Did you know that you could be missing out on up to 80% of your sales opportunities due to poor lead nurturing?
This stat comes from MarketingSherpa, a research firm that specializes in tracking what works and what doesn’t in marketing.
Nurtured leads are far more likely to convert into sales; therefore, lead nurturing must be a fundamental part of your marketing process – online or offline.
The internet offers many tools and techniques that you can use to improve your lead nurturing activities to maximize revenue potential.
Five things you should do to increase lead nurturing effectiveness and results:
1. Understand Your Target Customers
You must think like a prospect and see things through their eyes. Every purchase decision, whether it happens quickly or over a long period of time, has a typical decision-making process or “buying cycle” that prospects go through before they get to the “Yes”.
Consider questions like:
- How well educated are prospects about the products or services that you sell?
- Do your prospects know that solutions like yours exist?
- What questions will the typical prospect ask about your product or service before purchase?
- What do your prospects expect from you after they buy (e.g. for e-commerce products they may need to understand return policies, while for a B2B services-based company they may expect ongoing support).
- Are you effectively communicating your ability to meet (and exceed) the prospect’s expectations?
- What are your prospect’s pain points?
The best way to shorten sales cycles and increase close rates is to educate prospects while they are in the “investigation phase”.
Examples of online tools you can use to educate during the investigation phase are:
- Social media to understand your prospects’ unbiased opinions
- Post-sales surveys to existing customers to understand how they made decisions
- Insight from keywords and key phrases used to search online for products or services like yours (are the search phrases general, are they specific, which questions are being asked, etc.)
2. Create Content that Addresses Different Phases of the Buying Cycle
Determine what information your prospects need, and create quality content that aligns with where prospects are in the buying cycle.
According to a December 2015 Ascend2 study, 59% of B2B companies say creating relevant content is their biggest obstacle to lead nurturing success.
Keep in mind what content formats are best suited to your typical prospects – some people simply won’t read an e-Book and would prefer a short video, while others would be happy to take a deep dive into the information.
Tailor your communications for maximum impact based on where your prospect is in their decision- making process.
Online Marketing Strategies to Use
Here are some of the types of content you could use in this phase of the lead nurturing process:
- Case Studies
3. Deepen Your Relationship and Credibility with the Prospect
Prospects want to do business with approachable, credible, and human companies.
While you are nurturing your leads, don’t just bombard prospects with offers and pitches. Concentrate on providing the information they are seeking. Even better, offer them information that answers their questions before they realize they have those questions.
Prospects will gravitate to those companies that are committed to sharing their subject matter expertise – those that provide decision facilitating information. Resist the temptation to talk about yourself, and focus your efforts on helping prospects make informed buying decisions. Remember, they don’t want to suffer from buyer’s remorse.
This is how to build relationships and credibility before the sale. This is how you increase close rates.
4. Automate What You Can
Lead nurturing can become overwhelming if you attempt to do it manually.
Certain components of your lead nurturing process can be automated. For example, set up a series of welcome emails to be sent to new prospects, which greets them and sends them educational information – based on the typical buying cycle you outlined earlier – at designated intervals. Consider what they need to know and when they need to know it.
If you have an opt-in offer like a webinar or e-Book, you could automate an email asking if they have any specific questions about the resource. This deepens your relationship and gives them a chance to clear up any uncertainties. Plus, you may learn about a gap in the information you’re providing based on the questions you receive.
Essential to this phase in the lead nurturing process is email marketing. Once you get a lead, follow up! Send them emails with the educational content that will help them make a decision. When used effectively, targeted emails can enhance relationships by providing timely and valuable content.
Email distribution systems or Marketing Automation Technologies (click here for our previous post “Marketing Automation: A Critical Piece of the Online Marketing Puzzle”) can be used to do this easily and effectively.
5. Analyze What’s Working (and What’s Not)
Set out your goals for lead nurturing and measure your results against key performance metrics. Consider the flow of your messages, the timing, your content offers, which channels of communication you are using (e.g. email, social media, etc.), and everything else that is a part of your lead nurturing system.
If certain things are working better than others, try to understand why and apply that insight to making improvements. Test out different things until you know what works best for your specific business, industry, and desired prospects.
Most online tools have analytics embedded within them. For example, most email platforms, marketing automation systems and social networks will provide statistics on how people are interacting with your messages.
Another important tool is Google Analytics, which you can use to see how people are behaving on your website. Are the people who come from your emails converting on the site, for example?
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