Obtaining leads can be one of the most difficult things to manage. Constantly trying to attract people into buying your products and services is crucial in your success.

One of the most important things, within marketing, is Sales – it has always been sales.

It can seem like such an intimidating task, converting an audience into visitors and leads and in turn, turning those into sales. Launching a lead nurturing campaign can be very tough, let alone nurturing a successful one.

Data, process and automation can result in the project goal rapidly spiralling out of control. Making sure not only you and your team are set up for the worst possible situation is in fact, the best form of preparation. 

So, you have now launched an inbound campaign! Through activity and journeys, leads have started to be generated but, once they are leads, they need to continue to be so. You do not want them unsubscribing and/or becoming inactive. Either one of these outcomes is effectively a missed opportunity and you want to try to avoid those “wasted” sales as much as possible. These leads need to be nurtured with appropriate and meaningful content and you need to make sure that each lead is not forgotten and no content (big or small) is being wasted. 

Lead generation is one of the biggest items on the ‘to buy list’ spanning multiple teams across sales, marketing and customer service. Lead nurturing refers to how you communicate with your leads once they have been found and generated. Nurturing ensures that the time and money that is being put into the capture of each lead is not being wasted. It also ensures that these leads successfully make it to the end of their journey.

Marketing automation is one of the most successful components of any successful lead nurturing program, to help qualify more leads, faster. Lead nurturing is essential to increase revenue and overall business growth.

There are ways in which you can help this along but, first, what really is lead nurturing?

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing, on average, increases sales by around 20% over leads that are “non-nurtured”. During the process of a company or organisation buying they will go through a complex journey that helps them move through a ‘sales flow’ so to speak.

A random one-off email now and then to entice them to buy your product or service is simply not going to cut it in a competitive world. Even emailing the wrong or “boring” content could dissuade a lead. Automated lead nurturing however, allows for the tracking of lead engagements of not only your content but, also your website. You are able to drip feed content at the appropriate time and capture leads, making sure they don’t slip through the net.

The structure around lead nurturing 

You likely do this already, send your leads all the content in the world. From blog posts to infographics. However, should you be staggering the content you are sending? More so, is this method, in fact, better for everyone?

In short, yes.

You end up not running out of content because it’s all gone out in that last send and your lead is not being drowned in information. Targeting your content and focusing on your journey’s stage is vital. Creating an automated workflow and journey, so that the lead can follow a certain path, is a much more suitable and attainable option. 

Once your leads then interact with your content, their activity should be tracked to allow for detailed segmentation. Leads can be separated based on traits or activity. This can box them into niche groups which could then follow a tailored journey.

Having different journeys for different groups of contacts allows you to capture more of the market including those leads who were going to be lost through a constant barrage of updates and content. With an automated workflow, the next round of emails would be adjusted automatically and emails could be drip-fed to certain contacts, delivering the right information.

This is where marketing automation shines. Marketing automation allows you to pinpoint exactly where a specific lead is within a certain sales cycle or journey and what communication they have (or have not) received from you.

This level of refinement allows you to identify leads based on their interactions and activity. You are then able to communicate with content that will flow through the journey smoother, resulting in a potential (or big) sale. 

How will your sales be affected by lead nurturing 

Simply, lead nurturing refers to the process of turning your audience into a sale.

You are able to do this by tracking the interests and activities of your audience using data that would be otherwise useless. With this information, you are able to then segment and target them as leads. As a lead, they will then be able to speed through the sales process with minimum conflict and resistance eventually arriving at the “decision stage”.

Your sales team is already busy making calls every ten seconds, they don’t have the time to educate each lead individually about your product and services. They are there to finalise the sale.

However, with lead nurturing, your leads are already informed of the service or product, this means they have already been nurtured to the decision stage. 

One thing to remember is that automated lead nurturing does take time to implement. Granted, you will need to make enough relevant content to support your journey and workflows, making sure that you have segmented your leads in order to travel through the flow smoothly.

Once your campaign is established though, it will start to speak for itself. Automation provides the ability to quickly identify issues with your sales flow (such as bottlenecks) and allows them to be dealt with in equal speed, reducing the impact they can have. Automatic lead nurturing ultimately allows for content to be developed accordingly along with a smooth sales process.

Even the experts are backing up with statistics 

Keeping on the subject of data lead nurturing, you are able to look at your audience (prospects) and information that is important to them. Lead nurturing, when done correctly, can have massive benefits.

Here are some statistics from companies that excel in lead nurturing. Forrester, CSO insights and Marketo.

  • Generated 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead.
  • Reduced the percentage of marketing-generated leads, ignored by sales, from as high as 80% which is now reduced to 20%
  • Raised closing rates on leads (Now 7% higher)
  • More sales representatives are making the quota (9% more)

How can you make the process more automated and efficient 

Making the process more automated and efficient is in everyone’s best interest. The complication around lead nurturing is not only a difficult process but, also a long one. Simplifying the process and stopping unforeseen issues is massively important.

Design your database to be more efficient 

By making as many custom fields as you need puts less strain on your database. Custom fields are crucial for segmentation and, if you are trying to target certain leads or queries, this can help with personalisation and communications with your leads, which in turn, entices them to buy your services and products.

Being able to gather insights, data and information during the campaign process gives you an advantage by allowing you to see more personal and specific information about your leads. Activity is brilliant because if a lead clicks, signs up to a newsletter, uses a contact form or even just browses, engagement is measured.

By tracking and measuring data, you achieve insight…

  • A fast-food restaurant might want to think about collecting data on favourite burgers, most ordered drinks or most popular times people order food. 
  • A car dealership might want to know the most popular cars that are driven, how much do they pay in repairs and maintenance. 
  • A science company who is producing new medications might want to know prospects within the next 3, 6 or 9 months and market solutions towards their requirements.
Visual campaigns and flows 

Words are beautiful but, having visual references such as a flowchart can be much more beneficial to you in terms of development and strategy. Having bright colours and shapes that are assigned to an action or description is important in a campaign flow. How the human brain recognises and processes information is fastest through visual communication. A visual builder will help you create these easier and more logically. It makes it easier to plan and also implement. Conversing with other team members makes it easier for them to communicate and also understand the process. A campaign builder should be adaptable, excessive and flexible as well least to say editable. You want to be able to make quick edits and implement easily without causing delays or setbacks.

Personalisation 

Personalisation is massive. Relationship with the customer is an ultimate task, so personalisation and enticing them is a key weapon to make that sale.

Having a marketing automation platform that allows you to speak with your audience is a game-changer by being able and having the ability to source, identify any piece of valuable data and implement it on a customer journey through personalisation. It makes the audience feel that you are trustworthy as well as establishing that connection between you both. Personalisation takes lead nurturing to another level as chasing down those leads into thinking that you are speaking to them personally is amazing.

Personalised greetings included such as ‘First Name’ is the ultimate tool to use in promotional material including email marketing. Because everyone is now using the personalisation methods, expectations have been raised meaning that dealing with the main communications and channels are the ones that they prefer. Your leads are giving you information every time that they act or browse, which is important. Looking towards contact in real-time, the next best communication is being established. Optimising the leads experience is key to customer experience.  

Metrics and engagement

With every sale money might not be the most valuable thing that comes out of a sale. Thing about other information of insights that can be considered as a win. is the sale going to lead into further sales? Obtaining more records means that more leads could be nurtured, more data is then gathered. This then increases your social media presence and following. Keeping your leads engaged with content, emails and social pushes. Emails from marketing gurus are not the only way to reach people. Creating content for people to browse and view is a major factor. Keep that lead on your page as long as possible. Using backlinks to lead back to blogs, webinar recordings or other parts of your website. Monitoring and tracking leads through marketing automation software such as Mautic and Salesforce so that they can be logged as a lead. 

Planning and team management    

For the process to work further or more efficiently team collaboration needs to happen. If one or more teams are involved in the nurture process then they all need to have eyes on it. Results, statistics and also insights. Decision makers, managers need to be kept well informed of the goal, campaign flow and campaign that is being run. Internal communications such as emails might be the best way to deal with the campaign. You don’t want anyone missing alerts. Setting up a communication system such as Trello or Slack could be the best way to deal with a problem like this.

The problem around long sales 

Keeping track of sales can be a difficult and keeping leads interested can be even more difficult.

According to studies around 50% of the leads are not even interested in buying whatever product or service you are trying to sell. There might not even be a solution to this. With long sales cycles such as software industry and B2B sales cycles that are linked to marketing automaton with an average cycle up to 18 months.

There is some suggestion that the cycle could get even longer. This means that companies and organisations face a huge problem of trying to keep them leads interested and put them through their journeys. This process is a long one so content is always going to be an issue that you have to deal with.

Are you going to have enough content to last the whole of the journey? It is also about the right content. Are you going to send something that discourages them off the timeline and journey. Automated lead nurturing helps this by filtering through the contacts and keeping them on a path or journey to stop wasting time.

What can you do to help your lead nurturing 

Business that are using marketing automation to nurture prospects are experiencing a drastic increase in qualified leads. It is also reported that nurtured leads will tend to make larger purchases then ones that have not been qualified. 

Lead scoring  

Lead scoring allows you and I and the rest of the marketing world to accurately see when leads that have been nurtured and then qualified ready to be passed to your sales team. By awarding points to each lead pending on what the do or the activity they take within your company and organisation. This could be through a website or social media actions for instance.

  • Opening and clicking with email. Track a users clicks through CTA, links and if they have accessed the email. How long did they spend reading the email and how many have they opened.
  • Visiting high-value web pages that can carry multiple points and be tracked 
  • Completing forms on landing pages. Signing up for content such as webinars on landing pages for example is a perfect chance to award more points. Maybe every 10th person gets double the points. 
  • Registering with content such as newsletters. Again registering with content such as newsletters is a great way to gain points. 

Having a score threshold so once a certain lead reaches a certain amount of points is the best way to see if a lead can be considered as qualified. A scoring mechanism is an amazing way to get the quality leads rather than quality. You can also eliminate leads that are too early or late in this scenario as well. 

Set your team to be data driven 

Decisions are always easier with metrics and analysis. Period. Making an informed decision you want to get your hands on all the information you can get. This is a best practices across all industries. A marketing solution can provide insight into the lead nurturing program you are trying to devise. Lead nurturing is a massive process in which you can get highly creative with, including your assets and campaigns. 

Multi-channel lead nurturing 

It’s not enough to get contact someone through one channel these days. You need to get your message out there as much as possible. Make as much noise as possible. Nurturing your leads on through multiple channels at the right time will allow you to get your message across perfectly. Within any industry you want to be able to cover every channel that is relevant to your business. Your leads are based through social media, mobile devices, desktops, tablets. Marketing automation allows you to connect with leads where they spend most time, whether it’s your website or your social media. 

In conclusion around lead nurturing 

If you have not automated your lead nurturing process, then your sales team is just wasting time on leads that do not even want to buy hat you’re selling.

Considering this, time is saved on contacts or leads that are not going to buy and mistimed with irrelevant content. Automated leads generate sales through the system by breaking down those marketing barriers to spend more time on closing sales. 

Interested in lead nurturing but want to know more? Read up on our previous lead conversion blog ‘lead conversion in email marketing’