Lead Nurturing is the process of engaging prospects by providing the information and dialogue they need at each stage of their buying process to position your company as the best choice to help them achieve their business objectives.
It is about keeping conversations going over time, building relationships and allowing the creation of interest in products and/or services while bringing the leads to sales-ready status.
The key actions to lead nurturing can be summed up to:
- Maintaining permission to stay in contact, through adding value
- Establishing key ideas, perspectives, and viewpoints
- Monitoring for signs of progress through the buying process
Lead nurturing is exceptionally effective in articulating your value proposition to maintain, in a subtle and consistent manner, a stream of relevant information that is important for the audience to know.
Lead Nurturing Systems
Nurturing involves maintaining a relationship with leads through regularly-scheduled, customized communications.
- Lead nurturing is scheduled at regular intervals to deliver the benefits of a multi-touch campaign.
- With lead nurturing systems, subsequent action points in the campaign can be based on the precise activity of the lead.
- These campaigns guide prospects individually through the funnel according to their lead characteristics.
- Three key characteristics are: Demographics, BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing), Behavioural Indicators.
- Lead Characteristics are critical signifiers that determine the sales-readiness of a lead.
- Lead scoring ranks a persons level of interest and sales readiness according to a pre-determined scoring methodology.
- Marketing communications are customized to match the prospect’s lead characteristics and degree of “sales-readiness”.
- Every activity the prospect does is given a score.
- When the scores reach a pre-determined threshold, the lead is deemed sales-ready and transferred to the sales team.
How do you develop lead nurturing?
It pays to know, in detail, the four types of lead nurturing campaign which constitutes Incoming Lead Processing, Stay in Touch Campaign, Accelerators, and Lead Lifecycle Campaign. Together, these processes comprise all the necessary actions and campaigns to help ensure the stream of more and better qualified leads for your sales team.
1. Incoming Lead Processing
The first goal of the incoming lead processing is to determine what goes to sales and what gets nurtured. Many companies send everything while others let sales chery-pick or call everyone. Regardless of what strategy you use be sure that you have good processes and service level agreement in place for how sales will follow up and deal with any lead they get.
It’s important to define a “sales-ready” lead and send only those. Common ways to define “sales-ready” include: demographic, BANT (budget, authority, need, timeline), completeness of data profile, behavioral attributes, and lead score.
Another type of incoming lead processing to take into account is to have time establishing permission for nurturing and how your prospects opt-in or opt-out. CAN-SPAM only is not good for nurturing but a combination of single opt-in and double opt-in approach proves more realistic for providing value. On another note, pending opt-in allows you to start a relationship while giving the lead the opportunity to opt-out at any point.
The last kind of incoming lead processing is offering prospects the ability to customise their communications with you. You can ask prospects how often they want to hear from you, whether they want html or text, phone calls, direct mails, etc. Let prospects customize nurturing communications by frequency, format, and interests to establish preferences.
2. Stay in Touch Campaign
This is useful for prospects that are not ready to go to sales. They form the backbone of your lead nurturing program by dripping out relevant content to prospects overtime and help build trust and credibility for your company.
The key to successful stay in touch campaign is to deliver the right content to your prospects based on their buying stage and buying profile.
Buying stages include early stage which comprises though leadership and best practices to build brand and awareness; middle stage include buyers, RFP templates and industry information to help structure research; and late stage having company-specific information to help evaluate and re-affirm selection.
In the sales cycle, the larger the purchase the more people involved in the purchase process.
Content that is customized by category is more valuable, that is by industry, role (doers vs. buyers, job function), company size, geography, product, etc.
Once you’ve find out your buying stages and buying profiles, it’s a straightforward process to map all the content you have and then you’re ready to start nurturing by sending the right content to each prospect.
In content mapping, remember:
- Map your existing content
- Blank cells determine your content roadmap
- Short content is good
- Test and optimize
- Start small, think big and adapt quickly
Accelerator campaigns are behaviorally triggered campaigns that attempt to help prospect move along the buying cycle faster by watching what they do and providing ‘nudges’ along the way.
Move prospects between Stay in Touch tracks, or run independently. Start basic, then evolve.
4. Lead Lifecycle Campaign
There are 3 important categories to be familiar with:
a. Lead hand-off campaign – is about the automated process of sending sales one at a time. It can be critical because when you engage your sales, time is of the essence and the odds of connecting go down quite a bit overtime.
b. Lead recycling – This is the most important process a company needs to implement. The goal of lead recycling is to re-assign and track the difference for any reason to not immediately include by fail.
Get ‘buy-in’ from sales. By setting up this program, you¥re taking away the burden of following up with lower-ranked leads.
b1. Consider qualifying more thoroughly up front. This places are bigger burden on marketing. But in the long run, everyone wins. Leads that are simply inquiring at this point and are months away from seriously evaluating options should all go straight into this nurturing program. They¥re just not ready to be turned over.
b2. Set up systems that allow sales to easily forward prospects that need to be recycled. They should include lost opportunities, delayed decisions, and warm leads that have turned cold.
c. Customer campaign – Marketing sales alignment is imperative. Some leads convert to customers in a week, other sales cycles are longer. You can either schedule emails up to one year in advance and set preferred time intervals between emails in lead nurturing campaigns.