Proper lead nurturing is integral to the success of your sales enablement process. For that reason, you’ll hear us referring to it often – sometimes as multi-touch, drip marketing, or marketing automation emails. Each email in the “nurture” stream is automatically triggered by time or activity. With every successive communication, your prospects are learning, becoming more interested in your product, sharing information with you about their roles in the buying process, and being prepared for the handoff to sales.
Educating today’s self-informed buyers is a critical part of lead nurturing, but it’s what YOU learn through this process that matters even more. With minimal resources invested, lead nurturing will give your sales team insights into each prospect’s timing, behavior, and needs. The details you collect will inform your future communications and provide detailed buying personas that set your sales team up for success. Let’s examine the sequence by which lead nurturing drives sales enablement.
1. Kick Start a Strong Relationship
According to Insidesales.com, 35 to 50 percent of sales go to the vendor that responds first to an inquiry. Your best prospects are making multiple inquiries, so being one of the first two companies to respond gets you in the consideration set.
The more effective your initial communications are, the better they will combat lead attrition. Email response rates tend to decrease as lead age increases, but if your timing and content is on-target, you’ll retain more leads than your competitors. That gives your organization the early, critical advantage.
2. Establish Early Credibility
Many, if not most of your leads will be generated by online search queries. Assume they know little about your business and even less about your organization. Because self-informed buyers ultimately do business with companies they know and trust, lead nurturing maintains your early advantage by establishing your authority and thought leadership within your industry.
3. Qualify Your Leads
“Nurture” fails to encompass perhaps the most important part of the process it describes. Learning about your prospects can be more predictive of sales success than educating them. To win, your sales team needs more detailed buying personas than your competitors are getting. They need to know about needs and pain points, and about the products and services able to address them. They need to know about key roles within organizations, buying processes, and time frames. Offer your prospects a mix of whitepapers, webinars and videos to entice them to share information with you in order to access your content.
4. Set It and Forget It
Once your content is created, emails can be set up to run automatically, based on milestones or triggers. For example, a prospect who has received two “nurture” emails clicks through on the second to receive a whitepaper. He is now designated to receive successive communications that will take his understanding to the next level, without any sales pressure.
5. Zero In on Your Targets
Triggers dictate the flow of information to your lead segments and your lead nurture program tracks specific link clicks to determine which content is sent next. For example, if you’re targeting retail and restaurant owners to offer energy management systems, your leads will qualify themselves into the correct segments based on the links they follow, and you will be able to speak more precisely to their needs in future communications.
6. Advance the Good Leads and Drop the Bad
Standard click-through rates for email blasts are about 2 percent. With lead nurturing, we see an increase of up to 8 percent because of the lead qualifying that is done with every email. We also see non-qualified leads (for whom your product or service would not be a good fit) opt out or unsubscribe at a higher rate. This rises from .5 percent with email blasts to 1 percent with nurture emails. The specificity of your content will eliminate poor quality leads and enable your sales team to focus their resources on educated and ready-to-engage prospects.
To get started with your lead nurturing program, begin by determining and segmenting your target audience. Think about what you want to say to establish authority with each segment, and what content and triggers you can use to advance your leads through the process.