Guest post by Alexandre Sagala.
Effective lead nurturing is crucial to successful b2b marketing. “Lead nurturing can help you improve your lead conversions over time.” “Lead nurturing will generate an increase in sale opportunities up to 20%.” “Lead nurturing can help you build a trusted relationship with your economic buyer.” Understanding that not every lead is ready to buy right away, but that it’s less costly to convert an existing lead than to generate a new one, you may be asking yourself, “I need to do lead nurturing right—where do I start?”
Before starting with the execution of lead nurturing campaigns, you need to spend time planning. Ask yourself and answer these questions:
- Do I understand my buyers’ buying cycle? This is extremely important. You need to be able to map out your typical buyer’s buying cycle. It is the basis of any good nurturing campaign since you will building your nurturing campaign content and messages on each step of the buying cycle. Involving sales at this time is a good idea. Confirm your thoughts on the buying cycle with them. They understand it since they deal with buyers all the time.
- Do I have enough quality content for each stage of the buying cycle? Ensure you have content and the different means to deliver that content at the appropriate time to the appropriate buyer. You can have the best buying cycle map but if you don’t have content you won’t be able to nurture your prospects correctly. To make sure you have the right content consider what goes through a potential customer’s mind as he or she makes a buying decision. Are they looking for more information on the product? Do they need more explanations on the value proposition?
- How will I measure my results? Will it be by tracking number of closed sales? Will it be by percentage of buyers moving from one stage to another in my buying map? Make sure you know this before you start so you can measure the results of your nurturing campaigns accordingly.
- What do I plan to achieve? Do you want to see an increase in the numbers of sales closed? Do you want to build a trusted relationship with your economic buyer? There are different objectives possible from a lead nurturing campaign. Make sure you know why you are doing it and then communicate it internally. This will set the right expectations with everyone in your business and make it easier to interpret campaign results.
Typically, a lead nurturing program uses these communication mechanisms: emails, case studies, articles, events, podcasts, white papers, social media messages and webinars. Use the map that you built during your planning stage and map content pieces (emails, case studies on product successes, invitation to a webinar) to each step. Think about what type of information the potential buyer is looking for at each stage. What questions will the buyer want answers to? Provide those answers using the mechanisms listed above.
Good practice dictates that mechanism be mixed and matched at each step since different buyers’ prefer different means of communication (written vs. audio vs. video). You should also ensure you are trying to move the potential buyer to the next stage of the buying cycle with your communications. Providing a way to get in contact with sales during the later phases is also a good practice.
An example of simple lead nurturing campaign could be:
- Day 1: Visitor downloads whitepaper on “Effective lead nurturing” (capture visitor information so we can communicate with him).
- Day 3: Lead is sent email thanking him for the download and inviting him to a webinar on lead nurturing.
- Day 7: Lead attends webinar. Send follow-up email asking if he would be interested in learning more how your product can help with lead nurturing.
- If “yes,” schedule a demo with sales. (qualified lead!)
- If “no,” continue nurturing.
- Day 15: Email recent customer success story, in related industry if possible.
- Day 21: Email “touching base” note. Offer other valuable information (case study, new blog post etc..)
- Day 30: Prospect calls up sales (qualified lead!)
Spacing and number of communications should be based on the length of your average sales cycle and complexity of product/services being sold. The more complex and the longer the sales cycle is, the more widely spaced the communications should be.
With this plan and information in place, you should be ready to start your nurturing your leads. If you start a lead nurturing campaign after reading this article l would be interested in knowing how it went. Let me know by email (contact information is on website listed below.)
Alexandre Sagala is the co-founder of Alsamarketing, a provider of marketing automation software that helps marketers convert and nurture online visitors into customers.