In this digital age, conventional methods of reaching, engaging and influencing prospects to buy just aren’t working anymore. Prospects don’t want to be bothered or sold to; they want help understanding their challenges and how to overcome them in a way that suits their needs best. The thing is, the best way to nurture leads will continually change over time. Yet for now, the best way your business can generate quality leads and guide them towards purchasing is the one below. Check out our revenue-winning lead nurturing strategy for maximising your future business (and feel free to swipe it!):
- Social Media Selling | The Ultimate Guide to Social Selling in 2021
- The Ultimate Guide To The Sales Prospecting Process (+ Email Templates)
- Separating Suspects And Prospects: Improve The Leads In Your Funnel
What is the definition of Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of building, developing and reinforcing customer relationships at every stage of the sales funnel to increase overall sales revenue. An effective lead nurturing strategy focuses on helping prospects and giving them the answers they need to build trust in your offering. All while raising brand awareness until prospects are ready to purchase.
In simple terms, lead nurturing helps prospects get to know your business and your offerings. It allows you to educate, inform, and build trust with them while subtly encouraging them to move through to the appropriate stage of the sales funnel.
How are you engaging your prospects, your new customers, your new clients and your maturing clients to move through your sales funnel?Tom Abbott, The SOHO Solution: 21 Selling Strategies For Growing Your Small Business
Explaining the Lead Nurturing Process
To help illustrate the lead nurturing process, think of the approach as a series of educational breadcrumbs that you’re leaving behind for prospects to discover. These crumbs are full of information about how you help solve their problems and include details on how to take action.
However, it’s important to note that a lead nurturing strategy is a twofold process. As Marcus Sheridan, author and inbound marketing advocate stated in They Ask, You Answer, a successful lead nurturing strategy focuses on reaching out to leads to answer their questions at precisely at the right time.
By doing this, you ensure the information you share with them is helpful and is what they need right then in the buying process to move on to the next stage. Ultimately, lead nurturing is also a process of juggling multiple channels to create an optimal experience for prospects.
Why do you need a lead nurturing strategy?
Before we discuss the details of our 6-step lead nurturing strategy in-depth, it’s essential to understand why adopting a lead nurturing strategy is crucial to the success of your business. To achieve this, take a look at several signs your business might need a lead nurturing strategy below to understand why implementing a strategy is so helpful:
Sign #1. Untimely follow-ups are costing leads
Very few leads are ready to buy after one discussion or interaction, with only 2% of sales made during the first point of contact. This stat sets businesses who don’t prioritise following up to lose potentially 98% of their sales leads. Unless they create a well-structured lead nurturing schedule that prioritises the promptness of contacting leads to increase the chances of them becoming qualified and converted into a customer.
Sign #2. You don’t know your leads well
An essential component of lead nurturing success is keeping your leads organised by segmenting them. Not only is it central to managing your sales pipeline, but it’s also fundamental to understanding who your customers are – which helps you determine how best to communicate and cater to them.
Sign #3. Your sales cycle is too long
Today’s buyers take more time than ever before to educate themselves and explore the options before making a buying decision, which has naturally made most sales cycles longer in the process. Lead nurturing helps to create an efficient, reliable and consistent sales cycle by refining the steps where customers often lose focus and interest to reengage. It doesn’t just stop leads from falling through the cracks – it increases your range to convert more.
Still don’t believe us when we say maintaining customer relationships is the best way to achieve business success? Take a look at the statistics below:
- Companies that exceed in the lead nurturing process produce 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. (Forrester Research)
- 79% of marketing leads never convert to sales with the lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of poor performance. (Marketing Sherpa)
- Companies with mature lead generation practices have a 9.3% higher sales quota achievement rate (CSO Insights)
What are the benefits of lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing as a sales strategy has heaps of benefits. While it is already a worldwide acclaimed technique that enables sales teams to increase sales in a given period. There are several other notable benefits to lead nurturing:
- Generates higher-quality leads
- Improves lead engagement
- Shortens the sales cycle
- Increase Average Order Value (AOV)
- Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Creates loyal customers
- Establishes industry authority
Ultimately, by developing an effective nurturing campaign, businesses feel more connected with leads, making it easier to establish a more substantial reputation in their industry, alongside other positive effects, such as shorter sales cycles and lower cost per customer acquisition-or in other words, a higher return on investment.
8 Core Lead Nurturing Components
The lead nurturing process requires a cross-channel approach to communication that combines content marketing, marketing automation and sales insights to create a system that forms and sustains customer relationships. Discover the essential components in detail below:
Lead scoring is crucial to determining which leads are worth nurturing and those not likely to convert. To identify where the lead is within the sales funnel, sales and marketing must come together to share relevant data and insights. Then use this to determine when and how to address each buyer with the most timely and relevant communications.
Content marketing is the process of creating relevant and valuable content; this includes content you share in your emails, website and social media channels.
Interconnects all of your communications channels to maintain consistent contact and exposure to leads.
“Lead nurture is still primarily centered on email marketing efforts, but the customer experience needs to span all channels to foster engagement and point-of-sale—from in-store, to mobile, sales, referral, social, and support.”
– Corinne Sklar, Global CMO, Bluewolf | Lead Nurturing Quotes
Websites are a great place to capture lead’s email addresses while also starting conversations.
Create a consistent experience for your buyers across channels by retargeting ads. (Website visitors retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert.)
Social media is s a critical component of cross-channel lead nurturing. While running social campaigns is excellent – when you connect your lead nurturing to your social efforts – they magnify one another.
Adding a personalised touch such as a hand-written card is an effective way to add a human element to your lead nurturing strategy.
Automating your lead nurturing workflow helps support the alignment of your marketing, sales and messaging efforts. So that the lead receives the most relevant communications at the most suitable time.
How to score leads for nurturing
To maximise the efficiency of your lead nurturing efforts, it’s crucial to determine which leads are worth nurturing and which are not likely to convert. Leads usually fall into five main segments, meaning your leads will either:
- Buy immediately without requiring prompting.
- Require time to consider their options but will still purchase without prompting.
- Will purchase without prompting but can also be persuaded to make a bigger purchase.
- Require nurturing before they will purchase.
- Will not buy regardless of how much they’re nurtured.
3-4 are the only segments you’ll need to nurture but to identify them; you’ll need to develop a lead scoring strategy that ranks leads based on the revenue they’re likely to provide. For your lead scoring system to be effective and thorough, here are the three areas that you should focus on:
1. Lead Fit
Lead fit is how well a lead matches your company’s usual buyer persona. To determine their fit, you must evaluate your lead’s demographics, and firmographics alongside using the BANT methodology as illustrated below. Demographic information should include:
- Job title
- Company size
- Geographical location
- Years of experience
Whereas firmographic information should include:
- Company size
- Company location
- Company annual revenue
2. Lead Interest
Identifying lead interest is the process of tracking a lead’s online behaviour and interactions on your website. Then assigning numerical values to these interactions to create an overall picture of their latent behaviours (engagement) and active behaviours (buying intent.) However, as a general rule, the longer a lead spends on your website and the more time they revisit – the better the lead’s interest.
3. Buyer’s Journey
Lastly, you’ll need to score leads based on where they are in the buyer’s journey (Awareness, Consideration or Decision.) To do this, you can look at which pages they’re browsing within your site. Discover the complete list of content for every step of the buyer’s journey below:
Types of Leads Classification
To further support your lead scoring process, it’s essential to understand the different types of lead classifications detailed below:
- Information Qualified Lead (IQL) or NQL (non-qualified lead): An Information Qualified Lead is a prospect who is at the start of their solution research process. Often, they’re not aware of the solutions you provide but have exchanged their personal details for your valuable content.
- MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads): Rather self-explanatory, but Marketing Qualified Leads are inbound leads from marketing channels. For example, paid ads, organic search, hosted events, webinars, social media, etc.
- SQL (Sales Qualified Leads): A sales qualified lead is a researched prospect prequalified by the marketing department and then by the sales team.
Our 6-step revenue-winning Lead Nurturing Strategy
While some leads will be ready for a discussion or even have projects on hand to help transition to the next step, most need time to get to know your business and offerings. Research shows that, on average, prospects need 10 touchpoints before they’re ready to turn into customers, with the process often taking 6 to 12 months to complete.
The most successful lead nurturing strategies include content that establishes credibility, addresses common questions and concerns, and persuades leads to take action. Swipe our 6 to a 12-month 5-step lead nurturing strategy below:
Step 1. Connect on LinkedIn
The first step you should take with leads is to connect with them on LinkedIn right away. Pretty much as soon as you receive their contact information. You can also choose to send them an email with more details if they request it. Then connect with them on any other appropriate social media platforms.
However, it’s critical to note that trying to sell someone your products or services in the connection request is the fastest way to get your account blocked. More so, ensure no one ever connects with you. Instead, treat online networking like you do in person by building the relationship first, adding value, and only then seeing if they need your product or service.
The best way to approach the first step of your lead nurturing strategy is to personalise the connection message by letting them know who you are and why you want to connect. Showing a real-world association of having friends, schools or interests in common is a great way to get their attention and increase your chances of them wanting to connect with you. To recap, when it comes to sending your prospect an initial LinkedIn connection, follow these four rules for success:
- Keep the message short (less than 140 characters)
- Never sell in the connection request
- Explain how you know each other/have something in common
- Include your name, position, company and website in the signature
3 LinkedIn connection request examples to swipe
- The “Thanks For Your Interest”
Hi [First name],
Thanks for your interest in [product or service] via [Platform/Form/Etc.] Let’s use LinkedIn to stay connected.
Step 2. Add prospects to marketing campaigns
We know it takes on average 10 touchpoints for a lead to go from first contact to closed deal, which is why marketing plays an important role in creating brand awareness and positive interactions that help your company stay top of mind with new leads.
To make sure your new contacts get to know your brand, add them to remarketing campaigns on social networks. This could include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google. In addition to remarketing campaigns, if you have their permission, add them to your email newsletter database so they stay up to date with what your company is doing.
Step 3. Determine their need to buy
After you’ve made initial contact, it’s time to check to see if the prospect has a need for your product or service. All too often, many of us make the mistake of attempting to sell our products or services too early, disengaging prospects and risking losing the sale later in the process. Use one of the email templates below to get started:
1. “Have You Looked Through Our Materials?“
Sale talks can stall when a prospect has concerns or questions but fails to address them. When you ask this question, you are giving a prospect permission to bring up anything he is thinking about.
Hi [First Name],
Thanks again for your interest in [product or service name]. Have you had a chance to look through the materials I sent you?
As a next step I suggest we schedule a call to discuss your needs and our range of solutions in more detail.
Are you available tomorrow at 2pm to discuss?
2. “Interested in our product?”
Pitching a product or service to a prospect who can’t use it is just wasting everyone’s time. Sometimes potential customers will respond to this question by saying your solution doesn’t include this or that feature when, in fact, it does. This gives you the chance to clear up any misunderstandings.
Hi [First Name],
At [event name] we launched [product name]. We’ve had an overwhelming response to it. Is this product something that would work for your project?
Step 4. Use Social Media to stay top of mind
Social media is a great way to stay top of mind with prospects. While your marketing department might be running marketing campaigns, it’s the sales representative’s job to adopt social selling strategies to further the sale. For this to happen, the sales representative should be connected with their leads on a social media platform and share regular updates relating to their product or service.
It’s also crucial to remember that if they’re asking all the right questions on social media, you’ll get great answers – more importantly, your followers will see that you’re asking those questions.
Ultimately, this means that when they come up against an obstacle, they’ll reach out to you for a solution because you’ve shown them that you’re interested in learning about your customer base, and you’re in touch with their needs. Best of all, you’re already in conversation with them. Below are the two best practices for staying top of mind with prospects on LinkedIn:
1. Post regular updates
People crave fresh content. They’re interested in receiving timely, topical, relevant updates, and they want to hear a well-informed, individual take on industry news and trends.Tom Abbott, Social Selling: 10 Essential Strategies to Prospect, Position and Present using Social Media
Engage your audience by posting updates that are interesting and relevant. Share with them all the knowledge you have. If you show great value and you share great content, people will see that you’re well informed and when they’re ready to make a buying decision, they’ll want to talk to you.
Here are different types of content a sales representative can consider sharing:
- Posts from the company’s social media page
- Photos of successful installations /uses of their products
- Testimonials from happy customers
- Company articles/blog posts
- Company videos
- Photos of the sales representative in action on the job
2. Interact with prospects’ posts
Sending a reply or direct message to a client to congratulate them on their latest news is a way of letting them know that you’re listening to them. By showing them that you’re paying attention to their progress, you’re strengthening your relationship with them, which may lead to future business.Tom Abbott, Social Selling: 10 Essential Strategies to Prospect, Position and Present using Social Media
One of the best ways to grab your prospect’s attention is to like and comment on their posts. Many social media platforms allow you to build lists of connections so you can easily find your prospects to interact with them. At a minimum, make sure to wish them a happy birthday and happy holidays throughout the year and like posts relevant to you.
Step 5. Send Value & Ask Emails
By this point, they should have a good understanding of your brand and offerings. The next 3-9 months of your nurturing campaign is the time to test to see if they have an interest in your offerings. Do this by sending a combination of Value Emails that focus only on providing value to your prospect and Ask Emails that ask for a meeting. Here are examples of both:
1. “Useful Tips For You”
Hi [First Name],
How’s your week going? We just worked with [company name] to help them with [provided benefit] and thought you might find some of the tips useful too.
You can watch them here in this video / see them here in this pdf.
Types of content to share in Value Emails
If you’re unsure of what valuable content to send, you could simply use your business’ demonstration, explainer or even a tip video. Whatever it is, make sure it adds value while positioning you as an expert on the subject matter. Here are some examples of other types of content you can send:
- Tip Video
- News article
- Report/Case Study
Step 6. Follow Up Using Statistics, Problem or Solution Ask Emails
When the point of your email is to book a meeting, it can be helpful to incite action by following the Solution, Problem or Statistic formula. This is where your emails include a solution you’ve provided, a problem people have that you can solve or a statistic that helps prove why people should use your solution. Here are examples of each:
Hi [First Name],
I just heard from our customer [company name] that they implemented [product name] and ended up [provided benefit]. I’d be happy to help you achieve this too.
Do you have time tomorrow at 2pm for a quick chat so I can find out more about where you’re at and how we can help?
Hi [First Name],
Some of the clients we’re working with have been saying “[insert your product and benefit. For example: I need flooring that looks great but doesn’t need to be replaced for years even with heavy traffic.] If this sounds like something you can relate to, I would be happy to discuss how we can help you with this too.
Hi [First Name],
We did a recent study of [insert study] and found that [insert study results. For example: 59% of accidents could be avoided if the proper construction materials were used.] If this sounds like something that you’d like to avoid too, I would be happy to discuss how we can help you with this.
4 tips to improve your Lead Nurturing Strategy
Last but not least these are the final ticks we have up our sleeves when it comes to improving your lead nurturing strategy into a well-rounded program:
Focus on multiple touches
Research suggests that, on average, most prospects receive ten marketing touches from the moment they become aware of you until they have converted into customers. While every lead is different, one thing is clear. Your competitors are also touching in with the same leads this many times. To differentiate yourself and get ahead, you’ll need to provide helpful content to address common questions and concerns at every stage of the leads buyer’s journey. Consider using a variety of content to capture and maintain prospects’ attention, like blog posts, whitepapers, social media, podcasts, and videos. Then you’ll be on your way to converting them into paying customers.
You want to make the e-mail as personal as possible so your message doesn’t come across as spam. By speaking directly to the customer’s needs and desires, you can make sure your voice is heard above all the other noise.Tom Abbott, Social Selling: 10 Essential Strategies to Prospect, Position and Present using Social Media
A strong relationship with a customer creates mutual trust and a lasting relationship that can lead to repeat business. As the saying goes, ‘People do business with people they know, like and trust’. For example, there are many ways to personalise your email marketing efforts to improve your lead strategy as a whole. No one wants to buy from a nameless brand or company to whom they can’t connect. This is ultimately why using your prospect’s names naturally in your sales email subject line is an excellent method of grabbing their attention and trust quickly.
By combining this type of personalisation with lead’s behavioural triggers, such as downloading gated content or visiting a specific page, you can deliver the right message to the right people at precisely the correct times.
Targeting an inbound lead with a timely follow-up call is far more efficient than cold-calling a list of possibly unqualified prospects. The probability of converting a lead into a sales opportunity is exponentially higher when you contact a lead immediately following a website conversion. From your previous lead scoring observations, you already know where they are in the buyer’s journey and have enough information to engage with the prospect about their role within their company.
Align marketing and sales
Too many companies think they have a marketing issue or a sales issue. When really, the most crucial aspect of success is knowing whether leads are being handled effectively. That’s why bringing the two departments together as an organisation rather than two separate entities is crucial for your lead nurturing strategy to be successful. Because once the alignment starts to trickle down, you’ll have people in the marketing team going back to the sales with questions and vice-versa.
The best method to align your sales and marketing team quickly is to set revenue targets together. Then consider lead nurturing goals for the year. You can then use these objectives to determine how many customers you need to achieve these goals, which will help your marketing team to create lead nurturing content like optimising relevant landing pages and managing campaigns.
Final word: Our Expert Lead Nurturing Strategy
When it comes to nurturing prospects, the first couple of months is the most important. This is when they’re excited about your brand or offering and have possibly shown interest in your products. The early stage of nurturing is when the most activity happens. You send multiple emails, connect with them on social, get your newsletters and see your social updates.
While the newsletter, marketing and social updates are consistent and should never stop, the number of personalised emails you send decreases as time goes on if they haven’t shown any interest.
As soon as a prospect shows interest by replying to an email, inquiring about a product or even clicking on a link, the number of touchpoints should increase. As this is when they’re actively considering your products or services.
Ultimately, by adjusting the number of touchpoints based on the activity of your leads, you minimise the chance of coming across as spammy. More so, you maximise the chance of catching their attention when they’re interested.