One of the biggest challenges facing marketers today is maintaining a connection with sales leads. Everyone is overwhelmed with email, direct mail and online advertising. No one wants to receive another offer unless it's delivered in a timely way when they're really interested. A good example of effective just-in-time marketing is Groupon delivering you a discount at the precise time you walk into a store or restaurant. You were going there anyway, and now you have an opportunity to save money. How can we harness that relevance and timeliness in all of our inbound marketing efforts?
Performance driven lead nurturing is similar to the Groupon model, except that marketing communication is triggered by user action rather than GPS positioning. If I click through to an important page on your website and fill out your form, I usually get some kind of confirmation email with a download link. Inbound marketing doctrine then prescribes a "drip" campaign of e-mails offering other services or content to keep me interested and engaged. The problem is that these drip campaigns aren't necessarily relevant to me either in content or in time. The response is the same if I am dying to do business with you, mildly interested or not interested at all. What if you could track my behavior in more detail and respond in different ways depending on the actual level of interest I show by exploring your site?
Let's look at a couple of possible scenarios.
This person works for a competitor or is just learning about your industry and is seeking information only. There's no way they would ever hire you or buy your products. How would you know? You could send out a "probe" to gauge interest. For example, you know via advanced lead analytics that this lead has downloaded one and now a second of your top-funnel offers. You also have mid-funnel opportunities (like a consultation, free trial or a webinar), but this lead has never even visited those pages. Upon the second download you send out a single email to the lead reminding them of your mid-funnel content and inviting them to a free consultation. If the lead responds, you have moved them down the funnel and "warmed" them towards a possible sale. If not, you can now segment them as unqualified.
Most people assume that these folks will just pick up the phone and call you. Not necessarily. They may be doing due diligence and just aren't sure. They may be reluctant to contact you based on price or other common sales objections. But how would you know? You can find out by setting up triggers that gauge their interest and tendencies. For example if they visit your pricing page or free trial page frequently, you may want to reach out to them right away with a follow-up email or call. You can design your landing pages with progressively more required information in the conversion forms as leads move down the funnel. You can gauge their interest and respond quickly as they become more committed.
Granted, behavior driven lead nurturing isn't as elegant or direct as a Groupon coupon alerting you when you walk in a store, but for the Web it's a great alternative to drip campaigns and other impersonal tactics. In view of the general hatred of the email inbox, it makes sense to reduce the number of email blasts you send and focus more on specific opportunities with individual leads.
How are you building bridges rather than roadblocks with your inbound marketing leads?
Photo credit: Jesslee Cuizon