The search for qualified, sales-ready leads is a challenge to almost all sales organizations and as technology continues to advance and all of our lives (and our prospects lives) become busier, the need to uncover and nurture qualified leads becomes increasingly more important.
There are many tools that can assist with the lead generation part of this process, including blogging and content creation as well as keyword and social media marketing strategies, to help you get found. All of these are elements of an effective inbound marketing program, but one of the key components that cannot be overlooked is the power of a lead nurturing campaign (sometimes called “marketing automation” or “drip marketing”).
Simply put, lead nurturing is a system that allows you to send an automated series of emails to a new contact or lead. This system helps you to pre-qualify him or her and guide them through the sales funnel, typically providing more and more opportunities for engagement and education.
Before even thinking about starting a lead generation campaign, you must first and foremost possess the ancient art of Patience. This is because based on a HubSpot eBook, “Gleanster Research estimates that 50% of leads who are qualified to buy are not ready to purchase immediately. If you call these leads up and push them into making a decision right away, you will likely lose them.”
"Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate of standalone email blasts."
That’s exactly why patience is critical in the lead nurturing process. Depending on your industry and the type of business you do, the time it takes a lead to work through the sales cycle can vary drastically and you have to respect that process.
The next equally important aspect of a successful lead nurturing campaign is Intelligence. What do you know about your customer and the sales process? You must ask yourself a few key questions in order to effectively evaluate what the process will look like. Some questions to think about include:
- How long does it typically take a lead to become a customer after his or her first inquiry?
- Does the sales cycle vary for different types of purchases?
- What type of information are they likely to need or want in order to make a purchasing decision?
Once you’re equipped with this type of intelligence about your customers and your sales cycle, then you can start to create a lead nurturing campaign that will ultimately save you time and help you establish a multi-beneficial relationship with your very best prospects. This strategy can be extremely effective —when done right —and to get started you should follow some of these best practices to ensure you’re utilizing the power of lead nurturing:
- Keep It Human. You are writing to humans and therefore your emails should come from humans. Address your emails from a real person with a real email address that they can reply-to if they wish. Personalize your signature just like you would as if it were coming directly from your email box. And most importantly, be authentic and personable. You are writing a one-on-one piece of communication and that’s exactly how they should feel.
- Keep It Short. Format it so that you are to the point, utilizing white space, and incorporating bullet points if necessary. Provide a compelling subject line and make sure the reader can easily glance at the email and know what it is about and what you are asking them to do.
- Keep It Relevant. If your goal is to provide compelling new content for the lead to interact with, then you will want to be sure you’re keeping the content closely related to what they originally did on your site. Therefore, if they downloaded a whitepaper about a particular product or topic, then be sure the material you follow up with is directly tied to this topic. This will help ensure you are providing the information they care about and are interested in.
These are just a few tips to help you get started in developing a lead nurturing campaign for your business, but the important part is that you take this method of marketing very seriously. Automated emails are an invaluable tool in the sales process, if used correctly. At The Center for Sales Strategy, we work with clients every day to help them incorporate lead nurturing into their inbound marketing programs —driving prospects to leads and leads to customers —while developing relationships along the way.
If you’d like to learn more about inbound marketing and how it can help you uncover new, qualified leads for your business, download these 40 Inbound Marketing Terms You Need to Know to brush up on your marketing knowledge.