Marketers must engage in a way that “delivers the right information at the right time to keep the prospect engaged without them feeling pressured. Knowing when to convey the right information at the right time requires an understanding of where prospects and customers are in the customer lifecycle by observing their behavior.
When you start dating someone, it’s unlikely that they’ll fall head over heels for you right away. Instead, it takes time to get the other person to warm up to you, and this happens through going on dates, sharing kind and honest words, and experiencing meaningful moments together. The process of lead nurturing is quite similar, though probably less romantic. Nurturing leads requires patience and tact, along with some creativity.
What is it?
First, let’s answer the question of utmost importance to this post: What is lead nurturing? Micky Long, vice president and practice director of lead nurturing at integrated B2B public relations and marketing consultancy Arketi Group, has a helpful definition:
“Lead nurturing is the process of engaging with a somewhat qualified prospect over time as the prospect moves along the buying process, providing regular interactions of an increasingly focused nature to ultimately convince the prospect of the value of your solution.”
Long emphasizes that following the buyer’s process is the key, meaning that marketers must engage in a way that “delivers the right information at the right time to keep the prospect engaged without them feeling pressured. This is the dating-ritual analogy.”
How do you do it?
Knowing when to convey the right information at the right time requires an understanding of where prospects and customers are in the customer lifecycle by observing their behavior (e.g., email interactions, Web visits, etc.). “Monitor prospect behavior for changes,” Long says. “For example, if a prospect suddenly starts visiting your website and spending significant time there, it may signal an accelerated time schedule.”
When it comes to the actual content sent to prospects, Jason Penta, vice president of client services for mobile advertising company Pontiflex, offers three important must-do’s:
1) Be consistent: Penta points to Seamless and Zipcar as shining examples of companies that do a great job of maintaining a consistent tone, look and feel to their messages. “Even in an age of information overload, consumers are able to read and digest these emails with a cursory glance.”
2) Provide value: “Provide them valuable information or discounts that they would not receive anywhere else,” Penta says.
3) Be multiplatform-friendly: Marketers must remember that people are consuming content on multiple platforms, so emails must be created with desktops, smartphones and tablets in mind.
Penta also advises marketers not to overwhelm people with too many emails. “I recommend giving consumers the option to select how often they want to receive emails from you.”
Along with regular engagement, having a library of helpful content to engage prospects and leads at every stage of the buying process is important, according to Dan Hudson, co-founder and president of B2B sales and leads company3FORWARD. He also recommends including simple calls-to-action (CTAs) in each message. “Too many CTAs drives engagement down, not up.”
In terms of timing, Penta recommends setting up an auto-responder email to be sent instantly after a sign-up occurs. Another email educating the recipient about the company’s offerings should be sent 2-3 days after they sign up.
Hudson suggests changing up the frequency and timing of messages. “Believe it or not, lots of CEOs and company owners catch up on email in the evenings and on weekends.”
While automation and emails are certainly helpful, Jenny Vance, president of B2B marketing and sales company LeadJen, says that telemarketing is an underused tactic for nurturing leads. “Many marketers only focus on the digital side of nurturing and forget about the value of live interactions,” she says. “Incorporate telephone follow-up as a deliberate part of the follow-up workflow. Have a plan so telemarketers’ scripts match other content strategies, and give the telemarketing group specific objectives for obtaining more information about the prospect that can allow content to be further customized.”
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