You’ve got the leads… now what?

Nurturing Leads

Ask any marketing team what’s on the top of their 2017 goals, and they will tell you that lead generation takes precedence over all others. Cost per lead (CPL) campaigns are all the rage in the current marketing landscape. Nearly everyone is engaging with some kind of performance-based marketing in order to garner more leads to fill their company’s sales funnel. But what happens to the leads after the campaign ends? Nearly 75% of marketing departments report that converting contacts/leads to customers is their company’s top priority for the year. Yet not all companies have a system in place to nurture leads beyond handing them over to their sales team. While there are some instances where a lead will convert to a sale via a single click or download, they are few and far between.

Hubspot - Top Marketing Challenges

The truth is that nurturing leads is just as important a part of the CPL process as gathering and vetting the leads. In fact, most leads do not convert until they have had multiple interactions with the company. According to Hubspot, “prospects receive an average of 10 touches from the time they enter the top of the funnel until they’re a closed-won customer” (2016).

But what is lead nurturing and how do you develop a successful lead-nurturing process?

Let’s start with the basics. Lead nurturing is the act of engaging a lead past the initial touch point. Whether they downloaded a white paper, guide or application note, each lead needs to be engaged with company/product-centric materials that are both stimulating and specific to their expressed interest before they can transition from a cool lead to a sales prospect. By utilizing targeted content and multiple channels to create touch points, a trust develops between the lead and the company that ultimately becomes the driver for the lead to convert.

Now for the tricky part: establishing a strategy for nurturing leads.

This is the more difficult aspect of lead nurturing because each company, product, and lead is different. The process varies depending on the end goal, but there are a few basic elements that every lead-nurturing plan must have in order to be successful:

One: content. Having a library of content to engage leads past the initial touch point is vital. Without a variety of engaging, useful content ready to deploy (whether it be emails, white papers, or social posts) a lead-nurturing campaign will be DOA. Remember that there is no such thing as too much content!

Two: establishing a schedule for timely follow-ups. This will require some trial and error for the marketing team to determine what the most effective frequency and number of engagements are, based upon the sales cycle of the products or services. Once this is established, engagements can be automated for each product’s nurturing campaign, which will free up time for other marketing efforts.

Three: channels, channels, channels.The avenue in which content is delivered is often just as important as the content itself. It is important to utilize an array of different channels to reach as many leads as possible. Diversifying your promotional methods will greatly increase the odds of reaching engaging leads. The use of personalization is also an important part of creating effective engagement with your leads. According to Adobe’s CMO.com, “personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates, but 70% of brands fail to use them.” (2015). Adding a human element to an email message or social post will create trust between the company and the lead, which will then lead to a relationship that ideally develops into a sale.

Four: aligning sales and marketing. The very premise of lead nurturing is built upon the sales and marketing teams being on the same page. Without the marketing team, sales has no leads to nurture and no nurture tactics to deploy. Without the sales team, marketing has no process to guide marketing efforts and ultimately no sales data with which to measure marketing ROI. Both teams must work hand-in-hand to create a successful campaign that runs seamlessly from start to finish. As you can see, establishing a lead-nurturing process is necessity. In order for a marketing team to reach lead conversion goals, there must be a system in place that carries leads through the various stages of the purchase process. Crossing channels with engaging content and establishing multiple touch points on a consistent schedule helps push a lead further into the sales funnel and closer to a sale. A successful lead-nurturing process also relies on synchronicity between marketing and sales, a library of related content, and the experience gained from experimenting with different tactics and elements.

- Jennifer Choo