Lesson #1

Introduction to Lead Nurturing Strategy

Welcome to your very first Lesson on the Lead Nurturing Master Course! In this lesson we lay the foundation for crafting your lead nurturing strategy from defining exactly what lead nurturing is to the benefits it will bring to your business. Not sure if you are ready for lead nurturing - we cover that too.

LNMC Lesson 1 Video

Lesson #1 overview


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What is Lead Nurturing?

Whether well developed or not, chances are that your company already makes use of some form of lead nurturing in its marketing practices. Lead nurturing is the process of developing your company's relationships and mutual trust with customers at every stage of the sales funnel. Lead nurturing strategy revolves largely around the idea of delivering “the right message to the right person, at the right time.”

This involves practices like:

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  • Scoring and segmenting your leads
  • Creating relevant content
  • Conversion optimization of site pages and CTAs
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Outreach via channels like social media

Why Do I Need a Lead Nurturing Strategy?

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Your lead nurturing strategy has a direct effect on the rate of leads who proceed all the way down your sales funnel and become customers. Marketers see an average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads. (Forrester, 2014)

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By developing an effective nurturing campaign, marketers can feel more connected with their own leads and establish a stronger reputation in their industry. Lead nurturing also produces other positive effects, including shorter sales cycles and lower cost per customer acquisition-- in other words, higher return on investment.

7 Signs That You Need Help with Lead Nurturing

1. You're Unsure of What Pieces You Need

Just putting together the key elements of a nurturing campaign may initially seem intimidating! Remember that lead nurturing should contribute to a potential buyer’s experience throughout their journey, and thus needs to serve different purposes at various points in time.

A well-developed campaign should include the following components as a baseline (though of course, every campaign should be tailored to best fit your industry and company’s unique needs):

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  • A hook (offer, promotion, etc.)
  • Lead segmentation
  • Landing pages
  • Email campaigns
  • Nurture content
  • Automation tools
  • Analytics and reporting

2. You Don't Know Your Own Leads Well

To cater to your leads’ needs effectively, it is necessary to first understand them. While it is realistically impossible to address every lead individually, the goal should be to get as close as possible to this through strategic analysis and organization of your lead list.

This is where lead segmentation comes in. Segmenting leads involves assigning the lead to groups with similar characteristics, needs, and interests using a variety of data. These segments can be based on demographics -- such as company position, location, and industry -- or behavior -- such as the lead’s interaction with your site content. By combining segmenting with comprehensive data collection and existing buyer personas from your lead generation strategy, you can confidently deliver the right message to the right people, at the right time.

How can you learn more about your leads? Automated software does a great job with certain behaviors, but there is also a simpler way to acquire information — by finding opportunities to question potential customers directly, whether through landing page data forms, survey emails, or one-on-one interactions.

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3. You've Neglected Your Email (or Taken it for Granted)

Email campaigns are a cornerstone of lead nurturing, and regardless of rumors floating around the digital marketing sphere, email is most definitely not dead. But if you’re using email in an outdated way -- un-automated, unsegmented single blasts -- you are not doing your nurturing strategy justice.

A well fleshed out email campaign (or ideally, multiple) will require creating a series of emails. These lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts! Behavior-based lead segmentation, as mentioned previously, is the key to delivering smartly targeted information to guide buyers with relevant content and offers.

In addition to the copy itself, the timing of how the emails in your series are sent out relative to one another is also crucial. Testing is the key to finding what works (or doesn't work) with your leads.

 

4. Your Content Lacks in Value

It may seem reasonable to designate one main component of your campaign, such as your emails, as the centerpiece of your juiciest content. However, the multi-channel nature of lead nurturing actually requires a multitude of content-- everything from to landing pages to social media posts!

The difficulty of understanding what kind of content will “cover all of the bases” along the way is the reason why strong lead nurturing campaigns incorporate content mapping. In this process, content is designated to be received by leads at appropriate points throughout the campaign.

The distinctions between the top, middle, and bottom of the marketing funnel (ToFu, MoFu, BoFu) can be used to guide your content. Alternatively, you can implement certain content assets for stages of the sales cycle:

 

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TOFU – Awareness:
Checklist, e-books, white papers, instructional videos, and webinars

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MOFU – Evaluation:
Case studies, demo videos, and data sheets

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BOFU – Purchase:
Trials, demos, quotes, discounts, and consultations

5. A “Personal Touch” is Missing

While highly valuable, lead segments are not a total substitute for personalization. The two concepts may appear similar to one another, but in fact, they are quite distinct.

While segmentation attempts to organize a group of people by common traits or behaviors, personalized marketing leverages data collection and analysis to deliver individualized messages and is focused on the single user.

Having gained a considerable amount of insight into your leads, it can be tempting to sit back and let algorithms do the work. Yet leads respond well to and engage with a human touch in a marketing process that is often highly automated. That is why maintaining a degree of personalization matters so much.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to incorporate personalization into your lead nurturing strategy, such as sending emails triggered by specific behaviors (which involves creating workflows, a set of automated actions triggered by certain events) and including leads' personal details in the body of the emails.

 

6. Untimely Follow-ups are Costing You Leads

One of the most common lead nurture challenges is creating a scheduling process through which you will send out content and get in touch with your leads. The odds of a lead becoming qualified are exponentially higher when contacted promptly after converting on your site.

In addition to automated scheduling, a timely follow up email or a phone call can still often be an effective means of converting inbound leads into qualified sales opportunities. Testing out various time intervals with your various lead segments and gauging their effectiveness is the best way to find a strategy that works for your company.

 

7. You're Unsure of How to Report and Analyze Your Results

From the software required to the indicators which are best to focus on, reporting and analytics can be challenging even for a seasoned marketer. Yet the “scientific process” is crucial to success, as an understanding of strengths and weaknesses will enable you to optimize it efficiently.

Thankfully, there is a multitude of resources available to present an idea of which metrics matter most, and a large portion of the work can be done through the push of a button (or rather, a click of the mouse). Standard digital marketing software will most often include tracking and analytics features, easily lining up key metrics such as:

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  • Click-through and site/content engagement rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Cost per customer acquisition
  • Average conversion time

Benefits of Lead Nurturing for B2B

(not a B2B marketer, skip to read the Benefits of Lead Nurturing for B2C)

B2B marketing strategy is “in it for the long haul,” since it needs to be oriented towards longer sales cycles. On the positive side, this creates opportunities to cultivate deeper, more meaningful relationships. Here are some of the key benefits to implementing lead nurturing for your B2B company:

Shortens the Sale Cycle

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A major function of lead nurturing for B2B marketing is accelerating the sales cycle where it most needs it. Through tactics like testing, automating workflows, segmentation of leads, and increasing your number of marketing channels, a nurturing campaign will make the most of the high turnover in value that B2B customers have to offer.

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Workflows are exemplified by drip marketing campaigns, encourage a lead to access the next content piece in your funnel or take the next desired action. Equally important are the roles of predictive analytics and A/B testing, which can accelerate the sales cycle by optimizing everything from landing pages to email subject lines to offers themselves.

Helps You Approach Leads in a Timely Manner

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Developing a personal relationship with leads is even more important for B2B than B2C nurturing, as it is forged between the individual marketer and the buyer (in contrast with B2C, which tries to create a relationship between the buyer and brand).

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This begins with knowing how to act quickly without coming on too strong and intimidating the lead. Aforementioned elements of lead nurturing, like segmentation and predictive analytics, can make these efforts better-informed and more efficient.

Delivers Relevant Content to Your Database

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Some 80% of B2B marketers say they personalize emails, and 50% say they personalize web experiences. Premium content helps you make a case for why your solution in particular is the best fit to a lead's problem during the consideration phase of the buyer's journey. And the more specific, personalized solutions of B2B require more specific content delivered through flexible drip campaigns.

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Several pieces of content may be required at this stage, especially given B2B's longer sales cycles and more complicated products/services. Successful pieces include case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, and webinars; however, even the copy content of landing pages and CTAs should not be overlooked. The format may not even be entirely digital; the portion of a B2B nurturing campaign conducted online is smaller relative to a B2C campaign.

Benefits of Lead Nurturing for B2C

B2C or eCommerce marketing tends to deal with large customer databases and shorter sales cycles, creating a strong need for a means of managing leads’ potentially fickle behavior. Most importantly, the company needs to be able to act fast and deliver offers as directly as possible! This is why the nurturing campaign funnel is usually based on an intricate email series.

 

Increases Customer LTV

One major difference in B2C from B2B is that the former continue to be targets for marketing even upon becoming a customer. In other words, the higher likelihood of repurchases keeps leads potentially exiting and re-entering the middle-of-funnel phase continuously.

Lead nurturing addresses this to increase average customer lifetime value by jumping right back in after the closing of a sale with the next relevant loyalty reward, upsell, or cross-sell product offer. Emails can also be utilized to gently nudge a lead back on track if they have abandoned a purchase during the checkout process or failed to take advantage of an offer.

 

Personalized Offers for a Large Database

B2C pieces provide value in a more straightforward way than B2B offerings (which often focus on education and information), standing out via discounts, promotions, bundles, rewards programs, etc. For that reason, they must on one hand be simpler in design because their value is not subjective like that of a content offer. On the other hand, nurturing ensures that offers are still relevant and generous enough to fit the customers’ needs and wishes.

 

Prevents Database Decay

While emails are at the core of B2C nurturing campaigns, keeping leads and current customers consistently engaged requires a larger number of engagement channels than in B2B marketing. The brand is expected to reach the customer at the channel that is most convenient to them at a given point in time, whether it be through email, social channels, or even over text.

This necessitates a strong marketing automation system to be implemented to juggle all of the channels involved, with automated workflows that allows marketers to plan ahead and create regular content and offer calendars to stay top-of-mind with the entirety of the database.

 

Delivers Your Brand Image

Finally, lead nurturing for B2C helps with the all-important goal of delivering your brand to leads. Nurturing content is a great way to share in depth your company’s values, story, and the message that what it has to offer is unique.

 

Lead Nurturing Statistics

Still not seeing the full potential of a lead nurturing strategy? Here are a few of the latest quick stats on lead nurturing:

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  • 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to buy, and around half of the leads in any system are not yet ready to buy
  • 48% of businesses say most of their leads require “long cycle” nurturing
  • 64% of marketers say they saw the benefits of using marketing automation for nurturing within just six months after implementing it
  • 67% of B2B marketers say they see at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 66% of the cost!
  • Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts

Drip Marketing vs. Lead Nurturing

When it comes to lead nurturing terminology, there often exists some confusion about a lead nurturing campaign’s relation to a drip marketing campaign. So, are these two the same thing, is one a subcomponent of the other, or can both be implemented at the same time?

Let’s take the time to define and distinguish the two terms.

Email Drip Marketing

A type of automated campaign which allows you to send out a series of scheduled emails to your contacts base. Generating open rates that are around 80% higher and click-through rates that are three times higher than those of single send emails, drip emails are a more sophisticated and effective investment than blast emails.

Email drip campaigns work well when you need to educate leads on all your company has to offer, inform them of updates, and continually keep your brand top of mind. Drip marketing is essentially a subsection of the lead nurturing process, as it is designed to educate customers and guide them down the sales funnel towards conversion.

In a drip marketing, all leads in your segment will receive the same content, at the same cadence. For example, Lead #1 and Lead #2 will receive the second communication in your series 10 days after receiving the first, regardless of their actions.

Standalone drip campaigns may be an advantageous choice for younger companies and less experienced marketers, because they are easier to set up and maintain. However, they do not dig deep enough below the surface to examine the underlying behavioral patterns your leads follow.

Nurturing Campaign

A full-fledged, multi-channel campaign, incorporating, but not limited, to automated email campaigns. A lead nurturing campaign delivers timely and targeted premium educational content that help guide the lead toward a purchase, as well as the tangible offers that make up the heart of the campaign.

Unlike drip marketing, nurture campaigns are triggered by every engaging action the marketer deems relevant, creating a far more personalized sending schedule. They are informed by in-depth analytics and behavioral data based on criteria such as email open rates, purchase histories, and site browsing paths.

Nurturing campaigns are a much more advanced option for relationship building with prospects; though they require greater investment of time and effort, they keep longer-term goals in their line of sight and deliver greater payoff.

Feel like you have a better understanding of what lead nurturing is and its benefits? Take your learning to the next level by applying your knowledge in the Lesson 1 Exercise below.

 


 

Lesson 1 Exercise

Evaluate Your Lead Nurturing Strategy

Determine if your Lead Nurturing Strategy needs help by reviewing each statement below and checking off each item on the list that currently applies to your company’s marketing strategy.

  • Our database is segmented by stage of the buyer’s journey. 
  • We have documented buyer personas (a.k.a. avatars).
  • We use email for more than sending un-automated, unsegmented single blasts.
  • We have content that covers every stage of the buyer’s journey.
  • We use personalization to deliver individualized messages to our leads.
  • We have an email or marketing automation platform.
  • When a lead converts on our site, they are followed up with immediately using automation. 
  • We know how to analyze and report on our key performance metrics.
  • For B2B—My sales team is pleased overall with the quality of leads they receive from marketing.
  • For B2C—We have a high rate of return customers.

If you could not check all of these boxes, then this masterclass is for you! 

 

Now that you know what lead nurturing is (and isn't) and its benefits, it's time to learn how to execute lead nurturing for your company in Lesson 2.

Download the print copy to take the Lead Nurturing Masterclass with you!