The goal of your marketing and sales teams is to generate and cultivate leads. It sounds simple, but any marketing expert will tell you that it is actually a rather complex task. Putting out relevant and engaging content across all customer touch points requires a keen eye to detail, an enthusiastic and energetic nature, a copious amount of creativity, and more than a little luck.
Lead nurturing is a standard set of behaviors that serves to cultivate the interest of potential leads from initial contact forward. However, it is a mistake to think that lead nurturing stops with the sale. Rather, it changes in nature as the lead becomes a customer, and as the customer relationship deepens and grows.
Because today’s consumers are tech-savvy and behaviorally conditioned to interact with your product or service through a wide variety of digital channels, lead nurturing with CRM software is an optimal way to manage the task. Because it automates certain aspects of your lead nurturing strategy, it is an excellent tool for marketing and sales efforts.
When developing a comprehensive lead nurturing strategy, several factors must be considered. First, it must be acknowledged that, even though CRM software is highly useful, the entire process of lead nurturing is not a “set it, and forget it” endeavor. Effective lead nurturing is a hands-on process. It is organic, holistic, and up close and personal. The usual analogy of lead nurturing to a farmer’s efforts in behalf of a crop makes at least a certain amount of sense. Just as a farmer uses several methods at different stages of crop growth to increase yields, so too lead nurturing involves a multi-step process to generate the kind of loyal customers you want to acquire.
How are your lead nurturing programs performing? Are your conversion rates where you want them to be? If you feel there is room for improvement and increased profitability, it is wise to re-evaluate your lead nurturing efforts to see what is potentially missing from your current strategies. Look at your lead nurturing strategies as they relate to the entire customer life cycle. Rather than focusing all your efforts on new customer acquisition, it is wise to nurture existing customers with just as much attention and vigor as you give to potential leads.
Evaluate the effectiveness of your lead nurturing strategies at these different customer stages of interaction:
From the time you become aware of a potential lead through data captured with your properly configured CRM solution, focus intently on qualifying that lead. Provide relevant, engaging content that enables that lead to perceive the value and worth of your product or service. In initial stages of the sales funnel, content should be strongly branded, establishing a link in the mind of your lead. The goal is to make your product or service the default product to turn to in the minds of your audience. Your message should be clear, concise, and catchy.
Ratchet up your marketing efforts by involving the sales force when leads meet your defined standard as qualified. CRM software can trigger alerts and reminders for your sales team when leads get to this point. Contact should be frequent and targeted. This is another area with which your CRM solution will aid greatly. Trigger points pre-established in your system will generate lead-specific communication. Because CRM captures data specific to contact interaction, your sales team can engage your leads at every stage of the sales funnel accurately and appropriately.
Conversion-The Moment of Truth
When you have adequately nurtured your leads to the point of conversion, your job is far from over. Now, content should be reflective of the budding relationship between your company and your customer. Communication in this honeymoon phase should include a thank you email, relevant content regarding additional products or services that would be complementary to their initial purchase, and customer specific communication such as reminders, birthday or anniversary acknowledgments, and other communication appropriate to the new relationship.
New product updates and cross-sells equal new opportunities
Rather than sending just a dry press release or perfunctory email when a new product or update becomes available, use the opportunity to rev up the interest for potential leads as well as existing customers. The message you send out to these two different groups must be different as well. Existing customers must perceive the added value of acquiring your new product. A common pitfall here is that new product launch or upgrade sometimes leaves a negative connotation in the minds of existing clients because they feel somewhat cheated to have purchased any older product. Now is the time to shore up their satisfaction with their previous purchase, while enticing them to try the newer product as well. Highlight areas of compatibility. This assures your existing customer that you have his/her interest in mind.
Lead nurturing for new customers at the time of product launch should follow much the same method as new customer acquisition efforts at other times. However, communications about new products and services should contain an element of elevated excitement. It must be clear to your leads at this point why being among the first to purchase your new product or service is to their advantage.
Leads that are not progressing
All companies have a pool of leads that, despite lead nurturing efforts, simply do not progress to conversion with normal methods. Special lead nurturing initiatives specifically targeted to those who once showed at least some interest and later took no action can sometimes still produce results. Using the analogy of the farmer again, consider these leads as plants in trouble. Pruning, watering, and fertilizing reinvigorates growth of plants. Similarly, marketing strategies aimed specifically at lukewarm leads can reinvigorate interest. This would include communication via email and social media channels designed to nudge old leads in the right direction.
Winning back the deserters
Your CRM solution can often capture valuable information on the occasions that a customer stops interacting with your company. Exit surveys can sometimes shed light on what went wrong, or why your customer suddenly decided to choose your competitor. Using this information to craft special lead nurturing campaigns that are customer-specific can help you win back such customers.
Maintaining sharp focus on your lead nurturing strategies at every stage of the customer life cycle results in higher conversion rates and greater levels of customer satisfaction. Though lead nurturing is never a “set it and forget it” endeavor, CRM automation can greatly aid lead nurturing efforts by automating key components of your strategy.
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