There’s more to marketing automation than simply automating individual marketing processes. This process refers to software platforms through which databases, leads as well as campaign management aspects are connected with one another. This allows all marketing measures to be automatically planned, controlled, and evaluated. The advantages of such efficient campaigns can only be achieved, however,...
Once you have identified your first leads and collected contact data with successful content marketing measures, a suitable discount campaign, or good online PR, it’s time for the lead management process. The first step is successful lead generation. Turning a lead into a customer can take a long time since most contacts are not ready so early on to be handed over to the sales team to make a purchase. To encourage a successful transaction, you require a well-thought-out lead nurturing tactic so you can maintain contacts that have already been generated.
What is lead nurturing?
The main task of lead nurturing is to care for and support generated contacts and to convert these fresh relationships into potential new customers. This basically means addressing them with suitable information. Depending on where the contact is in the purchasing process, you should keep them interested by showing them appropriate content and advertising, and using other useful tactics. This way you can continue the relationship until a successful transaction can be carried out.
What is the aim of lead nurturing?
The lead nurturing process is primarily about maintaining customer relationships. If you manage to build a long-term trusting relationship with a potential customer, you can position yourself as an expert and helpful advisor for many different topics, which will prove beneficial to you e.g. in terms of customer loyalty and brand awareness. Initially, it’s about turning initial contacts into satisfied, paying customers. Further qualifying leads is therefore an important process that takes place during the lead nurturing process. Its objectives include:
- More qualified contacts
- Better conversion rate
- Shorter purchasing process
- Increased ROI
- Increased brand loyalty
Phases of the purchasing process
Lead nurturing takes place in every single phase of the buying process. These phases involve:
- New customer acquisition
- Customer loyalty
- Customer recovery
- Reactivating inactive customers
It is important to provide those interested with suitable information for each phase. This means target-oriented content, which is why lead nurturing is never possible without the appropriate content strategy. What relevant content looks like, depends on the topic, the product, and the interest associated with it. Traditionally, lead nurturing is based on elaborately designed content types, which already suggest more value due to their format: e-books, white paper, advice videos, or webinars. Even a simple blog article or slideshow can be ideal for lead nurturing – it depends on the content focus.
Always deliver the right content
Lead nurturing campaigns usually consist of many levels. They start after the successful lead generation and end when the qualified lead has been delivered to the sales department. When it comes to lead nurturing, the potential customer is led from the first time they show interest (i.e. after searching for general information) to when they show concrete interest in the product, after which they are handed over to the sales team which provides them with appropriate offers.
The further along the purchasing process of the prospective buyer gets, the more precise the content is. Be careful here, as this is where the challenge is, when it comes to the lead nurturing process: If you contact the prospective buyer with offers too early on, it could scare them off. Therefore, it’s best to gradually provide them with useful information until they feel ready to make a purchase.
Many marketers distinguish between three phases when it comes to lead nurturing:
- Awareness stage: The user recognizes a problem or a need, begins researching, and looks for information to help them understand their problem.
- Consideration stage: The user has understood their problem and is now searching specifically for answers and solutions.
- Decision stage: A solution has been found and the user now has to decide who should help them and which provider they should choose.
In the early phase of the purchasing process the person interested usually carries out a lot of research and needs a good amount of information. The content offered to them at this point is therefore less product-oriented. In the awareness stage, the contact should be helped to understand their problem. Marketers need to empathize with potential customers, understand their needs, and adjust the nurturing accordingly. Just like with content marketing, it is advisable to bear the appropriate buyer persona in mind. The more information you have for the contact, the more targeted the lead nurturing tactics can be. In the consideration stage, the contact is led in a step-by-step way to solve their problem or fulfil their needs, right up until they are presented with specific offers in the decision stage.
Automation in the lead nurturing process
It is a mammoth task trying to satisfy all contacts equally that have resulted from lead generation. Once a workload hits a certain point, it’s impossible to deliver suitable content to contacts at the right time if they have shown interest in a product, but haven’t left much information behind. Intelligent automation software can be used when manual lead management reaches its limits. Software solutions like these enable a more customized way of lead nurturing, by individually coordinating marketing measures depending on the phase and state of information. Workflows only need to be defined once, since they are automated afterwards, which is a great help and saves marketing departments a lot of time.
How lead nurturing leads to a successful conclusion
When nurturing and maintaining leads has successful, you shouldn’t just focus on sales and conversions. It is better to focus on the user and their informational needs, and to ask yourself what value and useful information you can provide. Lead nurturing is primarily about delivering relevant information at the right time. This way, you maintain the attention and interest of the potential customer after initial contact. This also strengthens the customer relationship, and the prospective buyer gradually makes the decision to buy.
Marketers shouldn’t put too much pressure on research. Lead nurturing is a process that won’t yield any positive results if stopped prematurely. This means: remain patient, don’t hassle contacts with transparent advertising messages, and above all, don’t rush to finalise a sale. When a lead has reached a certain point, you can use lead scoring to evaluate the contact. Read more about this in the next part of our lead management series.