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6 steps to refine your lead nurturing strategy

You are collecting different leads via valuable content on your website. Your marketing team praises you for delivering the goods. But hey, do we see your sales team frowning? That could be because the leads you bring in get stuck at the top of the funnel, and don’t turn into paying customers. Did you know that, according to Marketing Sherpa*, 80% of marketing leads never convert into sales?

Well, keep this in mind: it’s not because someone gave you their information that they’re ready to hand over their money too. You need to earn their business. If people share their information, they are probably hungry for information and open to receive whitepapers and checklists. That doesn’t mean they’re about to buy your solution. According to a Marketo study** 50% of leads in any given system are not yet ready for purchase just yet.

That’s where lead nurturing can help. Why is that important? And how do you create a lead nurturing strategy that converts inbound traffic into customers? Read on and find out.

1. What exactly is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of building a relationship with your leads and guiding them through the different stages of their buyer journey until they are ready to make a purchase. To do so, you’ll need to identify the main problem or challenge your target audience is facing, show that you can solve their problem and that you are the best option. It’s crucial to provide your leads with relevant content at each stage of the funnel.

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  • Top of the funnel: building awareness about you and the problem you address → generate traffic & leads
  • Middle of the funnel: teaching people how to choose a solution (interest & evaluation/consideration…) → to generate prospects
  • Bottom of the funnel: explaining why your product is the best solution → to generate customers

2. Why is lead nurturing so important?

People who interact with your company for the first time rarely buy your solution. Leads who enter your database need to be a nurtured, guided towards the bottom of the funnel, until they’re ready for purchase.

Lead nurturing can help you:

  • Build brand awareness and be top of mind, so people will remember you once they are aware of the problem you can solve with your product or service.
  • Build brand trust by putting your leads’ interests first and showing your expertise in the field.
  • Activate dormant leads.
  • Shorten your long sales cycles.
  • Increase your number of qualified leads.
  • Stay connected with your audience until they are ready to buy.

3. Define your strategy to get started with lead nurturing!

Your strategy is a long-term plan to create and maintain relationships with your potential customers and lead them through your sales funnel. To visualise how prospects travel along that path, we’ve split the customer journey into 6 distinctive phases for you.

STEP 1 – Align marketing and sales

Gather your marketing and sales team around the table and decide what to do whenever a fresh lead comes in. After all, lead nurturing strategies are more effective when your teams are aligned on expectations, responsibilities and goals. And better coordination yields higher customer retention rates as well.

These are some questions you may want to ask yourself before setting up a lead management process:

  • Where will the leads be registered?
  • How will the leads be handled and qualified?
  • When will they be followed up on by marketing? And when will sales take over?
  • How do we define the right time to enter the lead nurturing program?
  • What are the milestones in the buyer journey?
  • How do we identify a lead, a prospect, a marketing qualified lead, a sales qualified lead, opportunity stages and a customer?
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By setting up a clear process you are certain that your incoming leads are handled correctly and that sales can concentrate on the most qualified leads. If you write the answers to these questions down in a standard procedure document, all teams will have shared expectations, responsibilities and goals.

STEP 2 – Define the goals that you want to achieve via lead nurturing

When defining your goals, there’s two consider two things to consider. Know what your quantitative goals are, the ones that you can numerically measure in order to track your audience’s progress. But also outline your qualitative goals, the ones that reflect the bigger picture. You are trying to organize and maintain leads’ actions and details and helping marketing and sales collaborating.

And how exactly do you do that? Set clear goals for your lead nurturing campaign, like the examples below:

  • Reactivate inactive prospects
  • Get more qualified leads
  • Move leads forward in your funnel/thinking
  • Turn leads into customers
  • Cross sell and upsell opportunities
  • Business reputation or brand awareness

Don’t forget to set more specific goals, reflecting each stage of the buyer journey and funnel. The goal for each of these stages might differ:

  • How is a potential client encouraged to move from one stage to the next?
  • How do you effectively guide them onward?

STEP 3 – Define the audience you want to nurture

By now, a clearly defined target audience or buyer persona should be in place. These contacts are most likely interested in your content, products or services and are united by common characteristics, like demographics and behavior. Basically, they are as close as can be to your ideal customer profile.

Some of these questions can help you to determine your audience or buyer persona:

  • What does your lead/prospect want to accomplish?
  • What goals drive their behavior?
  • How do they think?
  • How, where and when do they buy?
  • Why do they make certain buying decisions?

Having gathered this information, it will be easier for your marketing and sales team to create content that is truly relevant to your target customers. Haven’t created buyer personas yet? By all means check out one of our previous blogposts which will shed a clear light on how to create effective personas.

STEP 4 – Evaluate each stage of your buyer journey

Take a look at the path your target audience takes before purchasing your solution.

You will have to determine two things:

  • What are the biggest challenges of your buyer persona in each stage?

    In the previous step, your goal was to get to know your target audience better. In this step you will link these insights to your product or service and determine the challenges of your audience.

  • How can you solve these challenges?

    The previous question helps you define the pain points and challenges of your buyer persona. Now it’s time to think about how your service or product can help to solve these challenges.

STEP 5 – Track, measure and analyse

The main goal of lead nurturing is to your lead down the funnel and landing a sale. Along the way, don’t forget to collect data of your leads/prospects/customers to improve and optimise your program. This means you will have to think about the data you can collect with your campaign.

Look at general data:

  • How many leads come in?
  • How many get hand to the sales team?
  • How many enter into the lead nurturing program?

Depending on your goal, you could also look into more specific metrics:

  • Drive brand awareness: measure branded search or direct traffic to your website.
  • Increase leads or email opt-ins: measure how you’re growing your database.
  • Increase lead quality: look at conversions over time and measure how many marketing leads turn into sales leads.

This will help you optimise your lead generation process and adjust your overall strategy accordingly.

STEP 6 – create a content plan

At this point you’ve aligned your marketing and sales team. You also understand your goals and have a clear view of your buyer personas challenges throughout the different stages. Well done! Now it’s time to start working on your content.

  • Look at the content you already have. Can you reuse it or repurpose it and use it in your lead nurturing program?
  • Which crucial content is missing?
  • Determine what extra content you need to create and who will help you do the job.
  • Set up a content calendar.

In need of ideas what type of content works best in each stage of the buyer journey? Check out our article on that subject and start working on fresh content to help you guide your contact through the sales funnel.

* Marketing Sherpa
** Marketo

Conclusion

Lead nurturing is all about guiding your leads down the funnel with valuable content to earn their business. Why would you want to do that? Because none of the contacts entering your database will be ready to buy your solution right away. You’ll need to convince these leads that they have a problem, that you can solve their problem and that you are the best option for their problem or challenge. By following the 6 steps above, you’ll be the best possible guide for your contacts on journey through your sales funnel.

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