Portions of the lead nurturing process happen without a prospect having any direct connection with a human – be it a member of your marketing or sales team. While the tools for lead development change with technology and customer behaviors, guiding leads through a purchase path isn’t disappearing any time soon. We recently took a client’s list of cold leads and used lead nurturing techniques to warm portions of it back to life.
Here’s a brief refresher on leads:
- Leads are folks with varying degrees of interest in a product or service your company offers.
- Lead generation strategies locate potential customers already looking for answers to questions or solutions to challenges and/or pain points. Marketers utilize focused, dynamic content on multiple channels — landing pages, social media, paid ads – to energize leads and direct them into the purchase process.
- Lead nurturing develops deeper relationships with potential customers, engaging them through the purchase process via persuasive means, such as delivering content that’s educational, or elicits an emotional response. Developing a relationship with someone before they choose to interact with you on a human level is the goal of lead nurturing. This builds trust.
One of Savoir Faire’s clients is a multi-location brick and mortar business offering very specific services of a sensitive nature. They have a very large list of email addresses, whose owners have varying increments of time between touchpoints with the business. These were not hot, fresh leads. They were cold, and many of them were old. That being said, the sales cycle for this client could be years, so old contacts still hold some value.
You’ve got a “cold” list of email addresses. How do you begin?
Don’t expect miracles with an aging, stagnant list. The list probably has decreased in value over time. The longer it sits—meaning the longer someone hasn’t heard from you – the less-valuable it becomes. If contacts are cold, there are tactics to re-warm some of them into prospects with targeted email and lead nurturing.
For this client, we first cleaned the list to remove any email addresses no longer in use. This helps to keep our email sending reputation positive.
Then, we looked at our existing content for ways to reignite the list. Fortunately, for this customer, we are content-rich. We have dozens of blog posts, some long-form content assets, free events, a webinar, podcasts and more. A pre-developed content strategy is very useful, as it creates fodder to transform blog posts into emails, for example. A strategy that uses a variety of content types presents additional opportunities for your leads to engage.
For potential customers on the cold list who previously converted on a piece of content, we have several other options for downloadable content we can offer to encourage a reconversion. Once someone reconverts on a piece of content, we can nurture them further into the purchase process.
For example, we investigate the questions a lead is likely to ask before becoming a customer. Look at the action taken and the subject matter of the content they downloaded. If someone converted on a particular piece of content, it probably answered a question—yet they weren’t ready to make a purchase. Use logic to determine what their next question might be or what else might ease their pain point.
Looking at adjacent questions to the one just answered is an important aspect of nurturing. The lead likely has some rough details about the services and costs but may not be aware of all of their options. Is this potential customer asking discreet questions? Did they convert on content that digs into fine details of a particular service? Did they offer a clue that they might have an interest in a different aspect of the business?
For this client, we have automated workflows that engage leads with additional information related to what they have already engaged with. We may move a lead from one workflow to another, depending on the last piece of content they engaged with.
Auditing your list and analyzing your content for ways you can reuse or repurpose it are important aspects of the lead process, but it’s also essential to be on the same page as the sales team. Everything we do for this client tees up the sales expert to close the deal. There are no surprises between marketing and sales. Our tactics are transparent to sales, and there is a lot of back and forth to improve content.
We also analyze the performance of lead nurturing emails on a monthly basis, and we make adjustments to forms and content as data suggests. We’ve said it before, but remember, your content should not be “set it and forget it.” (You’re not making a rotisserie chicken.)
One other thing to keep in mind, once you have a lead, you could send them content indefinitely, but think carefully about that fine line between helping the cause by providing more information and being obnoxious with constant contact. If it’s the latter, you risk them unsubscribing or marking you as spam.
The last thing any of us wants is a nurtured lead to disappear before becoming a customer. Your goal with a lead nurturing program is to inform, educate, provide value and engage the person on the other end until, hopefully, they choose to become a customer.