As those of you who have consistently read our blog posts or have chatted with us about inbound marketing likely know, inbound marketing does not stop once a visitor has become a lead. Instead, inbound marketing is all about touching potential buyers at every stage of the buyer's journey and helping move them through the sales cycle to become customers (and eventually promoters). One way we do this in inbound marketing is by implementing lead nurturing campaigns. Let's look at what lead nurturing is and why you can't afford to ignore it.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects and providing the information and answers they need in order to make the decision to work with your company. This is most often done through the use of email marketing and workflows.
A strong lead nurturing campaign takes effect as soon as a visitor to your site fills out a form of any kind and offers up some information to you. Once they have provided you with the information, your lead nurturing campaign should kick into gear and start providing them with information you feel will help them make their decision.
EXPERT TIP: If you're using marketing automation software like HubSpot, you'll also be able to track everywhere someone on your site goes, everything they click on and download, and every time they come back. This information can help you determine what types of information your leads need in order to make a decision. You can then optimize your lead nurturing strategies to make sure to provide them with information they find valuable.
Why do I need a lead nurturing campaign?
The simplest answer to this question is so that you can continue marketing to people who have shown any interest in your company. For a lot of us, our sales cycle is not immediate. Sometimes our prospects have to think about our product or service, educate themselves a little bit more and determine whether they need to move forward or not. Oftentimes, this means they will leave our site to get more information elsewhere or think about whether or not your business will help them solve their problem. If your prospects leave your site without giving you any information (or if they give you information but you don't take advantage of it and continue marketing to them), you very well may lose the potential to do business with them all together. This is especially true for industries that require customers to gather a lot of information before making a decision and companies with long sales cycles. If you don't stay in front of your leads regularly, there is a good chance that they will forget about you and will never come back. It's your responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen through lead nurturing campaigns.
In addition, it's important to note that 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance.
Give me an example...
Ok...let's say you have 10,000 visitors/month to your site, and about 1,000 of those visitors are converting into customers immediately. You're doing pretty good! But what about the other 9,000 visitors? What do you do with them? If you're not utilizing some form of lead capture, either through a high value content offer that they have to fill out a form to download or an email opt-in then you are missing out on a huge opportunity with these people. Not capturing their information at all means that you cannot track them when they come back to your site, and you cannot send them any email marketing. How will they ever remember you? So step one is to make sure you are capturing their information (their email address at the very least) so that you can stay in front of them.
Now....let's imagine that you are capturing information from your visitors through the use of a form and/or email opt-in, but you aren't doing anything with that information. Having a database of email addresses does you no good if you aren't using it! Regular email marketing and workflows (as mentioned above) will help you stay in front of your leads, remind them you exist and provide them with information that might help them make the decision to work with you.
Think about what the potential to nurture those 9,000 visitors/month who have already shown interest in your business means for you. It means that you have a captive audience to continue convincing that your business can help solve whatever problem they have. It means you don't have to start from scratch every time someone visits your site. It means that, instead of them having to track down the information they need each time, you can provide them with things you think will help them move through the sales cycle. It means you're being proactive with people who have already expressed some interest in what you do.
It's true that, ultimately, not of all your leads will necessarily end up becoming customers. But, the fact of the matter is that if someone has shown interest in what you do and given you some information, they are qualifying themselves as a valuable lead. You owe it to your company and to the lead to stay in front of them in the hopes that they will eventually become a customer. In fact, nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.