Lead nurturing is a process that helps you grow qualified prospects into full-fledged customers. One of the main benefits of a lead nurturing program is that it organizes the process and keeps leads from falling through the proverbial cracks. Making sure the process is organized and effective, however, requires some detailed planning on the front end.
Understand your leads. Before you begin trying to sell to your prospects, you need to understand them. Besides knowing their potential value to your business, you want to know what their needs are and how you can provide value to them by meeting those needs. Developing buyer personas can help you accomplish this. If you determine that you have more than one distinct type of lead, you can use list segmentation to divide them into cohesive groups.Below are some of the important steps required to develop a successful lead nurturing sequence.
- Craft content. Once you do understand your leads, you can create marketing messages that match their preferred style and best demonstrate how you can provide solutions to their problems. If your leads are segmented into different lists, you will want to tailor some or all of the messages to best communicate with the intended target group.
- Coordinate a timeline. Having all of these targeted email messages or landing pages will not do you much good if they do not work together and reach the leads at the correct time. You will need an editorial calendar to keep everything organized, timely and on track.
- Ensure follow-through. You also need a system to track the progress of each lead as they move through the lead nurturing sequence. Each lead should be properly followed up with according to the plan, without unnecessarily skipping (or duplicating) a step. The larger the number of leads, steps or salespeople, the more important this system becomes.
- Measuring results. Is the lead nurture sequence a success? You'll never know, unless you determine ahead of time what constitutes "success" and have some way of measuring results. And the results you measure should not be limited to sales; each step of the sequence can have its own results, such as an intermediate conversion (clicking through an email or downloading a free e-book, for instance) or an opt-out. You want to know which steps or which pieces of content were effective at doing their jobs. Such information will be essential for the next step.
- Refining the process. You want your next batch of leads to yield more sales, and preferably with less work on your part. You can accomplish this by analyzing the hard data, getting feedback from the parties involved and making improvements to the process.
You could add "retaining the customers" as a final step in the process, since an existing customer is essentially an extremely qualified lead for providing repeat business. The process of nurturing customers can have many similarities to nurturing leads, and can pay off in the form of increased customer lifetime value.
With a well-planned and well-executed lead nurturing sequence, you can watch your sales--and your company--steadily grow.
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