Here’s one problem most of us would kill to have: too many qualified leads.
61% of marketers say that generating traffic and leads is one of the top challenges they face.
The more leads your business has, the more sales you can close; the math is simple.
Or at least it should be. For 69% of marketers, converting leads is their top priority. The problem is that conversions don’t happen by chance. Transforming a lead into a customer means taking them on a journey and nurturing the relationship at every touchpoint.
Businesses that invest time and resources in nurturing their leads make a staggering 50% more sales than those who don’t. That’s because they understand the importance that trust plays in the conversion process.
Savvy online marketers understand the importance of nurturing when it comes to the sales funnel. If you (a) have a nurturing strategy in place and (b) can keep leads coming in, you have a winning recipe for driving business growth.
Why You Need to Nurture Your Leads (And What That Means)
When we think about the word “nurture,” clients aren’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. People nurture children, pets, plants, and relationships, but who talks about nurturing customers?
It’s important to understand that if you want your business to succeed, you need to develop client relationships. That means engaging with your leads regularly throughout the sales funnel so they:
- Trust you. Only around 3% of customers trust businesses when they’re trying to sell them something. If you want leads to transform into customers, you need to nurture that trust over time.
- Recommend you to their friends. A staggering 84% of B2B buyers kick off their purchasing process through referrals. This means that if you can build trust with your existing customers, they can transform into a powerful lead-generation vector.
- Keep giving you their business. Repeat customers spend up to 300% more than new ones, and after you make that initial sale, getting them to come back is much easier and less costly (5X cheaper, to be precise).
Let’s say that, right now, you’re getting hundreds of new emails every month through your website (kudos to you), but you’re only converting a tiny fraction of those leads into paying customers.
Even seasoned digital marketers consider conversion rates of around 2-5% to be pretty good. If you’re hovering around that range, then chances are you’re already nurturing leads efficiently without realizing it.
Either that or you have a product or service that basically sells itself. In any case, it’s not a bad position to be in.
However, there’s always room for improvement. Consider how much money you can add to your balance sheet just by increasing your conversion rates by 1-2%. With a solid lead-nurturing strategy, that’s entirely within your power.
3 Types of Tools to Help You Nurture Your Leads Efficiently
Before we start talking about specific processes, let’s go over some tools you can use to step up your lead nurturing efforts:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software. One of the hardest challenges that growing businesses face is keeping track of customer information. You can’t nurture a relationship if you can’t remember the other person’s name or understand what their needs are. CRM software helps you tackle this problem by providing you with the tools you need to keep all relevant information handy.
- Email marketing platforms. If you’re not using email marketing yet, then you’re missing out on what may be the most powerful sales-generation tool for small businesses. 91% of shoppers prefer to hear from companies via email. This means that your subscribers are primed to convert, as long as you know how to nurture them through the process.
- Social media management tools. I’m willing to bet that most of your favorite online businesses have a strong social media presence, and that’s not a coincidence. You can use social media to engage with your leads, establish trust, provide support, and have a little fun in the process. The problem is that managing multiple accounts with a lot of followers can get tricky. Ideally, you’ll use social media management tools that enable you to schedule publications, keep track of interactions, and monitor what your customers are saying about you.
There are a lot of options when it comes to any of these types of tools. For example, Salesforce is by far the most popular option when it comes to CRMs. It integrates with a lot of other platforms, including popular email marketing software, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, which unlocks advanced email personalization options.
Other tools worth considering that specialize in having a one-stop shop that does everything from email automation, analytics, to social, etc. are HubSpot and Ontraport. What I love about Ontraport is the fact that it is really cost-effective for businesses and a great way to get started with automation and building out robust workflows. Plus, they offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.
Consider what areas you think you need the most help with when it comes to nurturing your leads, and then look into tools that can help you do so more efficiently.
In most cases, it’s not the tools you use that will make the most significant difference. Lead nurturing comes down to having a solid strategy in place.
3 Steps to Nurture Your Leads and Boost Sales
Nurturing your leads involves a lot of work, so you need to tackle the process step by step. After you have a strategy in place that works, it becomes easier to scale your efforts, which can translate into more conversions.
Step 1: Start Scoring Your Leads
Not every lead has the same potential. Some users might need just a small nudge to become customers, whereas others require months of nurturing.
Scoring your leads involves assigning each of them a numerical value. The higher the value, the more likely they are to transform into clients. To give you an example, let’s say you have the following three leads.
- Lead number one has visited your website several times and has gone so far as to add some products to their shopping cart, but he still hasn’t pulled the trigger on the purchase.
- Lead number two has visited your website once and signed up for your email list, but he hasn’t displayed a high level of engagement with your messages.
- Lead number three has visited your website a couple of times but so far hasn’t signed up for your email list or indicated any intent to make a purchase.
In that case, lead number one would be a prime target for your sales department. They’ve indicated they want your product and are willing to convert; all they need is a little nudge.
Customer number two, on the other hand, is still partway through the buyer’s journey. There’s some clear potential there, but you’re going to have to nurture that lead – maybe for a while – before it transforms into a conversion.
Lead number three shouldn’t be high on your list of priorities. So far, they’ve shown very little conversion intent. You might be able to transform this type of lead into a conversion, but it will take a lot more time and money than it would with leads one and two.
You can adopt an existing lead-scoring model or come up with your own. For it to work, you’ll need access to analytics that show you how users behave so that you can score them effectively.
Most marketers can’t measure how effective their campaigns are when it comes to user behavior. That’s because they don’t take advantage of tools such as Google Analytics, which provide you with insights into your customer buying cycle:
After you have a system in place, you’ll want to make a list that includes high-priority leads and those with a bit less potential. Ideally, you’ll have a cut-off score so that you can focus your efforts on leads with the most potential.
In the next step, you’ll establish contact with your best leads.
Step 2: Have Sales Follow Up on Your Marketing Efforts
One of the most common mistakes businesses make when it comes to nurturing leads is the failure to coordinate their marketing and sales efforts.
A quick example – let’s say you use content marketing to generate leads for your business. 82% of B2B companies use blogs to generate traffic, and marketers that publish more content are up to 13 times more likely to see a return on their investment.
Content works, but its biggest value lies in generating leads. After you have those leads, it’s up to sales to close them, which means:
- Scoring those leads so you know where to focus your efforts. We went over this during step number one, and it’s a key step for companies with limited resources.
- Coordinating customer information between teams. This is where tools such as CRMs come in because they provide everyone in your organization with quick access to the information they need to send personalized emails, follow up on past purchases, and more.
- Following up. Most often, businesses do this via email, and in most cases, it takes several messages before you’ll see any results.
At this stage, you should have a list of high-value leads that are ripe for conversion. We’re big fans of using email marketing when it comes to nurturing leads because, with the right platform, you can automate campaigns, send personalized emails (we’ll talk more about this in the next step), and run tests to see what works and what doesn’t.
More importantly, you can use email segmentation to target leads with different campaigns depending on their scores. Users are 75% more likely to click on highly targeted emails, so if you’re not segmenting your list of subscribers, it will have an impact on your ROI.
Keep in mind, though – email is not the only channel you can use for lead nurturing. Social media is also incredibly valuable, and 4 out of 10 reps report having used it to transform leads into conversions.
Messaging apps are also quickly becoming powerful marketing channels. Up to 24% of marketers plan to include them among their strategies during the next year, which makes sense when you consider that messaging app users are more active than their social media counterparts.
If you know how addictive social media is, that gives you an idea of the potential there is in messaging apps.
For the rest of this article, we’re going to focus on email marketing and how you can use it to nurture leads because it’s the channel that provides the best ROI.
Step 3: Avoid Generic Nurturing Emails
We all know that businesses love to use email to drive sales.
If you open your inbox right now, you’ll probably see at least a dozen campaigns with offers from websites you subscribe to. The question is, what makes someone open and engage with some emails, but not others?
A lot of factors can impact your email click-through rates. Even something small, such as adding an emoji to your headline, can improve your click-through rates by up to 65% (depending on which emojis you use).
However, the most powerful differentiator by far when it comes to email marketing is personalization. That can mean several things, including:
- Referring to your customers by name. This is the big one – no one wants businesses to refer to them as a “potential client” or a “John Doe” but to call them by their name. At the very least, it makes you feel like there’s an actual person behind each email.
- Mentioning actions they’ve taken in the past. If someone buys something from you or signs up for your email list, a follow-up message is always in order because it allows you to continue nurturing the relationship.
- Sending messages at the right time. When you send an email matters almost as much as its content. Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to yield the highest open rates, but your mileage may vary depending on who you’re targeting.
There’s an entire subset of email marketing dedicated to nurturing leads. This involves every kind of message that’s designed to boost the relationship between you and your potential customers.
Take welcome emails, for example. You can target users as soon as they join your email list, which already bumps up their score significantly because it shows intent. A welcome email campaign enables you to (a) establish a relationship, and (b) it gives you an idea of how interested those users are.
If they open all your emails, you can move them to a list of leads with high potential. With welcome emails, you can add personalization by using customer names:
Some businesses go the extra mile and send personalized offers right from the get-go based on the information they got when those leads signed up for the business’s email list:
How you personalize your emails will depend largely on the information your leads are willing to share with you. It’s a delicate balance to strike because complex sign-up forms can discourage lead collection, but they also make your job easier when it comes to driving conversions.
Wrapping It Up
Ultimately, nurturing leads is all about building trust in your business and making sure that users don’t forget about you.
It doesn’t matter what niche you work in; chances are you’re competing for the attention of every lead you get with dozens of other businesses. This means that you have to be willing to put in the effort when it comes to developing customer relationships if you want to transform leads into sales.