The 3 Proven Techniques for a Thriving Lead Nurturing Campaign

 

You’ve got your lead, a potential new customer, now what? While you may feel your job as a direct response marketer is done, it really has just begun because it is sales that we are after!

Most leads don’t immediately convert to sales, regardless of where they enter the sales funnel. Most often the bigger the sale, the longer it takes. So, nurture them, court them, play the long game…however you want to describe the process, it’s time to build a relationship and encourage them to become active prospects—and eventually, customers—with a nurturing campaign.

From Lead to Prospect to Customer
The work of nurturing a lead may be frustrating for results-oriented marketers and eager salespeople. It’s only natural to hope—and tempting to expect—that a potential customer submits a web form or replies to a direct mail package because they’re ready to buy. Sometimes they are, and the sale closes quickly.  But more often, the lead needs some support “getting there.”

According to MarketingSherpa, 73% of leads are not ready to buy when they first give you their contact details. They may be gathering information related to their challenges, exploring their options, or deciding which company or vendor has the right solution. And this is where the concept of nurturing them through the sales funnel—a campaign designed to connect with leads on a regular basis and engage them as they move from lead to prospect to customer—comes into play.

Onto Our 3 Proven Techniques
Here are the 3 things we believe you need to keep your lead nurturing campaign productive and results-oriented:

1. Stay In It To Win It

The challenge—let’s call this the opportunity—is to earn the trust of people who might when they’re ready, become customers. And this tends to happen over time. It’s sort of like dating. Saying “yes” to a chat over a cup of coffee doesn’t mean they’re ready for a trip down the aisle! There’s a lot of “getting to know you’s” in between, and you’ve got to remain committed to the conversation.

And as the marketing relationship evolves, so does its status and messaging. A lead becomes a prospect, and what starts out as a “thank you for requesting this exclusive content” e-mail becomes a “here’s an opportunity to learn even more about this fascinating topic (or product, service, etc.)” email. And that might lead to a “don’t miss out on this special promotion” direct mail offer. You keep inching closer to the sale with each engagement.

When developing your initial offers, come up with a nurturing series timeline (don’t forget your campaign buckets!) and develop your supporting campaign materials and offers. Stick with your audience’s preferred channels—if the lead arrived from digital media, use email for the primary medium for nurturing campaigns; if the lead came in via direct mail or a trade show, use direct mail as primary contact medium.

You want your brand to stay top of mind, so you’ll want to use the media, content, and offers that are appropriate at each stage, while maintaining creative consistency across media channels.

2. Respect the Buyer’s Journey
How exactly do leads want to engage? Well, that depends on your industry, customers, and the typical sales cycle. But it’s helpful to look at a simple 3-stage sales funnel representing the buyer’s journey:

  1. Awareness. Most people begin with an effort to understand their problems better. A lead captured at this stage is seeking basic insights about potential solutions, so keep them biting at softer-sell, education-oriented offers.
  1. Consideration. By this point, the potential buyer is actively assessing the various ways to solve their problems. A lead who comes in here wants to dig a little deeper, get more details into your approach and why it might be the right one for them. This makes them a “hotter” prospect.
  1. Decision. They’re almost ready to buy, so it’s safe to consider this lead a hot prospect. They’re comparing specific solutions and narrowing down their options. They’re open for a littler persuasion. Cha-ching!

But wait—how do you know what stage your lead is in?

Go back to the offer that drew them in—and that nurturing campaign schedule you created. If a new lead filled out a web form to gain access to a detailed case study, they’re probably well into the consideration or even decision stage. They may already be talking with a salesperson, getting some one-on-one nurturing. Your marketing nurturing strategy is to keep feeding the prospect product-aligned and value-focused content and offers.

3. Ask for the Sale!
You want to help your leads-turned-prospects trust you. That’s why your nurturing campaign focuses on providing them with relevant, thoughtful content and offers. And as we said, we’re building this trust so they’re comfortable making a commitment. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it easy for them to “buy now” at any point along the journey

You just don’t know if or when they’re going to end up making a purchase—it could be sooner, later, or never. What you both know, however, is that you’re hoping to collect revenue as a result of the communications, so ask for their business. You don’t need to push them or pitch a hard-sell, even if the prospect seems close to decision time.

Bonus Technique
And since we’re direct response marketers interested in continued response and engagement through the lead nurturing process, we recommend testing your nurturing campaigns just like you do your standard lead-generating campaigns. (Don’t miss 3 Types of Marketing Content that Drives B2B Sales Leads!) In addition to boosting lead-to-sale conversions, you can pick up invaluable insights about your prospects and customers you can apply to all of your initiatives.

Contact us to learn more.