Welcome to a new series all about the importance of lead nurturing, exploring the benefits of fostering good relationships with prospects, the practicalities of putting a good system in place to nurture that relationship and how you can incorporate successful nurturing campaigns seamlessly into your business. We’ll start off by covering the basics, in this article “An Introduction to Lead Generation & Nurturing.”
Lead generation and nurturing are practices that we would encourage any small or medium business to use in order to help grow their marketing efforts. They are a powerful way of increasing your brand’s reach and appealing to new people. But what do they involve? We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s start with the basics…
What is a Lead?
Firstly, we need to define a “lead.” This is basically a person or organisation who has expressed interest in potentially doing business with you. Regardless of how they came to be aware of you, you can use the term “lead” to refer to any such prospect; but we’ll be mainly using it to refer to those who have specifically been reached by using online lead generation practices.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the practice of initiating interest from prospects, usually online and collecting basic contact details from them so you can keep in touch with them. There are a number of ways in which you can incentivise people to want to hear more from you. How many times have you visited a website only for an automated popup to offer you a free ebook in exchange for a few details? This is a very popular strategy for lead generation and is known as offering a “lead magnet.” Whatever strategy you use, once you’ve got their details you can get in touch pretty much immediately, and use lead nurturing to foster a positive relationship and generally get them on-side.
What is Lead Nurturing?
Simply collecting people’s details isn’t going to provide any benefit in and of itself. People have shared their details with you because they have at least a passing interest in what you’re offering, so you need to encourage them towards making a purchase. Bombarding people with over the top sales material will only get people unsubscribing in droves; folks get quite jaded about the hard sell nowadays; so you need to prove to these leads that you are a valuable partner, an expert in your field, and above all, a trustworthy source of what you offer. You can do this by sending a series of targeted emails to your newly generated audience, just frequently enough to stay on their radar without annoying them – this frequency may differ depending on your industry. Lead nurturing efforts are usually carried out by email, using a mass email and SMS marketing tool – usually with the functionality to automate some or all of the process.
Let’s take a look at a real-life example. You’ve more than likely received emails from companies you’ve expressed interest in or done business with previously. These emails may share a useful resource with you, a piece of branded content, or an offer to entice you to purchase with them. They most likely email you regularly (hopefully without being irritating), which keeps this company repeatedly popping up in your inbox, meaning that they’re likely to stay top of your mental list when you need what they offer. This is lead nurturing in action.
Why Do I Need Lead Generation & Nurturing?
Before online lead generation efforts, collection of contact details en masse was previously left to large networking events or one-off promotional campaigns. But now, lead generation allows for powerful ongoing data collection that can be totally automated. For example, by providing a free ebook to incentivise people into sharing their details really helps to grow your subscriber list – simply because everybody likes free stuff! Having more people to directly market to obviously increases your potential for more business. These are “qualified leads,” people who have already shown that they are interested in the sort of topics that you deal with, and therefore are likely to need one or more services that you provide at some time down the line.
Once you’ve got people’s details, it would be remiss not to do anything with them. Using an automated lead nurturing system means that you can get in touch with a lead as soon as they submit their details, immediately establishing a relationship. Providing useful, relevant and regular information establishes you as a valuable resource, all adding to the renowned “know, like and trust” factor that goes into purchasing decisions. Once you become a familiar name in their inbox, they will hopefully engage with you more and more – an important part of not only making a sale, but to nurture a lasting relationship that may have them coming back once they require your services again in future.
A Genius.com study discovered that 66% of buyers said that “consistent and relevant communication provided by both sales and marketing organizations” plays a key role in who they choose to work with. Otherwise, these people may simply forget that you exist over time. So simply put – it pays to stay in touch!
The next blog in the lead generation series will cover more about formulating a practical lead nurturing campaign, moulded around your own aims and objectives