Warning: You’re Losing Money by Not using Automated Lead Nurturing

Imagine a farm where the farmer plowed, planted, and then harvested. That is Broadcast Acres. Now imagine a farm where the farmer plowed, planted and then looked after each plant. Adding water and fertilizer, weeding around it, taking care of it. That is Seedling Gables. Who has better plants? Seedling Gables, right? They’ll get by with fewer seeds and wind up with bigger, healthier plants. Why? Because they nurtured them. It is the same effect with lead nurturing. Most times 50% of leads are not sales-ready but they qualify as prospective customers. Nurturing them is a no-brainer – if you can figure out a cost-effective way to do it.

Now, farmers cannot be out in the fields dusting the leaves of their harvest like a gardener with prize roses. Until recently, lead nurturing was too costly for the time and effort of marketers and sales staff. Somewhere down the road, those cold leads were forgotten until they were well down the funnel.

Yet, two things have changed all that. One is the different dynamics of the sales funnel.

Most B2B leads are well down the funnel before they are even in contact with anyone from a brand. B2B customers are doing 57% of their pre-purchase activity before they even talk to sales people. Stay reassured that if you are not yet talking to them, they are already defining their needs. They are doing that, without having knowledge of the unique benefits of your product – and then competing on price. That is where you do not want to be.

leads

The other thing is automation, which makes lead nurturing possible for all your leads.

When you automate analytics and targeting, you can segment your audience. In essence, you can give them content based on who they are, what they like and exactly where they are in the funnel. Nurturing leads right from the start sounds labor-intensive. Yet, it pays off: 50% more leads sales ready, for 33% less spend.

Lead Scoring

Marketing and sales need to agree on a lead scoring system. Lead scoring lets both departments see exactly where a lead is in a brand’s buying model and exactly what the brand plans to be doing about it. It is this process map that will provide guidelines for your automation strategy and workflows down the line. Imagine it as a map to plan a route. Lead scoring should assess:

A) Lead Qualifying

Lead qualifying should look at the lead’s demographics. You need to know what they do and how much they make, and you need the same information about their firm. You need information about where they are regarding their budget. Finally, you need to know info related to authority, need and time (BANT). All four need to come up positive for a lead to be sales-ready.

B) Lead Behavior: You need three data sets to check a lead’s behavior.

1: Engagement

Does a lead spend much time on your site? Do they engage with you on many social media channels – not just follow you, but engage? Quantify these and build your lead scoring around those numbers.

2: Content Consumption

Content Consumption (1)

Some people are hanging around your website. They download your white paper, subscribe to your newsletter and follow you on Twitter. There is a big chance they are scoping you out for a possible purchase. Some are interested in your space and cultivating a useful source, contact and -perhaps a provider.

Moreover, some are here for the buns. They pay attention to your content, but not in your brand per se. That does not mean they are useless, but they are not the leads you want to pass on to sales.

So lead content consumption needs to be well understood. Look the differences between passive behaviors and active behaviors, or audience vs. lead.

Passive/audience:

Reads your blog
Consumes lots of early stage content
Frequent website visitor
Webinar attendee

Active/lead:

Visiting pricing pages
Spending time on features and products pages
Accessing mid or late stage content
Getting to your site via search terms that include your brand

Audience behaviors state the interest in your space and your content. While lead actions show the interest in your brand and your offering.

3: Buying Journey Stage

You need to know where in the buyer journey a lead is. Put numbers on the behaviors above based on the percentage of people who do them and do the conversion.  Afterward, use those numbers to map lead behaviors onto your funnel.

Scoring leads and mapping that data onto your funnel provides you with a roadmap for your lead nurturing strategy.

Content Marketing for Lead Nurturing

Content marketing for lead nurturing works best when each piece of content fits into the roadmap and has an explicit ‘in’ and ‘out’ point. In other words, how do customers get to this content, and where do they go next? If it does not direct onward towards a sale, it is not content marketing, just content.

Social

social

Social Lead nurturing starts with finding your audience. You just need to match their demographics to those of the right social channel. B2B marketers will want to spend more time on LinkedIn and Google+ and less on Facebook and Instagram.

Lead nurturing on social media implies developing relationships with leads, not just audience members. It is not about metrics like shares or retweets. Instead, you are looking for interactions that are oriented towards moving down the funnel. Just like you want always to be offering value and learning about customers’ pain points, the leads to nurture are those who show a real interest in your offering, not just your content. So bring in your lead scoring early.

Whenever you get a high score, seek to move on to email immediately without losing your social contact. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, ‘Your story is not convincing enough if all it does is lead the horse to water. It has to inspire the horse to drink, too. On social media, the only story that can achieve that goal is one told with related content.

Blog

If your blog is good, many of your readers will be there to read a good it. That is great for more nebulous purposes, but they are not leads. Again, score them and focus on the high scorers. Those who metrics show they might have a chance in actually moving down the funnel. Use your blog as a signup capturer, source of data. You can also use the comments section as a space to contact leads. Furthermore, a comment section can encourage consumption of your more advanced content.

The content of your blog should also pave the way towards assisting interested leads to move down the funnel. A blog that’s all about your brand, all the time, isn’t a good blog in the mind of the consumer. A business blog should include advanced content, information on the business case for using your offering and the right CTAs. So, make sure to use all those techniques, in order for it to be successful.

Email

email

 

Εmail is a fantastic option for lead nurturing. While it has high ROI and popularity with readers and it is already a marketer’s favorite, it also excels at lead nurturing too. It is most effective when it is responsive and personalized. So tie your email efforts to customer behavior triggers. Make sure the right lead is getting the proper inquiry and content at the right time. The most efficient way to do this is by building automated email workflows. Workflows’ triggers can be actions that relate to particular points in the marketing funnel.Use an email marketing tool like MooSend to construct automated nurturing emails that pick up on lead behavior. Now you are ready to guide those leads down the funnel.

Email is also a powerful tool for collecting data. The ideal lead nurturing email series offers an opportunity to respond at every stage. That has three purposes: one, each response is a little conversion and a tiny increase in trust. Two, each response puts the lead into the right channel on a series of ‘if this then that’ logic. In essence you choose which email series they should be receiving or which variation is best for them. It is so specific that you can decide which specific email you should send to your leads next. Three, each response gives you data to construct better emails. Furthermore, to create better email workflows, more accurate logic systems, and more targeted content.

Website

Your website is often the bottom of the funnel. Some brands will sell right off their website. For others, their website is the place for final CTAs or the spot where a lead gets passed on to sales. Many times your website will be a viewer’s first impression of your brand. That’s the reason why it needs to convince and impress its visitors. Design and SEO are marketing issues!

Two of the most powerful tools at your disposal are landing pages and advanced content.

Landing pages

Time was, the homepage was the first contact with the website. Now most websites have many landing pages depending on the route you took to get there. Build strategic landing pages, ones that capitalize on combinations of keywording and user intent. (You can use email data here to improve the accuracy of your landing page targeting.) Landing pages that focus on a single keyword will fail with readers. They will also set alarm bells ringing at Google. Such an alarm could lead to  a Google algorithm penalty that can take six months or a year to be removed. Instead, build landing pages to show authority on topics that interest your lead personas.

Advanced Content

Blogs are great. Emails are fantastic. Social has its place. Please note that, when you are dealing with a lead, it is important to offer substantive value that promotes your offering. A good way to do that is an onsite collection of resources that show your offering in detail. As well as white papers and ebooks, this is also an opportunity to leverage the benefits of an active Youtube. Take advantage of the social medium and impress your leads with professional and informative videos. Your advanced content library can also enjoy using webinars. Use these to influence with authority, get lead data and increase engagement and trust. You can achieve that by implying urgency before the webinar and value during it. Make them invite-only. Then release redacted versions on Youtube after a few weeks and use scarcity and exclusivity to drive up perceived value.

Nurture leads with content marketing through automated emails and an active social presence. Use well-constructed landing pages backed by solid, in-depth content that demonstrates authority and value.

Integrated Marketing Strategy for Lead Nurturing.

You need to realize lead nurturing across channels. It is the customer journey and the brand that matter, not the channel, so you need an integrated marketing strategy. It needs to take account of the fact that leads will not move down the funnel in an orderly fashion. The truth is, they never have, but channel-agnostic digital leads incline to treat the funnel as a ramp. Sometimes it is going down and sometimes it goes up. Most of the times, though, they are far away from purchasing something.Thus, your lead nurturing strategy should integrate lead nurturing into sales and marketing. It should also ensure that you are watching leads, not channels.

Conclusion

The business case for lead nurturing is clear. Lengthening sales funnels and more self-directed customers mean traditional methods fail to convince. Group decision making inside organizations means advocates need your advanced content to sell your offering to their peers, bosses, and colleagues. Moreover, lead nurturing delivers, but to be successful and targeted, it should be data-driven and automated.

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