When people download one of NextPage’s eBooks, part of our process is to follow up with them by personally contacting the visitor via email to suggest another eBook he might like and then briefly explained how NextPage works with his industry. Over the course of the next few months, he will receive additional personalized emails roughly every week that deliver more information to create awareness for his topic of interest, including blog posts, videos and events. This is an example of lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing is the process of building B2B relationships with prospects you hope will become buyers. You acquire them when they express interest in your company through visiting your website, downloading an eBook, or perhaps requesting a consultation. Leads are those people who need more information before they’re ready for sales, which is where marketing comes in. Although the leads can always do research on their own, it makes a big difference when someone at the company personally reaches out to offer their services. According to a 2015 Marketing Sherpa survey, email is consistently the preferred method of communication in B2B and B2C companies. When using email marketing for lead nurturing, remember these 4 best practices:
A well-established brand knows its target audience. Does this lead fit into your buyer personas? You should know your audience’s demographics, firmographics, budget, and authority. Based on the information you have, do a little research on the lead to see if it’s worth pursuing. If your lead is a student using your sources for a class assignment, then you can probably dismiss it. But if it is an executive from a consumer-based business who wants to know more about your services, you should get on top of that right away. You only want to spend time and money on those who could be legitimate buyers.
Prospects must be educated before they close a deal. Give information they need based on where they are in the buyer’s journey. Your challenge is to convince them that your brand is the best solution for their particular goal. If someone were to download your eBook about direct mail, tell them about the direct mail services you offer later on as part of an email nurture campaign, and continue show them related content (i.e. blogs, videos, other books) in future nurture emails. Later on, share product reviews, case studies, send them product samples or even invite them to an event like a webinar or luncheon. It’s very important that you give them well-tailored valuable content in the nurture campaign they can really use. And if they then decide to buy from you, never let them go by continuing to send them valuable information.
Sending automated messages that start with something like “Dear valued prospect” is a big no-no. It’s like you’re telling everyone “I don’t have time for you, just talk to a robot until you’re ready to buy something.” The right thing to do is personally reach out to leads individually, address them by name, and educate them based on their personal interests. For example, if the lead is someone who works at a hospital, talk about what your company does for the healthcare industry and suggest the same for them. Show them you’ve done your research. The more connected you are, the better chance of closing a deal.
Attention spans in marketing emails are short. Keep it informative and concise. Remember, you’re not trying to sell to them yet. Start with the greeting, show them the content, and sign off. You also have to determine the frequency of your emails, which depends on the length of your sales cycle. Typically the gap between emails is 6-45 days. The longer your sales process, the longer the pause.
The biggest thing to know about lead nurturing is that it takes practice, and trial and error. A/B testing should be used whenever possible. But if you implement these 4 best practices for lead nurturing, and remain diligent in always trying to find out more about your customers and how to engage with them, you will start to see more prospects turn in to leads, and leads into customers.