Preparing for the upcoming year? Deciding what tactics to implement and how to improve last year’s strategy? I’m here to help.
Many companies are successfully acquiring leads, but they aren’t seeing a return on investment because their leads simply aren’t converting into actual customers. Whether leads are unqualified, falling out of the funnel or aren’t being followed up with properly, the bottom line is that the middle-of-the-funnel could use some love.
Knowing this, I’ve outlined 7 tactics that will improve your middle-of-the-funnel activities and help you achieve your lead nurturing goals.
7 Lead Nurturing Tactics to Implement This Year
1. Divide and Conquer: Segmenting Your Database
If you’re not nurturing your leads with the right content offers, the chances of them continuing down your funnel drastically decrease. That’s why the first step in any lead nurturing strategy is segmentation. Segmentation involves dividing your leads into groups based on their characteristics, needs, and interests.
While there are many criteria that can be segmented upon, the most important to focus on initially are lifecycle stage and buyer persona.
You wouldn’t give a 5th grader a high school exam, right? Well, then you also shouldn’t show a lead who recently discovered your company an in-depth product description. Lifecycle segmentation will nurture your leads through the buyer’s journey by sharing content in a strategic order that prepares them for a sales conversation.
Now how do you know what content your buyer is looking for? This all starts with developing buyer personas. It’s important to invest time and resources to get your personas right. Your lead nurturing can actually fail when built upon faulty buyer personas developed from guesswork. Buyer personas will include:
- Demographic information (age, income, location)
- Background (job, career path, family)
- Key responsibilities
- Pain points
- Key purchase drivers
- Places they’re most likely to find information
- Preferred content formats (blog posts, videos, social media posts, e-books)
- Role in making purchases (influencer, purchaser, final decision-maker)
All of which will help you cater your messaging and content to them.
2. School’s in Session: Educate Your Leads with Content Catered to Their Stage in the Buyer’s Journey
The goals, and therefore mindset, of your potential buyer, change drastically as they transition from one stage of the buyer’s journey to the next. And it’s your job to provide them with the information they need to progress to the next stage of the journey.
Here are our suggestions for content appropriate for each stage:
- Awareness stage (aka Top of the Funnel): Content should provide answers, resources, and insight on a problem your buyer is trying to solve, an answer they are seeking or a goal they want to be met. Content formats that I have seen to be successful at this stage are guides, checklists, quizzes, worksheets and assessments.
- Consideration Stage (aka Middle of the Funnel): Content helps the buyer identify possible solutions for their problem or ways to meet their goal, and evaluate the providers of those solutions. And this is the stage where you can begin to make a case for why your solution, in particular, is the best fit. Formats I have found success at this stage include case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, and videos.
- Decision stage (aka Bottom of the Funnel): This content should help the buyer make an actual purchase decision. To assure the “who” they buy from is YOU, I suggest offering a consultation, quote, trial, demo or purchase promotion.
By providing your lead with this content, you establish yourself as a trusted source of information. And as a lead learns more about your solution on their own, they become more qualified for a sales conversation.
3. The White Knight of Lead Nurturing: Email Marketing
Email remains the backbone of lead nurturing because it allows you to communicate one-on-one with your leads. Now there are three main types of emails you should be incorporating into your lead nurturing strategy:
- Drip emails keep your brand top-of-mind as your lead moves throughout their buyer’s journey. A drip series can help you nurture new leads and retain current customers.
- Triggered emails, such as an abandoned cart or welcome series, are sent in response to an action taken by your subscriber, making them more relevant and timely.
- Nurturing emails use the power of automated workflows to trigger the send of emails based on the actions a subscriber has with you over time. Delivering this personalized experience speeds up sales cycles and lower the cost per customer acquisition.
While traditional blast emails get your content in front of the most eyes, the personalization and timeliness of triggered and nurturing emails make them an especially powerful at connecting and engaging your leads.
4. Let’s Get Personal: Personalizing Your Nurture
Personalization is an under-appreciated lead nurturing hero. Combining your marketing automation system, lead data and segmentation, personalization builds a relationship with your leads by recognizing them as an individual with unique wants and needs.
The majority of consumers know that just because their name appears at the top of an email, it doesn’t mean you typed it specifically for them. True personalization happens when you tailor a piece of content to make it more useful for a specific prospect or customer. This is when you want to use those segments you created to dictate the specific content you send and the messaging you use.
In 2019 you can accomplish this with dynamic content, which allows you to display different versions of an email, web page, or landing page depending on who is on the receiving end. This means that instead of setting up individual campaigns for each segment and trying to route leads into the best one, you can create just ONE campaign. This saves you time, makes campaign tracking easier and still delivers a personalized experience.
Beyond content and messaging, another way to offer a personalized experience through your website or email is with responsive design. Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead. So, if your templates are not designed to respond to a user’s device, you take a big risk of losing them for good.
5. A Hands-off Approach to Nurturing: Automated Workflows
If you want to increase the efficiency of your sales and marketing teams look no further than an automated workflow. A workflow is a set of automated actions triggered by certain events, such as a form submission, a download or a purchase.
Workflows can be used to nurture leads by guiding them down your funnel in an automated fashion. Say a lead submits a form to download the first of a series of content tailored to each stage of your buyer’s journey. After receiving their download, your lead will be put in a workflow that triggers the send of emails to encourage them to download the next in the series (moving them onto the next stage of their buyer’s journey). In this way, workflows ensure that your leads are constantly being nurtured without the need to manually email them.
In the B2B space, workflows are perfect for filling your time gap. With workflows, your leads will be nurtured while your manual sales touch points drop.
6. Cold, Hard Data: Using Reporting and Analytics to Determine Success
How do you know you’ve won if you don’t set a goal? In order to truly gauge the success of your campaign, it’s important to set benchmarks for what you want to achieve, whether that is an improved repurchase rate, faster sales cycle, or increased lead to customer conversion rate. Once you have these benchmarks, you’ll be able to use the data gathered from your analytics platforms to determine whether your campaign over or underperformed and where adjustments need to be made.
In lead nurturing, closed-loop analytics, the forwards and backwards exchange of information from your marketing and sales team, is pertinent for learning which campaigns are producing the most or least qualified leads.
I suggest creating a report monthly (not quarterly or yearly) in which you provide a clear overview of your campaign’s key performance metrics, particularly your north star metric. These reports will help you gauge success and also create benchmarks for future campaigns.
7. Always Improving: A/B Testing and Closed-loop Marketing to Optimize Your Nurture Campaigns
Chances are your campaign isn’t going to be flawless right off the bat, in fact, it will almost definitely require optimization. When it comes to your lead nurturing campaign you need to “test-and-tweak”. So when the metrics from your monthly report aren’t hitting their benchmarks, it’s time for optimization.
One tool you can employ to optimize your nurturing campaigns overtime is A/B testing, which allows you to pit two versions of the same asset head-to-head to see which performs better in terms of a key metric.
My number one tip for a successful A/B test is to have an evidence-backed reason for why you think your change will improve your key metric. This should be expressed as a hypothesis in the format of: If I (move the form above the fold) then (form conversions will increase) because (the user will not have to scroll to see it).