Cold Leads into Hot Customers: An Easy Guide to Lead Nurturing

lead nurturingYou could have the best product or sales team in the world, but if you’re not utilizing proper lead nurturing, you’re leaving money on the table. And this is for one simple reason: most leads are not yet ready to buy. 

As a marketer, your job is to build relationships and trust with leads until they get closer to “buying temperature”. And at that point, you hand over the lead to the sales team (if you have one), or you start sending them more direct sales offers.

So how do you “build a relationship and instill trust” with people who’ve shown interest in what you have to offer? This is where “lead nurturing” comes into play. In fact, when we say “nurturing a lead” we mean all the actions we undertake to build trust with that lead and bring them closer to those later, selling stages.

Lead nurturing vs email marketing

If you’re like me, you might wonder what the difference between “email marketing” and lead nurturing is. Aren’t they the same thing? And the answer to that question actually reveals a lot, and will help you get a deeper understanding of both.

The best analogy I have ever seen about lead nurturing is to imagine you visit a new city, and meet a new friend. You take their contact information, and go back home. Can you just call them up in 9 months when you need a favor? Of course not. You would spend some time having conversations with them. This is how friendships are built and maintained. 

lead nurturingFriendships are built and maintained over time, and take some work. They grow through mutual investment and communication over time. The same is true with the relationship between a business and a lead.

And this is where email marketing comes in. Due to its very nature, it represents the most cost-effective way to “build a friendship” over time. 

With modern email marketing, automation and segmentation you can get very close to giving your subscriber the same “sense” as if you were communicating with them one on one, whilst doing it at scale. 

No other channel can replicate this. Sure, people can follow you on social media and check out the things you’re posting, but it never feels as intimate as an email. 

This is why email will be at the core of your lead nurturing

If you have the time, you can also utilize a YouTube channel and leverage social media, and then share content that builds a sense of trust. But here’s the thing, if you do those things instead of email, your results will be quite inferior. And there are several reasons for this.

When you use a broadcasting channel, you do not get to control the order in which people consume your content, or personalize it based on behavior. With email you can show different content based on how the lead has behaved in the past and custom-tailor their experience. And most importantly of all, you can determine the order in which they receive communication.

With a broadcasting-only channel like social media, you would show a “buy now” offer to someone who’s much earlier in the funnel and still hasn’t been nurtured, or even vice versa. You would have a person hot and ready and waiting for an offer, just seeing a post aimed at cold leads.

This is why email marketing has almost become synonymous with lead nurturing. Not because it is the only way to build trust, but because it is by far the most effective way to do so. And it is also why effective brands always put email marketing at the core of their lead nurturing strategies.

The best way to combine email with other marketing channels

One of the things I’m really big on is efficiency of implementation. That is to say, I want to provide you with the quickest way to get the fastest results in your business. This means knowing which ideas to implement and prioritize in what order.

In an ideal world, you would be able to implement all lead nurturing channels and methods from day one, but in the real world, things take time, so you have to prioritize.

I would recommend the following order of implementation.

1) Get your email marketing in order. The beautiful thing about email is that it works even if all you do is send well crafted and personalized emails. This is the “80/20” when it comes to lead nurturing.

2) Next in terms of “bang for your buck” is the idea of content marketing. This is where you produce high quality valuable long-form content that wouldn’t fit inside of an email. It could be delivered in the form of blog posts or YouTube videos. 

Ideally it should be made synergistic to your emails. You would use email to promote any relevant new content to subscribers, and the content itself would try to funnel all the content consumers into your email list.

3) Leverage social media. This is where you find a way to create massive engagement through social media via sharing fun and interesting tidbits that lead to either your longer-form content, or your email list or lead magnets. When fully leveraged, you can end up getting a ton of additional engagement and exposure with your leads for next to free.

The issue is that a lot of people do this out of order and prioritize social media before they’ve fully leveraged the first two. And spending a lot of time on social media whilst your email marketing is still subpar, and your content non-existent is a really poor investment of your time.

Lead nurturing best practices and tactics

Understand that leads need multiple touchpoints to become customers

Whilst this will depend on your industry on product, it is widely accepted that the average lead needs between a half dozen or a dozen touch points before they buy something. This simply means that they engage with your brand multiple times. 

lead nurturingNow, it is possible for someone to find your brand whilst in shopping mode, browse your website and immediately purchase. However, this is highly unlikely for most leads. In most cases, you rarely get sales from a single touchpoint.

As a marketer therefore, your goal should be to deliver targeted content that helps the lead progress through the customer journey, by answering their questions, concerns as well as delivering value. This is how you build a relationship of trust and authority with the lead. 

Much like friendships in the real world require multiple touch points and you rarely become close friends on the first day that you meet someone new.

Avoid the notion of “creating omni-channel touchpoints”

Marketing gurus and marketing software vendors both have a large incentive to talk about the fanciest-sounding, most impractical and experimental marketing strategies out there. 

They almost make it sound like your lead nurturing must combine touchpoints that are delivered through multiple channels. And if you read their material, you might get the false impression that email is insufficient. This is false.

Now, I’m not saying that you can’t utilize multiple channels. You can still utilize other channels to broadcast out value, and some of your leads are going to see that value and grow even more fond of you. Just don’t expect to be able to have a tight control on those touchpoints, when and how they happen. 

Yes, if you post something valuable on social media and a lead sees the post, this is technically a “touch point”, but this isn’t something you can realistically control or track as you can with email.

In practical terms, all you can do is provide lots of engaging value across the other channels, realizing that it will boost whatever you’re doing through email. However, again, the idea that you can control and purposefully create touch points through other channels is still largely a fantasy.

Email is still the only channel where you can realistically control and purposefully create every touch point along the customer journey.

Define your stages in advance

You know that the goal of all nurturing is to “Continue building a relationship, demonstrating authority, and providing value thereby winning trust”. But that’s kind of vague isn’t it? There isn’t much of anything tangible or concrete for you to focus on.

lead nurturingThis is where the concept of a customer journey and stages comes in. This is the idea that there are some general “phases” a lead will typically go through before they become a customer, and then later on a repeat customer or loyal fan.

With clear stages in mind, setting up your nurturing systems becomes about building processes that move people between specific stages. 

Here’s an example of 4 stages most businesses can use:

Stage 1 – Awareness stage, where the lead has just recently discovered your brand. At this point you generally want to demonstrate subject-matter expertise, provide value without asking for much in return and set the foundation for the later stages.

Stage 2 – Consideration stage, where you start talking more about yourself and your offerings. You still don’t want to sell hard, but you do want to get a bit more promotional.

Stage 3 – Decision stage, where the customer understands your value proposition, what your products offer, and they need to make a decision. At this stage, your job is to help them get over the finish line

Stage 4 – Customer stage, where they have made at least one purchase. At this stage, your job is to keep them purchasing, either the same service or any additional products or services that you may offer.

Set achievable and specific goals

Just like with everything else in business, you will be more effective if you set specific goals with lead nurturing. For example, you might decide that your goal is to convert at least 30% of your leads into the consideration stage. 

That is, you set a goal that you should work on your lead nurturing sequences until a solid 30% of people move from awareness to the consideration stage. If you need help with tracking those conversations, read this guide: Clicks to Customers: Crack the Code to Lead Conversion Success

The easiest way to do so is to let our system automatically move people between stages based on their behavior, but again, you can learn more about that in the guide.

Understand that timing is everything, especially at the start

You will often see email marketing experts talk about “personalized customer journeys” and “targeted content”, but they often fail to mention the core principle behind these ideas, and that is timing.

If you think about it, giving prospects a custom-tailored journey is all about creating the right touch point at the right time. It’s all about sending the content that makes most sense at their current point in the customer stage, and we refer to such content as “targeted content”.

And nothing demonstrates this idea better than welcome sequences. If you don’t do anything else in this guide, and just set up a good welcome sequence, you’re halfway there. In fact, even if the only nurturing sequence you have is a welcome sequence, you will do better than most businesses out there.

Now, I’m not saying you should just do a welcome sequence and then immediately jump to selling people. However, even if you only did this, you would still get some pretty good results. And this demonstrates the power of timing better than anything else.

The phase right after people sign up for your list is when they are most likely to open your emails and give you a chance. This is a perfect opportunity to nurture the lead, that is demonstrate authority, instill trust and show why your brand and emails are worth engaging with.

Prepare relevant, nurturing content

If you realize that timing is about sending “the right content” at the right time, you should probably understand that your next task is determining what constitutes “right content”.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to figure out exactly the perfect content for every possible type of lead in advance. What I am saying is that you should sit down and prepare your content before you do the fun stuff, you know, setting up the campaigns in Emercury.

Obviously, you want to start with your welcome sequences, and figure out what content should achieve the goals of a welcome sequence. If you need more help with that, check out Guide to Creating a Welcome Email Series and Best Practices for Welcome Emails.

As we already discussed, if you do nothing else and do a good job nurturing your leads during the welcome period, you’re already half-way there.

Create your lead nurturing sequences based around behavioral data

As you might have guessed it, before you do anything else, set up a quality welcome email sequence. If you do this following our suggestions, you should end up with some good quality data about your subscribers. 

As a reminder, a welcome email sequence serves two main goals. The first goal is to start the nurturing process and get subscribers into the next stage. The second goal is to gather some data about the leads. 

This data is necessary for the nurturing you will do after the welcome period. You can learn more about this in Clicks to Customers: Crack the Code to Lead Conversion Success.

Keep iterating based on results and additional data

You’re not going to figure it out on the first try, and that’s alright. Your first goal is to first create a welcome sequence. And then the sequences that follow, based on data gathered during the welcome period.

But here’s the thing, as your nurturing campaigns run over time, you will learn more about your subscribers, and how effective each tactic is. You should be utilizing a mix of A/B split tests, analyzing your reports, and thinking about what the gathered data is telling you. And yes, you should be gathering data past the welcome period as well. 

You can then upgrade your sequences and campaigns based on your findings as well as upgrading your nurturing goals. This is what’s known as the “iterative process”. If you keep doing this process, you will over time end up with a beast of a marketing machine. One that creates raving fans on autopilot.

Get A Strategic Partner On Your Side

There’s no need to go at this alone. While we do put out a lot of free content to help you, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. In these articles we try to help clarify things as best as possible. However, every business is different, so we have to generalize.

If you want to understand better how to implement email marketing in your specific business, let’s have a chat. At the moment I am still able to do some free demos, so be sure to book one while I can still do these.

I would love to hear about your specific needs, challenges and any confusion you might have about email marketing strategies. And then, help you see how you can use Emercury to improve your bottom-line.

Alternatively, or in addition to booking a free demo, you can also grab a username for our forever-free-plan while we still have it. It’s probably the most generous email marketing automation plan on the planet. We include almost every feature in this plan, with very few restrictions.

Remember, you get to keep this plan for life, for free… Provided that you grab a username while registrations are still open. Note that we might decide to pull this way-too-generous offering at any point. So click that link to check if we still allow registrations.

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