Part of the elegance of inbound marketing is its ability to align today's buyer behavior with the perfect set of marketing tactics.
As marketers, we NEVER know when someone is ready to buy. Everyone has his or her own buyer journey. So, while you might attract prospects to your company, product or services, when they buy is 100% up to them.
Your goal as a marketer is to “stay front of mind” with your prospects so that when their pain does become acute, they already know, like and trust your business above your competitors. Advertising and traditional marketing don't do this as well as an inbound marketing lead-nurturing campaign.
Here are eight ways to optimize your lead-nurturing efforts to drive leads into your sales process.
Make them personal.
People buy emotionally, so any impersonal nurturing efforts are not going to help you make that emotional connection. Your monthly emails and your individual nurturing emails need to be delivered to people, not addressed to "friend" or other generic salutations. If your list isn’t prepared to support this level of communication, make the effort to clean it up and then start delivering more personal emails.
Resist the urge to sell.
Don’t ask for an appointment. Don’t ask for the opportunity to create a proposal. In fact, don’t ask for anything. Simply continue your effort to educate, advise, counsel and coach your prospects. All of your prospects know that if they want to speak with a representative of your company, they have that opportunity. If you want to keep them engaged, make sure your nurturing efforts include only helpful information and invitations to get to know you, your company, your products and your services better – on their own schedule and at their own pace.
Use educational emails.
Individual lead-nurturing emails are great, but you want to use email marketing to include your prospects in a broader communication effort. This ensures that you get another couple of touchpoints in during a 30-day period. These educational emails might be more highly designed and delivered in HTML formats, but they do a great job of showing your prospects your ability to help a wider variety of people.
Remind them of your blog.
Nurturing is about ensuring that you stay in front of the prospect. Your educational emails and your lead-nurturing emails are a handful of touchpoints. But, if you get them to subscribe to your blog, you have a few opportunities every week to speak with your prospects. Send them a "best of the blog" email monthly so that they see all the valuable information available on the blog and subscribe to that service. Now, they get weekly (or more) reminders that you have valuable information to help them do their jobs better.
Offer a variety of content formats.
Not everyone likes to read. Actually, most of us like to watch videos more than read articles. Plan to deliver your content and nurturing messages in a variety of formats to appeal to a wider range of personalities. You can include video, slide shows, infographics or highly designed e-books so that your readers, followers and friends get a nice assortment of formats.
Make the communication remarkable.
You shouldn’t be planning on sending any prospect-nurturing emails that are vanilla or boring. It’s too easy for someone to delete something like this. Make sure the words you choose are compelling. Make sure you’re crafting your message in a way that makes the prospect the hero in your story. Make sure the message is all about them and hardly about you and your company. You have to make them “feel” something if you want to move them to action.
Set the timing based on the length of your sales cycle.
This effort can be automated so it runs behind the scenes and without any human involvement. However, you have to set this up. If you have a shorter sales cycle, then three emails sent out on three consecutive days might be fine. If you have a longer sales cycle, consider a series of three emails every week for three weeks or every other week for three months. As long as the emails are educational, you won’t see many people opting out or complaining about the follow-up.
Tack performance and optimize.
When you use inbound optimization software like HubSpot, you gain the advantage of being able to track the performance of your nurturing campaigns. Take a look at the open rates, click-through rates and opt-out rates on all of your nurturing efforts. If you see something working, consider extending it. If you see something performing poorly, consider shutting it down and replacing it with something else. The benefit of data is that you always know what’s working and what’s not.
Nurturing your leads with content might be one of the most important inbound marketing tactics you’re going to execute. Do this effectively, and you can double or even triple your ratio of marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads. Do this poorly, and you could be pushing potential prospects right into the arms of your competitors.
Start Today Tip – You have to plan out your prospect-nurturing effort. We’ve seen many clients let this type of inbound marketing grow organically, and it quickly becomes unmanageable and unmeasurable. You need to think through the experience that your prospects are going to have with your company and your content. You need to consider "smart" content to manage its presentation. Today, take each of your personas and create a list of relevant content just for them. Then, make sure that your lead-nurturing efforts focus on putting that list of content in context with their personal buyer journey. This goes a long way in getting them to convert from leads to sales opportunities, and then eventually to new customers.
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