We’ve already spoken about lead nurturing at length, and how it is vital for maximising your conversion rates. This is especially true in the B2B market, where the sales cycle is longer and the stakes are higher. For many leads, especially in the higher-stake areas, a business can quickly become “out of sight, out of mind” if there isn’t consistent communication. Luckily, successful lead nurturing doesn’t have to be too complicated. Below, we’ve compiled a few lead nurturing best practices that work for both B2B and B2C leads.
8 Lead Nurturing Best Practices
Even if your marketing efforts bring in hundreds of top-of-the-funnel leads, you can’t just leave them be and hope that they eventually become customers. A few of them might, but the majority will forget about your business, and possibly even move on to your competitors. With these actionable lead nurturing best practices and tips, you can nurture them through each stage of the buyer’s journey and forge more beneficial relationships.
1. Send Data Enrichment Emails
A data enrichment email surveys your customers, encouraging them to provide more information about themselves. Essentially, you’re telling the customer that you want to stop sending them content that is irrelevant to them. While this information helps you to keep your records up-to-date, and helps you further segment your database, they benefit the user to. Besides adding additional context for you, they benefit the user by decreasing the amount of irrelevant emails which end up in their inbox.
Once you have this additional information on your leads, you can send them more relevant messaging which fits their position in the buyer’s journey. This is helpful to them, as well as you.
2. Segment Your Contacts
By just segmenting the contacts in your database, you can increase your email open rates by about 15%. But why is this?
In a nutshell, it’s because you’re actually targeting people based on things they’ve indicated interest in, or based on their behaviour. No one likes to receive irrelevant emails and offers, or mails that are too ambiguous and salesy. By segmenting your database, you can send your contacts information that actually interests them.
By not segmenting your list, or sending emails too frequently, your risk exhausting your leads. This can also happen if you’re sending overly salesy, repetitive or unhelpful emails.
3. Refresh Your Processes
Up to 50% of your leads will not make a purchase when they first engage with your business, so it’s probably not a good idea to have their first contact be with a pushy salesperson. However, there is data to show that, within 19 months, up to 75% of them will be ready to buy.
Will your team be able to figure out which ones they are? If the answer is no, you need to make sure you have a good idea of what an MQL and an SQL look like in your company. Revisit your lead-scoring strategy and make sure it’s up to date.
4. Regularly Audit Your List
Up to 75% of companies don’t understand the qualification of their leads – visitor, unqualified, lead, MQL and SQL. Using your definitions, as well as any buyer personas and analytics you have access to, to audit your list. Update the status of your current batch of leads.
While this isn’t something that should be done too frequently, it can be helpful for your team. It’s also important to know that your database doesn’t only contain bad leads.
5. Create More Lead Capturing Opportunities
Apart from landing pages and providing valuable content assets, think about other avenues for capturing lead information. The more leads you have in the funnel, the greater your eventual sales opportunities are. Beyond just email marketing and gated content, there are many ways to generate leads. Experiment with various lead-generation tactics like networking events, Twitter cards or running Facebook contests.
Go back to your buyer personas and figure out exactly where your leads are spending time, and what they seem to be interested in. This information can help you to figure out which platforms will be most successful for paid social campaigns, and which content would work best.
6. Send Genuine, Quick Follow-Ups
The speed with which you respond to your leads can have a dramatic impact on their likelihood of making a purchase. As soon as a contact provides their details, send them a quick follow up. Whether they’ve filled in their details for a free trial, or a gated content offer, send them a quick mail.
Your email should be straightforward, not too salesly, and clear about any next steps the lead should take. When the lead takes any action that requires a sales call, that call should happen in five minutes or less, ideally. Leads are 21 times more likely to become qualified when they are contacted within just a few minutes following conversion.
7. Use Personalized Content and Messaging
When you send emails to your leads, make sure they’re personalized. Don’t just use their name. You can use personalisation tokens to highlight other details, such as their industry, their age (if you have it) or their company name. If you’ve properly segmented your lists, the content of the mail should also be personalised to their interests.
Nobody wants to feel like just another number. Personlisation is a simple and easy way to make your leads feel like you know them.
8. Please Don’t Gate Everything
Though you should always be seeking more opportunities for lead capture, you should try not to gate everything. You should ideally only be gating truly valuable content, such as detailed annual reports, or informative ebooks. You may get fewer leads in total, but they will probably be of a higher quality. Only gating valuable content most often nets leads who are further along in the buyer’s journey, more prepared to buy or a better fit in general.
Another option is to use semi-gated content. This allows the lead to preview the content, meaning you probably won’t get as many useless leads.
Lead Nurturing Mistakes to Avoid
As we’ve seen, leads don’t just turn into customers instantly. You need to systematically build relationships, and warm them up before they are ready to make a purchase. While the lead nurturing best practices we’ve outlined are a good start, they’re not foolproof unfortunately. While the concept of lead nurturing is relatively simple, there a few fatal mistakes which marketers make that can kill their conversions.
Mistake 1: Skipping the Research Phase
When it comes to lead generation and making sales, there’s nothing more important than understanding your ideal prospect. Unfortunately, this can take quite a bit of research, which most marketers would love to skip. Unfortunately, if you do skip over the research phase, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure.
No matter what product or service you’re trying to sell, you can’t sell it to anyone unless you actually understand the person you’re trying to sell it to.
Luckily, there are many relatively simple ways to research your ideal prospect.
If you already have a few sales under your belt, send out one of those data enrichment mails we spoke about earlier. Find out more about your current customers.
- Where did they hear about your business?
- Why did they buy your product or service?
- Did your product or service improve their lives? How?
Having this kind of information is key to connecting with similar customers in the future.
What if your business is completely new, though? If you haven’t had any customers yet, you’ll need to do a bit more digging. You can use tools such as Facebook’s Audience Insights to gather information about your competitors followers. Just enter their business Facebook page into the ‘Interests’ field. All kinds of information on their audience will pop up.
You can even use other social platforms such as Quora to find out what kind of problems your target audience is struggling with. You can do this by searching for a topic related to your product or service, and see how people are talking about it.
Mistake 2: Ignoring the Follow-up
Though we’ve spoken about the importance of following up with your leads, it’s impossible to over-stress the importance. Following up with your leads in a timely manner is truly one of the most important lead nurturing best practices.
When a lead expresses interest in your products or services, do you follow up with them immediately? If so, how?
Maybe they are not ready to buy right now, because they still have to think about it. Are you reminding them consistently about your company?
The extent to which you successfully convert a lead depends on how you follow up with them. In other words, the major obstacle that stands between you and a successfully converted prospect is the task of following up with them.
Though it seems painfully obvious that you should follow up with your leads, studies actually show that nearly 50% of leads aren’t followed up. That represents a huge wasted opportunity. Even worse, a huge waste of money, because chances are that those leads came from a paid campaign.
The leads that you don’t follow up with will probably end up buying from a competitor.
Make sure that that’s not happening by implementing the following follow-up best practices:
- Make use of a CRM system to check on and follow up with every single one of your leads.
- Be responsive to all of your prospects by providing answers to their questions.
- Make sure you’re following up fast, because businesses who get in touch with their prospects within an hour of receiving the query are seven times more likely to convert their leads. This is according to the Harvard Business Review
- Automate any part of your follow-up process that you can. While you won’t be able to automate your one-on-one calls, you can still automate other things. Things like your lead nurturing email campaigns and your call scheduling.
There are also a few tools that can make the follow-up process simpler and more effective:
- FollowUp.cc to schedule your follow ups
- Olark to follow up with prospects while they browse your site
- Survicate to follow up with surveys
- Whoisvisiting to follow up with unknown website visitors
Try adding some of these lead nurturing best practices to your processes and see what kind of results you get. Remember, not every tip will work for every business. These tips can provide a good foundation to build your own personalised lead nurturing strategy, but above all, you should experiment, and see what works best for your business.