Are you nurturing your data? If you are investing in inbound marketing as a core way of generating more leads – the importance of having an effective lead nurturing strategy couldn’t be higher.

Yes, in an ideal world leads would convert to sales immediately but unfortunately this just isn’t the case in most industries. Instead, it’s imperative that you develop your relationships with prospects over time and let them know that when they are ready to buy you’re there for them. Sounds lovely in practice but how do you do this in an efficient and engaging way? It’s all about communication.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is all about building relationships with prospects who have not yet bought or existing customers (in the hope to upsell) in order to ensure that they buy from you when they’re ready.

Why is it important today? Because 95% of prospects visiting your website today are there to do research and the statistics say that nearly ¾ of them will go on to buy either from you or a competitor. What’s more important is that that ¾ go on to buy from you and not your competition.

Because prospects often prefer not to engage with sales until they are nearing the end of their buying journey it’s important that a nurturing plan is in place to drip feed messages and touch base with prospects before they reach this stage of their journey.

The most common lead nurturing platform used is email (although more sophisticated programmes include multiple touchpoint nurturing across multiple channels - but we’ll save this for another day).

Using email as a lead nurturing tactic

Lead nurturing via email is not simply sending out the ad hoc e-newsletter, it’s much more than this. It’s sending targeted relevant and useful messaging at times when the prospect wants to receive it.

Newsletter sign up forms

If you’re looking at attracting new prospects, then a newsletter subscription form is a good place to start. The subscriber sign up is one of the most powerful tools for converting readers into subscribers and therefore building prospects. You’ll see sites across the web use this feature – it’s simple to use and simple to set up with the majority of email senders (such as Dot Mailer, Mail Chimp and our very own Adido Mail) offering the ability to create email sign up forms with in the platform which can then be added to your site. The beauty of this is that those that do sign up will feed directly into your mail sending platform.

If this hasn’t been set up then uploading the data to your sending platform will be a manual process – simply export your subscribers from the back end of your website or collate them from the email notifications you’ll have been receiving and upload to your subscriber list in your mail sending platform.

If you’re going to use the subscribe to newsletter form on your site, make sure you use it correctly. Don’t ignore the data. If prospects have entered their details they want to hear from you – so don’t disappoint them by leaving them hanging or not updating your list in 6 months. Similarly, if you are asking subscribers to sign up in a particular place on the site then make sure you serve them relevant news and information relating to this.

Enquirers & repeat buyers

Those individuals that have questions about services or products or purchased before are extremely important for lead nurturing. We know what these individuals are interested in so we know what sort of content we should be serving them. Don’t ignore this information – use it to create quality mailings that satisfy needs and wants.

Register interest

If you are pre promoting a product – then you can encourage subscribers to register their interest. You can then supply these people with a series of emails regarding the product that they have registered their interest in such as specifications, photos, reviews, videos and more. A great way to nurture the audience to ensure that when they are ready to buy, they buy from you.

How can you get more people to sign up to your emails?

Firstly, it’s not all about quantity, the quality of your database is far more important. Your goal should not be simply to grow your list, it’s to grow the number of people in your community that engage with your brand. At the end of the day who doesn’t want to increase the number of qualified leads coming in for their business. So how can you do this on your website?

Offer clear value upon signup

Alongside the newsletter signup it’s worth explaining to potential prospects what value they will get from signing up. A potential sign up is much more likely to do so if they see immediate value in doing so. Perhaps you’ll offer a voucher or whitepaper that can be downloaded right away, something immediate and something of interest.

You can also let potential sign ups know what type of content they might be expecting and when? For example, do you always send on the first Tuesday of the month? Do you send out latest news and offers or product reviews and competitions? If so let your audience know. As long as you deliver what you promise then you’ll maintain a healthy active list of engaged email subscribers.

For example: Aldo are very clear that you'll get added value by signing up

Aldo sign up page

Show sign ups what they’ll be getting

Something we’ve also been trialling here at Adido is the inclusion of a Take a look at last month’s edition of the newsletter link – this means that subscribers can see the type of material that they’re going to get in their inbox each month, they’ll know what to expect and when to expect it, they’ll be looking for it and you know what this means. Better opens and better click throughs rather than people just guessing whether your email is the type of comms that they want to be receiving.

Put sign up in multiple places

Without some detailed analysis of the user journey it can be difficult to know the best place to add your sign up form.

You could look to add in key areas such as the contact pages or relevant locations such as at the end of blogs.

e.g. social triggers show a sign up form at the bottom of every blog article. You'd expect to receive content relating to the blog if you were to sign up here.

sign ups in multiple places

You don’t want to look spammy by adding it everywhere, but it could be worth considering putting a sign up form in a fixed location on your site (such as the header or footer) that way it’s accessible at all times meaning when customers are ready they will easily be able to join your list at the click of a button.

It’s likely that a number of other forms on your site request visitors to enter their email address. Make sure that on these forms you also give prospects the option to sign up to your mailing list.

Ensure emails are easy to forward

Word of mouth is an important way for you to get more brand visibility and reach a larger audience. If you can make your emails as easy as possible to forward by adding a ‘Forward’ button or message, then there is much more chance of the recipient actually doing so.

Setting up automated email workflows

By setting up email workflows you can automate a lot of the work for you. Workflows are not intended to be used to blast your audience nor are they there to completely separate people from the nurturing process – instead you can use them to automate and scale efforts by drip feeding them content. They can also be used to learn more about your audience meaning you can segment them more effectively and thus send more contextually relevant messages.

How can you use automated email workflows?

  • Send a series of onboarding emails to introduce new subscribers to your emails
  • Follow up after a purchase by thanking and recommending other products they’ll love (& upselling)
  • Surprise VIPs with vouchers triggered by an interaction or date (such as a birthday)
  • Remind customers of products left in their basket to encourage purchase completions
  • Reengage inactive subscribers (If they haven’t engaged with previous emails)

Email lead nurturing best practices

  • Personalise emails and landing pages so prospects feel like it’s written specifically for them
  • Don’t be afraid to share relevant third party information
  • Automate and trigger emails so that they arrive in the inbox at an optimum time

What do the stats say?

According to research:

  • 95% of website visitors are at a research level
  • 70% of these visitors will go onto buy at some stage (either from you or the competition)
  • 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy
  • 82% of prospects say content targeted to their specific industry is more valuable then non tailored content
  • The average lead requires 10 touchpoints before converting into a paying customer

What results can you expect from lead nurturing?

So there are many benefits of investing in lead nurturing, research suggests that

companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost.

It also suggests that

a significant portion of not yet ready to purchase leads convert to sales as a result of lead nurturing campaigns and those that do purchase make nearly 50% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

While a primary focus of your marketing activity may be around bringing in new business at the top of the funnel don’t forget to look after those who have also already become leads by nurturing them along the buying journey.

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