Lead nurturing is a highly effective way to generate more sales for your business. When you combine lead nurturing with marketing automation, your results can be even better.
For digital marketers, a step-by-step lead nurturing process can turn a haphazard effort at lead generation into a well-oiled digital marketing machine.
What is lead nurturing and how can it improve sales?
Lead nurturing is a way to cultivate and build relationships with leads in order to encourage conversions.
Far too often, a business might be generating a substantial number of leads, but then it fails to follow through with them. Those leads just languish. Instead of being converted into sales and customers, the leads are left as missed opportunities.
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An example of where you could use lead nurturing
For example, let’s say you have a website where you give people a free ebook in exchange for signing up for your email list.
Those people are leads: potential customers.
The worst thing you can do is do nothing. That certainly won’t get you a sale, unless by serendipity, luck, or accident. And that, of course, is not lead nurturing.
If all you do is send out a generic newsletter once in a while, you also aren’t engaging in lead nurturing.
But if you send leads too many hard sales pitches, you may end up encouraging them to unsubscribe, and quickly. So that isn’t lead nurturing either.
On the other hand, if you develop a comprehensive lead nurturing program to engage these people through your sales funnel properly, then you have a much better chance of closing an actual sale.
Lead nurturing should be a planned process
A well-thought-out lead nurturing program can help convert those otherwise languishing leads into sales.
Digital marketing is a great way to leverage lead nurturing. Unlike traditional marketing, before we had email tracking and marketing automation, lead nurturing was a manual process. As an experienced digital marketer, you have drip marketing tools that can keep your leads engaged without a lot of overhead costs.
A step-by-step process to build relationships with potential customers is key. If you follow your plan and give potential customers something they want, then you can more easily get them to convert. Using digital marketing tools and techniques, you can quickly and easily adjust your lead nurturing campaigns to target your desired customers better.
8 lead nurturing steps to follow for a successful campaign
We have outlined the following lead nurturing steps for you in your campaign planning.
This process assumes that you will be using email for your lead nurturing. You might find you need more or fewer steps for your own business needs. But this is a great place to start:
1. Get clear on your sales cycle timeline.
How long does it typically take for a lead to become a sale?
For example, if your sales cycle is typically a month from initial contact to close, you might create a lead nurturing timeline that contacts your leads once a week for four weeks.
Takeaway: Adjust your timeframe based on actual testing, once you start running your lead nurturing campaigns.
2. Determine specific goals for your lead nurture campaigns.
How many leads can you reasonably convert? Do you want to set a goal to generate more leads once your nurturing process is in place?
For example, you are promoting a new online course. You set a goal to bring in 20 new students each month.
Takeaway: Your goals should be realistic and measurable.
3. Set up a lead nurturing database, email list, and CRM system.
Your leads need to be collected in some sort of database or system. Ideally, your system will include a way to send out email newsletters and engage in drip marketing.
For example, with Campaign Monitor, you can integrate your mailing list with Salesforce CRM, getting the best of both worlds.
Takeaway: Make sure any automated lead generation tools that add people to your database are opt-in.
Image Source: Campaign Monitor
4. Define your audience into segments based on personas.
Segmentation is all about grouping your leads into sections that help you better target your customers. User personas are an example of “people” that would represent a specific segment of your market. By getting clear on your target audience and segments via user personas, you can better reach them with pertinent information and marketing tactics.
For example, let’s say you sell widgets, and some of your customers want brass widgets, some want silver, and others want gold widgets. They would each get a separate persona to describe them.
Takeaway: Base your personas on actual research if you have it available. Otherwise, you may need to contact some customers and conduct a few surveys to better understand their wants and needs.
5. Choose some content of value to offer your prospects.
When engaging in lead nurturing, you aren’t trying to close the deal (just yet). You are building a relationship with the customer. Therefore, you need to give them content and information that they might appreciate, no strings attached.
For example, if you were selling an online course, you might provide some free information related to the course, without actually promoting the course. “Three free ukulele lessons” sent via email would be an example of what to provide when your ultimate goal is to sell a comprehensive online ukulele course.
Takeaway: Your content should not be a sales pitch.
6. Email this content to your prospects, following your timeline.
At the lead nurturing stage of the game, remember, we aren’t sending out blatant sales pitches. You will now start your drip email campaign by sending out your content on the schedule you created in step 1.
For example, you would send out a new free ukulele lesson once a week for three weeks. Once that lead nurturing process is done, you can then send out a final email to close the deal and offer your prospects a special discount on your full online ukulele course.
Takeaway: Use email list management software like Campaign Monitor to automate this process.
7. Measure and track results.
All of your drip marketing campaigns should be tracked and analyzed. How effective were they really at convincing your prospects to convert? Were certain emails more effective than others?
For example, with the free online ukulele lessons, you can track and monitor how many people opened the emails. If you find that people started with the first lesson, but ended up dropping off before lesson three, you may need to rework your campaign a bit to keep people interested.
Takeaway: Make sure you are tracking more than just final sales. Look at every step of your campaign.
8. Re-evaluate and adjust your efforts based on those results.
Once you have some data, you can see where your email nurturing campaigns may need to be improved. Refine and update these campaigns to get better results in the future. Additional research such as surveys may also be completed to help with this process.
For example, you might find that week 2 of your free ukulele lessons campaign is losing a lot of people. Upon further evaluation, you discover that the lesson is too technical, and a more fun approach does better.
Takeaway: Run A/B testing with your emails to see which specific emails, along with design and wording, get the best results.
How marketing automation helps with lead nurturing
As you can probably see from above, launching the right drip marketing campaign to nurture leads works best with the right tools. Technology and marketing automation helps the lead nurture process by providing standardized, trackable methodologies to engage customers consistently.
When using the right technology, getting the data you need is easy since it will be embedded in the software. Campaigns can be easily scheduled and monitored in real-time to see what is going on.
Image Source: Campaign Monitor
Once you have tools like these in place, you simply need to create some great content to send to your leads.
- Get clear on your sales cycle timeline.
- Determine specific goals for your lead nurture campaigns.
- Set up a lead nurturing database, email list, and CRM system.
- Define your audience and segment based on personas.
- Choose some content of value to offer your prospects.
- Email this content to your prospects, following your timeline.
- Measure and track results.
- Re-evaluate and adjust based on those results.
By using email automation with the right tracking tools, you can create, launch, and manage highly effective drip marketing and lead nurturing campaigns that get great results.
Campaign Monitor is a leading provider of email marketing automation, including drip marketing and lead nurturing technologies. Contact us for more information.