Not every consumer who's interested in your products is going to buy right away. With a few exceptions, most businesses engage with consumers multiple times before a purchase is made. A company engaging with a prospect or lead in a strategic manner to encourage them to purchase is a strategy known as lead nurturing and dramatically improves your odds of converting that lead into a paying customer. It goes hand-in-hand with inbound marketing, which is a broader strategic approach that attracts consumers to a business and provides them with engaging and relevant content that helps guide them towards making a purchase. Think of it as a three-step process, where you:
- Run ad and promotional campaigns to pull in consumers
- Provide them with invaluable content to influence their decision
- Then sell to them directly
You can nurture leads through content marketing, email drip campaigns, and social media marketing, among other tactics. Too often, businesses cut out the middle step. They advertise and then sell, but they lose the opportunity to convert many leads in the process without the middle step. Without a clear or effective lead nurturing strategy in place, you'll lose the opportunity to convert brand new consumers and re-engage past customers.
Using Email and Content Marketing
When you pair your ad and promotional campaigns with an email drip campaign, you can keep your leads excited about your products and interested in your brand as they evaluate their options. An email drip campaign is a series of emails sent to a lead after the lead takes a specific action. For example, a consumer might sign up for an email newsletter for a sporting goods store, and share at sign-up, a few details about their sports interests. They would then receive a thank you email for signing up immediately. A short while later, they may receive an email or two that includes content tailored to their sports interests, followed by an email with a call-to-action.
Email drip campaigns are especially effective with products that take consumers significant time to evaluate before purchase. However, they work well with most other products as well because they're inexpensive, can reach large numbers of leads, and can drive traffic to your blog, landing pages, or other branded digital assets. Email marketing is also an excellent complement to your content marketing efforts. If you're regularly updating a blog, producing explainer videos, or publishing thought leadership pieces on third-party sites, you can expand your reach by emailing excerpts to your leads. That content can enhance your trust and credibility with your leads and give them the information they need to purchase from you.
Personalizing Your Marketing
To nurture leads effectively, you must tailor the marketing messages they receive to their specific interests. If you're using a customer relationship management (CRM) system, you know how much data you can collect and store about your leads and existing customers. It gives you access to everything from their demographic information to past customer service inquiries they've made. The more information you have, the more you'll understand your customer base, and the better you'll be able to market and sell to them.
CRM systems also come with automation tools that allow you to set up preprogrammed communications with your leads. As in the above example, when a lead signs up for your email newsletter, your CRM system can be configured to send out an email, or series of emails, to them without you lifting a finger. You can also configure your CRM system to select one of several emails you've drafted based on the lead's interests and the actions they've taken. You can even drive them to one of several landing pages geared towards their interests, using dynamic content web authoring tools. By leveraging lead data and automation tools to tailor your content specifically to your lead, you'll make them feel that your company cares about them and their business, deepening their connection to your brand.
If you’re not currently using CRM software or don’t have access to it, working with a media partner can help you use their systems. Local media experts have their own platforms, which you can use if partnered with them. They can track and provide insight into your lead nurturing efforts, allowing you to target prospects based on specific interests to produce engaging content.
Retargeting Customers to Stay Top-of-Mind
You can also leverage retargeting to position your business and brand at the top of consumer's minds. Retargeting is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to serve ads for your business on third-party websites to leads who've visited your own. Because most website visitors leave a company's website without making a purchase, retargeting reminds users about your business and encourages them to return to you to make a purchase. You can serve ads containing special discounts, coupons, or free trials to nudge them back to your site gently.
Retargeting also helps you achieve the ad frequency you need to ensure that consumers recall your brand first when thinking about the products you sell. It is an especially effective tool for building and maintaining brand awareness; however, it can also help enhance your lead nurturing strategy. For example, you can use retargeting ads to drive leads not to your website but to a specific landing page that encourages them to take further action, such as taking a quick survey or downloading a white paper. In doing so, you may capture more information about them you can use to tailor your marketing further. When you engage them effectively, you'll strengthen their positive feelings towards your business.
Designing and implementing an effective lead nurturing strategy takes time and resources. However, when done properly, you'll generate higher quality leads and increase customer loyalty to your brand. Moreover, you'll increase your average order value (AOV), which is the average value of each order your customers make. Lead nurturing may be an extra step, but it's crucial to generate the highest possible marketing ROI, revenue, and profit margin.