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A Beginner’s Guide to Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is a great way of growing relationships with prospects old and new, but what does it involve? How do you get started? Let’s take a look.Here’s a burning question for all budding email marketers: once you’ve got people to sign up to your email subscription list – what happens next? If people have actively shown interest in your company, it’d be a real shame if those leads didn’t hear from you and their interest eventually waned to nothing.

There is a potential solution to this prospect entropy – it’s called “lead nurturing”.

Put simply, it’s the concept of keeping in touch regularly with new and existing leads to grow their interest in buying from you.

What is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is a process whereby a company develops relationships with their leads by regularly contacting them with appropriate, valuable content and offers. The goal is to increase the prospect’s interest in the company’s offering, maintain brand awareness in the prospect’s mind, and generally stay on their radar; “nurturing” the relationship closer and closer towards a sale.

The information provided in a lead nurturing campaign isn’t all overtly promotional “hard sell” material; in fact some of the best lead nurturing campaigns (sometimes called “drip campaigns”) involve providing valuable tips and resources to the prospect for free, incentivising them to stay subscribed and increasing their trust in your brand.

Drip campaigns are normally set up ahead of time and delivered automatically through email marketing software. They take the form of a “flow” or “script” of emails that go out after certain periods of time – usually automatically. Lead nurturing activities are usually carried out over email, but with a little ingenuity can see success through other media too.

Defining a set flow for your sales process can help greatly when putting a lead nurturing campaign together. This is best achieved by defining your “sales funnel”.

What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a way of visualising your average sales process. Imagine a normal kitchen funnel with the wide end at the top and the narrow end at the bottom. Envisage a large amount of vaguely interested leads entering at the wide end. As they travel down the funnel and towards a sale, interested parties will gather momentum towards the bottom (a sale), and uninterested parties will back out. As the funnel goes on, the group of people you’re appealing to gets smaller and smaller. Eventually, the group gets honed down into a small amount of paying customers, which “exit” the narrow end of the funnel. This visualisation is usually defined by the stages that prospects follow as they flow down the funnel.

A very simple sales funnel.
A very simple sales funnel.

Example of a Sales Funnel

Here’s an example of the stages that may go into a sales funnel:

Uninterested Party> Lead Shows Interest> Lead Considering Action> Lead Places Enquiry> Quotation for Work is Sent> Quote Agreed> Invoice Sent> Payment Received> Product/Service Delivered

Starting out on Your Lead Nurturing Journey

Define Your Sales Funnel

Firstly, you need to define the stages present in your sales funnel. What are the steps your average client goes through to make a purchase? If you’re not sure, spend time looking through previous client interactions and try and identify the basic flow that prospects follow. Also take a look at unsuccessful sales to identify where people drop out within this process.

Evaluate Key Sales Funnel Actions

Next, take a good look at previous enquiries, what answers were given, and whether those people followed through with a sale or backed out as a result of those responses. Get an idea of the things that get people closer to a sale and the things that generally give people cold feet. Obviously when you’re putting a nurturing campaign together, you want to maximise the things that encourage sales and eradicate the things that don’t.

In particular, you want to look for any times that a previous paying customer has been on the fence, and identify what eventually convinced them to buy. If you were able to demonstrate your value or help them out in some way, they’re unlikely to be the only person who could benefit from that action. Look back on your experience and think what generally nudges people further toward a sale once they reach certain points in the process.

Work Out Frequency and Tone

Though you do need to make regular contact with your leads, you also need to strike a balance with regards to email frequency. You need to stay in touch regularly enough to remain top of mind, but infrequently enough so you aren’t being annoying. Showing up in someone’s inbox multiple times a day would understandably become tiresome very quickly, but only showing up once in a blue moon could be far too sparse to create any meaningful brand awareness. Typical sending frequency may differ depending on your industry, so you may benefit from doing a bit of market research to see what your competitors are sending and how frequently.

It’s also crucial to remember that your drip campaign emails need to provide value and position you as a trustworthy provider; that means that any “hard sell” content should be kept to a minimum and only rolled out at key stages within the campaign. You need to nurture a relationship between your brand and the prospect; the best way to do this is to be as useful as you can to them. Offer up helpful tips, advice and content to prove you know what you’re talking about; which positions you as a trustworthy and generous provider. If you’re pushy and salesy all of the time, people are going to tune out quite quickly, so provide them with genuine value to keep them on board.

Example of a Lead Nurturing Campaign

Here is an example of what a very basic lead nurturing/drip campaign might look like. The communications that you choose to send need to suit your processes, but also need to speak to the prospect in a way that encourages them to become more involved with every step.

  1. To send on day 1, immediately after the person signs up: Brief intro to your company along with a link to a useful recent piece of content from your site (blog, vides, infographic, etc.). If you promised a freebie ebook or checklist as an incentive to sign up, provide it within this email.
  2. Day 3-4: Send over a bit more information about your company and what makes you special. Not overly promotional, just a bit of “getting to know you” info.
  3. Day 6-7: Send a link to another useful piece of content from your website with an actionable take home message. Ask the prospect a question to encourage engagement.
  4. Day 9-10: Highlight your most popular products/services and their benefits with a call to action to claim a free quote.
  5. Day 12-13: Provide another blog post link from your site that offers practical advice or a unique tip. End on a relevant question to encourage replies.
  6. Day 14-15: Promote a time bound offer that requires engagement, such as a money-off promotion, free trial, or a free discovery call.
  7. Day 17-18: Link to more useful and actionable content from your website.
  8. Day 20-21: Send an email asking whether the subscriber has received and acted upon the offers from above points 4 or 6, highlight the potential benefits of doing so, and give them clear instructions on how to enquire.
What is lead nurturing and what does it involve? Click To Tweet

What do you think of lead nurturing and drip campaigns? Cold and robotic, or a valuable way to keep people engaged with minimal effort? Have you seen any particularly good or bad lead nurturing campaigns out in the wild? Let us know down in the comments!

Image Credit: tonyhrx on Pixabay

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