Several people have recently asked me when the best time to nurture a lead is. My answer is “all the time”. If you have access to a system capable of automating the process why not leverage it as much as possible! In fact, the term ‘Lead Nurturing’ may no longer be accurate since we are now nurturing throughout the entire customer lifecycle. ‘Nurturing’ or ‘Drip Marketing’ are more appropriate names. Below are some nurturing ideas you may want to consider.
Welcome Program for Leads
This is a well-documented type of nurturing. Simply feed all new leads into a program that introduces your company, what you do, and how you can help them. Little is often known about new leads so it is best to keep your messages high-level. The goal is to create enough interest that the lead will want to learn more about your offering.
A re-engage program targets contacts you already know but are not responding or engaging with you. The goal is to wake them up by triggering some type of engagement such as an email click-through, form submit, website visit, etc. Beware of using email opens as a sign of engagement – opens do not necessarily mean the email was read. Messages may be more aggressive to help catch their eye but should not blatantly sell to them. At the end of this program you may want to evaluate whether it’s worth keeping contacts that have not engaged with you. Removing them helps keep your database lean and clean.
Once a prospect has shown some type of interest and understands what you are about, it is time to start educating them further about your offering. If possible, you can offer product specific content. Be sure to convey benefits, not just features. Customer successes are also effective at this stage. The goal here is to prime leads for sales.
This is an advanced stage of education. As customers educate themselves on your offering they will also be looking at your competitors. Don’t deny this – embrace it! By acknowledging your competitors you can help differentiate yourself. Side-by-side comparisons can be extremely helpful to a prospect. The goal is to arm the lead with as much knowledge about your offering as possible so they can hit the ground running when they engage with sales.
Intro to Sales
Once educated a lead will often be ready to speak with sales. At this point you can kick the lead over to CRM for 1:1 follow-up by a rep. Nurturing can be an effective way to make the initial introduction to sales without requiring any resources from the sales rep. Since the lead now lives in your CRM you should have a Lead Owner listed in your marketing automation system (if you didn’t already have an owner). This gives you the ability to use dynamic email signatures, which allows you to send emails from the reps email address and include their full contact info in the signature. Be sure reps are aware of how you are nurturing at this stage so they can align their follow-up appropriately. Following this introduction nurturing usually goes into blackout period while sales becomes the sole channel for communications.
Welcome Program for Customers
Once sales closes a deal you can leverage nurturing to welcome the new customer. Provide content such as links to support forms, info on customer user groups, contact information, product documentation, and any other content they may find useful as a new customer. Nurturing at this stage ensures that your customers are provided with all of the key information necessary as a new customer and makes them feel welcome by keeping an open line of communications.
Keeping customers is obviously important and nurturing can help. Deliver information on customer loyalty programs, product tips and tricks, new, and promotions. It may also be appropriate to solicit feedback to ensure customers are happy with the product or service they are receiving.
Customers may leave but that doesn’t mean they can’t come back. Nurturing can help turn them back into customers by keeping an open line of communication and keeping them up-to-date with new information on you company. Perhaps a new product development may just be the thing to trigger another purchase.
Make sure to align nurturing with the reason they left. If they went to a competitor or don’t have a current need for your offering it’s good to keep in touch. However, if they are angry it is not the time for an automated message!
- Make sure you have a goal in mind when you are nurturing. It could be moving a prospect further down the funnel or helping make the customer experience more enjoyable. The goal will help drive the content you provide the.
- Automate the process to make it easy on your self and consistent for your recipients. Marketing automation can save a lot of time in this area.
- Content is king! It is the fuel for your nurturing engine. Make sure you have a content strategy that is aligned with your nurture strategy.
- Give recipients a way out. Recognize if they are not interested or if they are further down the funnel and move them to a more advanced nurturing program that is appropriate for them.
- Leverage dynamic signatures when it is appropriate. This helps build the relationship between the recipient and their main point of contact within your organization.
- Dynamic content can also be used to target your content and ensure the message you deliver is highly relevant.
- Feed you lead scoring program! By offering prospects more channels to engage with your content you are giving them the opportunity to increase their lead score.
There are many other nurturing tactics. If you have one I encourage you to share it in the comments section below. Happy nurturing!