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Analyzing Forbes’ 12 Step Process for Lead Nurturing

Forbes Process for Lead NurturingIn an effort to stay on top of trends, I am constantly researching new techniques to improve various aspects of the marketing automation process. During my research, I came across a two year old article that covered many of the same lead nurturing techniques that are utilize at Lead Liaison. Forbes article, the twelve step program for lead nurturing, may have been written in March of 2012, but the lead nurturing advice still holds true today. Marketing automation software has streamlined the process for lead nurturing, but the act of convincing leads to become consumers is still the same.

Lead Generation

The first step in the Forbes’ article on lead nurturing is acquiring quality leads. This seems pretty obvious, but every lead nurturing campaign needs an interested audience to be successful. Marketing automation addresses this crucial step using website visitor tracking.

First Contact

The next step in their lead nurturing program is having an automated or manual instant response system. This should be a friendly, non-obtrusive email advising leads that your sales and marketing team are available if they have any questions and concerns. Forbes’ article focuses more on sending an initial alert to the new contact that you will be in touch with them at a specific time in the future, whereas Lead Liaison’s marketing automation strategy focuses more on notifying the lead that help is available whenever they need it.

Follow Up

The next part of Forbes’ article covers contacting the prospect as promised. Marketing automation uses customized lead nurturing content to stay in touch with prospective leads. It also uses lead nurturing email to cover the fourth step covered in Forbes’ article; offer immediate value. Lead nurturing emails should give the reader valuable free advice to brand a business as an expert in their field.

Listen to Leads

Forbes’ fifth step examines the importance of understanding what each particular lead wants and needs. This would fall under marketing automation’s lead tracking and profiling process. Forbes’ follows this step with providing the lead with a chat feature for faster communication, which is now an essential part of most digital marketing strategy.

Repeat as Needed

The steps the article from Forbes’ covers next involve repeating the nurturing process until a lead is ready for conversion. It discusses the importance of staying in touch, offering more valuable information, and tracking all responses and activity. This strategy can be streamlined using automated website visitor tracking software and customized lead nurturing email campaigns.

Close the Sale

If everything goes according to plan, the lead will eventually be ready to make a commitment. The tenth step in the article is asking for their business, followed by asking for a referral. If you are utilizing marketing automation, your sales team will be automatically notified when a lead is showing signs of conversion, so this can be done immediately.

Assess Results

The final step the article covers is reviewing the results and learning from your mistakes. Every lead nurturing programs needs a system for analyzing the results, so you can make adjustments to improve the lead nurturing campaign’s ROI.

The article Forbes’ published nearly two years ago covers all of the important elements in a successful lead nurturing program. When all of these steps are executed effectively, lead nurturing can produce an endless stream of qualified leads.

The Strategic Alliance between Lead Profiling and Lead Nurturing

The Strategic Alliance between Lead Profiling and Lead Nurturing

I was reading this great article titled; Lead Nurturing; Ripening the Right Bananas, which explained how lead nurturing turns unripe leads into loyal consumers. The article was helpful, but I immediately noticed a crucial step in the process that they had left out; lead profiling. Successful lead nurturing begins with thorough lead profiling.

Lead Nurturing Needs Lead Profiling

Although the article did an excellent job of summarizing the benefits of lead nurturing, it didn’t supply the reader with a real strategy for creating meaningful connections with unripe leads. Leads that are not ready to convert require customized coaxing to convince them to respond favorably to the campaign. Businesses cannot effectively turn leads into consumers without first understanding the leads’ behavior, interests, and needs.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it. How can a company convince someone they need a particular product or service, if they don’t first understand how their product or service will benefit that specific lead?

Lead Profiling for Lead Nurturing

The building blocks for any effective lead nurturing campaign is comprehensive lead profiling. The most efficient way to develop a complete lead profile is marketing automation. Marketing automation software uses website visitor tracking to find out exactly what information a lead is seeking out, which articles or pages they have already viewed, and any demographic characteristics that can be obtained through their IP address or online registries. All of this crucial information is compiled to create a beneficial lead profile.

Marketing Automation and Lead Nurturing

Visitor tracking and profile is necessary for the foundation, but there is still more work that needs to be done before a business develops lead nurturing content. The marketing automation process always involves ranking and segmenting leads based on specific behavior and characteristics. All of this is done to increase engagement and lead nurturing ROI. Lead nurturing content must be relevant and customized based on the predetermined lead segments to create a real connection with the reader.

Relationship Building with Lead Nurturing

Businesses can’t expect to develop an intimate and meaningful relationship with potential prospects if they first don’t take the time to get to know them personally. Leads know they have endless purchasing options online and they won’t settle for a business that doesn’t make an effort to understand their needs and concerns.

Developing a strategic alliance between lead profiling and lead nurturing makes it easier to turn leads into consumers. It makes the prospect feel like the company truly cares about their concerns and is offering valuable advice for free. To generate significant ROI from lead nurturing campaigns, companies must first track, profile, and segment every lead into comparable groups. That is the only proven way to create relevant content that will be truly beneficial to your prospects’ lives.

Six Tips on How to Grow a Business Using Lead Nurturing

Grow your business using lead nurturingThe sole purpose of any lead nurturing campaign is to grow the business. It should be focused on building brand authority, establishing expertise, and creating lasting relationships with new and existing consumers. Every lead nurturing campaign should be designed to expand your customer base and help your business develop a loyal following.

If you are not already convinced of the power lead nurturing has to grow a business, please read why smart consumers insist on high quality lead nurturing content first. Once you’ve accepted that lead nurturing is essential for marketing a business online, the next step is to follow these six simple tips for greater lead nurturing success.

Here are six tips on how to grow a business using lead nurturing:

Know Your Target Audience

Understanding your target consumer’s needs and interests is necessary before you create a lead nurturing campaign. Start by utilizing the website visitor tracking capabilities of marketing automation software to monitor and profile potential leads’ activity on your website. This software will record and analyze behavioral trends and relevant demographic traits to help define your company’s typical consumer.

Understand Your Leads’ Needs

After you get to know your consumers better, the next step is determining what they need from your business. This is not necessarily a specific product or service. Focus more on addressing a solution to their problem. For example, if you sell diet aids, your prospects’ need proven weight loss solutions, which of course will include your product. The key is making sure your lead nurturing campaigns are focused on fulfilling their needs rather than pushing your products or services.

Create a Diverse Campaign Strategy

You can grow a business faster using lead nurturing if you combine it with a multi-media digital campaign. Use a blend of lead nurturing emails, downloadable whitepapers, website blogs, and social media to guide potential leads in the right direction.

Offer Valuable Free Advice

Lead nurturing campaigns should offer potential consumers valuable advice to establish your company’s authority and expertise. The content should contain useful and relevant information that won’t be easily obtained elsewhere. Leads that receive valuable free advice from a business are more likely to be loyal customers in the future.

Personalize Lead Nurturing Campaigns

You can develop stronger relationships with potential leads by personally addressing each lead nurturing email, as well as customizing the content for predetermined lead segment. Marketing automation software can be used to group potential prospects that have similar lead profiles.

Measure Campaigns Results

To grow a business using lead nurturing, it is essential that you monitor the engagement level for each different campaign. Compare the results of all of your lead nurturing campaigns to determine which forms of media and what topics are generating the most interest. Lead nurturing is not an exact science and you may need to adjust your strategy along the way.

If you want to quickly grow a business with lead nurturing, it is essential that you know your target audience, understand your lead’s needs, create a diverse campaign strategy, personalize your lead nurturing campaigns, and measure the results. This will allow you to effectively and efficiently connect with more sales-ready leads.

Why High-Quality Lead Nurturing Will Be Essential in 2014

Why High-Quality Lead Nurturing Will Be Essential in 2014The last year has been an immensely successful year for most businesses’ digital marketing campaigns. Marketing automation, social media marketing, and other online marketing tools have made it significantly easier for companies to interact and engage a wider spectrum of new leads. These impressive new platforms have resulted in significant gains in market share for many online businesses. However, this gain in their share of the market had to come from somewhere. Many other businesses digital marketing campaigns failed, while some were non-existent. These companies are quickly discovering the reason for their decline and are creating plans to reclaim their lost consumers. High-quality lead nurturing will be essential in 2014.

Marketing Focus for 2014

The focus next year for companies that were successful in 2013 will be on maintaining their gains in market share, as more companies start to take advantage of the power of marketing automation and social media. The playing field will return to neutral, since almost every business in the world has now realized how much can be achieved with compelling and informative digital marketing campaigns. If everyone is utilizing digital marketing campaigns, there has to be something distinct that sets your business apart from the competition. Businesses need to give potential prospects a reason to choose their product or service over the countless competitors who are reaching them through the same online channels.

Lead Nurturing Campaigns

The quality and consistency of lead nurturing content is one factor that can have a huge and personal impact on potential leads. Lead nurturing campaigns must grab the reader’s attention, provide them with real value, and then inspire them to react. According to Forrester Research, businesses that excel at lead nurturing will generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% reduction in the cost per lead obtained. Original and insightful content will continue to be the main focus of digital marketing campaigns in 2014, although there will be a greater emphasis on customizing the content based on relevant lead segments. For more information on how you can using lead nurturing to grow your share of the market, please read Using lead nurturing to build trust and establish long-term clients.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation software is a business’ best bet for tapping into the leads’ needs and behavior. It profiles their online activity and uses online registration to gather demographic characteristics. All of the information obtain during the website visitor tracking aspect of marketing automation can be used to formulate lead nurturing campaigns that speak directly to distinct groups of leads. Businesses that succeed in generating and distributing relevant content that offers leads real value will maintain or gain market share in 2014. Any online entities that fail to take the most of resources like marketing automation and social media will quickly discover that they are losing out to those that do.

Six Essential Elements in Every Successful Lead Nurturing Email

6 Elements for Successful Lead NurturingLead nurturing emails can be a powerful and efficient marketing tool when they are well-written. The trick is making sure every email has all of the essential elements to turn a prospective buyer into a loyal consumer.

Emails should be catered to their specific needs and interests rather than strictly promoting a product. It also needs to provide the reader with valuable information while casually guiding them towards the optimal outcome for the business. Lead nurturing emails are a company’s greatest opportunity to connect and entice potential consumers.

These are six essential elements that are in every successful lead nurturing email:

Catchy Headline and Intro

A lead nurturing email won’t be successful if it doesn’t capture their attention within the first few words. It is important to make sure the headline and first sentence clearly identify the topic and how the lead nurturing email will benefit the reader.

Solutions to Their Problems

Every lead nurturing email should come across as unbiased advice to a good friend. It doesn’t need to discuss every beneficial attributes of your business. It should only be focused on how your product or service can benefit their lives. Always remember that they are interested in solving their problems, not in supporting your business.

Offers Real Value

There has to be something in the lead nurturing email that immediately benefits the reader. It should provide them with useful information or make them a worthwhile offer. If you give someone valuable guidance, they will return to you the next time they are seeking answers to their problems.

Establishes Your Expertise

Every lead nurturing campaign should demonstrate your industry knowledge and authority on the subject matter. It should be well-research, grammatically correct, and professional written. It should also be relevant to your readers and to your brand.

Teaches Something New

Every lead nurturing email should contain a new tidbit of information that hasn’t been previously shared. Potential leads will stop reading your emails if you just regurgitate the same advice using different words.

An Irresistible Offer

The last thing every successful lead nurturing email should contain is an offer that is too good to pass up. It is always a good idea to conclude each email with a unique, special offer that they must act on immediately. Make sure the final offer highlights how your product or service will benefit the reader.

Every successful lead nurturing email campaign needs a catchy headline and intro to grab their attention and provide them with a solution to their problems. It should also offer real value, establish your expertise, teach the reader something new, and then finally present them with an offer they can’t refuse. If you still need more worthwhile lead nurturing campaign ideas, please read Lead Liaison’s earlier blog, three campaign ideas for lead nurturing success.

How Can I Effectively Nurture a Lead?

How Can I Effectively Nurture a Lead?Lead nurturing is one of the most fundamental components to a successful marketing strategy. Today’s consumers are more educated and willing to take the time to thoroughly research their purchases. They will spend hours searching online for customer reviews, testimonials, and helpful articles before making any decision.

Lead nurturing content helps potential consumers make informed decisions by answering their questions and concerns. Your web content, articles, and newsletters should all be designed as clever and discreet sales pitches that offer information that would be beneficial to your typical consumer.

Here are a few tips on how to effectively nurture a lead:

1.       Understand Your Leads

The first step to effectively nurturing a lead is establishing a comprehensive lead profile. Marketing automation uses website visitor tracking software to monitor a lead’s online behavior. It also promotes online registries and questionnaires to extract and track a lead’s demographic details. All of this valuable information should then be used to create more personalized lead nurturing content geared at their personal interests and behavior.

2.       Understand Their Needs

Consumers are not looking for a specific product; they are looking for a solution to a specific problem. Focus the lead nurturing content on the obstacles they face and offer sincere advice on how to resolve their issue. Take for example a website that promotes an all-natural herbal dietary supplement. The lead nurturing content should discuss the difficulties associated with being overweight and then offer many different solutions like dieting, exercising, and of course, taking your dietary supplement.

3.       Do Not Over Sell

Instead of approaching your lead nurturing content as a marketing piece, focus on it being a helpful consumer guide. A web page can go on and on about the benefits of your product but your lead nurturing content has to have more depth. Using the example above, I would not recommend sending out an article that only discusses why they should take your herbal supplement to lose weight.  Consumers will view it as a sales piece and not take the advice seriously.

4.       Do Not Under Sell

Your lead nurturing content still need to highlight the attributes of your product or service otherwise it is not doing its job. To effectively nurture a lead there should be 20% to 25% of the entire copy that directly references benefits of your product or service.

You can discover more lead nurturing tips that are specific to B2B customers in my earlier post on How to use lead nurturing content to convert more B2B customers. Lead nurturing can be a powerful revenue generating tool if it is done right.

Three Campaign Ideas For Lead Nurturing Success

Three Campaign Ideas For Lead Nurturing SuccessAre you stuck for lead nurturing ideas? Here are a few ideas for lead nurturing success.

Introduce a sales agent

If your company has a round-robin lead distribution policy, introduce the next sales agent in line through a series of introductory messages. Connecting a brand to a human being is a consistent theme in today’s digital marketing space and you can be effective when a person is introduced early in the nurturing process.

When a lead comes into your marketing automation system, send a message that describes the sales rep – include a picture, a few personal details, and, of course, contact information (don’t forget to include a reason for the email response – i.e. the lead’s webinar registration).

The first message should ask permission to contact the lead in the future. Then each subsequent message can deepen the engagement cycle by sharing stories about some of the sales rep’s previous positive client experiences or, depending on your enterprise policies, a personal story not related to your solutions.

Bringing a sales rep in early in the marketing cycle develops trust while the lead is moving through his buying process. Early engagement also provides opportunities to respond to questions or provide unique information.

Offer a free trial

What works especially well for SaaS and software providers is the free trial. For whatever length of time you offer for a trial period, use that time to provide support. Offer helpful hints about using the product or tips about the process a lead is using your solution for (like lead nurturing!). The level of engagement may depend on how complex your solution is to learn. For more complex solutions, engage frequently. Your trial leads will thank you.

Make sure to enhance the user experience during the trial period. Clearly explain features and functions, hold the lead’s hands throughout the trial experience. As the trial period comes to a close, ask if there are questions or specific features he would like to explore. In the final message before the period expires, make sure to indicate that the trial period will be ending and provide a valuable opportunity to buy now.

After the trial ends, send out a hard-sell email with a one-time, limited offer. Review all the features that were used during the trial, refresh his memory about the experience. Make sure to send this message within at most a week from the trial expiration.

Launch a community or forum

Gathering people under a common theme is a tried-and-true method of engaging with your market. Although this type of campaign requires some set up and management to execute properly, it can pay dividends down the road.

Invite leads to join a forum or social community that discusses relevant issues in their industries or professions. This is a great way to connect, nurture, develop trust, and deepen your understanding of your market(s). Use email messaging to introduce a recent topic, announce notable forum attendees/industry leaders, or update on a past topic. Ask leads to contribute an issue as a forum “presenter”.

While there will be times that your community/forum will require your marketing team to facilitate discussions and introduce topics, the community will often engage leads on its own. One tricky situation arises when participants are discussing competitors’ solutions. Make sure the moderator handles comments about competitive advantages (and disadvantages) quickly and professionally.

Through the use of lead nurturing assets, you can inform, educate, and remind leads about the community while mixing in relevant messages about your solutions and how they can solve issues being discussed in the forum.

Have you got a winning lead nurturing tactic? Share your knowledge and receive 10% off your first year of using our robust Lead Management Automation™ platform.

How to use Lead Nurturing Content to Convert More B2B Customers

How to use Lead Nurturing Content to Convert More B2B Customers While researching the latest lead nurturing techniques, I came across an informative article on B2B Content Marketing for Lead Nurturing and Retention by Caroline Watts. It discusses the impressive ways content can be used to convert more B2B customers, which inspired my own take on the subject matter.

I have always stressed how important quality content is to the marketing automation process. Any content you post must be relevant and informative if you expect it to sway an undecided consumer. It should be catered to their specific needs and provide them with answers that will help them make an informed purchasing decision. Learn nurturing content is critical for converting B2B customers.

Content is King

Content is probably the most critical aspect of a marketing automation program, since it is a company’s chance to communicate directly with potential leads. It can be used to build interest in a particular product or service while guiding them towards final conversion.

Great content is not only essential for marketing automation; it is also incredibly beneficial to your SEO efforts. Well-written content will improve your search engine ranking, which will inevitably drive more traffic to your website.

Lead Nurturing Techniques

The success of the content will depend on how the content is developed and promoted. You will successfully convert more B2B customers by ensuring that the right message is being sent to the right people at the right time. This will require lead profiling, lead segmenting, and a strong social media presence.

Lead Profiling Software

Understanding a lead’s needs and interests will make it easier to create relevant and useful content. Marketing automation software programs will track website visitors, monitor their behavior, and extract demographic details about each specific lead. Using this information to customize content is an essential lead nurturing technique.

Segmenting Leads into Groups

Instead of developing unique content for each lead, B2B buyers should be segmented in groups based on similar needs and profiles. Marketers will be able to convert more B2B customers by creating lead nurturing content that addresses groups of buyers. They will appreciate that the content has still be personalized to their needs.

Strong Social Media Presence

Another lead nurturing technique is to promote the new content using various social media sites. The leads that are captured by marketing automation software may not be same leads that are your followers on Facebook and Twitter. Cross promotion between mediums will increase awareness of the content and inspire more potential leads to click on the articles. This will also help your SEO efforts and increase traffic to your site.

Quality content is essential for marketing your business online. It is the most influential part of your website for both leads and search engine crawlers. It can also convert more B2B customers when it is used with a comprehensive marketing automation strategy.

How to convert more B2B leads into customers? Marketing Automation!

How to convert more B2B leads into customers? Marketing Automation!As the post title implies, our answer to the eternal sales question “how do we convert more leads into customers?” is to deploy marketing automation. Is that the only answer? No. But with the amount of data available today, marketing automation will do more to improve your B2B lead conversion rates than social media, PPC, or stale drip campaigns.

It’s quickly becoming apparent that marketing automation can play a significant role in improving your lead conversion ratio. From first touch (initial point of contact) to pass through (migration to CRM), lead conversion for companies in most industries is improving thanks to MA. The first step towards higher B2B close rates is to manage your leads effectively before they are sent to your sales team.

To begin, you should know your customers well. Who are they? What do they like? What do they do? Why do they buy? Much of this information is now available digitally, the key is to leverage the information you collect into effective lead management.

Lead Generation

An often overlooked concept about lead generation is that it should be approached holistically not unilaterally. When you need to convert more B2B leads into customers look to strengthen lead generation efforts. Lead gen starts with first touch, escalates through lead tracking, and winds up with capture. If you’re not focusing on developing good content for your touch points, tracking your website visitors using business intelligence integration, and capturing contact information through digital assets, you’re not effectively generating leads – and you can’t convert leads you don’t have. Make sure your lead gen scope is broader than list buys and PPC campaigns.

Lead Nurturing

Many think lead nurturing equals email drip campaigns. Though partly true, lead nurturing is so much more. Lead conversion through the nurturing process requires that you develop the relationship through escalating engagements. Simply sending the occasional “hi-how-are-you?” note won’t be sufficient to move your leads through the marketing pipeline. Build a campaign that offers more at advanced buying cycle stages: a webinar invite, a product demo. Remember, nurture means “to grow”.

Lead Scoring

There’s nothing worse for a sales agent than to receive a lead that turns out to be a graduate student completing his thesis. MA platforms provide lead scoring and grading capabilities that should allow you to sharpen the sales team’s focus towards the most suitable, marketing-qualified leads. Establish specific criteria that can be scored or graded. Most leading systems grade explicit lead attributes (industry, company size) and score implicit behaviors (webpage visit, webinar registration). Once a scoring matrix has been created, determine a scoring threshold that automatically migrates the lead to your CRM.

Lead Distribution

Lead distribution must be optimized to channel leads appropriately to your sales force. Which sales agents are available to respond quickly? Which agents have high close rates? Which agents know the lead’s industry best? Automated systems distribute leads using parameters that can maximize your sales team’s efficiency. Some MA platforms allow you to assign lead ownership according to predefined criteria, such as geography or seniority. Leads distributed effectively will shorten your average sales cycle and improve sales close rates.

Keep in mind that marketing automation is a tool that will improve sales conversions and help convert more B2B leads into customers. Though MA platforms have improved sales outcomes, much of the success that comes from lead management is dependent on the content you provide. If you don’t have strong creative minds to develop messaging in-house, consider outsourcing.

Why High-Quality Lead Nurturing Can Improve the Customer Experience

Why High-Quality Lead Nurturing Can Improve the Customer ExperienceOne of the reasons that marketing automation is so effective at converting leads into customers is high-quality lead nurturing. Every article, blog, ebook, and webpages on a website needs to provide real value to the reader to be considered high-quality lead nurturing content. This higher-caliber of more relevant content will improve the customer experience by educating, inspiring, and engaging them.

Educates & Informs Customers

Leads are visiting various websites in search of answers to their problems. It is rarely in search of a specific item that they want to purchase. Instead, they are looking to fulfill a need. For example, they are not searching for Eucalyptus oil, but they are looking for an all-natural solution to their joint pain. The content in the article should be directed at dealing with joint pain naturally and then subtly mention how applying warm Eucalyptus oil to your sore joints will provide relief. Lead nurturing content can improve the customer experience by educating them on alternative solutions to their problems.

Understands their Needs & Wants

Lead nurturing content will be more effective if it is catered specifically to each person’s wants and needs. By using marketing automation to profile each lead, marketers can group leads with similar interests and behavior together, and then create lead nurturing campaigns to specifically target each segmented group. This will improve the customer experience by giving them the feeling that someone is listening and responding to their needs and wants.

Helps Leads Make Informed Decisions

High-quality lead nurturing is meant to educate a lead, while guiding them towards a specific product or service. The content should help them make a better decision by answering all of their questions or concerns with facts and real-life examples. This will improve the customer buying experience by providing them with all the details they will need to make an informed decision.

Build Trust in a Brand

If lead nurturing content is well-written, informative, and provides the reader with real value, it will help to brand the business or the author as an expert in their respective field. It will demonstrate that the company is knowledgeable and understands what their customers are looking for in a product or service. This will improve the customer experience, by making the buyer feel more confident in the company they have chosen.

High-quality lead nurturing shows customers that someone cares about their needs. It helps them make better decisions and increases their confidence in the brand they choose. Fortunately, it is also not just more beneficial to the customer experience. High-quality lead nurturing will also help increase revenue generation, since quality lead nurturing will result in 50% more sales leads at 33% lower cost per lead. Everyone wins with high-quality lead nurturing content.