Lead Nurturing: Your Online Marketing Secret Weapon

Nurture and believe

On this blog, we talk a lot about generating new traffic to your business’ Web site and converting that traffic into qualified leads that help your business grow.

But we haven’t talked much – yet – about what to do once you’ve got those leads. How do you use Internet marketing to help progressively introduce those leads to the value that your product or service provides and to support them towards deciding to buy from you?

That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is all about setting up an automated system – usually via email, but increasingly through sophisticated personalization tools on Web sites, too – to deliver targeted content to your leads to help bring them to the next step towards becoming your customer.

As I mentioned in a previous post, your site should have a range of offers, targeted to people who are just starting to research your product or service category, targeted to people who are considering which company to buy from and targeted to people who are ready to buy from you (we call these stages Top of Funnel, Middle of Funnel and Bottom of Funnel for short)

Your lead nurturing campaigns are automatically triggered when someone opts-in to an offer at one of these stages and educate that person towards being ready for the next stage.

How it helps Internet marketing success

Lead nurturing is incredibly effective as an online marketing tool. Here are some sample data points:

  • Leads that have been nurtured through an automated campaign produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities (Source: DemandGen Reports)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing are able to generate 50% more Bottom of Funnel leads at 33% lower cost per lead than their competitors (Source: Forrester Research)
  • Effective lead nurturing campaigns have massively higher click-through rates than standard email blasts. Click-through rates hover at between 2-5% for email blasts, vs. 20-40% click-through for lead nurturing campaigns (Source: DemandGen Reports)

5 keys to effective lead nurturing campaigns

Here are the main keys to success when it comes to lead nurturing:

  1. Define your audience
    Be as precise as you can, building as vivid a picture of your intended recipient as possible. Consider where they are in their buying cycle, what their job title is, what goals they might have and what challenges they might be facing. Then segment your messages as tightly as possible to those needs and attributes.
  2. Offer something of value
    Don’t just beat your leads over the head with a sales pitch. I don’t like it when it happens to me, you don’t like it when it happens to you: nobody likes it. Instead offer something that’s likely to be of value to your target segment.
  3. Set clear, measurable and meaningful goals for your campaigns
    So you’ve defined your audience, and the valuable content you want to offer them. What do you want them to do next? How does that action help your business? Ideally, you’d want people to respond to an offer that represents the next stage of their buying journey. Maybe that’s attending a Webinar, downloading an eBook or just checking out some specific targeted content on your Web site. Either way, you should be able to measure that response and have a clearly defined, quantifiable sense of what success looks like before you start.
  4. Set up a timeline for your campaign
    Typically a lead nurturing campaign will consist of 2 or 3 sequenced emails, spread over a period of time. How long that period of time should be really depends on the typical length of your sales cycle. How long does it typically take people to move from being Top of Funnel leads to being your customers? If it’s 30 days, you might want to schedule your campaign to go out on day 1, day 10 and day 20 to educate leads throughout that cycle.
  5. Measure and optimize
    It’s almost impossible to get things perfect the first time. That goes for lead nurturing as much as anything else in life. So monitor the success of your campaigns. Adjust your segmentation of your audience, tweak your offer, modify your timeline to improve your results. Find out what your prospects respond to and do more of that.