Industrial marketers know that not every engagement opportunity they uncover will result in a hot prospect ready to buy. In fact, studies show that 70 percent of new business can come from long term leads, those prospects that are in the early stages of their buy cycles when they first engage with your company, but will be ready to make a purchase decision at some time in the future.
Your challenge is to keep these prospects in the fold and your company at the top of their minds so that they turn to you first when they are ready to buy. The way to do this is through lead nurturing campaigns.
If your company uses any kind of marketing automation program, you’re probably already familiar with setting up, executing, and tracking lead nurturing (or drip-marketing) campaigns. If not, you can still build and deploy an effective campaign by following these six steps.
1. Define your audience segment. The first step is to define the audience that will be included in your lead nurturing campaign. If all of your company’s prospects are alike, then all new leads might be put into a general lead nurturing campaign. But if you have specific types of customers — as most industrial suppliers do — you’ll want to define a segment or multiple segments for lead nurturing, either by current stage in the buy cycle, area of interest, market sector, product type, geography, or some other relevant criteria.
2. Offer value, not sales pitches. The reason you execute lead nurturing campaigns is because your prospects are not yet ready to buy, but might be in the future. Therefore, offers of product demos, pricing quotes, and special discounts are not only wasted at this point, they are likely a turnoff for your prospects. Instead, offer content that helps educate prospects on ways to solve the problems they are facing and that demonstrates the value your company can provide. Use educational content such as white papers, Webinars, articles, and videos as offers. You probably already have a lot of this content. If not, you may need to create new content to support your campaign.
3. Create a call-to-action and define objectives. For every e-mail, direct mail piece, or phone call that is part of the campaign, create a call to action and objective: download a white paper, register for a Webinar, read an article, view the video, subscribe to the e-newsletter or blog, follow you on Twitter, and so on. Then track your performance against those objectives to see what content and offers work best with your audience.
4. Build a schedule. Lead nurturing campaigns consist of multiple touches spread out over time. You will need to develop a timeline for when and how often you touch your prospects. It could be once a week for six weeks, or once a month for six months, or some interval in between. The important point is to define the entire campaign, so you will know how to phase your content and messaging, and to stick with it over the duration.
5. Develop response rules. Naturally you want to keep track of how your audience responds to the elements of your campaign. What your audience does determines what you do next. A prospect that clicks on every offer might be a prospect that gets a call from a sales rep. Or prospects that attend a specific Webinar might be candidates for a certain white paper. Plan ahead of time and apply logic, rules, and perhaps even branching (if they do this, then that, otherwise something else) in order to optimize your campaign’s flow and effectiveness — and to get high-potential leads into the hands of sales reps at the right time.
6. Measure and improve. Because you have created offers, established goals, and defined campaign rules, you can track what works and what doesn’t in your lead nurturing campaign. Get rid of offers that don’t perform well, while building on content that is popular with other similar offers. Continually refine your campaign and you should see improved results.
Have you set up lead nurturing campaigns? What were your steps to success? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.