Getting to know you, getting to know all about you
You wouldn’t get married after your first meeting with somebody, would you? Maybe you have! I’m not here to judge. The point is that most people don’t. Most people establish a relationship before they take such a big step. They do this by dating – learning what they have in common; if they are happy with what the other person has to offer; building trust; maybe taking a holiday together or buying a cat. Hmmmm – my metaphor seems to have gone astray!
Historically lead nurturing, or drip marketing, was the sole domain of the B2B marketer, mainly because the buying process was/is far more lengthy. However, in The Age of the Customer, the ability to do widespread research about any product, topic or brand has changed the game. In fact, up to 67% of the buying cycle is now spent in the research phase. And this is the same for B2B and B2C prospects – only the length of the buying cycle varies.
To sell, or not to sell?
Imagine yourself walking into an electrical goods retailer. You don’t know specifically what you’re looking for, you’re just browsing the latest technology. All of a sudden a hungry salesperson is bearing down on you, convinced they have the right product for you. How do they know if you don’t know yourself yet?
However, the next time you go there it’s because your washing machine has broken. You know exactly what you want because you’ve done the research. All you need is someone to help you with the purchase, not confuse matters by showing you something different.
The key difference in these scenarios is where you are in the buying cycle. In the first scenario you are in the early awareness phase. You aren’t totally sure what problem you need to solve, or what need you’d like to fill.
But in the second scenario you’re right at the end of the purchase phase. You know exactly what you want, where you want to get it from, and how much you’re prepared to spend.
These are obviously the two extremes of the cycle – there are various steps in between. It’s our job, as marketers, to map and recognise those steps for our own products and our own buyers’ journeys. The key being that, as consumers (whether in B2B or B2C scenarios), our expectations for how we should be dealt with vary across the stages. Early in the process, we want to feel unpressurised. Later down the line we want pro-active help to complete our purchase. In The Age of the Customer, this hyper-awareness of the mass availability of everything we could ever need only leads to frustration, and leads leaking from our funnel, if we offer the wrong kind of contact at the wrong time.
Where did they come from? What did they do?
That all may sound daunting, but fear not. Customers will often helpfully self-identify where they are in the buying cycle by their behaviour and interactions with your brand. This handy infographic can help you further with the kind of content that is relevant at each stage of the sales process, so you can map it for your own users’ behaviour.
Another good indicator of their buying stage is the channel that the prospect came from. For example, leads that you collect through social or at a trade show are likely to be in the early awareness stage. Your job here is to raise and maintain awareness that you have an interesting product (range) that they need to keep top of mind.
However, leads that come from a search engine or a review site are aware of their problem/need and are actively researching a solution. These show a higher level of intent and should be treated to your most valuable ‘consideration’ content.
So, you know what they are researching based on their browsing history. You can tell where they are up to with their research by the content that they browse. You are now able to automatically serve up the next thing they need to help them make their decision. This is the very definition of lead nurturing; and companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost (source: Forrester Research).
Automate, automate, automate!
There are just two things you will need in order to simply and successfully add lead nurturing into your marketing toolkit. One is an email address from your prospect. The other is a marketing automation software. Combined, these allow you to segment your customers so that the emails you send are directly related to them, and therefore more likely to be read. Let’s look at some stats on this very point:
- Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails (source: Jupiter Research)
- Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate of their generic counterparts (source: DemandGen Report)
- Lead nurturing emails generate an 8% CTR compared to 3% for batch and blast (source: HubSpot)
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases (source: The Annuitas Group)
- Brands that automate their lead nurturing see a >10% increase in revenue within the first 9 months (source: Gartner)
Lead nurturing is one of the most powerful features that marketing automation software can provide. It requires minimal investment from your marketing team, yet can drive revenue from prospects that might otherwise forget you exist by the time they have made the decision to purchase. Done well, lead nurturing campaigns have the potential to change the way your business operates – for the better.
Key lead nurturing takeaway
Remember that the vast majority of your leads won’t be ready to buy from you (or anybody) when they first encounter you. Only you can determine your buying cycle, be it simple and short, or sophisticated and lengthy. Use your data to create your typical buying persona and identify the triggers that move people into serious buying mode. You are then best placed to develop a rich and relevant lead nurturing process for each persona and trigger combination in order to move your prospects swiftly and efficiently through the sales funnel. The trick is to create each message with a purpose that suits each stage. In short, use tactics that add value, not that ask for it.
If you need any help determining your own lead nurturing tactics, get in touch! We’re always happy to help.