Lead nurturing initiatives aim to connect a company with its potential customers and build a relationship with them that becomes stronger as they get closer to a purchase. In fact, a carefully planned, listening-based lead nurturing campaign shows how much a company cares about its potential customers.
Through lead nurturing processes, companies are able to obtain information about potential customers every time they interact with them. In this way, marketers are more likely to understand the goals and specific needs of different audience segments and to create content based on the collected data that is more in line with the interests and expectations of their target audience.
Marketing, in particular, incorporates a more properly proactive dimension of the concept of “nurturing,” translating it into a series of actions intended to build a buying and consuming experience that can replicate itself over time and is actually positive: useful, relevant, and engaging. When we talk about lead nurturing, we mean just that: the techniques marketers think about, plan, and execute to convert a lead into a customer and, in the best of all possible scenarios, even a promoter.
Users who navigate, even frequently, between the pages of a brand’s website or return to its social channels still tend to be far from buying. This is why it is necessary to design a lead nurturing strategy: to guide the visitor on a path of progressive conversions.
The five lead nurturing examples below, each placed at a specific stage of the customer journey, illustrate five techniques by which a company can connect more deeply with its potential customers, ultimately promoting their loyalty and creating long-term value.
The company introduces itself: “introductory” lead nurturing campaigns
“Introductory” lead nurturing campaigns aim to open a channel of communication and to make the brand known. We are at a very important stage that can determine how the individual lead will perceive the company in the short term and especially in the long run. It is at this initial moment that the company has a way to let its potential customers know what they can expect, not only in terms of products and services but also in terms of value systems. Therefore, it is critical both to choose the most appropriate tone of voice and to carefully consider where and when to distribute the first messages. Content that can play an important role at this stage are welcome emails and videos.
1. Welcome emails
One of the examples of lead nurturing that offers the greatest guarantee of success at this stage is the welcome email, to be sent as soon as a lead’s contact information is received—information that can come from multiple sources: from a newsletter subscription, for example, or from a lead magnet (any free content, PDF, audio or video, that works as an incentive for users visiting the site convincing them to leave their information). If someone signs up for the mailing list or fills out a contact form, on the other hand, they are already demonstrating some degree of interest in a particular topic, product, or service. The welcome email, in addition to thanking them, allows them to introduce the company and provides an overview of the next steps the user may decide to take if they want to continue their experience with the brand.
A true nurturing activity, onboarding allows a company’s leads to learn about and become familiar with products and procedures. To be successful, an onboarding program must set up step-by-step tutorial content designed to guide users and familiarize them with something they are not yet familiar with, whether it’s the offerings of a given product or service or the history of a brand. If we may say so, it’s a kind of educational service that enables potential customers to avoid obstacles or overcome them smoothly, minimizing friction that might prompt them to immediately abandon the path designed by the company.
When there is a need to inform quickly and directly about the uses of a product and the introduction of new components, companies are increasingly choosing to use videos—often customized and featuring interactivity—integrating them into their onboarding strategies. Onboarding is indeed a process of great value and strategic importance, crucial in taking full advantage of the first contact with a potential customer. Because of its ability to earn users’ interest, combined with its ability to implement more transparent and comprehensive communication, video is confirmed as a tool that can improve a wide variety of processes and as a resource that can be successfully employed by different business functions, primarily but not exclusively, marketing, sales, and HR.
The company differentiates itself: lead nurturing campaigns “what we can do for you”
As the company acquires information about its potential customers, it produces content that should show how its solutions provide concrete and timely answers to increasingly precise needs. Here, we are in the upper part of the funnel, the part where training and educational content can have a strong hold. Potential customers have been reached by selecting them from the contact list or have responded to a call to action, perhaps related to an offer that caught their attention, and now it’s up to the company to gather as much information as possible about their needs and preferences and to develop content that is increasingly profiled.
Leads are just getting acquainted with the brand, perhaps they are on a free trial or perhaps they have signed up for a freemium service. Teaching them how to use a product or how to take full advantage of the benefits of a service, perhaps through descriptions of use cases, can cement a relationship that is still “immature.”
Preparing different types of content gives the lead the opportunity to choose the alternative that best suits their learning style. Explainer videos, for example, which show a particular product in action in one or more contexts of use, are perfect for providing the essential information needed to start using it. However, social proof is the best tactic at this stage, and companies can use it to more strongly emphasize competitive differentiators.
3. Social proof
Even today, in the hyper-digitized world in which we live, good old “word of mouth” is exceptionally powerful in influencing a person’s decision, particularly when it appears in the form of online reviews. Including a focus on its products accompanied by reports from customers who have already purchased them in the emails that a brand periodically sends to its mailing list subscribers is certainly more persuasive than simply providing a data sheet, however detailed. The list of products at an early stage may be limited to best-sellers and then come to include a more focused selection as the brand deepens the profile of the individual lead.
And because the product or service is likely to have more than one feature, marketers can resort to drip email campaigns, a succession of emails sent automatically according to a predetermined schedule, each containing a customer testimonial about a particular feature.
The business accelerates: how to give your lead nurturing campaign a boost
It may happen that the progression of the lead during his journey at some point slows down or even stops a moment before the purchase: this is a physiological phenomenon but should not be underestimated. A good lead nurturing strategy should include a series of consolidation actions with which to remove any friction and accelerate the purchase decision. These are campaigns that must be carefully planned together with the sales department and that make use of advanced tools, tools that are able, for example, to make reliable estimates of the ROI of each initiative.
By this stage, the company should have gained a more accurate understanding of its leads: which page do they spend the most time on or return to the most often? Do they click or not click on posts that appear on social channels? How many times and for how long do they watch the video contained in the last email sent? Once you have identified the touch points where you are most likely to intercept prospects, lead nurturing actions must reassure them, provide insights, engage them. This is when a bolder move such as a discount offer might work.
4. Discounts and promotions
Offering a discount to new leads is a common strategy for increasing the likelihood of the first purchase(s). If the lead buys the product or service that is the subject of the business proposal, however, the quality of the experience must be overwhelmingly positive. The risk, otherwise, is to lose the minimal credit the brand had gained from the initial interaction.
The company can also go further than just offering the simple discount. It can, for example, articulate the promotion in the form of an interactive quiz where the user is asked to express his or her opinion on the products he or she would prefer to buy among those presented (simultaneously giving the company a better idea of his or her tastes).
Interactive content associated with a promotion makes the purchase more attractive: thanks to its answers, the company can send the lead more targeted promotions. To make the marketing initiative less onerous or risky, it is advisable to include some clauses regulating the granting of the discount (establishing the minimum order amount, for example).
5. “Abandoned cart” messages
Sometimes a potential customer comes close to completing a sale and then decides not to continue: they abandon the cart. Lead nurturing doesn’t just register the setback; it doesn’t give up: the lead in question has been qualified during his previous journey, he is a potential customer about whom the company already knows a great deal… letting him go without making even an attempt to retain him could be a missed opportunity. And so it’s worth sending a reminder: a text message with a direct link to the shopping cart and a gentle, witty invitation—never heavy-handed or overly ironic—to finish checking out, perhaps referencing the items the consumer is leaving behind.
To convince this undecided lead, a company can try several actions: it can send social proof regarding those specific products or offer a discount to make the offer more enticing, or even, remind them of the free return opportunity.
Power of lead nurturing: a process that enhances brand-customer relationships
In this post, we have chosen five examples of tactics that best demonstrate the power of lead nurturing, understood as a communication process capable of enhancing brand-customer relationships at every stage of the customer journey.
Lead nurturing is a strategy organized with the goal of turning the “potential” customer into a “permanent” customer. It encompasses all interactions that occur along the path to purchase and aims to guide the user-visitor on a path of progressive conversions. People working in the marketing team must organize their activities to manage as incisively as possible these steps that correspond to as many states of the digital consumer: from visitor to customer to supporter.
Through lead nurturing campaigns, not only are opportunities for prior knowledge created but actions are put in place to consolidate and keep an existing relationship vital. The nurturing that the brand must take on is intended to be nurtured for as long as customers remain in contact with the company, and, for the most forward-thinking brands, even after that. Growing the number and especially the quality of leads has now become a priority for companies, who agree that “long cycle” nurturing is beneficial.
The most effective lead nurturing initiatives also create engagement because, by their very nature, they are inevitably relevant, that is, they are able to align specific content with specific stages of the customer journey. Knowing what stages of the buying process potential customers are at (and perhaps for how long and how often) and providing content that meets their needs (ads, web pages, emails or otherwise) is by far the most effective way to bring them one step closer to purchase. So much so that targeting users with content relevant to where they are in their “journey” produces higher conversion rates.
Creating engagement and enabling relevant relationships (which is another way of saying “personalized” here) are the two capabilities that make lead nurturing strategies absolutely essential today.