Lead nurturing is the process of bringing a lead from the initial point of interest to the point where you are ready to hand them over to your sales team to talk business. It is a key part of lead management. Digital options offer many more nurture experiences. Which of these ideas and tactics are you embracing?

Remember that around three quarters of initial contacts (leads) are not yet ready to buy. Over recent years, the sales process has changed.  Research suggests that around three quarters of those visiting company websites are at a very early stage of research. They are not ready to talk to sales teams. But they may want more information about how your product could help with their problems, and could be moved on through the sales process with the right encouragement.

Your nurturing process should be targeted and tailored. At any given point in time, you will have leads at various stages in the buying process. They also have different wants and needs. You need to tailor your marketing emails to make sure they are relevant. The content must fit both the stage in the process, and the pain points. It is a challenging task, but can be done using segmentation, and a system that tracks individual progress. But, is your segmentation up to the job?

Your lead nurturing should include qualifying. Not every lead is genuine(shocker). Plenty of those who download your content are not interested in your products. Your lead nurturing process needs to include some kind of qualification process, to ensure that only genuine prospects are passed to the next stage. And that influencers are handled in the appropriate way.

Although lead nurturing is a marketing activity, it needs to draw on sales teams’ experience. Sales teams know customers and prospects like nobody else. They are in touch regularly with existing customers, and understand pain points. It is therefore a good idea for marketing to discuss lead nurturing emails and practice with sales teams, to make sure that they are targeting their messages most appropriately.

Timing is everything with lead nurturing. Remembering that more than half of all potential customers stop engaging if they receive irrelevant emails or contact, it becomes clear that getting the timing right is both vital and difficult. Just as with content, timing needs to be tailored to individual prospects. Our top tip? Work to your individual customers’ timelines, not a generic one or your own preference.

Buyer personas can be helpful in segmenting prospects. If you have created good buyer personas, they can be a useful tool in segmenting customers for targeted lead nurturing. They allow you to group customers by function and by need, depending on the information that you have used to create them. This, in turn, means that you can target your communications much better, and tailor information to customer needs.

Using buyer personas can also improve your content. Perhaps the most important part of making your buyer personas work is turning them into ‘real people’. You are not targeting a group, you are targeting individuals. Identifying each buyer persona as a representative person, with a name and a back story, means that you can write content specifically for them. This will make it much more personal, allowing you to create a more human connection with each prospect, even using the same material.

Lead nurturing is a dynamic process. You need to revisit your buyer personas, content, segmentation and all other elements on a regular basis. Keep things up to date, and look for changes and potential changes in your market and among your customers. Social listening is a vital tool in this process.

Social media is an important element in lead nurturing. It can be tempting to think of lead nurturing as all about direct emails. But your social media strategy also needs to be part of your lead nurturing process, because it too can move customers further down  your ‘buying funnel’, and is also a very effective way of making and staying in contact. Make sure that you include social ‘follow’ widgets in your marketing emails, and also help prospects to share your content more effectively.

With social media, lead nurturing can be a ‘whole company’ responsibility. Many of your company’s employees are likely to be on social media, and therefore able (potentially) to make contact with customers. By sharing your nurturing content, you can ensure that everyone is able to play their part in responding to customers and  helping to address their ‘pain points’. This not only improves strategic alignment within your company, it also helps to build the personal connection with customers.

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