Hard-selling marketing strategies are less and less effective, and businesses themselves acknowledge the fact that it is preferable to nurture leads through the complete sales funnel and then retain them as loyal customers and brand ambassadors. Selling is a complex game with many rules and lead nurturing is a big part of this game.
Let us begin by understanding the concept of lead nurturing. It starts with the moment when someone types in their email address to receive news from your business. They have already developed a certain level of trust and interest, but are not yet ready to make the final commitment in the form of a purchase. This is where lead nurturing becomes important. Through the newsletters, personalised emails and offers you send to your leads, you build a relationship with them, you educate them and you keep your business visible without pressing for a sale.
Now let us move on and examine the anatomy of an effective lead nurturing program:
1. Segment Audiences and Create Personas
Segmentation is the key to success for any lead generation program. You have to gain an in-depth knowledge of each customer group and address them in a personalised manner, focusing on their interests, needs, and problems. Marketers have already devised a way to do so: by creating personas.
A persona is a prototype of the typical person in a specific group. You determine as much as you can of their level of education, social and family status, likely points of pain, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Then you start building your messages as if you are addressing this persona directly.
2. Develop Content for Each Segment
Some customer groups enjoy watching videos, others get the gist of the information from an infographic, while others prefer taking their time and reading a detailed article. This is why personas are useful – you will determine the form of presenting content adapted to each customer group, so that you send out your message in the way which is most likely to be enjoyed by the respective lead.
3. Guide Them along the Sales Path
How do you turn a lead into a customer? The answer is a 4-stage cycle which starts with learning about your business and products, continues with thinking about the need to buy a product, then with the decision to make the purchase and ends with the post-purchase behaviour.
You must guide the leads along this cycle of actions through a series of emails where content in the form of white papers, tutorials, webinars, case studies and free trials encourages a purchase and then turns the customer into a valuable brand ambassador for your business.
4. Automate Your Emails
Email automation is the only survival tactic when you have a list of thousands of leads, split by various segments, each with their own schedule of sending emails. A good emailing service such as Mailchimp helps you schedule your email marketing strategy for weeks ahead and allows you to focus on more lead nurturing and marketing strategies.
5. Monitor, Measure and Compare
The end purpose of any lead nurturing program is to convert as many leads into customers as possible. This means that you need to analyse the results for each campaign, compare it to other campaigns, for the same customer segment or for other segments, and determine your ROI per campaign. Only when you have the cold numbers in front of your eyes can you say whether a campaign was successful or not and can start looking for ways to improve it for the future.
A good lead nurturing program goes hand in hand with lead generation campaigns. For instance, you should add a client referral program at the end of a successful lead nurturing cycle, by encouraging satisfied customers to recommend your products to their friends and win special prizes or discounts for each new lead they bring.