image credit: Client Bridge
Marketers, the Internet might not be your friend after all. It’s changed the way that consumers shop for products, which means that when they first convert into leads they’re a lot less sales-ready than they used to be. The first time someone types an industry-relevant keyword into Google and hits “Google Search,” they’re probably in the first stage of buyer readiness, awareness. Which is to say that they’re really not ready to make a purchase at all, and need to be nurtured into full-grown, sales-ready leads.
Two decades ago, if someone took the time to drive to a brick-and-mortar store, there was a pretty good chance they’d walk away with a product. Today, product research can be completed in the privacy of their own home. Let’s look at a few of the facts about how the Internet has changed the buying cycle:
- 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy. (Source: Gleanster Research)
- Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. (Source: Gleanster Research)
- 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
You Can’t Bail Once You TOFu
Once you write and design an amazing top-of-the-funnel content offer, a marketer’s job is far from done, unless they want to become mortal enemies with their company’s sales team. Dumping a list of leads on your sales team’s lap won’t do them any favors, and they’ll likely be ticked-off that you gave them a whole bunch of leads who aren’t ready to buy. You need to start nurturing these leads into customers, and learning more about them with progressive profiling and implicit data. Here are some ways to ensure your lead nurturing isn’t a bust:
1. It’s Targeted
Even if your company has 10 million dollars in the revenue pipeline, your customers don’t want to feel like a number in your customer relationship management software. They want to be recognized as the special snowflakes that they really are. Segmenting your email lists to ensure that your leads are receiving highly-targeted content isn’t just a nice gesture; it’s darn effective. MailChimp has found that segmentation can improve open rates and click-throughs by about 15%.
2. It’s Focused
Your most loyal customers and your newest, most wide-eyed leads don’t need to be receiving the same content. Your campaigns should be tailored to where they are in the buying cycle. Relevant emails have been shown to generate 18 times more revenue than broader emails that are blasted out to an entire email list.
3. It’s Integrated
Imagine the following scenario with me. A well-meaning but slightly inept marketer is nurturing his or her leads. One very enthusiastic prospect is faithfully opening the lead nurturing emails, clicking through and downloading every content offer he or she is sent. However, since the marketer isn’t utilizing progressive profiling or collecting behavioral data, the prospect is being asked the exact same questions every time. The marketer doesn’t have a more robust profile of the lead, or any indication that they’re more interested than the 1,500 other contacts on that list segment. Don’t be that marketer. Unless your business can survive with 3 customers a year, invest in a nice, marketing automation software that collects insight on prospects over time.
4. It’s Strategic
There’s nothing that can turn an interested prospect off faster than irrelevant, overly frequent, or annoying email communications. You should be aggressive, especially given the fact that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor who responds first. However, you shouldn’t be aggressive to the point that prospects mark your messages as spam.
5. It’s Score-Driven
When there’s good stuff for free, word is bound to spread. If someone downloads your eBook and loves it, they’ll share it. That’s great, but not everyone who downloads your content is going to be interested in your product. Only 56% of B2B marketers are even verifying leads before they’re passed to sales. Just imagine how far your company could outpace the competition if you implement an intelligent and results-driven lead scoring process to ensure your sales team focuses on the leads who matter!
What do you feel are the best practices for effective lead nurturing?
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