Best Practices For Lead Nurturing

Posted by on March 7, 2017

Guess what? Most of your precious leads are not going to buy a thing from you.

At least not yet. Research by Sirius Decisions estimates that 70% of leads that sales follow up are not ready to buy. But there is good news – Oracle research has found that of these, a full 80% will buy from someone in the next 24 months.

Lead nurturing, quite simply, is the art of getting that 80% to buy from you.

To do that successfully, you need to have a deep understanding of the potential buyer and their needs. Digital behaviors like their interaction with  different marketing communications offer a key way to interpret and anticipate where they are in the buying cycle.

Best practices in lead nurturing

Don’t fall into the common trap of regarding lead nurturing as simply sending a series of emails. It’s much more that that. Better to think of lead nurturing as an ongoing conversation between you and the prospective buyer:

On the one hand, you are providing useful information and content to them. On the other hand, they are telling you more and more about what their needs and priorities are. Eventually you will reach a point of common understanding when you know exactly what they want, and they are ready to buy it from you.

There are some simple steps that you can follow when creating a lead nurturing campaign in order to get the best results, these steps are:

  • Keep it simple – at least at the start;
  • Automate (whenever and wherever you can);
  • Tailor your nurturing activities;
  • Know how effective your activities are.

And one more step which we reveal later. Let’s look at these steps in more detail…

Keep it simple – at least at the start

Marketers have access to a plethora of different digital insights to help guide decision-making today. But funnily enough, that can actually cause paralysis. Will this call to action or that one work better? Should we use different variations depending on their stage of the cycle, or vary it by industry, or by recent activity?

The best way to tackle this is to start simple. Begin by focusing on one specific segment of your database and using a simple call to action. Analyze the performance of this against your targets, and tweak this according to how well (or not) it works.

The next stage will be to start adding more lead nurturing pathways, this time based on more detailed segments like buyer persona, or stage in the sales cycle. You can also begin building in personalization, and making data-guided adjustments as you gain better understanding of what works well and what could be improved.

Automate (whenever and wherever you can)

Technology makes our lives easier. If we let it. For marketers today, there is unprecedented scope to hand simple but time-consuming tasks over to the bots.

75% of B2B marketers think that the use of marketing technology is extremely important to the success of their lead nurturing strategies. Oracle

Certain trigger activities taken by your prospects will be of interest to you. These include joining your database or nearing their contract renewal date. In each case, you will want to communicate with them, whether to welcome them aboard, ask if they need help, or encourage them to renew.

Set up automated email sequences that will be triggered by these actions – it’s efficient and time-saving. It also reduces the risk of  prospects and customers falling through the net.

Tailor your nurturing activities to the stage of the buyer’s journey

When done properly, lead nurturing should move your prospects along a journey from the initial stage of awareness, through consideration of your offer and finally up to a stage where they are educated and primed. That’s when the sales team comes in.

Having a clearly defined idea of lead stages and where leads are on that journey is vital for effective exploitation of lead nurturing. Your content and messages will be guided by this as you communicate with leads and move them along the cycle.

A prospect who has just come into contact with you for the first time is unlikely to be receptive to, say, a price list. This would be more relevant for a well-advanced lead who has interacted many times and looks almost ready to buy.

Know how effective your campaigns are

The only real way to know if your efforts are working is to put in place a detailed and consistent set of key performance indicators. Once your goals are defined, you can start to assess how well your content is working. Engagement metrics like open and clickthrough rate are a good place to start.

You should also track and measure how many are moving from one stage of the buying cycle to the next, and how long it takes. As always, make adjustments and improvements to optimise performance and reach your goals.

The final lead nurturing best practice?

Create, define, improve…

These best practices will provide the building blocks and backbone to create an effective and successful lead nurturing programme. The rest is up to you.

A commitment to clearly defined goals and objectives will allow you to continually improve the content delivered, which boosts performance and, ultimately, revenue.

+++
Originally posted on TFM Insights on February 28, 2017.