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What is Lead Nurturing and Top Lead Nurturing Strategies Explained

March 20, 2017

A Lead Nurturing program is a powerful marketing tool that when used correctly will boost sales by converting your leads into paying clients.

The purpose of a lead nurturing program is to increase your company's sales by systematically building relationships with your leads so they trust you, they see you as an expert in your industry, they understand the value and return on investment of the product or service you sell, and they want to do business with you.

Building a lead nurturing program is accomplished by providing value-based content to your leads. Below are the top 5 proven tactics for building a lead nurturing program for the purpose of converting leads into paying clients.

1. Audience Definition and Segmentation

The leads in your sales funnel are most likely made up of different types of companies, possibly in different industries, and with different needs and problems to solve. Therefore, segmenting and separating the leads in your sales funnel based on their unique needs is important. The reason for this is you want to provide the right type of content to a lead based on their unique needs.

For example, if you sell a product to both small plumbing companies and roofing companies, your content (an article you wrote for example) that was created to help solve a unique problems for small plumbing companies should probably not be emailed to your leads who are roofing companies, and vice versa. Your leads only care about their unique problems, and they don't want their time wasted by being sent content from your company that does not specifically address their needs. Therefore, a case study you wrote on how your company's product helps plumbing companies should not be sent to your leads who are roofing companies, and the case study you wrote on how your product helps roofing companies should not be sent to your plumbing company leads.

If you want to be more successful with lead nurturing, and convert a higher percentage of leads into paying clients, segmenting your leads into different groups/lists based on common attributes is critically important.

2. Organize Your Lead Nurturing Program into a Logical Sequence

An effective lead nurturing program should have a logical sequence for converting a lead into a long term paying client. This allows your leads to learn about the features, functionality, value, and return on investment of your product or service, as well as the unique value of doing business with your company instead of your competitors. Organizing your lead nurturing program and the content you will use into a logical sequence will make it easier for your leads to understand the unique value you offer and why they should do business with you instead of your competitors.

Organizing your lead nurturing program into a logical sequence not only increases your ability to convert leads into paying clients, it also helps you build that all important relationship and trust factor with your potential clients. The golden rule of lead nurturing is to break down your entire sales and marketing process into sequential steps.

For a lead nurturing strategy to work, it is also important to define your organization`s marketing goals and sales targets. Each time you create content that you want to include in your lead nurturing program, think to yourself WHY are you creating this content. What problem does this content solve for your leads? What value does it provide to your leads? How will this content prove to your leads why they should buy your product/service and do business with your company instead of your competitors?  How will you measure the effectiveness of this content? Don't just create content for the sake of creating content. Only create content that offers value to your leads and that will help build your relationship with your leads and trust. This will enable you and your entire sales and marketing team to plan milestones as well as long-term and short-term marketing goals.

If you are new to lead nurturing, the type of content you should use for nurturing leads includes your original articles, newsletters, white papers, case studies, webinars, videos, ebooks, reports, infographics, podcasts, and client testimonials. It may also include free software and free product samples that you offer to your leads via email.

Note that this content does not all need to be created by your company. An important part of a lead nurturing program is providing your leads with valuable information to help them. Therefore, if you read a great industry article that you think will be of value to your leads, share it with them. If you read a great book that you think will be of value to them, tell them about it and include a link to it. The key to lead nurturing is that you are sharing valuable content to help your leads and to create a relationship and build trust. You are showing that you care about them and you sincerely want to help them. By helping your leads you will build a relationship with them and they will like you. And, a universal truth is that we buy from people we like and trust. Lead nurturing is the process of building that relationship and creating trust so your leads like you and want to do business with you.

3. Personalize your Lead Nurturing Campaigns

As was discussed previously, personalizing your content by using audience segmentation is very important. The more you can personalize your content to match the exact needs of a specific niche market and customer persona, the more success you will have with your lead nurturing campaigns.

To make your lead nurturing program even stronger and more effective at converting leads into clients, whenever possible you want to create a feeling of a one-to-one personal relationship. To do this, you want to include a lead's name when you send them content via email. There is a huge difference between receiving an email that includes your name (Hi Mike) as compared to a generic email that does not have your name and you know it is being mass emailed (Dear Customer). Your leads are people and they want to be recognized and treated with respect. So, use their name whenever possible, both in the subject line of your email and in the body section of your email.

4. Follow-up and Contact Frequency

The main reason why a lead nurturing program will fail is because of a lack of follow-up. All of your leads must be nurtured and maintained so you can build that all important relationship with them. A big mistake companies often make is they rely 100% on mass email for lead nurturing. They don't call their leads and they don't send postal mail to their leads. If you want to convert a higher percentage of leads into clients, you need to do more than just mass email them. Have your sales people call them. Mail them a card to say you were thinking about them, or to wish them a Happy Birthday. Connect with them on LinkedIn and say hi from time to time. The key is to create relationships. Create friendships. Become a person they like and build a lifelong friendship. 

A second problem companies have when creating lead nurturing programs is they create a sequence of emails to send to leads and then once that sequence is over, they no longer email those leads. If a lead does not buy during that sequence of emails, then that lead is considered dead and not contacted anymore. That is a mistake. It can often take a year or more for a lead to become a client. A key to a successful lead nurturing program is that it never ends. At least twice per month, forever, every lead in your sales funnel should receive an email from you.

5. Focus on High Quality Value-Driven Content

The success or failure of a lead nurturing campaign depends on the quality of the content that is being presented to the leads. Right now with there being an obsession over creating new content, many businesses are making the mistake of thinking that it is the quantity of content being offered that is more important than the quality. Then, they hire low cost freelancers from overseas to create that content... and the content is garbage. Any time you create content for your lead generation program it must be high quality content that provides value. Don't send content to your leads just for the sake of sending them content. Only send content that actually provides real value.

To get a higher percentage of your leads to be come clients, you will want to to test and optimize your email campaigns by performing A/B split testing. This allows you to test different subject lines, calls-to-action, promos, and offers to see which produce the most sales/new clients. Doing this will enable you to determine the type of content and messaging that produces the most conversions for your company. Always test and experiment with your content to optimize your lead nurturing process and increase your lead-to-client conversion rates.

In Summary

An effective lead nurturing program should be focused on building a relationship and trust with your leads for the purpose of converting your leads into long term paying clients. To do this you need to create high quality content that provides value to your leads. Your content should show them why you are an expert in your industry. Your content should show them why they should trust you and do business with your company. And, your content should show them that you truly care about them and that you want to help them succeed.


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