Most of us are naturally people-pleasers. Case in point: Have you ever made an impulsive decision to appease someone, then on second thought realized it’s not something you wanted in the first place?
When prospects are receiving 4,372 calls a week, they may feel worn down and say yes simply to get the extremely persistent person off the phone. Congratulations, your number for MQLs (marketing qualified leads) may look good, but you’re in for a rude awakening when it comes to your SQL (sales qualified lead) conversion rate and moving those leads down the funnel.
Sometimes the timing is truly just not right. As is normal with all aspects of life, other things are top of mind. But that does not necessarily mean that your product is not a fit and never will be. We have to nurture many things in life – and leads are one of them.
Without lead nurturing, many opportunities will simply fade away into nothingness—and that amounts to less revenue at the end of the year. If you struggle here, you’re definitely not alone, as 61% of B2B companies consider improving lead quality through nurturing as a top priority. Here’s what you need to know about the most important elements when nurturing leads from click to close.
1. Be relevant
If you’re not being relevant, your leads will either opt-out, or they’ll emotionally opt out when they stop paying attention. According to Aberdeen, targeting users with content relevant to their position along the buying process yields 72% higher conversion rates.
Would you give your infant a bicycle for their first birthday? Only if you want it to be neglected in the garage for a few years gathering cobwebs. However, if you wait until their fifth or sixth birthday comes along, you are now the hero who got the perfect gift! It’s important to meet your prospect where they’re at.
One of the most valuable features of marketing automation platforms is the ability to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. Work with sales to establish a lead-scoring model, then cater your nurture streams to a prospect’s needs, industry, stage in the buyer’s journey, etc.
Give your prospect that shiny red bike when they’re ready. Discuss the bells, whistles, and handlebars in a way that intrigues and excites them. But if they’re not quite ready, don’t leave them out in the cold! Keep ‘em nice and toasty by nurturing them, then offer up your product or service when the time is right.
Nurturing will allow you to build trust, establish loyalty, and develop a long-lasting, mutually-beneficial business relationship.
2. Don’t be promotional
Modern prospects seem to be naturally averse to cheesy sales pitches. Have you ever seen some of those ridiculous infomercial pitches for old as-seen-on-tv products? We can’t help but laugh at the over-promotion of it all. Lose 10 pounds in ten minutes! And call in the next three seconds and you can get FOUR commemorative tokens and our limited-edition COLLECTIBLE PEN absolutely free!
54% of email marketers say increasing engagement rate is their number one priority. A good start is to internalize the reality that early-stage buyers don’t want product pitches or sales offers – they want to be educated and entertained. Promoting yourself in a lead nurture campaign is like going on a date and talking about yourself the whole time—you won’t get that second date.
So if you can’t be pitchy, what’s the best way navigate through the complex world of a buyer? You want your email to be compelling, clear, actionable, and answer the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question. To check if your email delivers this experience, run it by the 30-second summary rule. Can you get through the email in 30 seconds and know the value it provides? This test will help make sure that your call-to-action is clear and the value proposition is obvious.
3. Establish permission and expectations upfront
An important part of email marketing is to set and consistently meet expectations—and nurturing is no different. At the opt-in or soon after, let them know what to expect. When planning your cadences, know that only 22% of B2B businesses reach out to prospects with lead nurturing on a weekly basis.
Whether you are sending out emails or reaching out through the phone, set the expectations with your prospect so that you’re on the same page. They may say they’ll be ready in 6 months, so let them know that you’ll reach out in 4-5 months; and in the meantime, you’ll send emails to help them navigate the buyers journey while keeping you at the forefront of their mind in case there are any changes or new developments.
4. Optimize for mobile
The vast majority of emails are currently opened on mobile devices, and that number is growing. This means that many of your emails will be seen on a mobile device.
There are a few different ways to build a mobile-friendly email:
- Scalable Design: Good for beginners and teams with limited resources—it’s a design that works across desktop and mobile and doesn’t require code to adjust image and text sizes.
- Fluid Design: This design works best with text-heavy layouts that flow. It requires some CSS knowledge because of width limitations, but it still works for teams with limited resources.
- Responsive Design: This design includes everything from the two styles above and then adds CSS media queries, allowing you to design for specific screen sizes. It offers the most control but requires the most resources.
Make sure your nurture streams are mobile-friendly, and keep in mind that your emails are probably being read as your prospect is waiting in line at Starbucks. They are distracted, so capture their attention!
5. Don’t make conversions your only goal
Even though lead-nurturing emails get 4-10x times the response rate compared to standalone emails, your goal with nurturing should be keep in touch and develop a relationship over time. Keep your nurture emails casual and focus on building brand awareness.
You do not want to inundate anyone and become the overly persistent salesperson, but you also want to make sure that when something arises that causes them to think of your product, your brand is what instantly comes to mind. Creating brand awareness will allow your product to achieve just that. The best way to accomplish these lofty goals is to send emails that are not product pitches or sales offers, but instead provide insights and ideas that inspire and inform.
6. Forget traditional metrics
You can’t measure the effectiveness of nurturing based on open and click-through rates, especially if there isn’t anything to click. How do you measure whether your nurture activity is having an impact on moving your MQLs to SQLs?
Tested, tried, and true – The most successful way to measure your nurturing success is through pulling out a control group who is not being nurtured and measuring the differences between the two groups over time. Once you have a firm understanding of what’s working for your population, you can then have a better representation of what nurture activity is working for your prospects.
In closing: Quality over quantity
Only 5-10% of qualified leads successfully convert for marketers. We can put our hands out and beg for leads, and we might set a few pity appointments. But if those leads are poor in quality, when the salesperson knocks on the door for the initial appointment, no one’s going to be home. And what good is a lead if it doesn’t make it beyond the front steps?
Be more consultative with your prospects, taking time to listen to and nurture them before going for the close. This practice of delayed gratification will pay off in the long run with higher conversion rates and more closed won business.