A lead may remain a lead for a very long time. This is why a lead nurturing approach consists of maintaining a long-term relationship with the lead until they convert into a customer. This strategy requires much tact and organisation.
What is lead nurturing?
Another way of describing lead nurturing would be a process by which commercial contacts are placed in an incubator until they “hatch”. This practice is found, above all, in the B2B domain. The act of buying is rarely an impulsive one in this field, and the decision cycle may take months, even years.
Lead nurturing consists of maintaining a long-term relationship with one’s leads until they are converted into customers. This involves regularly supplying them with adapted content in order to fuel their thinking and steer them towards the act of buying. Indeed, according to a CEB study, 57% of the buying process in B2B has already been accomplished even before talking to a salesperson. This figure alone illustrates the importance of a well thought out lead nurturing approach.
How can you implement a lead nurturing strategy?
A lead nurturing strategy will build on inbound marketing campaigns, as the two concepts are linked. New communication channels, in particular, social networks and blogs, enable a company to show the extent of their expertise as well as their ability to take action with regard to topical subjects or trends. It should be noted that email still plays a dominant role in this type of approach.
The first stage is to correctly identify your targets: who are they? What are their requirements? What is their situation? To help you in this identification, you can use sales & marketing intelligence solutions, such as Sparklane (add link to www.sparklane.fr) for example. This solution will enable you to refine your lead targeting, particularly thanks to the business signals that can be detected from their business developments. This “hypertargeting” will prove very useful to you in order to adapt your content according to their situation.
That said, “manually” managing the distribution of appropriate content, by ensuring that the right person receives the right message at the right time, can very quickly become tedious if you have a large volume of leads.
So-called marketing automation solutions can industrialise this process. Among these, we could mention HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot (Salesforce), Eloqua (Oracle), SilverPop (IBM), Easiware and Webmecanik (formerly Eureos). A previous article on this blog provided a very useful overview of these solutions for those who wish to use them Marketing Automation.
Combined with CRM, these solutions will enable you to rank the leads depending on their maturity. Here, we’re talking about lead scoring. You will then be able to adapt the type of message accordingly and the medium that will bear the message. You can create different scenarios with different content in mailings, in several successive stages, depending on the progression of the lead being nurtured in the conversion funnel.
Not only do these solutions automate the sending of e-mailings and newsletters, but they also offer different reporting processes to analyse the impact of a campaign, the conversion rate, the most popular type of content, etc.
But these solutions still need to be fed content. So-called branded content agencies are specialised in the all-inclusive provision of expert opinion, blog articles, testimonies of past experience video interviews, etc., which are most often created by freelance journalists.
However, given that a company will know the expectations of its market better than anyone, it may also decide to produce its own content, even if this means having it rewritten by a professional copywriter.
What are the key elements for a successful campaign?
Lead nurturing aims to engage leads by building a close relationship, a particular link, with these potential customers. Nothing should be perceived as aggressive or intrusive. The approach must be smooth and natural. The content must actually help the lead in their business activities, providing them with a greater knowledge of their market, etc. The contact’s consent should be obtained before messages are sent to them, with the possibility of opting out easily and at any time.
The path to maturity for the lead should be progressive and properly worked out. In order to “lure” them in, you can start with a short educational article that sheds light on your market without, of course, talking about your offering.
This can be followed, in crescendo, by a video, a white paper, a webinar… ending with a personalised demonstration proposal. The distribution rhythm will depend on the appetence displayed by the lead. Depending on their reactions, you can then decide on the right time to “hook” them and bring them into a sales process.
An editorial policy (you decide whether the tone should be sober or quirky, etc.) and a visual charter (mock-up, illustrations, etc.) should be established so as to avoid the juxtaposition of heterogeneous content. Once the content has been distributed, after-sales service must be ensured through natural referencing (SEO) and community management (relays on social networks, etc.) activity.
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