One of the best aspects of inbound marketing is your ability to continue the conversation with prospects who have shown real interest in your products and services.
This is commonly referred to as lead nurturing. Our goal with lead nurturing is to actively move prospects down the funnel, using additional educational offers that are aligned with their specific buyer journey.
This might sound easy, but it’s actually very complex. Once you start doing it correctly, you’ll notice that you want to customize the frequency, the content delivered, the offers and (in some cases) the messages in the email campaigns.
Good lead nurturing campaigns typically have a significant impact on client results, driving new sales-ready leads by almost 100%. Here are some elements of our latest thinking on designing successful, results-driven lead nurturing programs.
B2B Or B2C, Match The Buying Window
The only difference between B2B and B2C is the time required to make a purchase decision. If you’re buying $100,000 in software, your buyer journey might be 90 days or more. If you’re buying a $50 iPhone case, your buyer journey might be 9 minutes. Either way, we have to nurture those prospects during that buying window to get the sales.
The difference comes down to frequency, content and delivery mechanisms. But, the goals remain the same: get the prospect to feel safe enough to say “yes.” Here’s an illustration: A prospect looking at the $50 iPhone case cares about shipping costs, return policy, quality and perhaps visuals of the product they’re considering. You have 9 minutes to answer their questions and get them feeling comfortable. Yes, your website might be able to do that, but nurturing fills a role here too, especially for people who leave without buying.
In the case of the software sale, you have 90 days to send a series of educational emails that continue helping the prospect make a good decision. This is going to differentiate you from your competition and elevate your role from sales person to advisor. All of this contributes to you getting the sales – and your competitors getting left in the wind.
Customize The Content And The Experience
You can’t send the same email to everyone. Well, I guess you could, but you’d be disappointed in the results. Instead, consider creating custom lead nurturing campaigns based on a variety of variables:
- Role in the company
- Action taken on the website
- Size of the company
- Number of website visits
- Page visited
- Offer downloaded or requested
This makes the lead nurturing effort more complex, but it delivers the personalized experience that most people are looking for from their partner companies.
Consider The Sales Cycle
Longer sales cycles require longer lead nurturing campaigns. Instead of a series of three lead-nurturing emails that are sent every three days (blog articles in the first email, more educational content in the second and a direct business offer in the third), consider something like this:
These emails might be delivered once a week for eight weeks.
- Email 1 – A handful of helpful blog article links
- Email 2 – An offer to chat about their specific challenges
- Email 3 – An invitation to a webinar
- Email 4 – A new educational infographic that’s now available for download
- Email 5 – Access to a pre-release version of an online calculator to test out
- Email 6 – An offer to assess their current situation and provide some improvement guidance
- Email 7 – Another handful of blog article links
- Email 8 – An opportunity to OPT OUT if these are not helpful, along with the latest e-book
Don’t worry about opt-outs. If someone isn’t interested in hearing from you, you want them to opt out. Then, you can spend your time talking to people who are interested.
Resist The Urge To Sell
I know it’s hard, but try not to ask for an appointment, to send pricing or to create a proposal. People know you’re available for all that, and when they’re ready, they’ll invite you to provide all that sales-related information – if you've done a good job. Until then, resist the urge to sell, and focus on educating, advising, counseling, coaching and helping them make a safe purchase decision.
Lead nurturing is an acquired skill. It’s going to take you at least 10 to 15 campaigns before you're comfortable delivering the expected results. It might actually take you more than that. Every client base, every industry and every company’s nurturing efforts are going to be a little unique. Knowing best practices, as well as what works and what NOT to do, is very important.
Start Today Tip – The best place to start is mapping the buyer journey for each of your prospect personas. Then, create the follow-up email schedule, content plan and offer package to ensure that each prospect has a remarkable experience. Delivering that experience is key. It's how you get prospects to see your company differently than they see all of your competitors. This is the essence of good marketing, and lead nurturing is a critical component. After you have this plan completed, implementing, tracking and tweaking the program becomes much, much easier. Try it, and see your sales results skyrocket.
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