By this point in our inbound marketing guide, we’ve shared with you the ideas to attract visitors to your website with stellar content and landing pages. We also discussed how to engage with those prospective customers using both inbound and outbound tactics.
Let’s say you have some leads who have subscribed to your email newsletter or blog content. They might follow you on social media, so they see all your updates. How do you go about getting these leads to become paying customers?
You have to nurture them.
Nurturing a lead sounds good in theory, but what exactly does it mean? It is a crucial step on the customer journey from an interested lead to a buying customer, that we touched on in Chapter 2.
Lead nurturing is anything you have to do to build and advance a relationship with a lead as they transition into a customer. You may provide personalized emails and other messages, discounts and freebies, exclusive offers, and more. These all provide value to the lead and give them incentive to want to do more business with you.
Today’s consumers need more than the standard sales pitch to convince them to buy and become repeat customers. There are so many companies out there doing the same things; the competition is overwhelming. Why would a customer choose your services over someone else’s? What else do you have besides a great reputation, a happy customer base, and high-quality products or services?
The relationship you forge with your leads will make them customers for life, but only if you do it right. It starts with engagement but continues with nurturing. Just because you got a lead to subscribe to a newsletter doesn’t mean your job is done. Now the nurturing stage can begin.
There are so many answers to the question of "Why nurture web visitors?". You want leads to become customers. You want customers to become repeat customers. After all, it's the repeat customers who decisively contribute to your bottom line.
Customers very rarely care about how big your company is, unless you have a very defined brand like Apple or Ikea. Even today, most customers think about "what's in it for me?" before making a big purchase decision. Convincing them that your company has something they need is a whole another problem. It is a problem that Lead Nurturing helps us solve.
IMPACT, an inbound marketing service, published important stats about the importance of lead nurturing for the period of 2014 to 2017. These should convince you to start nurturing your leads, if you’re still on the fence.
If you want to start nurturing your own leads today, then try the following tactics. Many of the most successful marketers have relied on these methods for converting leads into customers.
Inbound marketing automation takes most of the work and obligations of lead nurturing in lieu of using automated software. That doesn’t mean that the software will do everything from campaign creation to delivery. You still need to create and track the campaign, only the deployment and monitoring of stats are done by the software.
Elements of marketing automation include mobile campaigns like apps, social media campaigns, online and phone marketing, direct mail, and the inbound tactics we’ve covered in this guide. Other elements are customer relationship management or CRM, analytics, and landing pages.
Often people confuse email marketing with inbound marketing automation, but the two terms are not interchangeable. You might send automated emails to your leads that are segmented based on interests or pain points. It's still just one aspect of inbound marketing automation.
The three key pillars of any profitable marketing automation strategy are
We already discussed the value of content marketing earlier in this guide. If you haven’t read Chapter 1, you should do so right away.
Content must be targeted to have the best results from your inbound marketing campaign. As mentioned in the above section, you can segment your audience based on several criteria. This may be their pain points, their interests, or even their location and ages. Once you've finalized your segments, you can then create a content calendar for the specific type of content that solves core problems of leads in each of those segments.
The engagement strategies we discussed in an earlier chapter are also relevant in lead nurturing. As a refresher, those were email marketing (already covered in this chapter), landing pages, and web forms.
Your landing pages, much like the content you’re producing, must be targeted. Make sure it aligns with the interests/pain points/demographics you’re targeting with your content. If you’ve created buyer personas, the alignment between different types of landing pages and their source links is easier to achieve.
For best results using landing pages for lead nurturing, you want to sync landing pages to the offers presented in your emails.
Regarding web forms, you might again integrate these as exit pop-ups before a lead leaves the page. You can also use different conversion-optimization techniques to get the best out of your web popups.
The final recommended tactic is Lead Scoring. As the name suggests, it is a means of determining the lead value. Essentially, you will classify the characteristics or values that you deem most important to your company at the present time. This may be the number of followers a lead has on social media. It could be their industry, job type, or job title. You might even use lead value for things like gender or location.
An important consideration is that lead scoring must also consider the activity of the lead with the brand's assets. So, if the lead has interacted with your emails and website only twice in the last month, that would mean he hasn't yet warmed up to the brand. A frequent visitor will have an elevated lead score because his interaction levels show how close he could be to buying something from the company.
You will create a lead scoring system, where you rate each lead based on the values you deem most essential. This is often done with CRM software, because doing lead scoring manually would be too time-intensive. While you will have to skim over your CRM software to make sure it’s categorizing leads to your liking, lead scoring is typically a rather hands-off process.
By implementing this process, you can ensure that you’re getting only the most high-quality and qualified leads. If you’ve failed to get high-quality leads our large quantities of lead until this point, then lead scoring might be a good idea for your business.
It should be noted that you must have some data on your leads for lead scoring to work. That means they have signed up for an email newsletter or other opt-in form. If you don’t have this information, wait until you get more leads and then use lead scoring later when your list has grown considerably.
Now that you’re engaging with your leads, you need to keep up this interaction. By nurturing them, you can hopefully convert these reluctant leads into buying customers. There are many means of nurturing leads. You might want to use lead scoring, where you assign values to leads based on their industry, demographics, or their buying intent. Marketing automation is another hugely important tactic for lead nurturing. It includes landing pages, social media engagement, the use of CRM software and analytics, and email marketing.
Once you’ve nurtured your leads, you need to know how to close the deal. In the last part of our inbound marketing guide, we’re going to discuss how you can effectively close deals.