Lead-Nurturing - Further qualification of leads
The term lead-nurturing is no longer really new and should be familiar to most employees and especially decision makers. Despite the proven advantages, mid-sized companies often do not rely on lead-nurturing, but either have no real concept for lead-management or a drip-concept, in which e-mails are automatically sent as follow-up to a large address base.
The problem, however, lies in the impersonal follow-up emails and the address base, where mostly unqualified leads are used. The importance of a strategy that fits today's customer requirements, such as lead-nurturing, will be explained later.
First, the term lead-nurturing must be defined for a general understanding. Lead-nurturing is a concept from lead-management and generally describes the process of establishing a relationship with the customer and thereby increasing the quality of the leads, so that they can finally be given to the sales department in the right moment in a qualified manner. The meaning is already evident from the term "nurturing", i.e. "feeding" a lead with the right information and the resulting closer relationship with the customer. Each individual stage of the sales funnel is considered individually and through communication and appropriate marketing an attempt is made to automatically provide the information desired by the customer. Often this is also referred to as the further qualification of a lead, as it is increasingly bound to the company by marketing through the respective measures in the sales funnel.
Why should I use lead-nurturing in my marketing strategy?
There are numerous studies and field reports that speak in favour of a lead-nurturing strategy. The most important are briefly mentioned here:
- Leads that have effectively gone through the lead-nurturing funnel have a 20% greater chance of sales success than leads that have not been "fed".
- Leads from Nurturing make 47% larger purchases than leads that have not gone through the Lead Nurturing Funnel.
- Effective lead nurturing generates 50% more ready to sell leads at 33% less cost.
It is immediately apparent that lead-nurturing makes a lot of sense from a sales and marketing perspective. Instead of relying on the fact that the customer is addressed and qualified by the sales department, the marketing department can support this and ensure that the customer qualifies himself, for example through the information offered on the company website, and is only contacted by the sales department when there is an interest. The benefit is immediately apparent here. On the one hand, the marketing automation does not overload the marketing, on the other hand, the sales employee can focus on his actual work: The actual selling!
The main lead-nurturing ingredients
- Segmentation: In order to automatically provide a customer with the right information at the right time using marketing automation, it is necessary to split or segment the leads. As an example we imagine that a prospective customer is already represented in the newsletter distributor and has created an account with us on the website. We now address this lead at a trade fair and point out a special product about which it has already been informed. If we were to send this contact the standard email at the show as a follow-up, we would probably bore them with already known information instead of providing relevant information for their place in the sales process - the main objective of lead-nurturing. That's why it's so important that there's a segmentation that covers each step. The individual parts differ in the state of knowledge & characteristics of the lead, i.e. the buyer persona. If a well thought-out lead-nurturing exists, there are separate speeches for individual lead groups, derived from the previously created buyer persona.
- Existing customers: Many companies convert a lead to a customer - and then forget about it. In lead-nurturing, such behavior is not intended - the customer relationship with this strategy is not over with the conclusion, but is continued. The idea behind it is simple. A customer who is convinced of his own service or product will also express this in his circle of acquaintances. At the same time, in the age of software-as-a-service, for example, it is much more important to keep a customer, because in the further course of a contract, he will probably agree to an additional service, extension or simply the continuation of a contract, if he also receives relevant information after his conclusion and continues to be supported by marketing.
- Customer-oriented marketing: Classic marketing is more oriented towards the presentation of one's own products and their functions rather than understanding marketing from the customer's point of view. It proves to be particularly important today that the benefit of the own products or the service for the customer is put into the foreground and should correspond from the design practically to the solution of a frequent customer problem. In keeping with this, marketing should also focus on the benefits rather than on the supposedly important features. The customer should recognize that his problems are at the center of product development in the company. At this point, the cultivation of a relationship with a potential customer becomes clear as a central problem of cooperation between marketing and sales.
Concrete implementation of a lead-nurturing strategy
The sales funnel is the basis for the implementation of a lead-nurturing strategy and structures the process from a prospect (unqualified interested party at the beginning of the sales process) to a closed customer. There are different definitions of this funnel. In the following, examples are given for the possibilities of marketing and sales in the context of a lead-nurturing strategy.
First step: Creating attention
The first step is to point out a lead to our company and our product. Classically, you would buy addresses and call them outbound, i.e. present your product or service directly. With lead-nurturing we try to get the potential customer to move towards our company. Content marketing is used for this purpose. The aim is to create interesting contributions on our website through marketing, which bring the customer a benefit and which the customer deals with on their own with the content that they have seen, for example, through Google or ad placement. Ideally, our content will be of such great benefit to the customer that he is willing to leave his contact details for it. This can be achieved, for example, by providing whitepapers, blogs, printable templates, etc. - the lead must be captured and should be stored in a CRM system.
At this point a large component of a successful lead-nurturing strategy becomes visible. The content must convince by itself and "meet" the later lead at exactly the right moment. In addition, our product or service must also solve a certain problem. There are of course further possibilities to convert a website visitor to a lead:
- Free webinars for knowledge transfer
- E-mail routes as a course with daily/weekly learning units on a specific topic
- white paper
- support area
Second stage: arousing interest
After the customer has made the first contact, the aim of this phase is to position the product or service in such a way that the lead's interest in a possible deal is aroused. At this point in the sales funnel, we ideally already have the contact data and thus a created lead in CRM. As an example, a potential customer would have downloaded a guidebook or whitepaper on a specific CRM system for which we offer a consulting service or software extension. For example, we can now send a series of automatic e-mails at this point, which must not be purely promotional in nature, but should instead provide useful information. In order to be able to evaluate the leads at this point, it helps to use a special marketing tool that recognizes the behavior and possible interactions in the mail and can automatically transfer them to CRM (e.g. Mailchimp, Drip Campaigns).
In addition, as already mentioned, links can be integrated into the mails that can help us as a company with further segmentation. Either at the end of the mail series a reference to the own problem solution, i.e. the own product, can be given or an evaluation link is integrated. From the scoring we can then possibly deduce the benefit of our product for this lead. Here the importance of a strategic segmentation becomes visible. If the lead is also assigned to a certain topic in our CRM system, we can send a much more specialized e-mail and do not have to hold our own in general - this significantly increases the opening rate of the e-mail and thus the chance of qualifying the lead!
Third stage: evaluation phase
In the evaluation phase, distribution comes into play for the first time. Based on the previous marketing activities, the sales department can now classify which leads are best and most promising for our closing success. The information provided on our website, such as whitepapers, FAQs, blogs, product videos, is partly assigned to the lead via its contact details (e.g. when downloading a whitepaper). This information is made available to the sales department in the CRM system, on the basis of which the individual leads can then be contacted. In some CRM systems, scorings for contacts can also be calculated automatically.
Step Four: completion + support
In the last step, the sales department concludes the contract. Through the preceding measures and stages, the lead should be qualified to such an extent that the sales department should no longer have to spend a lot of time explaining the conclusion of the sale. In classical lead management, the efforts would be over at this point. With the lead-nurturing approach, however, we know about the importance of the customer relationship and want to bind it to our company permanently with an appealing existing customer management. In this way, we are also building up our own brand in the long term. The work for this can be done by marketing as well as sales, but ideally it should be mixed. The sales representative can, for example, call the customer at times previously defined in the lead-nurturing strategy and ask for feedback for his own product and possibly sell additional services. Marketing in conjunction with support would, for example, send out Christmas cards or offer customers the opportunity to learn tips on how to use their own product in further webinars or follow-up e-mails.
Lead nurturing as the lead management strategy of today
As we have seen in this article, a lead-nurturing strategy is very complex to implement and requires a process-oriented way of thinking. The interaction of marketing and sales is also elementary for the implementation of a successful lead-nurturing strategy. Marketing is much more and longer involved in lead-nurturing, sales can only take over the lead relatively late in the sales funnel and thus concentrate more on the actual selling.