Here are some stats to demonstrate the importance of lead nurturing:
- 50% of leads are not ready to make a purchase (Marketo).
- About 80% of new leads never close (MarketingSherpa).
- Effective lead nurturing processes increase sales by 50% and reduce lead generation costs by 33% (Marketo).
- Lead nurturing reduces the length of the sales cycle by 23% (Market2Lead).
- Lead nurturing can increase your email response rates by as much as 10 times vs. standalone email blasts (DemandGen Report).
As you can see, effective lead nurturing means the difference between success and failure in most industries. So before you blame your low close rate on bad leads or a lack of product-market fit, take a look at your lead nurturing efforts.
This guide will cover the whats, whys, and hows of lead nurturing, so you can increase your sales velocity and improve your close rate.
Why Leads Need Nurturing
Lead generation, to use another tired metaphor, is just the tip of the iceberg. The real work comes in when you nurture those leads. In many cases, your prospect will know very little (if any) about you when they first come to you as a lead.
You have to build a relationship that’s strong enough to win their business. The amount of time and effort that takes will vary depending on your industry, product/service, price point, and a number of other factors.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, because leads will come to you at different stages of the buyer’s journey. You’ll get some leads that are already in the Decision stage. Maybe another company has convinced them they need a product like yours, and then your search ad distracts them and they end up with you instead of the other company.
Or maybe you’re the one doing the heavy lifting, and you want to make sure no one swoops in and steals your potential customer.
Either way, the lead nurturing process relies on being there to provide everything your leads need at every step of the sales cycle.
The Lead Nurturing Process
While there are plenty of variables to consider, the main process is the same in every industry. You’ll walk them through the following stages:
For instance, if you sell tour guides, you need to be there when they’re using Google to research potential destinations. You need to be there when they’re looking for answers to potential problems they might run into. And you need to show up wherever else you can with helpful tips that are contextually relevant to them. (Find more information and examples in my Guide to Marketing Funnels.)
This will involve a multi-channel approach with a foundation of relevant, high-value content.
Lead Nurturing Strategy
I recommend a holistic strategy that is based around creating content that speaks to leads at every stage of the buyer’s journey. That includes everything from entertaining, broad-based content for people at the tip-top of the funnel, to detailed purchase information at the bottom of the funnel.
By creating a strong foundation of useful content, you’ll have what you need to establish credibility with your potential customers. (For more information on the specific sort of content you should be creating, check out my extensive lead generation guide.)
Once you have that content, There are numerous channels through which you can nurture your leads. Email, paid social, content marketing, display, and on and on and on.
Audience segmentation is crucial, because that’s how you’ll know who needs to see what. Once you know that, you should make an effort to be everywhere you can afford to be.
Aside from the usual suspects (organic and paid search, organic and paid social, display ads, video ads, etc.), direct mail remarketing can be a really effective way to reach your audience.
Get creative. Most of your leads will need multiple touches via multiple channels before they’re ready to make a purchase.
When nurturing leads there are some best practices to follow. Here are 4 guidelines to follow in order of importance:
- Respond quickly! The most important rule of lead generation and lead nurturing is to follow up as quickly as possible.
- Don’t be a nuisance! Too many emails, calls, remarketing ads, etc. will just get on your prospect’s nerves. Vary your approach (i.e., use a number of different channels), make sure you keep your ads fresh, and don’t contact your leads every day.
- Personalize wherever you can. This is especially true with email marketing, where you can use your leads’ names, but you can also offer personalized offers through remarketing ads. Or send them a coupon for a product they were looking at via direct mail.
- Create pillar pages of content based around the buyer’s journey.
Lead Nurturing Tools
If all that seems like a lot, it’s because it is. The good news is that you don’t have to manage all the moving parts directly. There are lots of marketing automation tools like Drip and Hubspot, that will do a lot of the work for you.
Lead nurturing with Hubspot (or any similar tool), is basically just a matter of building out your content, optimizing your landing pages, and setting up your ads and emails to trigger at the appropriate times.
And if you segment your remarketing audiences based on the buyer’s journey, all you’ll have to do is refresh your ads when necessary.
For More Information
So that’s the gist of it. If you’re ready for a deep dive, read my looong article on the entire lead generation/nurturing process here: Lead Generation Guide.