In the manufacturing world, new projects from prospective customers (even current customers) typically start with a request for proposal (RFP) or bid request. For years this has been the formal way for companies to outline their needs and requirements in order for them to gather bids from a number of manufacturers on what a project will cost and what their process will be to deliver the desired need. Although the process for submitting and receiving these requests have evolved to be primarily web-based, the process for manufacturers to nurture these leads during the process has not. Or, is non-existent!
This post will provide an introductory overview on how manufacturers can more effectively nurture and engage RFP and bid request leads during the process – which for some manufacturing companies can last 6-12 months.
Start Segmenting Your RFP Leads
Depending on how your manufacturing business is structured and the products you offer, you most likely have a variety of customer/prospect types. They may all seen similar but the reality is they have different needs, requirements, turnaround times, etc. By segmenting your RFP leads as they come in from your sales team and through your website, you can better customize your approach to nurturing them with the right type of follow up information and content.
Leverage The Power of Targeted & Personalized Email Messages
Once you've properly segmented your RFP leads you can begin to create a series of email campaigns for those contacts, with targeted content that aims to address their common questions or concerns they may have as they gather RFPs from other manufacturers and assess the best solution for their needs. By using a more targeted approach versus a blanketed email that addresses every prospect type, your email messages will have a greater chance of being noticed and actually read. That's the goal, after all!
Depending on your sales cycle you'll want to be strategic on the pacing of your nurturing emails. If you typically have a 8-10 month sales cycle, consider sending an email once per month depending on how much content you have to work with. If you have a shorter 2-3 month sales cycle you can look at sending weekly or bi-weekly emails.
Are you now asking yourself, where does the content come from for creating these emails? Keep reading.
Repurpose Existing Content to Fuel Your Nurturing
When it comes to successful lead nurturing, having exceptional content is key. And chances are you're sitting on some existing content that can be dusted off and utilized for nurturing purposes once the lead submits their RFP.
1. Sales Presentations
One thing you surely have available are existing sales presentations. Pulling certain content from these presentations such as your process overview, project examples, team overview and other background information can begin to be utilized to provide RFP leads a clearer picture of how you operate before they even receive your RFP response/bid package.
2. Testimonials & Case Studies
The best type of content for establishing credibility is when your prospect can see first hand how you successfully helped another company with your product and services. This puts them at ease that you can deliver based on what you say you can, and helps your prospect with selling you as the solution to their team of decision makers.
3. Blog Articles
If you're blogging as a company (hopefully you are!), hand select a few of your best articles that demonstrate your expertise, thought process, and ability to solve your customers' problems. If you don't have this type of blog content, now would be the perfect time to create it so you can begin to leverage it in selling situations like this.
Depending on how you build and deploy your email nurturing campaigns, you'll want to monitor how they're working. Be sure to utilize an email marketing platform that allows you to schedule communications for ideal times and then track the percentage of opens, click throughs and unsubscribes.
According to the folks at MailChimp, email marketing benchmarks for the manufacturing industry are:
• Open Rate = 23.78%
• Click Rate = 3.14%
• Unsubscribe = 0.19%
These can vary by company but they'll at least give you a sense if you're above or below the norm so you can make adjustments. If you have a low click rate for example it's possible you need to make your content more appealing or create more enticement with your email subject line. If you're seeing a high unsubscribe rate consider lowering your frequency.
I'll be honest; creating effective lead nurturing emails and campaigns takes work. But once you have your content assembled and the pieces are aligned, you'll have the ability to stay engaged and top of mind with leads during the RFP process – no matter how long that may be. By providing supporting content that informs and puts your lead at ease, you're making it that much easier for them to choose you over the other guys.
Posted by Frank Isca Frank has been key to establishing Weidert Group as an inbound marketing leader over his 10+ years with the agency. He has a knack for using technology to amplify smart marketing strategies, and a deep knowledge of SEO and content promotion, exceptional project management skills, and a thorough understanding of HubSpot's marketing and sales products.