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How To Nurture Your Prospect Along The Inbound Marketing Sales Path

Posted by Murray Sye

on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 @ 09:47 AM

Sourcing and converting leads is a dominant force for inbound marketers. As an inbound marketer, you're probably driven by the number of leads you generate for your company. But not all leads are created equal. Some leads present real opportunities for converting to sales but aren't quite ready to buy and require a longer process. Why let these good leads go to waste?

 

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If marketing could "nurture" all leads until they were fully mature and ready to close and then, only when they are ripe and ready, hand them off to sales for closure, the sales group's time and efforts would be maximized.

FACT: Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. (Source: Gleanster Research)

The first step to turning lukewarm leads into hot, quality leads is through lead nurturing. Once you've initially generated your leads, it's important to nurture them with content and offers to guide them closer to a purchase. Creating "MOFU" or, "middle of the funnel" content will help you achieve just that.

Content plays a critical role in every stage of the inbound marketing process, from generating awareness about your company to helping convert leads into customers. But the types of content you should use to achieve each of those goals are often very different from each other, which means you need to ensure you're creating content for every stage of the buying cycle.
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5 Steps To Setting Up A Lead Nurturing Campaign Through Email

There are certain steps you need to follow in order to ensure the efficiency of your emails. For instance, you shouldn't be pummeling recipients with sales pitches. Instead, you should start out by sending useful, low-commitment information with content-based calls-to-action. Gradually, you will introduce a middle-of-the-funnel call-to-action that is tightly related to your initial point of contact.

Determine your goal

Before you set the goal of your lead nurturing campaign, you should decide what actions make a lead sales-ready. For example, if someone downloads a whitepaper, they may just be doing research and perhaps are not quite ready to speak with a sales rep. Therefore, you should add them to a lead nurturing campaign that further qualifies them. If that person comes back and requests a demo, that's a much better indication that they are ready to buy. Then, you can send them to a sales rep.

Select a persona

Ask yourself, what problems are you helping them solve? This is key for helping you create the content for your lead nurturing campaign. Your persona should provide a vivid picture of who you're ideally trying to reach. Go as far as giving them a name, a job, responsibilities, and hobbies. If you haven't created your buyer persona yet, follow the steps outlined in this blog post.

Repurpose existing content

Now that you've decided what makes a person sales-ready, you can choose which content you should send to your fresh leads. As you might have figured by now, content is a key piece of lead nurturing. Just because someone converts on your website, doesn't mean you should jump straight into sending them an email about requesting a quote or a demo. You need to nurture them through the sales funnel first to make them "readier" to buy.

Instead of pitching your product as the greatest thing since sliced bread, you should first offer value. Examples of valuable offers include videos, webinars, ebooks, blog posts and whitepapers. You don't have to create new content for your lead nurturing emails. If you have a backlog of content, utilize those assets. If they've been successful at converting leads in the past, there's a good chance the leads you're nurturing now will find value in them as well.

Set up a timeline

Your business has a typical sales cycle, and so should your lead nurturing campaigns. Typically, it's a good idea to send two to three emails to your prospects in a lead nurturing campaign. This means you might want to space out your emails monthly. With lead nurturing, patience is a virtue. It's important to remember not to rush into the sale. Instead, let it take its natural course.

Don't be afraid to experiment with different times and see what best resonates with your audience. For example, if your typical cycle runs 30 days, you may want to set up a campaign for emails to be sent out on the 1st, 10th, and 20th days following a conversion.

Fact: 75% of leads buy within 18–24 months. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

Measure and improve

The last step in setting up a lead nurturing campaign is to ensure the accurate tracking of your emails. You need to make sure you know what's working and what's not, so you can continue to improve. Have metrics in place that tie to your goals set in step one.

Looking to drive branding and awareness? Measure branded search or direct traffic to your website. Looking to increase lead quality? Measure quality conversions or lead ratings over time. Interested in generating new leads or email opt-ins? Measure how you're growing your database as a result of your lead nurturing efforts.

As your campaigns run, make sure to experiment with the offers you send, subject lines and the calls-to-action found within the email. There's always room to improve your campaign.

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Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
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