Lead Nurturing 101
Today’s buyers are more empowered than ever. They are self-educated and evaluate multiple options before making a purchase decision. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Marketo, approximately 50 percent of leads are not yet ready to buy. So, with the majority of efforts focused on the leads who are ready to purchase, how do businesses continue building relationships with the 50 percent who aren’t?
The answer? Lead nurturing.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Anyone who has worked in sales can tell you how much time goes into nurturing leads from a prospect, down the sales funnel to a paying customer. Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships through automated, ongoing communications, and marketing automation is the tool that makes it possible. Using marketing automation, businesses are now able to track lead behavior across multiple channels and automate a real-time response with personalized, adaptive content, providing them the opportunity to build better relationships, establish thought leadership and expedite the sales cycle.
The Lead Nurturing Campaign
At the core of any successful marketing strategy, and one of the most valuable cards in the marketing automation deck, is the lead nurturing campaign. Before you can begin developing a lead nurturing campaign, you first must define the campaign goals, both qualitative and quantitative. What business outcomes do you hope this campaign will achieve and how can you measure the success?
By identifying key success metrics, you will discover what works and what doesn’t as your campaign evolves. Once you’ve established your goals, you are ready to begin developing your lead nurturing campaign. The process is composed of three important steps.
Step 1: Identify Your Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer. Understanding your buyer personas helps to determine the most efficient ways to engage with them. There are four important factors to consider: who they are, what they want, where they find it and the challenges they typically face.
The Who: Many characteristics can help define a buyer persona. The most popular are demographics (B2C) and firmographics (B2B).
- Marital status/family
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- Company size
- Company location
- Geography served
- Number of products/services
Another commonly used identification method is the BANT process. With BANT you assess the leads’ budget (can they afford you?), authority (are they the decision-makers?), need (does the product/service you offer help solve their problems or achieve their goals?) and time (what is the purchase timeline?).
The What: What are your buyers’ goals? What do they hope to achieve by purchasing your product or service?
The Where: Where do your buyers do their research? What channels do they prefer to engage on? What type of content do they engage with?
The Challenge: What obstacles do they encounter that prevent them from making a purchase? What fears or objections do they commonly express? How can you help them overcome these challenges?
Step 2: Map the Customer Journey
Understanding a lead’s journey to becoming a customer will help you identify which topics are important and when. At each stage of the buyer journey, it’s important to understand what actions/events take place, what challenges arise, what questions your leads will have and what criteria must be met for them exit to the next phase of the journey.
A lead’s life cycle can be complicated, so to start, we recommend considering three stages: early, mid and late.
Early Stage: Awareness
In the awareness stage, prospects realize that they need the type of product or service you offer. The content at this stage should be educational, providing general information about your industry, service or product type.
Mid Stage: Consideration
In the mid stage, prospects are committed to change and are exploring the options available. At this stage, the content should provide prospects with the information necessary for their research and, in doing so, establish credibility and demonstrate both knowledge and thought leadership.
Late Stage: Decision
In the final stage, prospects determine which product or service best matches their needs. Here the content should highlight a business’s value proposition. What separates the business from the competition? Why should prospects purchase this product or service versus another?
Step 3: Plan Your Content Strategy
Now that you have identified your buyer personas and mapped the customer journey, you will use that information to create your content strategy. The content strategy ensures that the right content is delivered to the right people, in the right place at the right time. For each stage of your customer’s journey, the content plan should include:
The Content Topic(s): What topics are important at this stage in the journey? What questions can be answered?
The Content Type(s):
Awareness Stage: Videos, blog posts, quizzes, infographics
Consideration Stage: Newsletters, events, white papers, webinars
Decision Stage: Case studies, pricing comparisons, demos
The Delivery Frequency: How often will your leads receive the content?
Once you’ve identified the content, review what you already have and determine what you still need. Keep in mind that well-written content with high-value information can always be repurposed into different formats and reused.
After the nurturing campaign has launched, it’s important to continually review and optimize performance. Once your campaign has run long enough to gather baseline metrics, A/B testing is an excellent way to make gradual, calculated improvements. Consider testing elements such as subject lines, content, email design elements, send time and frequency. It’s important to understand what’s working and what isn’t, so remember to test only one change at a time and to test it against an unaltered control version.
Marketing automation provides endless opportunities but requires a significant amount of work upfront. That’s why 63 percent of companies outsource all or part of their marketing automation strategy. The good news is, if you’re ready to use marketing automation to take your business to the next level, help is here.
Ready to develop a lead nurturing campaign for your brand? Contact us today!