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Lead nurturing is typically handled by marketing departments, but it is essential to strong sales performance. A good lead nurturing strategy should flow seamlessly between marketing and sales, helping to create a consistent customer experience throughout the entire sales cycle.

There are a number of tools and techniques that companies employ to improve consumer relationships and guide leads through the sales funnel, such as inbound marketing, customer journey mapping, CRM systems and marketing automation software. With these methods in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our five golden rules for lead nurturing, designed to help you develop effective strategies and avoid potential pitfalls.

 

A Strong Foundation for a Strong Campaign

According to a DemandGen study, “67% of B2B marketers say that lead nurturing increases sales opportunities throughout the funnel by at least 10%, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more.” Lead nurturing not only helps companies guide new customers through the sales funnel, but also builds lasting relationships that contribute to increased future opportunities. Being that it costs less to retain existing customers than to find new ones, having a strong strategy in place can make all the difference in your company’s success.

The five following rules are designed to help you build an ideal foundation for your lead nurturing strategy.

 

Rule #1: Align Sales and Marketing and foster good communication between departments.

Ideally, leads should be nurtured throughout the entire customer journey, which means that both sales and marketing are responsible for their management. In order to create a consistent customer experience, sales and marketing alignment is essential to achieving a common goal.

Bob Apollo of Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners explains that “what really matters is that both sales and marketing share the same common perspective.” This can pertain to the sales cycle in general, as well as more specific elements, such as the ideal customer, how to make buying decisions, and how to stand out in the marketplace.

Organisations with strong sales and marketing alignment saw 36% higher customer retention rates in a recent survey. That’s likely because each team has insights that can prove valuable to the other. For example, lead tracking and analytics provide marketing with a deep understanding of a lead’s behaviour.

At the same time, sales staff are in direct contact with customers and have first hand insights into their needs and preferences. Both teams add value to lead nurturing programs and can support each other in building customer relationships.

 

Rule #2: Prepare Suitable Content for each stage of the sales cycle.

Most prospects begin their customer journey by independently seeking out more generalised information that speaks to a particular want or need. As they progress through the sales cycle towards making a purchase, they require more tailored and specific content.

Customer journey mapping can be a useful strategy in determining what content is most relevant to your prospective customers at a given point in the lead nurturing funnel. Sales and marketing teams can collaborate to create buyer personas, identify what type of information would be most useful to them at different touchpoints, and create a lead nurturing strategy.

Useful content should be prepared and delivered to prospects depending on where they are in the sales cycle. SEO software company MOZ breaks down the stages as discovery, consideration, conversion, and retention, describing them as follows:

 

Discovery: The goal here is to attract a large audience of potential leads with online content that makes your brand stand out.

This content can commonly be found in the form of blog posts, video marketing campaigns, and social media, and draws the most attention when it is highly relevant and SEO.

An example of this would be a travel agency creating a piece of content which ranks well for the search term “Best places to visit in 2018.” This draws potential customers to the website and builds trust by inspiring, educating, and informing them.

 

Consideration: This stage can be seen as a bridge between piquing consumer interest and preparing to make a sale.

Often, sales will identify potential issues and then the marketing team addresses them with relevant content. As you begin showcasing your company’s products and services even more, content should be increasingly persuasive and targeted.

Podcasts, white papers, and product-focused videos are some ways to help build credibility at this stage. Asking customers for contact details and basic information in exchange for access to useful content is a smart inbound marketing tactic.  

 

Conversion: Once your leads have reached this far, your main aim is to convert them into customers.

Here, interaction and direct contact with prospective customers increases. Content should be largely data-driven and used to highlight the advantages of specific products. This is the ideal moment for email nurturing, such as a special offer or an invitation to try an upgraded or improved service.

 

Retention: Once a sale is made, don’t let those customers fall through the cracks. Long term, repeat consumers can also be some of the most profitable.

 

Continue nurturing relationships by offering content in the form of support services, special offers, and tutorials. A follow up email can make all the difference when it comes to making another sale.

 

Rule #3: Use Tools to automate distribution, personalise communication and segment campaigns.

Successful lead nurturing processes rely on tools, such as marketing automation solutions and CRM, to maximise efficiency, automate tasks, gain deeper customer insights, and better identify qualified leads.

Linking the two systems will also increase transparency between sales and marketing teams. Here are some ways you can use tools to improve your lead nurturing campaign:

 

  • Automate distribution: According to Salesforce’s 2017 State of Marketing report, “63% of marketers say their current tech stack is extremely or very effective at increasing productivity.

    This is probably due to the fact that automation software is capable of taking over certain aspects of their daily work. That includes effectively distributing a variety of types of relevant content, from emails and notifications to social media and blog posts.

    For example, your marketing automation software can track customer behaviours and then send targeted messages at the moment they become relevant.

  • Personalise communication: An IDC study commissioned by Salesforce, found that “83% of B2B buyers only want to hear from you if you are able to be relevant and contextual.” Software tools have also made it possible to meet modern demands for highly personalised content that even anticipates customer needs.

    Using your CRM and marketing automation software, you can log demographic data and track consumer behaviours to create comprehensive lead profiles. This 360 view of your potential customers will help you develop nurturing campaigns based on their specific needs and preferences.

  • Segment campaigns: With the same information you gather for your customer profiles, your CRM and marketing automation software can help you sort leads into targeted lists (e.g. geo-targeting, new leads, existing customers, CEOs) and send tailored content to each list.

    Concentrating on groups of leads based on their particular traits and behaviours can save your company time and prove highly profitable: Segmented email marketing campaigns can generate a 760% increase in revenue.

 

Rule #4: Track and Analyse Metrics

You should not only be collecting data to better understand your customers, but also to gain insights into the success of your lead nurturing strategies and inbound marketing campaigns.

Tracking and analysing key performance indicators (KPIs) and marketing metrics can help guide your lead nurturing strategy by showing what elements are working for you and what needs to be changed.

When it comes to metrics, it’s particularly important that you choose the ones that are most relevant to your company and campaign. The right KPIs can help you measure a wide range of factors, from whether your emails are holding consumer interest to how well you’re money is being invested in different campaign strategies; it can even help improve sales and marketing alignment.   

 

Rule #5: Always Optimise

According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Consumer report, 70% of consumers agree technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere. This means that you should be doing everything you can to increase consumer loyalty and provide the best possible customer experience.

Customer journey mapping provides actionable data from initial contact right through to purchase. Use that data to optimise your campaigns by implementing relevant best practices, which may include:

 

  • Profiling leads progressively during the nurturing cycle to gather increasing levels of data on them at relevant points. Intelligent forms can collect additional customer data, such as name plus email at first, then address, phone number and job title over time.

  • Landing page optimisation of your company website using tactics such as improved CTAs, better button design, more striking header imagery and clearer headlines.

  • A/B testing of email campaigns with different subject lines and content to see which perform best.

  • Retargeting and remarketing of your online advertising campaigns to achieve increasingly optimised consumer touchpoints.

 

Communication: The Foundation for Healthy Lead Nurturing

It’s clear that effective communication is a crucial element in all of the rules described above. This includes in-house communication through sales and marketing alignment, as well as providing leads with relevant and timely content. Gathering and analysing various forms of data can help you personalise communications and improve future lead nurturing campaigns.


This post is part of our Navigating the Sales Cycle series. Download the e-book and discover the 7 steps to sales success