Leads are the energy that fuels your company. Without a continual stream of new leads, you can't drive sales or grow your business. It's not enough, however, to generate new leads. You also need to move them from initial interest to purchasing customers. According to Hubspot, only 10% of new leads are ready to make a purchase, which means of course that 90% are not. In other words, you need to nurture the new leads you acquire.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Given the relatively small number of leads who are sales ready, you need to provide them with relevant information which demonstrates the value of your business, and the products and services you sell. The process of providing leads with this information is referred to as lead nurturing, which Hubspot defines as follows:
"Lead nurturing is the purposeful process of engaging a defined target group by providing relevant information at each stage of the buyer's journey. You want to actively move the prospects you've created through your marketing and lead generation efforts, to the point where they become paying customers. Some tactics on how to nurture leads are through targeted content, multi-channel nurturing, multiple touches, timely follow-ups, and personalization."
Why Is Lead Nurturing Important?
If you don't nurture your leads, you'll leave the lion's share of them on the table. Consider these statistics:
- According to research from Forrester, nurtured vs. non-nurtured leads increase sales opportunities by about 20%
- Businesses with comprehensive lead nurturing programs generate on average 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost than those without such programs
- Currently, only 36% of marketers actively nurture leads (Marketing Sherpa)
So, How Do I Nurture My Leads?
There are probably as many variations in lead nurturing strategy as there are businesses that nurture their leads. Some strategies, however, are generally far more effective than others, including the following 5:
1. Create Compelling Content for Each Market Segment
Your business leads are not monolithic. If you sell multiple products and services, that means your leads have more or less interest in each of them. You need to create a process for segmenting your leads based on key demographic and psychographic information.
One of the best ways to segment your leads is through the creation of unique buyer personas. These are fictional representations of a given segment of your lead base, all of whom have similar interests, goals and needs. Once you've created your personas, you need to create content that addresses their concerns and helps them solve their problems. Creating personas and effectively deploying targeted content to nurture them will increase your sales opportunities by up to 20%.
2. Don't Limit Yourself to Emails
Using promotional emails to nurture leads is arguably the most effective lead nurturing strategy, but it's not the only one. To maximize your effectiveness, you need a multi-channel approach which also leverages the power of social media, paid retargeting, dynamic site content and direct sales outreach. Adopting a multi-channel lead nurturing approach can be complicated, which is why you'll need a robust marketing automation platform to make it work for you.
3. You Won't Close Sales with a Single Contact
On average, your new leads will need 10 contacts from the time you acquire them to the time they make a purchase. If you limit yourself to email marketing, that means a total of 10 emails (again, on average). This doesn't mean sending essentially the same message 10 times. Remember that your goal is to move leads along the buyer's journey, anticipating key objections and providing increasingly granular content at each stage.
4. Timing Is Critical
The faster you follow up with new leads, the more likely they are to become buying customers. In fact, you're 21 times more likely to close a sale if you contact a lead 5 minutes after someone becomes a lead than if you wait half an hour.
What's surprising, given the importance of timely follow up, is how slow many businesses are in contacting their new leads. According to a recent article from Harvard Business Review, the average response time for B2B companies was 42 hours, and almost 1 in 4 never responded to their new leads at all.
This is another example of the need for a reliable marketing automation platform. Automating your responses will ensure they are both timely and relevant.
5. Get Personal
According to Experian, effectively personalized emails will generate as much as 6 times more sales revenue than those which are not personalized. To be effective, personalization needs to be more than simply inserting a lead's first name into an email.
You also need to personalize based on recent actions your leads have taken, such as downloading content on your website (in which case your email should reference this fact), or visiting key webpages. The more leads come to believe you know them and understand their individual concerns are, the more you build trust. It's that trust which will move them to become loyal, long-term customers.
To Wrap it Up...
These are some of the best strategies to nurture your leads and close more sales (there are others, of course). How well they work depends on a thousand nuanced decisions (as they say, the devil is in the details). Your best bet is to work with a competent digital agency with deep experience in generating and nurturing leads, as well as in marketing automation and digital strategy, but if you aren't there yet, check out some of our other resources on inbound: