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.
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 marketing 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.
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:
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.
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:
Digital consumer touchpoints might include:
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.
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?
There are certainly other digital marketing platforms and tactics to nurture leads outside of email marketing: social media messaging, content marketing, paid search 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.
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:
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.
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.
There are 10 steps that you should follow:
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.
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.
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.
Not all leads are created equal. If time and resources are limited, you should focus your efforts on the leads most likely to convert.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Let our team of St. Louis 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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