Lead nurturing is one of the most important aspects of inbound marketing. It's the process of building relationships with potential customers and preparing those leads for sales so they can turn into actual customers over time. If done right, it can turn those prospects into loyal customers who stay with your company for the long haul.
However, lead nurturing can be challenging, especially for businesses that are just starting out, as they won’t know what tactics to use, and how to measure success. A good lead nurturing strategy has clear objectives, target audience, personalized content, multiple touchpoints, and methods for measurement and improvement.
Without a top lead nurturing strategy, you could see major sales opportunities slip through the cracks. In this article, we’ll discuss the biggest challenges for lead nurturing and how to overcome them!
- Deciding on timeframes
- Knowing how frequently to contact leads
- Not using targeting
- Determining what kind of content to send out
- Segmenting leads
- Following up
- Tracking and monitoring results
Deciding on timeframes
In marketing, everything is about timing, and it’s no different for lead nurturing. You need to have a mapped-out timeframe for contacting prospects and nurturing those leads, so you know when to follow up or to cease communication if a lead has gone cold (with no hope of warming up again).
There’s no cookie-cutter approach to determining a lead nurturing timeframe, but you can start by taking a look at your average customer buying cycle. Follow the customer journey from the top of the sales funnel to the time they convert into a customer. Take that average time from lead to sale, and that’s a good starting point for allotting your lead nurturing campaign.
Knowing how frequently to contact leads
Now, this is where many marketers can struggle. Determining how often to send an email or call a lead can make or break a sale. Too often and potential customers will grow frustrated, but too infrequently and the lead can quickly go cold.
You’ll likely make the most frequent contact at the top of the sales funnel, providing your audience with emails where you send out relevant content. If you’ve done your audience research right, and can put together compelling, educational content, these emails should be very welcomed. Your prospects will appreciate valuable content, and it helps to build trust in your brand. Just make sure you’re not sending emails out too frequently.
When prospects are in the middle of the funnel, the content should be more personalized to their specific needs. This can include highly-targeted offers that can help facilitate their journey through the sales funnel. You can also use your buying cycle to identify where the most drop-offs are occurring so you can be proactive and provide the right kind of content at those times.
Not using targeting
Generic lead nurturing will get your nowhere. No two sales are the same, each prospect has its own unique struggle and needs. So a generic campaign will be ineffective as it doesn’t address the needs of those individual prospects. Though you may have some success, it won’t be anywhere close to what you could achieve will a highly targeted campaign.
Studies show that targeted lead nurturing delivers six times higher transactional rates than generic lead nurturing. Using targeted content helps to build trust with a prospect, as they feel understood by your company, and they’re not just having copy-and-paste emails sent to them. Targeted content can help establish trust until they’re ready to become a customer.
You can send out targeted content by using segmented email lists in your CRM platform. These lists make it easy to distribute content to prospects that are relevant to their needs, stage in the buyer’s cycle, industry, location, and much more.
Determining what kind of content to send out
According to a report, up to 71% of surveyed marketers identified developing targeted content according to the buyer stage as the most challenging aspect of a lead nurturing campaign.
You need to know which kind of content will help build awareness and trust in your audience, as well as drive sale conversions. This will depend on your audience, so you’ll need a strong buyer persona to identify their needs. Then it’s a matter of looking for any gaps in your current content offering that might be causing leads to fall through.
For example, you might have great top-of-the-funnel informative content, but not enough industry-specific content for middle-of-the-funnel leads. Do an audit of your current content offerings and adjust it to resonate with your target audience.
Unsegmented leads won’t be very helpful. You need a lead segmentation process to target those leads effectively, and send them the right kind of messaging that helps them along the sales funnel.
Map out lead interactions with your company and their behavior, and determine which persona they fall into, which products and services would suit their needs, and any demographic data. If you have AI software, this can all be done automatically.
You can score your leads on different attributes so you know how to prioritize them. Lead scoring in this way can help you decide how likely a prospect is a good fit for your product or service.
When you have your segments, you can send out your targeted content and start to build those relationships. The more you segment, the more you’ll learn about your leads, and how your different customer personas fit into your business model.
It can be a struggle knowing the right time to follow up with leads in the sale pipeline. Wait too long and they may have gone elsewhere, too soon and you risk turning them off doing business with your company.
This is a good time to evaluate your customer buying cycle to give yourself the best chance of contacting them at the right time. For example, if your buying cycle is two months, then checking in every two months is a good benchmark as it increases the likelihood of them being sales-ready leads.
But how do you follow up with those leads? Depending on your audience and industry, some follow-up methods will be better than others.
If most of your success has gone from calling a lead, then that’s the best way to build that relationship. But if most of your communication has been done via email, then a personalized email will be the most effective way to get that sale. Always consider your prospect, their stage in the funnel, and their previous interactions with your business to determine the best follow-up method.
Tracking and monitoring results
Once you’ve captured those prospects, it can be tempting to keep launching new campaigns without taking a look at your results. But this is a missed opportunity to learn what best practices to adopt next time.
Whether with a simple spreadsheet or analytics software, you need to monitor your results in detail. Map out the buyer journey so you can identify where leads are dropping off, and monitor KPIs like conversions and engagement rates. These metrics can help you determine how successful you’ve been and help impact future lead nurturing campaigns.
There are many challenges to lead nurturing. However, there are a few key things you can do to get started on the right foot. First, research your target audience and create buyer personas. This will help you understand what they are looking for and how you can best reach them. Second, create a lead nurturing plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and tactics. And finally, make sure you have the right tools in place to measure success and track results.
If you can overcome these challenges, you’ll be well on your way to lead nurturing success. Just remember to stay focused, provide value, and measure your progress. With a little effort, you’ll be able to nurture your leads into customers in no time.