Buyers today are more educated than ever. They’re aware of their pain points and already have an idea who can help them before sales even builds a pitch. In fact, today’s buyers do so much research on their own that they don’t engage with sales until late in the buying cycle. But by implementing lead nurturing strategies into your marketing campaigns, you can create an ongoing dialogue with your qualified prospects, leads and existing clients.
Not only can this build valuable prospect engagement, but better sales opportunities, too. In fact, effectively nurtured leads produce a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities.
So what’s the catch?
Bridging the concept between lead nurturing and developing an effective marketing program is challenging. Also, marketers often don’t realize that lead nurturing isn’t a one-and-done single follow-up. It’s not constant email blasts. And it’s not a few social media posts directed toward your prospects and buyers.
Lead nurturing is, however, the process of building relationships between marketers and their audiences. This exchange of information between the two benefits both parties. For example, a company might offer a relevant eBook in exchange for some basic profile information from a prospect. It’s this valuable interaction that builds brand preference and provides insight.
But since no two organizations are the same, no two solutions are the same. That’s why lead nurturing takes a variety of forms. On a tactical level, there are multiple types of lead nurtures—not just your basic top-, middle- and bottom-funnel nurtures. To drive serious conversion rates, you need to implement the basic nurtures, as well as advanced nurture programs.
Here are four advanced nurtures that can help your team drive leads throughout multiple touch points.
A perpetual nurture is an ongoing communications strategy designed to keep brands top of mind. Examples include strategies such as annual event marketing, monthly social media campaigns and weekly blog posts. Each of these tactics can be designed to reach your prospects and existing buyers at multiple touch points (top, middle and bottom of the sales funnel).
For example, annual event marketing can help you reach new prospects that attend annual events as a means to “shop around” (top of funnel). Or your presence could position you as a thought leader, encouraging interested leads in approaching your team for more information (middle of the funnel). But more than anything, event marketing is an excellent way for your sales team to close deals (bottom of the funnel).
If you need something less demanding on your resources, consider implementing social media elements into your monthly marketing campaigns. In this blog post, HubSpot outlines eight simple ways to integrate social media and lead nurturing.
A mid-funnel nurture is one of your biggest opportunities to accelerate your interested prospects into buyers. At this point, you have their attention and you likely have some data on them, allowing you to better segment and test your prospect list for the future. However, effectively nurturing mid-funnel leads (nearing the bottom of the funnel) is challenging—that’s why it’s critical that you reach them with relevant content at the right time and the right place. But keep in mind that this content needs to show them how your solutions can solve their problems.
Mid-funnel is where leads are introduced to your brand and develop an affinity for it over your competitors. That’s why you should offer up a piece of high-value content. Strong examples of content at this stage in the funnel include offers such as case studies, buyer assessments and reviews and testimonials—all of which can be deployed through an email marketing campaign (and marketing automation) or a social media campaign. Creating content like case studies and buyer assessments is an advanced technique. It requires data, benchmarks and customer success stories that show true ROI.
Case studies are powerful because they show your prospects your solutions have in fact helped others. Buyer assessments are valuable because they help you and buyers define their pain points, allowing you to offer a solution that’s relevant to their business needs. These assessments help buyers—and your organization—because this insight into a prospect’s pain points can help you inform your messaging down the road.
These nurtures sometimes fall outside of the traditional marketing and sales responsibilities, relying on other functions within your organization. Peripheral efforts can include speaking engagements—perhaps from a creative director, an account manager or even a director of finance. These nurtures also include case study opportunities, focus groups and other peer events where thought leaders can gather and swap challenges and ideas. If your organization attends industry events, leverage the opportunity to host a roundtable discussion or even deliver a presentation. The Q&A sessions alone can be valuable to your organization because you’re gathering real-time data from valuable industry members.
Another notable tactic for peripheral nurtures is training. The sky's the limit with this approach because no matter what your organization sells, your buyers will need to know how to use it. Whether it’s a SaaS platform, social media tool or health record software, a training session can go a long way in connecting prospects and your brand. In return, you obtain information from your subscribers or attendees—allowing you to customize solutions aligned to their pain points.
Most marketers stop nurturing after a deal closes. But what they fail to remember is that existing buyers are the strongest brand advocates—which is why it’s crucial to keep the dialogue going. Post-sale nurtures are built to leverage existing solutions and products. This helps organizations avoid shelf wear of their offerings while providing customer value.
With post-sale nurtures, organizations can cross-sell and upsell their products. For example, a Web-based software company might sell a contact dashboard designed to help clients organize and grow their contacts and database. A few months down the road, that same platform might be even more successful by adding customizable features like calendars and reporting.
Training programs are also useful tactics for post-sale nurtures. For example, a medical device company could sell a patient identification scanner to a hospital—then offer a quarterly training program for new employees. A SaaS company could sell its software platform and offer discounted training for every new license a company buys. It’s here, at the post-sale nurture, where companies can sell their complementary features and tools to buyers who already believe in their solutions.
Lead nurturing helps both parties. To keep the dialogue going with your prospects and buyers, start with an overall marketing strategy, develop valuable content and ensure you have the data and technology in place to execute these advanced nurture programs.
Need more inspiration? Check out these companies that excelled at advanced lead nurturing in 2014 and 2015, then share your best ideas for lead nurturing in the comment section below.