Understanding Lead Nurturing
Forrester Research defines lead nurturing campaigns very simply: Lead nurturing is a process by which leads are tracked and developed into sales-qualified leads. The goal is to affect the sales outcome; the process is to reach the buyer in the formative stages of a buying cycle and use automation to develop a relationship with the potential customer to shape the buying process.
Why use a lead nurturing campaign?
The buyer who has a genuine need may not buy from you today but is very likely to buy from someone within 24 months or less. Staying in touch with that lead on a regular basis, say by using drip marketing, helps keep you in the running. Staying in touch by using a lead nurturing campaign, a form of drip marketing that seeks to progressively educate the buyer, helps separate you from the pack.
A lead nurturing campaign pays you back in at least three ways:
You also help your brand, building a reputation with potential customers as a trusted advisor and source of thought leadership. And, of course, you sell more stuff.
Who should you nurture?
According to a study by RainToday, out of 100 leads, 25 can be disqualified right away, 50 represent a future opportunity, and 25 are real opportunities. A lead nurturing campaign focuses on building relationships with those 50 leads that at this point seem to be both interested and qualified, but are not ready to buy. If you've filtered and segmented your leads by some factor(s), you can build a nurturing track that's targeted to those factors, whether it's location, product, industry, etc.
Since the point of lead nurturing compaigns is to educate the buyer, you'll be using at least a modicum of content. You'll want to map your content to where a lead is in the buying cycle, so that there's a step-by-step progression along the learning curve. Here's a guide to what your goals might be for each stage:
Attention – The buyer recognizes a problem or need, but may not know there is a solution.
Interest – The buyer seeks to address the need internally or externally and starts researching solutions.
Consideration – The buyer does more detailed research, begins to develop opinions and narrow options, and may reach out to potential solution providers.
Purchase – The buyer actively evaluates products and services to address need and is prepared to make a transaction.
A good rule of thumb is to standardize definitions for what constitutes a qualified lead; generally, leads should fall into one of these categories (which could be named or numbered; what you call them doesn't matter):
There are different types of lead nurturing campaigns, with different goals:
By setting goals and optimizing lead nurturing campaigns, you could see a drastic positive effect on the number and quality of your sales.
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