Lead nurturing has many definitions:
- Discovering and communicating with possible clients, then guiding them toward a purchase.
- Communicating meaningfully with viable prospects that are not yet ready to purchase.
- Consistent communication with leads generated by marketing efforts that are not yet ready to become buyers.
- The process of continuing to develop relationships with leads until they are ready to purchase.
- The process of tracking and developing leads into sales opportunities through ongoing communication.
- And, according to Marketo, lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with qualified prospects regardless of their timing to buy, with the goal of earning their business when they are ready.
Whatever your definition is, basic lead nurturing should consist of three main efforts: qualifying leads, establishing permission for nurturing, and continued communication focused on relationship building.
Lead Nurturing: Identifying Leads
Identifying leads involves making a decision about which leads to nurture. In order to determine this, marketing and sales should agree on the profile of an ideal customer. Each new lead should then be scored for how well they fit this profile. Lead scoring methodologies typically include a combination of demographics, lead source, budget, timeline and behavioral attributes. Based on scoring, leads can then be ranked on a numerical scale and sorted. Leads that are deemed worthy but not ready to purchase can then be put into the nurturing funnel.
Lead Nurturing: Establishing Permission for Nurturing
Before beginning any lead nurturing campaign, it’s important to establish permission from potential prospects. While there are many opinions on what it means to have permission to market to a prospect, best practice is a single opt-in for leads that come in by filling out a form explicitly asking for more information and a double opt-in for all other leads. A single opt-in approach involves adding a checkbox on the registration form clearly giving consent, while double opt-in involves sending a confirmation email to a registered prospect asking explicit permission to send additional emails.
Lead Nurturing: Building a Relationship
In order to build a proper lead nurturing relationship, it’s first necessary to determine the preferences of your prospect. This can be as simple as asking a few questions. You want to learn how often they would like to receive communication, what type of communication they would prefer, and what products or services you offer that they are interested in.
Once you’ve determined what type of content they would like to receive, how often they would like to receive it, and in what manner, you can move into the communication phase of lead nurturing. In this phase, you want to maintain communication while building trust and credibility for your company. The idea is to keep your brand at the top of their mind so they will contact you when they are ready to buy.
While communicating, you need to focus on content and delivery. Always remember to be sensitive to your prospects schedule by keeping content easy to digest. Additionally, make sure your content is valuable to the prospect. Self-promotional material is more likely to alienate the customer than win them over.
As for delivery, in successful lead nurturing, timing is very important. Too little communication may leave the prospect feeling ignored, while too much communication can leave them feeling frustrated. Spend some time determining the optimal frequency of communication for your prospects.