Practicing Inbound Marketing Means Understanding Not All Leads Are Created Equal
Some of the leads you get are ready to talk to one of your salespeople right now, but let’s be honest, most of your leads are NOT interested in talking to you right now. In fact, about 90% or more of the leads you generate from inbound marketing are going to be top or middle of the funnel. Keep in mind the actual concept of the funnel: more leads at the top, fewer at the bottom.
The question then becomes, what do we do with all those leads at the top and middle of the funnel? I’m telling everyone these are good, qualified, high-quality leads — they just don’t want to talk to anyone yet! Since we don’t want to throw them away, ignore them or treat them as anything other than a potential future customer, we should nurture them.
Lead nurturing is something we all talk about doing, but rarely does anyone do this well. Rarely does anyone track the status of returning visitors, leads in our database or prospects moving down into our funnel, but today I’m going to give you some best practices that will help you turn more contacts into customers and move more prospects into the “sales opportunity” phase of your funnel.
Here’s how to take existing contacts and turn them into customers.
Don’t Try To Sell To Them
One of the biggest mistakes we try to talk clients out of is trying to sell to people who are NOT ready to buy. If 90% of the leads are not ready to buy, you should honor that. The key to managing this effectively is to match the buyer journey with your sales process and lead nurturing campaigns.
The best way to help prospects who are not in the bottom of the funnel is to give them options that align with the context of their buyer journey. People in the awareness stage need awareness content in their lead nurturing campaigns. People in the awareness stage also need content for the consideration stage because our goal as marketers is to attempt to move them down the funnel. We can offer them content that’s further down than they might have indicated to see if they’re ready to move down.
Prospects in the consideration stage can also be offered decision-making stage content. If they take those offers, they’re ready to progress. But nowhere in this process do we try to sell them anything.
Give Them Content Options That Signal Interest
Prospects are likely to signal their intent. They do this by visiting progressive pages on your website, responding to progressive offers on your website and responding to progressive lead nurturing outreach.
You can work prospects through the funnel with content in context to their personal buyer journey. You should never have to ask a prospect where they are in the buyer journey if you pay attention to the signals they send while they work themselves through your website, content offers and sales process.
The key to this is understanding the buyer journey for your company, your industry and your specific products and services. You should consider mapping the journey out on paper and then making sure you have the assets (website pages, content offers and lead nurturing campaigns) to proactively give all prospects the opportunity to move on their own, while signaling your team with their activity.
Match Your Sales Cycle To Your Lead Nurturing
The length and complexity of your sales cycle is going to directly impact the length of your lead nurturing campaigns. If you have a two-year sales cycle, you should consider much longer lead nurturing campaigns than if you have a two-month sales cycle or a 20-minute sales cycle, like you might if you were a B2C company.
The longer your sales cycle, the longer your lead nurturing campaign. At our firm, we have a 30-day sales cycle and we execute a six-day lead nurturing campaign that consists of a series of three emails. On day one, people get our first lead nurturing campaign. On day three, people get our second lead nurturing email. Then, on day six, they get our third and final lead nurturing email.
Of course, we’re not dropping off their radar completely. Everyone gets a monthly educational email that reminds them of us and what we can do to help them, and because we’re educating them and not selling to them, they welcome that email into their world. We also attempt to get them subscribed to our blog, which publishes every business day. This gives us the opportunity to continue to help them long after the lead nurturing campaign runs its course.
We regularly get comments from people who tell us they’ve been reading our emails for six months or longer and how they’re ready to talk to us about their company. This is exactly how you want lead nurturing to work for you.
Create Compelling And Creative Lead Nurturing Emails
These emails are going to be primarily responsible for delivering a remarkable experience and differentiating your company. These emails are going to set the tone for your ability to communicate with potential clients. In short, don’t blow it with the standard lead nurturing email I’ve seen companies using.
Thanks for downloading our whitepaper. For more information on our company, click here to visit our blog.
Yawn! Not good. Invest money, time, energy, creativity and effort to create these emails. Remember, you only have to do this once, and then you’ll use these over and over again. Don’t look for the cheapest lead nurturing campaign you can find; look for one that is thoughtful, creative and performance based.
Here’s an alternative.
We saw you downloaded our whitepaper. Congratulations! Did you know the Harvard Business Review recently published a study uncovering that 90% of C-level execs won’t respond to any kind of cold outreach? You clearly have the insight to start thinking differently about your sales and marketing efforts.
The path you’ve chosen to pursue is much more complex than traditional, interruptive marketing. To continue learning how to better match your marketing to today’s buyer behavior, you might be interested in subscribing to our blog. Click here to sign up for our updates. We typically write something original every business day.
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P.S. If you’d like to jumpstart your learning, we have a webinar coming up next month. You can learn more about it here and register on the same page. Enjoy!
It’s obvious who cares about the prospect’s journey and who is only interested in people looking to talk to a salesperson. Your prospects are getting good at rewarding the best marketers with their attention and ignoring everyone else. Don’t get ignored.
Track And Test EVERYTHING!
Even the best templates don’t work out of the box. Every client is different, every company is different and every industry is unique. This means you need to track and test every email and every link. You need to use data to make optimization upgrades over time based on data and specific experiments you're running.
You, your internal team or your inbound marketing agency need to have a plan on how to execute the ongoing optimization work. It's easier if the team doing this work has been doing it for other companies. This means the team brings a methodology, testing protocol and process for creating the tests, running the tests, evaluating the tests and then setting up the new normal going forward.
If you approach inbound like this, you’ll end up with more clicks, more prospects and more new customers in no time.
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