For any marketer, demand generation is just step-1 of the process. Without a proper nurturing strategy, your leads would be pushed into the sales funnel before they are ready to buy, resulting in low conversion rates and lost opportunity costs. The following scenario is probably more common than one would like to admit: you garner a promising lead and hand over to sales. The sales development rep (SDR) connects with the prospect and tries to close, only to find that they are not ready to buy. The prospect is again placed in the marketing funnel. And the cycle continues, without closure.
To avoid this, you need an effective lead nurturing strategy which can identify prospects most willing to buy and guide them carefully to the SDR team. This can be slightly difficult; research suggests that 63% of users currently looking for information about your company aren’t going to make a single purchase in the next three months!
That’s why your lead nurturing strategy needs these two traits:
- Built on a solid foundation of a demand generation plan, weeding out “casual browsers” from genuinely interested buyers
- A clear distinction between lead nurturing and SDR responsibilities, so that you know exactly when to let go
These elements must form the foundations of your strategy as you look at converting impressive demand numbers into close leads. To make this easier, here are 10 tips to follow.
1. Generously Apply Marketing Automation
Across the world, marketers agree that email marketing automation is a key tool in their lead nurturing toolbox. Marketing automation can help you link campaign activities to user action. Has someone visited your website more than thrice? Send them a “nice to meet you” email. Has the user entered their details on a download form? Ask them more about their domain and requirements.
Depending on where your lead stands on the marketing funnel, use an automation tool such as Sitecore, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Eloqua, or Pardot to send targeted emails to every user.
2. Neatly Organize Your Mailer List
We are living in a customer-centric universe, and today, your email content can’t afford to be product-facing. Segment your audience into clear groups based on the product they are interested in, their industry, and their professional role. Even if you have a single flagship product targeted toward a broad audience, realign email content so that they hit each user’s “sweet-spot.”
For example, if you’re selling a router to an IT professional, stress on its simplicity and operational efficiency. But if you’re selling the same product to a business unit head, highlight how the router’s connectivity capabilities can help their work.
3. Base Your Lead Nurturing Emails on a Bedrock of Data
Email marketing automation best practices are constantly changing and it can be difficult to estimate which content to send, when, and how frequently. Campaign data generated through your tool’s analytics feature will provide a clear breakdown of audience interest levels, factors influencing clickthrough rates, and what’s causing your leads to drop off. There are even innovations like Salesforce's new AI email marketing capability, which precisely prescribes the ideal frequency.
4. Consider Using Video Content
Embedding videos on websites has been popular for a while now, improving engagement and reducing bounce rates. Recent advancements in video marketing technology let you integrate user interactions with your product/service videos to the larger email marketing automation framework. A good example is Wistia, an analytics solution for marketing videos, complete with Hubspot, Marketo, and Pardot compatibility.
5. Resume the Conversation on Social Media
Meeting your customers on their platform of choice will always help to better capture their attention. Now with so many of your prospects actively interacting with brands on social media, retargeting leads on Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Instagram is a great idea. Create a lead segment based on details gathered via website visits and retarget this group, through social media channels.
A useful rule of thumb: ensure Instagram retargeting for audience segments aged 35 and below. And if your product enjoys a slightly older customer base (for example, healthcare), Facebook is probably the way to go.
6. Don’t Ignore the Good Old Display Ad
Display ads were among the early moves in digital marketing, one that literally changed the game. Despite the rise of social media, AI-based email marketing automation, and other more cost-optimized tools, display ads remain extremely effective when it comes to reinforcing brand reputation and encouraging recall. Once your lead starts moving across the funnel, they will start seeing display ads across channels, familiarizing them with your brand. As a result, the chances of them opening an automated email would be much higher.
7. Work on Your Content Marketing Capabilities
Whether you’re in B2B or B2C, content marketing is among the top ways to nurture qualified leads. It establishes your brand’s credibility, showcases your expertise in the customer's area of interest, encourages the lead to trust your brand, and thereby, convert.
For instance, B2B companies can share regular newsletters discussing the company’s products, recent news, and expert opinions (editorials) in the domain. A B2C company, let’s say, a cosmetics brand, can send emailers mentioning new products, upcoming discounts, and links to blogs sharing more on ingredients, benefits, and user reviews. All of this must be backed by a robust repository of content: blogs, press releases, case studies, videos, brochures—the whole nine yards.
8. Strategically Position User Surveys
The first trait, as we mentioned, of any effective lead nurturing strategy was the ability to weed out “casual” from “interested” users. Surveys are extremely valuable for pre-qualifying leads, making sure that your efforts are channeled in the right direction. Otherwise, non-qualified users will skew your demand generation datasets, derail email content personalization, and make it hard to segment your audience accurately. That’s why we recommend combining surveys (soliciting direct user feedback) with website user behavior data.
9. Personalize Everything—YES, EVERYTHING
Personalization is now key to a lasting customer connect. Our attention spans are steadily declining, and if your campaigns don’t immediately resonate with the customer on a personal level, they are likely to switch tabs. Personalization must impact every thread of your lead nurturing strategy, starting with email automation, all the way down to the first point-of-contact with the SDR team.
Tools like Sitecore, Salesforce’s AI email marketing automation can help you here, with the ability to suggest personalized subject lines and customer-specific mailing schedules, even for bulk campaigns.
10. Give Your SDRs a Helping Hand with Sales Enablement
There’s only so much you can do to nurture your leads; the final conversion is in the hands of the SDR. That’s why it's your job to aid in sales enablement, providing detailed information on lead segments, specific data on different leads at different stages of the marketing funnel, and personal information gathered from one-on-one talks between marketing and leads. You can also collaborate with the SDRs to create a full library of sales enablement collaterals.
With so many martech tools available today, there’s little excuse for poor performance and below-average conversion rates. Companies are steadily investing in bottom-of-the-funnel activities (demand generation) and this gives you the perfect opportunity to re-envision your lead nurturing strategy for better results. Given that 50% of buyers will select the brand that’s first to respond, keeping a steady eye on your leads and acting at the right moment can make all the difference between a sale or a drop-off.
A final #Protip to help you get started on nurturing leads right away: focus on your existing customers! Nurturing past buyers can garner better ROI than unsure, not-so-qualified leads. So, leverage this ready user base to cross-sell and up-sell your products, where demand existed before and is likely to emerge again.
Discover how Sitecore marketing suite will help in achieving lead nurture outcomes.