In the last few years, we’ve witnessed fundamental changes in online marketing as customers have become more independent. Sales funnels are getting longer and more complicated and attention spans are shrinking while the demand for increased sales never stops. The data backs this up: 62% of companies want to generate increased lead volume. Even if you manage to generate promising leads that are more or less ready to buy, they may not necessarily make a purchase from you. Up to 50% of customers buy from the seller that contacted them first.
So how do you move the other half to the stage of completed transactions? Through aggressive campaigns? No, that doesn’t work. Marketers can’t win against biology. Banner blindness is a natural reaction of the human brain to avoid overload. It’s time to tone things down and take more time to develop a multi-stage, lead-friendly approach. If your brand isn’t nurturing leads, your competitors probably are. This is enough of a reason to learn about leads and lead nurturing.
What is lead nurturing: a guide for newbies
Lead nurturing (also known as lead marketing or drip marketing) is building relationships with potential customers even if they’re not interested in purchasing at the time. Lead nurturing is primarily based on sending messages to potential customers in different intervals, usually through emails, but also through other channels. Such campaigns enhance their awareness of your brand and guide them towards making a purchase.
Not everyone who agrees to receive commercial messages is ready to become a customer. Some shared their address to get an ebook, or they work for your competitors. Others are interested in a product, but they’re not ready to buy for any number of reasons. If someone like that gets a direct contact from a salesperson too soon or too frequently, they will almost certainly be less likely to engage with you further.
But if you wait until the right time, after the customer has been given a chance to learn more about your product and brand, the results can be much different.
Setting a goal for a lead nurturing campaign
There are plenty of different lead nurturing campaigns, but let’s put aside the types at the moment. The most important thing to do at the beginning, before you plan your campaign, is to answer questions about the purpose of the campaign:
- Do you want to increase brand awareness?
- Is the purpose to gain new customers?
- What about reaching old customers with a new offer?
The shape of your lead nurturing campaign will depend on what you want to achieve.
Types of lead nurturing campaigns
The campaigns can be based on their goals and the channels they will use. Let’s discuss goal-oriented campaigns first. It may surprise you how many goals are not related to sales, but that’s exactly what lead nurturing is all about—not selling unless the customer is ready to trust you.
Lead nurturing campaigns by goals
Welcome emails are designed to make a good first impression. They’re much more frequently opened and tend to be expected. If someone opted to your mailing list, it means that they are interested in your brand. Don’t waste this trust and interest and don’t flood them with information and offers.
Educational content shouldn’t be put up for sales purposes. This includes:
- invitations to webinars
The goal of such campaigns isn’t yet to educate consumers on the subject of your product.
If you sell specialist equipment—sporting supplies, for example—send customers advice about the sport or hobby that the equipment is related to without mention of the product itself. Use the idea of “best practices” to shape your message. Everything depends on the field you operate in. Educational campaigns have many applications but work best at the beginning of the sales funnel. Make sure customers learn about industry news from you, not your competitors.
These can be connected with educational campaigns. This is where you can begin to include advertising material. It’s not a hard sales pitch, just presenting the product. Promotional campaigns aren’t meant to replace educational campaigns, but to complement them.
This is a journey for prospects who are already educated, almost ready to buy, but not necessarily from you—they’re still exploring. Now it’s a good idea to ask them to connect with your brand through, for example, your social media channels. They’ll stay informed, and you’ll gain an engaged audience that follows you for a reason, not by accident.
These contain information about the product. This kind of campaign should be sent to leads that have already taken part in another lead nurturing campaign, had contact with the brand or are nearly ready to make a purchase. An example trigger to send could be a visit at a site with particular information about the product. The email can contain an invitation to see a product demonstration along with additional information or a free trial period.
There will always be plenty of inactive leads in your database and you can try to re-engage them from time to time. You may try to send a successful case study, whitepaper or similar particularly useful content supported by data and numbers.
This is similar to re-engagement, but this time you’re contacting existing clients in a subscription model. If you don’t want them to resign, create a renewal drip, send well-planned and timed reminder campaigns over a specified period. If you have automated subscription renewal, you may be tempted to do nothing and hope that some clients who would like to cancel will forget to do it. This is not a good approach. By being transparent, you’ll gain happy clients who trust you and don’t feel that you only care.
Closing a deal is a success, right? Well, yes, but it’s definitely not the end. Now it’s time to maintain the relationship and give your clients a reason to come back. First of all, they must be happy with their purchase and under no circumstances feel urged to buy again. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them with a special, personalized offer. It may also be a good moment for upselling.
Lead nurturing is all about relationships. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the idea of sending campaigns that don’t sell at all, like welcoming or connecting campaigns, but at the end of the day it’s worth it. In the next part of this short series, you’ll find out more about using different channels in lead nurturing and organizing their place in the overall campaign structure.