiness
Signs of purchase readiness might vary depending on business, but the following often indicate that a lead is pretty hot:
- Watching price list,
- Entering the website after looking up company’s name, not an abstract phrase,
- Watching demo,
- Subscribing to trial,
- Reading content for advanced users.
Frequently made mistakes
Implementing basic Lead Nurturing doesn’t take long, but optimization lasts months. It pays off, because companies who excel at Lead Nurturing generate 50% more leads at 33% lower costs (Forrester Research). But what obstacles can you meet on your road to great Nurturing?
Lack of purpose
You generate an educational program that lacks broader perspective – namely, sales. Without setting goals of each email and campaign as a whole, without careful analytics, you Lead Nurturing will be just chaotic bunch of random facts, which will either puzzle your recipients or won’t change them into paying customers.
It takes time and a lot of tests to find out how long does it take to close a deal and how long your Lead Nurturing campaign should be. When designing your Lead Nurturing program try not to move leads to sales too fast. Often marketers try to accelerate the process, as it makes them feel more efficient. Don’t hurry your leads! The point of Lead Nurturing is the exact opposite of that practice.
Because you’re an expert in the field, all information seem important and worth sharing, but in Lead Nurturing you must put yourself in layman’s shoes. Too much knowledge at once can be intimidating, so divide it into small chunks and talk only about essential problems. When you will focus on advanced and complex questions, lead will get scared of the product that entails so many complications.
Before you start…
Ready to implement Lead Nurturing? Great, we hope that it will be a great adventure! Before you start, we collected a bunch of expert tips to guide you through the process.
- Your content doesn’t have to be stunning
See them in functional context: they have tasks to perform. Don’t allow fear to stop you! Educational materials should provide knowledge your customers need. Thus they don’t have to be flawless in style. Nobody expects you to write like Proust!
- Build sense of security
Lead Nurturing is about building relationships, so invest in evoking trust and sense of security in your users. Give them solid knowledge, behave like an approachable expert and stress satisfaction of your customers.
- Call to Action
Although Lead Nurturing emails are educational, they still have purpose. You want recipient do perform an action. Make user know what to do, otherwise your email will remain in his inbox with no actual influence on his decisions.
- Give option of learning more
We discussed before that putting too much information in one
message can be intimidating. Yet it’s always helpful to provide
links in posts, messages or ebooks for inquisitive users who want to read more on the topic.
- Change your content marketing paradigm
Introducing Lead Nurturing will transform the way you think about and utilize your content, shifting focus to its function. In the process of shaping your program, many ideas for posts and ebooks will come to your mind, and possible new forms of communication.