So, you’ve optimized your website, crafted great content, promoted your offers on social media, and converted web traffic into some good-lookin' leads.
You're tempted to call each and every one of them, aren't you?
Don’t reach for the phone just yet: Research suggests that 50% of qualified leads are not ready to make a purchase when they first convert on a content offer, so delivering your sales pitch at this point could very well drive them away.
What you need is a well-developed nurturing campaign that keeps those leads warm and keeps your business top-of-mind.
WHAT IS LEAD NURTURING?
Lead nurturing is the process (ideally an automated one) of sending additional, relevant content to your leads that draws them naturally down your sales funnel toward a purchase. With a lead on the line, nurturing is your opportunity to make a solid case that your product is the right choice. It's your chance to expand your message by articulating your competitive advantage, educating leads about all dimensions of your solution, comparing your product to competitors', showcasing compelling case studies...all the information your leads need to come to the conclusion that your product or service is the one for them.
WHAT DOES AN EFFECTIVE LEAD NURTURING CAMPAIGN LOOK LIKE?
Here are the 5 essential elements:
A Campaign Goal
Your goal should be the first thing you think about when developing a nurturing campaign. Say you're an insurance company and your goal is to sell more auto policies to young families. Once you've identified that goal, you can design a nurturing campaign that regularly delivers relevant, progressively more in-depth content on the subject to leads who've shown interest in auto insurance. Because your business development plans will have a variety of goals based on segmentations of your consumer's product needs and life stages, you'll have a corresponding number of potential nurturing campaigns to create and execute.
A Meaningful Persona
It’s hard to offer effective content when you’re not sure for whom you’re creating it. That’s where the prospect persona comes in. A persona is a model you create to help you "flesh out" and empathize with your best prospect. It specifies demographics (age, household income, interests, education, etc.), the industry he or she is in, his or her professional, role-related challenges, pain points, obstacles, needs and buying behaviors and more. Depending on your products and their uses, you'll likely need to develop and target more than one persona.
With a persona as the target, you have a clearer picture of how to reach your best prospect and the problems they need help solving. You'll also have a stronger sense of the type of case you need to make for your product. Knowing that your persona's budget is severely limited due to cutbacks, for instance, will help you focus your content on product benefits like lower cost-in-use, higher productivity, or extended life.
Having a persona to "talk to" helps you to focus the content effectively throughout the nurturing campaign and build an argument that leads to a relationship.
The Right Content
It’s critical that the content you provide after the lead's first download is related to that original download and that it follows a progression from general to specific.
If your lead first downloaded a tip sheet titled "10 Ways To Save On Auto Insurance," you want to follow that up with content related to auto insurance. Don't switch your end of the conversation to life or business insurance – even though you may be more eager to promote those products.
Content downloads are the best indication of where in the purchase process your lead is – in other words, how ready he or she is to buy. Leads in the top of the sales funnel look for basic information/education in the form of tip sheets and simple how-to guides. Leads in the middle of the funnel are starting to gather and evaluate more detailed information about a solution to a particular problem; they'll seek and appreciate added detail, likely more quantitative and analytical content, in the form of whitepapers, eBooks and videos that provide head-to-head comparisons or case studies. Leads who are poised to purchase are finding what they need in the bottom of the funnel, where you're offering demonstrations, webinars and no-cost evaluations. Bottom-of-the-funnel content is sealing-the-deal content that provides the last reassurance that they can and should be confident as a buyer.
Don't make the mistake of offering bottom-of-the-funnel content to someone who's just downloaded a top-of-the-funnel tip sheet; he or she has only given you a signal of general interest, not of readiness to buy.
Nurturing Campaign Timeline
To get that first piece of content you offered, a lead gives you his or her contact information, including email address. Now you're going to use that address to send emails promoting another piece of related content, highlighting another compelling reason to buy the product he or she is interested in. To set the timing for sending these subsequent content offers to your leads, you need to have a good understanding of your sales cycle.
Considered purchases with higher price tags, like capital equipment, typically have long sales cycles. This type of purchase may require an appropriations request that includes an ROI or payback analysis. The campaign design needs to reflect how the purchase decision is made (time + participants + decision rules) in creating the pattern and pacing of content. This might mean incorporating more content offers into the campaign, longer time periods between messages, or both. Obviously a campaign that is expected to span 6 – 12 months will have a different rhythm than a campaign of 4 – 6 weeks.
That's why understanding your various personas is so important. Relationships are built when the prospect feels through the content you offer and the pace you set that you understand them and the world they live and work in.
A Method For Measurement & Improvement
One of the benefits of nurturing is that allows prospects to "vote" – to show by downloading what they're most interested in. By contrast, content that doesn't get downloaded is probably missing the mark. This feedback allows you to make adjustments to your campaign to improve its performance. But you can only do that if you measure each campaign and the content in it.
If you're taking advantage of an Inbound Marketing software platform like HubSpot, you'll get real-time analytics on every piece of content you promote: when it was downloaded, by whom, what that lead's next download was, time between downloads, etc.
You can also be tracking the effectiveness of subject lines and calls-to-action and their conversion rates. If you find certain words generate more activity (like, “reduce downtime by 30%"), you’ll know you’ve hit on the prospects’ pain point.
Research shows that nurturing your leads by keeping them engaged with your content on an ongoing basis will gradually drawing them down the sales funnel. And all the while, you're reinforcing your value, gaining credibility and building a relationship. Use these tips to set your goal and start giving leads what they need to make a purchase decision!
Want to know more about all the ways you can measure the effectiveness of your content and campaigns? We'd be happy to give you a free HubSpot demo – click the link below to get started!
Meg provides creative vision to all client projects and serves as the agency's chief content writer. She has extensive experience writing for a variety of industries, including manufacturing, financial services, and healthcare. Meg started in advertising and has become a thought leader in digital content creation and inbound marketing.