The Essential Guide to Creating Lead Nurturing
Inspiration for Every Step of the Customer Journey
There’s no doubt about it — lead nurturing campaigns are essential to warm up leads. Also known as drip campaigns, they help your organization to stay top of mind and build trust with your potential clients. For successful lead nurturing, you need to offer information that demonstrates your expertise and helps prospects on a regular basis.
Drip. Drip. Drip. That’s how your campaign can slowly and steadily build awareness and move prospects and customers through the journey. But unlike a drippy faucet that gains attention by annoying you, your content needs to be something that potential clients seek out. It answers their questions. It educates.
Your content should work like a consultative salesperson, not like a high-pressure used car salesman. But what should that content look like?
This post leads you through the type of content you need based on each step in a sample customer journey. Bear in mind that every industry and market is different. So, you’ll need to adapt your content based on your own customers’ journeys.
Lead Nurturing Objectives
A lead nurturing campaign is not about sales today. It’s about building a foundation for future revenues. Through your content and watching how people interact with it, you’ll be able to identify prospects and deepen your relationship with them. The goal is to prepare prospects for contact with one of your sales people who may send them a sales email. And, yes, sales emails are a different species from marketing emails.
Map Your Customer’s Journey
Successful lead nurturing requires planning. Start by charting your customer’s journey. Find out the questions they ask during each phase of the journey and identify opportunities to inform them. Even as you educate, it’s okay to provide your viewpoint, position your product or service in the buyer’s mind, and gently stir his or her interest in your offering.
Sync with CRM
Lead nurturing is just one part of your approach to Customer Relationship Management. From unqualified lead all the way to brand advocate, nurturing should support your sales efforts and help prospects and customers move though the journey at their own pace. And every prospect and customer communication should be captured in your CRM software or as a part of your contact management system.
Think holistically. Existing customers need nurturing, too.
Keep Your Audience Top of Mind
It’s a two-way street. Your goal is to stay in the forefront of prospects’ minds. To do so, you need to put them first.
For example, are you selling to executive-level buyers? If so, recognize they’re time-starved. They’re trying to keep up with the treadmill of everyday business. Help them out.
Make your content concise and easy to digest. Your written content should be easy to scan. Include bullet points, headers and white space. Don’t be verbose…cut the fat. Also, increase engagement with visuals. And, of course, consider a variety of content formats. Infographics and videos, for example, can be highly engaging.
Finally, realize executives will read the majority of your message on mobile devices, so make them mobile-friendly.
Content for the Customer’s Journey
Here’s some inspiration to help you get started with your content plan, with just one example of a customer journey — your journey might look a little different based on your industry, product, customer needs, prospect expectations, etc.
You should design each piece of content to provide the information your buyer needs to help them move to the next stage in their buying journey. Once you’ve created content, you can automate much of the distribution with lead management software that sends mass emails to cultivate leads.
Step #1 Prospect identifies a business problem or need.
Content for the Journey: Prospects know they have a problem and are interested in finding a solution. To catch the prospect’s attention in this phase, focus on education. Educational materials enable your organization to stand out as an authority in the field and build trust.
Demonstrate your expertise. Be generous with your help. If you put the buyer’s interests first, you’ll win in the long term.
It’s important to show that you empathize with your buyers, understand their problem and can offer solutions. So, provide a Guide on How to Solve the Issue. For example, a lead management software provider might create a guide entitled “How to Convert Leads and Build Strong Customer Relationships.” The guide could review several solutions, including lead management software.
Note that prospects may do some of the early exploratory work offline in conversation with industry peers. Even so, it’s good to have your name out there. Colleagues may recommend your company as a resource.
Step #2 Prospect does some research and determines a category of products, solutions or services that may help solve his or her problem.
Content for the Journey: Your potential client has chosen a product category. Now it’s time to help them review their product options within that category.
Continue to educate. Offer, for example, an eBook entitled “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About [Your Product Category] But Were Afraid to Ask.” When you point out features prospects should seek, make sure you mention the benefits of those that your product offers. Build the case for your product in a subtle way.
Step #3 Searches for information about their selected product category and learns about your company or product.
Content for the Journey: They’ve discovered your product or service. Now you’re officially in touch with your prospects. Of course, you need to continue your prospects’ education, but you finally have a chance to start persuading more directly.
If they have not seen some of your early-stage content, you can offer it to them now.
You might provide a “Buying Guide,” which compares the features, attributes and benefits of various vendors’ offerings. It can also outline how prospects should define their needs in a way that helps them to pick the right product.
You also could create a “Definitive How to Guide” that moves the buyer step-by-step through implementing your type of solution or using your category of products.
Through these materials and more, the prospect becomes aware of your product.
Step #4 Visits company websites, views other marketing materials, and talks with colleagues in the industry.
Content for the Journey: Now prospects have a list of vendors or products that potentially could meet their needs. The list is too long to investigate each product in-depth, so they want to narrow it down.
This stage in the buying cycle is an opportunity to focus on the prospect’s industry or market segment. By now, you should have gathered demographic and behavioral data on prospects so you can better personalize communications. Offer Case Studies and Solution Guides tailored to their concerns. The case studies are essential to boost your credibility.
Step #5 Inquires about your solution.
Content for the Journey: At this point, some companies transition from marketing to sales emails. Whether or not you do this depends on the cost and complexity of your product.
The more expensive the product and the greater the time commitment from the customer, the sooner sales needs to be involved. For some simple, less expensive products, sales involvement may never occur or happen much later. Bear in mind, however, that once sales is leading the charge, they can still benefit from marketing support to complement their activities.
If you’re transitioning to sales, a representative will rapidly contact the prospect, answer questions and provide consultative advice. Your goal is to have the prospect experience the product through Free Demonstrations, a Trial or both. Make it easy to test your product. This process will enable prospects to determine how it works for them and minimize their risk.
Step #6 Considers your product…and some others.
Content for the Journey: The prospect may sit in the consideration stage for some time…usually longer than you’d like! Your job is to help during the selection process in a consultative way. Remind your prospect of the benefits of taking action now and that there is a cost associated with inaction.
Create a plan to stay in touch. Provide tools that can help to make the final decision. For example, create a “Cost Calculator” that outlines costs of various solutions. Or offer an “ROI Calculator” that helps determine the return on investment.
Step #7 Chooses your product and becomes a customer.
Content for the Journey: Finally, they are on board! No, don’t relax. Remember learning about post-purchase dissonance in college? Avoid it. Reassure your prospects that they’ve made the right decision by offering a helping hand.
Your sales team should provide a “Welcome Kit” and an “Onboarding Program” that’s chock-full of valuable information. Once again, marketing can supplement their efforts.
Step #8 Your company provides the product or solution.
Content for the Journey: To ensure that your customer gets the most out of your product, provide Training and Support. Sales representatives should follow up to make sure that customers are satisfied, or better yet, delighted.
Step #9 The customer starts using your product or solution.
Content for the Journey: On an ongoing basis, check in to see if there is anything you can do to help customers get more out of your product. This practice will help you deepen the relationship and ensure long-term sales. Also, you may discover opportunities for upgrades and cross-selling.
Since you’ve already trained your customer on the basics, you want to move them to the next level by offering, for example, “Best Practices Guides” and “Industry Benchmarks.”
Step #10 The customer becomes a brand advocate, enthusiastically telling others about your product and company.
Content for the Journey: Identify clients who are delighted with your brand and remind them to suggest your product or service to their colleagues. Referral programs are a powerful way to accomplish this.
You can also ask brand advocates for testimonials to place on your website, or whether you can use their stories for your case studies.
Again, while you’re chatting with them, it may be a good time to cross-sell or up-sell. Don’t push the sale though…it’s all about win-win. If it’s not right for the customer, it’s not right for you.