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As the era of the pushy salesman is over and inbound sales take its place, lead generation also become second to lead nurturing.

After all, what good do 1,000 leads who will never convert serve anyone?

If you were thinking that lead nurturing is just the newest name for sales, you were wrong. Of course, the two don’t exclude each other. But lead nurturing means so much more than bombing your potential clients with emails and phone calls that simply annoy them.

What Is Lead Nurturing?

According to Marketo, lead nurturing is “the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need”.

In other words, it means being there for your leads. It means that you will provide them with the type of content they need, when they need it in order to help them move forward in their buyer journey. Unlike a sales pitch, you will offer useful content above all else, even above branded content.

Does this entail the risk of laying down the ground work only to have your lead eventually make a purchase from your competitor?

Sadly, yes.

But there is no other way.

If you don’t empower your leads with enough information, they will leave your system before they are even ready to make the purchase. As long as they stick around, you still have a shot at converting them.

Why Do You Need a Coherent Lead Nurturing Plan?

First, let’s see the bad news.

The same Marketo study cited above says that 50% of the leads in your system aren’t ready to buy. This means that you will have a lot of work ahead of you before you see any real cash.

This obviously makes any sales pitch irrelevant. You can’t sell anything to someone who isn’t ready to buy.

For instance, you couldn’t sell a car to someone without a driver’s license, could you? But the fact that they are looking around and visiting your dealership in person or online means that they’re thinking about it.

So, instead of bombarding them with irresistible deals that expire soon, why not help them advance on their buyer journey? Help them learn how they can get a driver’s license, the paperwork they need and what the best way to study for their exam is.

Which brings us to the second piece of bad news. According to MarketingSherpa, 80% of new leads never become customers. That’s right: no matter how hard you try and how good you are at lead nurturing, you won’t be able to sell to more than 20% of your leads (on average, of course).

Does this mean you don’t need to focus on your lead nurturing strategy and efforts?

Of course not!

The Marketo study says that companies with great lead nurturing programs have a 33% lower conversion cost and generate 50% more sales ready leads.

And it gets better! (It was about time, right?)

Research conducted by Annuitas shows that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than leads who have gotten through the nurturing process.

Even more, it looks like only 36% of marketers have coherent lead nurturing programs in place. Plenty of room for you to get ahead of your competition!

Did you know that lead nurturing emails get a response rate 4-10 time greater than that of standalone email blasts?

Let’s do a quick recap of all the reasons why should get serious about lead nurturing:

  • Lower cost of conversion
  • More sales-ready leads
  • Larger purchases from nurtured leads
  • More than 60% of marketers aren’t doing it
  • Better email response rate

The Lead Nurturing Essentials

If you want to get serious about converting the right leads for your business, you need to do more than the usual blogging and newsletter sending. Check out a few principles that can help you stand out from the crowd:

  1. Personalize as Much as Possible

Once you’re past the lead generation state, everything you send to the best of your leads needs to be highly personalized. You need to go beyond simply adding their first name to the email blast.

Send relevant information, make personal references, speak about how you can help them (not users in general).

  1. Don’t Send the Same Thing to Everyone

Segment your email blasts and ads according to where each lead is in their buyer journey. Some may need a white paper, others a webinar. Sending the right content to the right lead is crucial. Don’t just assume they “might” find it interesting. Be sure of it!

If you don’t know where to begin, consider these tips:

  • For leads in the awareness phase, latest trends in their area of interest and industry statistics are always a great idea.
  • For leads in the consideration phase, a webinar is a good way to help move thing forward.
  • For leads in the decision phase, testimonials, case studies and product reviews or success stories are your best bet.
  1. Don’t Spam

The temptation to “strike while the iron is still hot” may be strong. But it’s a bad idea to send daily emails.

One email per week should be more than enough. After the initial month, you should even cut down on that. You can read more about writing and sending great emails here.

  1. Be Honest

…with yourself and with your leads. As the research above shows, 80% of leads will not convert. This doesn’t mean that you should take them off your list. It just means you need to give them some time.

Pushing them to move forward when they are not ready can’t bring anything good. They will most likely unsubscribe from your list and stop following you on social media. Recognizing when a prospect is right for your company is crucial for any business. In fact, if you sell to the wrong customer, this could impact your sustainable growth.

 

Looking for help in creating excellent, ROI-driven lead nurturing programs and the content needed for them? You have come to the right place!

 

Get in touch with lead nurturing experts

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