Integrity’s Guide to Lead Nurturing, Starting From Scratch

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Digital Marketing Specialist
Feb 12, 2021

If you’re looking to identify the best lead nurturing method for your business, B2B or B2C, this article could literally be a single word.

Email. 

We realize most of our readers require more context, but we think it’s important to reaffirm for both our clients and those who use our insights as a resource that email is still the absolute best channel to operate a lead nurturing strategy and campaign through. 

Considering the world of digital marketing was just upended by the COVID pandemic we find it particularly relevant that through 2020 and into 2021, email has remained the most reliable channel to secure, nurture, and convert leads into sales across industries and as a St. Louis marketing agency that’s been operating on behalf of traditional retail, eCommerce, SAAS, and B2B clients for nearly twenty years we’re seeing the same across the board.

First, some lead nurturing basics.

Ok, we’ve said our piece and we’ll dig into the tactics shortly but just to make sure we’re speaking the same language, what is the definition of lead nurturing to Integrity?

The active process of building a relationship between our clients and their prospects and customers.

When done successfully, lead nurturing achieves three key goals in respect to prospects and customers:

  • Keeps our clients top of mind when they make purchasing decisions
  • Keeps our clients top of mind when they make recommendations
  • Educates them to keep them from brand jumping

Keeping these three goals top of mind makes evaluating our method and messaging a simple process. If it doesn’t serve our top three, it shouldn’t be part of the plan.

Where does a lead nurturing campaign begin?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to make the first move. Through traditional or digital touchpoints, your prospects and customers will start the conversation — you just need to be prepared to answer. 

Traditional consumer touchpoints might include:

  • Calling your business
  • Attending an in-person event
  • Making an in-store purchase

Digital consumer touchpoints might include:

  • Visiting your social media pages
  • Participating in an online event
  • Visiting your website
  • Subscribing to your email list
  • Downloading a discount code
  • Downloading a free content resource (like an e-book, guide, or checklist)

These lists aren’t exhaustive of all the ways potential and current customers may connect with you, but you should understand and have a good working knowledge of what each of those touchpoints look like from the consumer side. You can perform an internal audit by walking through each touchpoint listed above to see how it applies to your business. This is an opportunity to consider where improvements can be made and what you’re doing well that could be recreated across touchpoints. 

As a strategic partner Integrity goes through this discovery user journey process with our clients, it’s not uncommon that we find businesses with no answering message for missed calls and no confirmation emails when someone has signed up for a newsletter or downloaded a free resource. These are small fixes that can make a huge difference in turning a consumer touchpoint into a lead that you can then nurture. 

Lead nurturing is best executed through email.

Yes, this is the hill we’ve chosen to die on.

Email marketing is a cost-effective strategy that even non-technical users can implement. With numerous platforms, you can find something that’s useful for your budget and your needs (at Integrity, we’re technology-agnostic but love MailChimp for it’s ease of use and robust features).

For each consumer touchpoint above, if you can work in a way to collect their email address, you should. You’ll naturally get it for anyone subscribing to your email list and anyone attending an online event, but you should also make it the barrier to receiving any discount codes or free resources that you offer on your site. 

What about traditional touchpoints? If someone calls your business, offer to follow up with additional information or a recap of the call in an email. Did they buy something in-store? Make emailed receipts the default. 

Now what will we be doing with all of these email addresses? 

  • Email drip campaigns
  • Personalized, targeted emails
  • Email newsletters
  • Automated everything, i.e.
  • Welcome emails
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • “You liked this, maybe you’d like that” emails
  • Customer re-engagement emails

There are certainly other digital marketing platforms and tactics to nurture leads outside of email: social media messaging, content marketing, paid retargeting ads, direct mail, sales calls, etc. BUT, pound for pound, you won’t find a better value or more efficient method of nurturing leads than email.

And now — a note about texting.

Texting … ugh. We were honestly hesitant to recommend this to our clients in years past because consumers had such strong reactions to it. They either loved it or hated it, and given that there were other less polarizing options for communications, we never pushed it. 

When the pandemic brought about collective consumer confinement, it led to an increase in  digital search, shopping, and delivery. Texts from businesses have become commonplace and seen as easy communication rather than a personal invasion. In fact, in a recent survey 59% of consumers say texting is the fastest way to reach them. However, we need to pay attention to the context:

  • 64% said appointment reminders where the most valuable business texts they received
  • 48% mentioned shipment and delivery updates as being of value
  • Only 29% were happy to get discount texts

Text messaging has broken through as a way to communicate with your current customers who are within the after sales process but still not ideal for lead nurturing.

If you’re still interested in experimenting with text messaging as a lead nurturing strategy just be sure to evaluate the context, quality, and quantity plan you’ll be operating through. Turning a potential lead into an annoyed consumer is not the direction you want to go in. 

Is lead nurturing necessary?

Yes. The majority of sales don’t happen during a prospect’s first interaction with a brand. 

Most prospects aren’t ready to buy the first time they interact with your company. Even current customers will go through another evaluation process before purchasing again. This is not a situation where you want to play it cool and let them come to you. As companies face increased competition and consumers have access to more and more options, it’s the businesses that make an effort that are winning out. 

Lead nurturing is also a cost-effective way to generate sales. Traditional and digital advertising costs continue to increase as insights and consumer data access decrease. When a lead nurturing program is instituted, it immediately starts the process of turning a prospect into a sale — plus, the prospects have already pre-qualified themselves by choosing to interact with your brand in the first place.

How to develop a lead nurturing plan

There are 10 steps that you should follow: 

1. Fully understand your target customer

Some prospects will inevitably fall into your lead nurturing funnel who don’t qualify as a valuable lead. The earlier you know that based on your criteria the less time you’ll waste trying to convert them.

2. Outline your target customers path to purchase

As we mentioned WAY above, you should know what the customer is experiencing while navigating  different paths to purchase. It is the only way for you to identify issues and opportunities where lead nurturing will make an impact.

3. Create a customer database

Having customers’ email addresses and names segmented out allow for easy personalization and tags that help you to segment the audience. The more information you have, the more targeted your message can be.

4. Score each lead

Not all leads are created equal. If time and resources are limited, you should focus your efforts on the leads most likely to convert.

5. Create targeted content for each phase of the buyer’s journey

The journey you walked through, remember? This is where you can optimize and improve the user experience of your prospect and take away any barriers they may hit on the journey to purchase.

6. Launch automated marketing campaigns

It’s not quite a “set it and forget it” strategy, but it’s as close as you’ll get in digital marketing. Revisit these campaigns on a quarterly basis to review performance and refresh the content.

7. Think outside of the inbox

Email is king, but you should be aware of the other platforms and channels you can work within to reach your leads across multiple paths.

8. Draw prospects back with high-quality content

If they hit your site once, they’ll be that much more receptive to return. But try to show visitors something new and valuable that they have not yet seen. 

9. Reach audiences using paid search

It’ll cost ya, but if you have it in the budget, paid search ads are a highly effective way to reach high-intent audiences who are actively searching for the products or services that you offer. If your website has low search rankings, it may be the only way for prospects to find you.

Is paid search engine marketing right for your business? Our blog will help you determine if it is.

10. Leverage retargeting ads

Again, this can be pricey, but the expectation is that it’s only reaching people who have purposefully landed on your site before, so higher intent and potential for conversion is assumed.

Lead nurturing best practices

Lean on your marketing, sales, and customer support team 

Each department is involved with your prospects and customers, so each department will have valuable insights for you to leverage when creating your prospect-to-customer lead nurturing funnels. 

Personalize in a non-creepy way

Consumers are savvy, and with an increase in personalized automation email, sometimes seeing their name in the subject line falls flat. Try to also include behavior-based personalization: messages, content, and product suggestions based on their past behavior on your site. 

(Having issues with your email open rate? Find Integrity’s best practices and top tips here.)

Automation is a tool, not a mandate

The convenience and scalability of automation is priceless for digital marketing, but more traditional lead nurturing methods still have enormous value and can reach customers who prefer a personal touch. While it may be the least efficient, individual outreach through a phone call or social platform message can be the fastest way to turn a single prospect into a client.

When you send your messages matters

Just as a social media team might use a content calendar to ensure their messages are going out at appropriate times (and aren’t bombarding the audience), lead nurturing email campaigns need to have a purposeful message theme and cadence. 

Drive more sales with better lead nurturing campaigns

Lead nurturing is an ancient and equally modern strategy you can use to increase sales but if nurturing doesn’t come naturally to you, that’s ok. Integrity is well-versed in robust email lead nurturing campaigns and cross-platform campaigns for multiple industries. We can consult, recommend, tactically execute and measure the success of a lead nurturing program for you too.

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Let our team of digital marketing pros help you figure out exactly how to build and execute on a lead nurturing strategy! Reach out to Integrity today.

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