When asked about the lifecycle of a sale, it is common for many businesses to discuss a clear and strict division between the duties of marketing and of sales—marketing is responsible for attracting and acquiring leads, and sales is responsible for contacting those leads, qualifying them as interested prospects, and converting them into customers.
But what happens between the initial interaction and the close? How many prospects go cold or fall off the radar? How many hours are invested into prospects who inevitably walk away?
There’s a clear gap here, and there’s only so much that a pure sales approach can do to close it. And, with finite human resources in sales, there’s only so many calls that can be made. What’s needed to bridge that gap between lead acquisition and the sale is what’s known as lead nurturing.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is a function of marketing that extends its role far beyond the acquisition phase and supports the sales process at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Lead nurture campaigns seek to meet the questions of prospects, handle any objections as they arise and to further qualify them to proceed further down the sales funnel.
Lead Nurture Basics
Before your first lead nurture campaigns start, it’s important to understand your sales funnel. A typical post-acquisition sales funnel begins with an awareness phase, where the primary goal is to raise brand awareness and to help prospects define the business challenges they are facing. Next, the consideration phase begins to qualify if the prospect is a good fit for your business as a customer (and vice versa), and how your business is uniquely equipped to solve the challenges put forth in the awareness phase. Next, should there be a technical role within your prospect’s organization, you’ll want to be sure you are engaging this persona with lead-nurturing content that supports their interests, questions and concerns. Often, they can be the gatekeepers to the approval of the sale. Finally, the decision phase seeks to show the overwhelming value of your product and services, the ROI a prospect will receive, and demonstrates that with positive testimonials as Sales moves to get contracts signed.
This funnel will be your template for building a strategy to move prospective leads towards a closed deal using a content strategy that nurtures the lead—with specific goals—at every phase.
It’s important to note that you may not have just one sales funnel; for MSPs who have prospects that are vertically aligned, who bundle multiple services into their solution stack, or otherwise are part of a distinct group with specific value propositions, there may be two or more funnels that prospects are segmented into. Evaluating your current lead flow and developing specific funnels for each group will help you understand what content is needed to nurture each.
Plan Your Content
Once your funnel(s) are established, and your leads are segmented appropriately, you’ll want to map marketing assets to each phase of the funnel. Here are a few ideas for each phase, but keep in mind the following is far from an exhaustive list:
- Awareness: Blog posts, short videos, infographics, social media posts, thought-leadership eBooks
- Consideration: Datasheets, product-specific eBooks, Webinars
- Technical Engagement: Technical walkthroughs, competitive comparisons, how-to videos
- Decision: Demos, ROI calculators, customer success stories
You’ll want to plan to create the appropriate assets to meet each stage of the funnel and help move the prospect further down to the next level. It may take time, but specific and unique content crafted for your business is most likely to resonate with your customers.
Create Email Drip Campaigns
After your content library is built out and you’ve mapped out how each piece is going to be used in your lead-nurture strategy through the funnel, it’s time to communicate and disseminate this content! For each phase of the sales funnel, create three to five emails that speak directly to your prospect, linking to a supporting piece of content.
Creating email drips is an art in and of itself, which will be discussed in further blog posts. But, for each email, be sure to track performance of each email. Prospects that engage with the email and linked content can progress further down the funnel, while those that do not can be moved into another email drip campaign focusing on cold leads and re-engagement.
With multiple prospect segments, a robust content library and multiple email drips, implementing this strategy can become unwieldy—fast. Lead-nurture marketing can benefit immensely from an automated customer relationship manager (CRM) tool, which can integrate all these aspects into a cohesive campaign experience.
Lead nurture marketing requires time, effort and strategy, but the ROI is immense. After all, so much time and investment go into acquiring a lead that the success of your business growth may be determinant on making sure as many of them as possible convert into customers. A successful nurture strategy will increase your marketing ROI, reduce your average cost per customer acquisition, and ease the sales process by creating a well-informed, qualified and motivated potential customer.
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