Strategies for Offline Lead Nurturing
With the rapid acceleration of inbound marketing in today’s digital age of computing and the Internet, many companies are generating leads or inquiries with their online presence via their websites. The marketing task is to effectively capture these inquiries, channeling them as prospects into and through the sales cycle, bringing these prospects from the top of the funnel into qualified leads that eventually convert to actual sales. This is accomplished through lead nurturing.
Internet computing has dramatically changed lead generation. In many cases, it has lengthened the sales cycle as buyers, particularly in B2B environments, have more control, research and compare more thoroughly, creating a more informed level of decision making. The goals of lead nurturing are to keep contact, to maintain and build the relationship and to create trust so that when the time for a purchase decision is reached, the lead turns to your company. These goals require more direct personalization than a generalized ad with only a generic product sales pitch.
Email is probably the most widely used offline medium for nurturing leads and the most direct way to get specific content to a specific lead, but companies often do no more than blast an email message sent across the whole contact list in the database. To be most effective, an email campaign should focus on personalization in order to achieve the goals described above. An email is generally to a specific person sent to an individual’s private inbox. It may be personally addressed and signed by a specific representative. The content of the email can be tailored to the lead’s specific characteristics for maximum effect. The nurturing campaign should contact the lead on a steady basis, but obviously not to the point of being aggravating or overwhelming.
In order to personalize an email lead nurturing program, the database of leads needs to first be analyzed and segmented by characteristics. These segments might include geographic regions (particularly for companies operating in multiple countries); company persona (such as corporate, agency or nonprofit); industry; position or job title (such as executive, marketing, intern, etc.); form qualifications; web activity; and others gleaned from contact information such as contact properties, topic of content consumed, events, actions taken, etc. It’s also important to determine where the lead is in terms of the sales cycle. The campaign can then be constructed and targeted to the characteristics of a specific segment.
Once the leads are segmented and categorized, marketing can then tailor the content of the email to each segment for maximum effect, providing information to help the lead through decisions at the various stages of sales cycle. The emails may have links for the lead to request more information, white papers, case studies or demos, or to subscribe to blogs. There may be calls to action such as invitations to webinars, seminars or trade shows. A response by a lead creates an opportunity to gather additional information, which can further help define the lead’s interest and position in the sales cycle. This in turn allows subsequent nurturing and emails to be more precisely directed toward that lead’s needs.
Track, Analyze and Test Success; Improve
As with any lead nurturing program, it is crucial to track the results in order to test the success of the campaign. Use and analyze metrics such as click-through rates, unique clicks, unsubscribe rates, conversion rates, etc. This allows the general parameters of the program to be analyzed and improved.
Also track and analyze a lead’s specific actions such as requests for more information, responses to calls for action, etc. This information will help further qualify or segment the lead. It also provides insights to the lead’s stage in the sales cycle so that the email content can be adjusted to the lead’s specific needs and move the lead closer to the purchase decision.
Email campaigns are a vital element in offline lead nurturing, but not always used in the most effective manner. Other offline avenues include SMS marketing via texts, print newsletters, direct mail and phone calls. A comprehensive lead nurturing approach should include both off line and online assets.