If you want to increase sales for your company (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that?) you should consider implementing an effective lead nurturing strategy ASAP.
Doing so will help you convert more prospects into quality customers who are willing to spend more money with your business. How much more? According to Madison Logic, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
In this article, we’ll discuss what lead nurturing is, why it’s important, and how to do it properly. Then we’ll share three best practices you can use to supercharge your lead nurturing efforts.
Let’s get started!
What is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of using relevant content to engage potential customers and move them through each stage of the buyer’s journey.
In other words, lead nurturing is the act of building relationships with a specific demographic of people in the hope that they’ll eventually buy the products and/or services your company sells. Lead nurturing is most often accomplished through the strategic use of email marketing, social media, and paid advertising campaigns.
Why You Should Nurture Leads
Why should your company invest time and resources into developing an effective lead nurturing strategy? Because lead nurturing has many benefits. Here are three of the most important ones:
1. Lead Nurturing Produces More Sales
According to Marketo, 50% of the leads in any system are not yet ready to buy. This means that without lead nurturing, half of the prospects your company engages with on a daily basis will be lost, never to be heard from again.
Think about all the effort that goes into making a sale. Lead nurturing will help to ensure your hard work bears fruit by allowing your company to build relationships with its target market and produce more sales at a consistent clip.
2. Lead Nurturing Generates Great Brand Authority
Lead nurturing will also help your organization generate greater brand authority. By sending your leads relevant content on a consistent basis, they’ll learn to trust your company. This trust often translates into stronger customer loyalty.
Studies prove that it costs five times as much to acquire new customers as it does to keep existing ones. The brand authority you generate via your lead nurturing efforts will allow your company to increase repeat buyers and boost profitability.
3. Lead Nurturing is Cost-Effective
Lastly, lead nurturing is a cost-effective way to increase sales — both now and in the future, as we’ve just seen. How cost-effective? Referring back to Marketo, organizations that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost.
Every company wants to boost sales. Lead nurturing will give you the opportunity to do so without forcing you to raise your marketing budget. Win!
How to Develop an Effective Lead Nurturing Strategy
We’ve covered what lead nurturing is and why it’s important. Now it’s time to discuss how to develop a lead nurturing strategy for yourself. Follow the five steps below and you’ll be able to effectively nurture your leads, from new prospects to paying customers.
1. Understand Your Ideal Customer
Source: Tailored Ink
The first step toward developing an effective lead nurturing strategy is to acquire a deep understanding of the unique customers your company serves.
Who is your ideal buyer? The answer to this question will help you identify the most high-value leads, pinpoint the specific needs they have, and engage them with relevant content. You can’t nurture your leads if you don’t understand who they are.
If you haven’t already, take the time to develop in-depth buyer personas that include both demographic and psychographic information.
But don’t stop there!
To properly nurture your leads, you also need to map their path from initial contact to paying customers. This is a process known as customer journey mapping.
Ask yourself what your prospects are thinking at each stage of your sales funnel. When you know your lead’s thought processes, you can create relevant content for them to consume at the right times. We’ll talk more about content creation in a later section of this guide.
2. Invest in Lead Nurturing Tools
Your lead nurturing efforts will be much more effective if you use technology to assist you. Here are a few must-have tools to help you build relationships with your target audience:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is designed to help companies collect and organize important prospect details.
While this may seem like a simple task, CRM software has been proven to increase sales by 29%, boost sales team productivity by 34%, and shorten sales cycles by as much as 14%. In fact, an investment in CRM has an average ROI of 871%.
Most tools in this category will allow you to easily store lead contact information, track their place in your sales funnel, and streamline communication.
CRM software is crucial to lead nurturing. Without it, you won’t be able to create a detailed prospect database, accurately track and score leads, and segment potential buyers into like-minded groups for your company.
Email Marketing Software
Email marketing is usually the best (and easiest!) way to nurture your leads. This is true for a variety of reasons, including prospect preference and return on investment (ROI).
Studies show that 86% of business professionals and 73% of millennials prefer to use email for business purposes. This is especially pertinent information if you operate in the B2B niche. Furthermore, the ROI of email is an astounding 4,200%.
With this in mind, it’s important for your company to invest in a quality email marketing platform to nurture leads.
We should mention that some CRM platform like EngageBay have built-in email capability as well. Should you invest in a CRM app that does, you won’t need to pay for a separate email marketing tool. This will streamline the lead nurturing process for your company and save you money.
Social Media Management Software
Social media is a great way to connect with and engage your company’s leads. By sharing compelling content on Facebook, Instagram, and other popular social platforms, you’ll be able to nurture your leads — even if you don’t have their contact information.
Word-of-mouth accounts for 20% – 50% of all purchasing decisions. Since most people spend their time talking on social media these days, a viable social media strategy that effectively nurtures leads can have major sales implications.
3. Create Relevant Content
At this point, you should have a deep understanding of your ideal prospects and a few lead nurturing tools to help you stay in contact with them. Now you need to create content to send to your leads on a regular basis.
Content options could include email sequences, blog posts, downloadable resources like ebooks and infographics, video tutorials, or anything else that will bring value to your audience.
Make sure to create content for each stage of the buyer’s journey that you outlined earlier. This will allow you to seamlessly nurture leads from one stage to the next, allowing them to further engage with your brand at each step.
Here are some content examples for a few general buyer’s journey phases:
Source: Dreamstar Digital
- Top of the Funnel: At this stage of the funnel, new prospects are beginning to engage with your brand. Support this process by creating educational content like blog articles, videos, and social posts that will boost your SEO efforts.
- Middle of the Funnel: When prospects hit the middle of the funnel, they’ll be evaluating your company’s offerings to see if they’re worth purchasing. Support this process by creating product-oriented content like case studies, ebooks, and webinars.
- Bottom of the Funnel: The bottom of the funnel is your best chance to turn qualified prospects into paying customers. Support this process by creating product demonstration videos, sales pages, and discount offer campaigns.
As you can see, understanding your customers and the needs they have at each stage of the buyer’s journey is essential. Without this knowledge, you won’t know what kind of content to create or when to distribute it.
4. Automate Your Process
Once you’ve created content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, you can distribute it to your leads. But what if you have hundreds of prospects in your database? Nurturing each of them on an individual basis isn’t realistic.
The next step in the lead nurturing process is to automate your communications. That way every prospect gets the exact content they need when they need it.
For example, if you’re using an advanced CRM software like EngageBay, you can automate the tool to send emails and SMS messages based on a prospect’s individual behaviors and actions. You can even put specific rules and regulations in place to ensure your automated messages are always sent at the right time and to the right leads.
Automation is incredibly important to the lead nurturing process. For one thing, it will help your sales and marketing teams become more productive. But it’s also been proven to boost lead management and nurturing efforts by 86%.
No matter what tools you use, make sure to spend time perfecting your automated sequences. That way emails, texts, and social messages always reach your audience when they should.
5. Analyze, Optimize, Repeat
Finally, you need to analyze your lead nurturing efforts and search for ways to improve them. Are your email drip campaigns getting opened and read? Is your content resonating with your leads in powerful ways? How many prospects have you been able to successfully nurture with your current tactics?
Take a close look at every aspect of your lead nurturing program to ensure each is operating correctly. If you find problem areas, address them as quickly as possible.
Lead Nurturing Best Practices
If you follow the steps above, you’ll be able to effectively nurture your leads. But if you really want to kick the lead nurturing process into high gear, keep these three best practices in mind:
1. Seek Additional Input
Do you work in marketing? Maybe you’re a sales associate looking to close more deals. No matter your job title, you can benefit from the input of other people within your organization.
Seek out customer details from marketing, sales, and customer support departments. They’re bound to have valuable information that you don’t. Then take the knowledge you glean and use it to improve your lead nurturing efforts.
2. Personalize Your Communications
Automation will allow you to nurture leads at scale. Imagine typing out hundreds for emails by hand every day. It’s unsustainable and definitely not a good use of your time.
But automated messaging can feel robotic and impersonal if you’re not careful. Personalize your communications by segmenting your audience in your lead nurturing tools of choice. Then only send them messages and content that’s relevant to their interests.
3. Don’t Overwhelm Your Leads
The amount of lead nurturing you do is very important. Your customers probably don’t want to be bombarded with messages on a daily basis. The trick is to find an outreach cadence that keeps your company top of mind without becoming intrusive.
The optimal amount of communication between you and your leads will vary depending on your industry and unique audience. Experiment with different outreach cadences to find the perfect communication frequency for your organization.
Nurture Leads Into Customers
An effective lead nurturing strategy will help your company produce more sales and generate greater brand authority without having to dramatically increase its marketing budget. All you have to do is follow the five steps we outlined in this article:
- Understand Your Ideal Customer
- Invest in Lead Nurturing Tools
- Create Relevant Content
- Automate Your Process
- Analyze, Optimize, Repeat
Now that you know the tricks of the trade, it’s time to get down to business and use them. We encourage you to implement the strategies discussed above. Then work to optimize your approach based on your results. Good luck!