Lead nurturing is one of the most important activities you can commit to as part of your sales and marketing processes. It recognizes and harnesses one of the most important facts about people: That most of them simply won’t be ready to buy the first time they meet you.
That’s because each buyer – B2C and B2B – goes through multiple phases before a purchase.
“Knowing they have a problem.” Ordinary consumers observe a problem in their lives, then take to the Web to find out more. They usually tool around on search for a while before they realize there are products and services that can help them.
B2B buyers enter the Awareness phase when someone else alerts them to a problem: Their director, VP, or CEO. They, in turn, probably discovered an issue by reviewing quarterly reports or other markers of business performance, then delegated the hunt for a solution.
In both B2B and B2C, buyers enter Consideration when they know there’s a problem and that a number of solutions might work. Then starts the long wait: It could be weeks or months before a decision is made between all the various options, which have to be compared.
As the name suggests, Purchase is the happy day when the waiting is over. Someone has finally decided they have all the facts and know the right solution for them. Thus ends the buyer journey and thus begins the life-long process of keeping customers in the fold.
Why Lead Nurturing Matters: That’s a Long Journey!
If they’re buying a bag of chips, customers have the room to make impulse decisions. If they’re investing in a major, sophisticated solution that has significant repercussions, things change fast.
Even small business owners and senior executives who have the power to make a purchase on their own say-so may linger over the options for ages. And that’s where lead nurturing comes in.
Lead nurturing is the art of building a relationship with a prospective customer.
Although it seems simple, it’s essential in today’s world.
Done correctly, lead nurturing will:
- Build trust and rapport that keeps you “top of mind” during the process;
- Inoculate your prospective customers against going to competing brands;
- Reassure prospects that they can expect excellence if they purchase;
- Open customers’ minds to hearing the deeper details of your offering.
When lead nurturing is performed consistently, it ensures your company is the one that delivers the most compelling, informative, and useful communication to your leads. That helps them form an evolving, positive opinion of your enterprise until they are ready to buy.
From Consideration to Sale: How Lead Nurturing is Done
Prospects generally turn into leads when they join your mailing list or do something else to “raise their hand” and put themselves on your radar. In the old days, a prospect would simply schedule a sales call, and the deal could be made in a matter of days.
In today’s complex environment, not so much!
Prospects now usually spend their consideration phase on your email list. They can disappear from the list at any time – and today’s brutal commercial email regulations only make it harder to get them back. That means how you go about lead nurturing is essential.
Some proven methods include:
Your content strategy should include development of content especially for your leads stuck in the long “maybe.” By delivering valuable content consistently, you make it less likely leads will go through all the work of learning just as much about a rival company.
As the Consideration phase evolves, prospects want deeper information about what you offer. They may be convinced that it “sounds good,” but they want to know that it’ll be right for them. That means providing them with thought leadership content that works.
If your product is best understood by being seen in action, don’t be shy about pursuing a product demonstration meeting. Yes, leads will suspect a sale and might have their “shields up.” But: A good product can speak for itself and leave a lasting impression.
Make Lead Nurturing a Natural Part of Your Process Through Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is the art of attracting leads and growing them into customers by providing value. The value you are able to share before the sale is a tantalizing taste of the quality that your leads can expect once they finally take the plunge.
As a result, inbound marketing equips you with the best techniques for lead nurturing in today’s environment: Where customers control the pace of the buying process and can tune out if they feel a vendor is only interested in making more money.
If you want to generate more revenue from your Web traffic, be sure lead nurturing is a priority.