Introduction to lead nurturing
"Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is a progress, working together is success" Henry Ford.
Well said Henry, but what is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of building a relationship with your prospects at every stage of their buyer's journey.
Remember this somewhat painful truth: Your prospective clients are not necessarily interested in buying your product or service at the moment.
In fact, according to Hubspot, about 90% of your inbound leads are not ready to make an immediate purchase.
By understanding this and by nurturing a healthy educating relationship with them, by the time they are ready to buy, you will stand a good chance of them choosing you.
How do you go about building a successful relationship?
Once a prospect willingly provides you with their contact details the magic begins. This could be a result of visiting a landing page you have published, filling out a form on your website or any other non spammy way.
It is now your job to be attentive to the needs of your prospects and to provide them with information regarding their challenges and need. Research who your buyer personas are. Learn what their most urging needs are and see how you can help them solve them. Educate them, provide relevant knowledge and elegantly move them down the sales funnel.
The idea is to provide relevant information, at the right time, to the right prospect.
For example, if you provide software development services. Your prospects may be Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) at SMBs. Researching websites such as Quora, and speaking with current clients, you learn that CTOs struggle with time management. A common mistake would be to publish a blog post about time management development tips and to end the post with a CTA inviting the prospect to schedule a sales call.
Think about it. Is this prospect necessarily interested in outsourcing a tech project at the moment? Probably not. They're interested in learning more about a specific need related to your expertise. Hard selling at this early stage would be almost irrelevant. They don't yet know you, they don't trust you, and they might not even have a current project on the table.
The best way to approach this would indeed be to write a post with relevant content, yet instead of hard selling, end the post with a CTA inviting them to download an eBook with productivity tips for CTOs. Your prospect will happily provide you with their contact details in order to enjoy your free offer. Once they provide you with their details you are granted with a magical opportunity to begin what could be a successful relationship. Don't rush a sale – this is your chance to begin nurturing this relationship up to a point where your prospect trusts you and is ready to consider working with you.
Lead Nurturing requires patience
It's important to understand that not all relationships will end up in marriage. According to MarketingSherpa, almost 80% of new leads never become sales.
The good news is that according to Marketo - by implementing a smart lead nurturing strategy you can generate about 50% more sales qualified leads at costs that are 33% lower than regular top of the funnel costs.
Back to the software development company example, since we now understand that rushing a sales process would almost surely result in failure, the idea is to take a step back and start crafting remarkable content that correlates with the prospects stage of the buyers journey.
Once the prospect downloads an eBook, we can send him an email, inviting him to read more "awareness stage" blog posts with general educating content that would be of use to them. After sending your prospect several awareness stage posts to read, you can feel confident to gently push them down the sales funnel to the consideration stage. Send them an email inviting them to read content that is directly related to your services such as "how to know when it's time to outsource a software development project".
Pro tip: Using marketing automation services such as Hubspot will help you learn more about your prospects stage in the buyers journey. You will be able to know exactly what content your prospect read, and when. Enabling you to optimize and asses your content strategy.
Lastly, once your confident that your prospect is interested in what you have to say, and keeps coming back for more. Move down to the final stage of the buyers journey – the decision stage. Now would be the time to provide them with surveys, case studies, industry comparisons and any other info that you think would enable them to make an educated decision.
Only once you are under the impression that your prospect is ready to discuss business, you can transfer the lead to your sales department. Don't do it a minute sooner.
This entire process can take between 2 weeks to 3 months. THAT'S OK! It's better to have fewer leads that end up in a sale, than many irrelevant leads that will never buy from you.
Hard selling to a non-ready prospect who does not know you and does not trust you will statistically almost always fail.
Adapting a smart lead nurturing strategy requires patience but it's worth it and can potentially double your sales and cut your marketing costs. Be attentive to the buyers journey and to your prospects needs and readiness. Don't impose. Don't interrupt.
Now that's marketing people love.
If you're interested in learning more and finding out how to create a long lasting inbound marketing strategy, we invite you to download our How-to guide for creating and inbound marketing strategy.