As more companies begin to adopt inbound marketing as a lead generation strategy, the importance of effective lead nurturing becomes clear. In many cases, only a small percentage of inbound leads will become customers straight away. If you ignore the leads who do not immediately make a purchase, you’re leaving more than 90% of your leads on the table.
Effectively implementing a lead nurturing strategy is vital for maximising your conversion rates, and can have a dramatic impact on the results of your inbound marketing efforts. Effective lead nurturing can also have an effect on your customer retention and loyalty, your revenue and more.
Today, we’ll cover some of the most effective lead nurturing techniques you can implement to dramatically improve your conversion rates.
What is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process through which you develop relationships with your leads at each stage of the buyers funnel. Lead nurturing should continue throughout every step of the buyer’s journey, and focuses on listening to the needs of your prospects and providing them with the information and answers they need.
- According to Marketo, an average of 50% of the leads in your system are probably not ready to buy
- Almost 80% of leads will never become sales, according to MarketingSherpa
- Companies with good lead nurturing processes generate 50% more sales-ready leads
- Nurtured leads make purchases which are 47% larger than those made by non-nurtured leads, according to The Annuitas Group
In today’s buyer-driven marketplace, effectively developing leads means establishing and nurturing relationships. You can do this with a strategic lead scoring system, backed by a thorough content marketing plan.
How to Score Leads for Nurturing
Sales and marketing need to work together to develop a lead scoring strategy. They both need to identify exactly where a lead is within the businesses funnel. Lead scoring is the backbone of a good lead nurturing strategy, because it gives a framework for how and when to address buyers with the most relevant and timely communication.
Every business’s lead scoring system will be unique. It will be influenced by your industry, your specific niche, your products and services and your audience. However, there are four aspects of lead scoring which should be evaluated when developing your strategy.
The fit of a lead describes how well the lead matches the brand’s ideal prospect or usual buyer. This can give you an idea of whether the lead is worth pursuing at all. Lead fit can be broken down into three categories:
- Demographics: job title, location, company size, age, etc.
- Firmographics: for B2B leads, this includes company name and size, annual revenue and location, etc.
- Budget, Authority, Need, Time (BANT): can the lead afford your products or services? Do they have the authority to purchase from you? Do they have a need for your products or services? What is their timeline?
You can easily gather most of this information through the forms you use in front of your gated content. Alternatively, a quick Google search may help.
The next stage of lead scoring is tracking a leads behaviour online to determine their interest in your brand. Are they spending a good amount of time on your website? Do they engage with you on social networks. You can assign numerical values to these behaviours and calculate an engagement score.
Monitoring your leads behaviour more closely will give you a good idea of whether they’re interested in buying or just looking for information. You can assign lower scores to behaviour that aligns with information-gathering, such as clicking through blog posts. Actions such as registering for a webinar or downloading gated content are more indicative of intent to purchase and can be assigned higher values.
Buying Stage and Timing
The easiest way to score your leads for buying stage is to identify the behaviours which align with the different sections of your sales funnel. Assign lower scores for behaviours which align with the behaviours of those higher in the funnel, and higher scores to behaviours lower in the funnel, such as registering for a product demo.
How to Nurture Leads
Lead nurturing involves purposefully engaging your audience by supporting them and offering them relevant information at key points of their journey. Despite the many benefits of lead nurturing, many marketers have struggled to implement good lead nurturing strategies. According to the 2019 Lead Nurturing & Acceleration Survey, only 40% of respondents felt that they had implemented their strategies in a meaningful and impactful way.
6 Effective Lead Nurturing Tactics
There are a number of ways to nurture your leads, but these six are some of the most effective, no matter what industry you’re in.
1. Leverage Targeted Content
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to lead nurturing. As the research shows, nurturing your leads strategically with targeted content can significantly improve your conversion results. To begin with targeted content, you should start by mapping out each of your unique buyer personas. Once you’ve got an understanding of each, create content which speaks to each of them. You should create a variety of content which speaks to the specific marketing triggers, objectives, interests and goals of each of your personas. You should also have a marketing automation platform which helps you to segment and target these personas.
2. Use Multi-Channel Lead Nurturing Techniques
Most lead nurturing strategies in the past relied on setting up a simple email drip campaign which would send out a generic email to a specified list of prospects. Nowadays, marketers are branching out beyond email nurturing. New technologies and tactics for lead nurturing involve a combination of email marketing, automation, website content, social media and paid retargeting, as well as direct sales outreach.
Since there are such huge numbers of strategies involved, to execute this kind of multi-channel approach appropriately, you truly need to guarantee that your marketing and sales teams are working cohesively.
3. Focus on Multiple Touches
Depending on your industry, the audiences you serve and the types of products and services you sell, your buyer’s journey can be very different from any other company’s. The buyer’s journey may even change for each of your products and services.
Research suggests that a prospect receives an average of ten marketing touches from the time they are first made aware of your company, until the time that they convert.
Understandably, the most successful lead nurturing tactics deliver content which helps leads to progress through this buyer’s journey. This content should address some of the most common concerns and questions. Other than email, you can make use of a multitude of content types, including blog posts and whitepapers, social media posts, direct mail or even interactive aspects of your website to nurture your prospects.
4. Follow Up With Leads in a Timely Manner
While there is a clear benefit to following up with leads immediately, many organizations still can’t seem to get a rush on. Despite the fact that reacting to web-produced leads inside 5 minutes prompted a 900% rise in conversion rates, many companies wait up to 48 hours before contact leads.
While the use of automated lead nurturing software can help you to reach large groups of leads quickly, a timely follow up email or phone call is still the best way to convert leads.
5. Send Personalized Emails.
Email marketing is still one of the most effective techniques for lead nurturing — and personalising those emails tends to produce better results. A recent Accenture study found that 41% of consumers actually changed businesses due to a lack of personalisation. Email personalisation doesn’t just mean adding their name to an email, though. There are many personalisation strategies which can be implemented to aid in lead nurturing. You can trigger emails to send when a visitor downloads certain gated content, visits certain pages, clicks on links within your emails or otherwise demonstrates high levels of engagement.
When you combine marketing personalisation with emails triggered by these behaviours, you can deliver the right type of content to the right people at the right time.
6. Align your Sales and Marketing Strategies.
While sales and marketing often don’t get along, when the two teams align, lead nurturing strategies are more successful, and customer retention rates see a dramatic improvement. Both sales and marketing contribute to the lead nurturing process, by identifying points in the buyer’s journey where prospects should be transitioned between teams.
The shared duties, expectations and objectives for this cross-group coordinated effort ought to be sketched out in a clear SLA. Making a SLA will help the two groups to consider each other responsible for converting leads and effectively nurturing them into paying clients.
Leverage Lead Nurturing Tactics
In summary, let’s wrap up what we’ve covered about lead nurturing.
- Make use of targeted content. Create intriguing, entertaining and educational content for all your buyer persons to help you identify your most qualified leads
- Expand your nurturing across multiple channels. Reach and nurture your leads wherever they are, rather than just through emails.
- Make use of multiple touches. Boost your marketing touches with a range of content types, across a range of channels, to keep your audience engaged and increase your interactions.
- Follow up in a timely manner. Try to follow up with your leads, whether by phone or by email, in a timely manner, to keep your brand top of mind and keep them engaged
- Personalise your emails. Personalise all of your lead nurturing communications where possible, to improve customer retention
- Implement lead scoring. Implement a lead scoring strategy to assist you in determining which leads are worth spending time on, and which are just looking for information
- Sales and marketing alignment. Make sure your sales and marketing teams are aligned to improve your lead nurturing outcomes and increase customer retention.