Attracting visitors, converting them into qualified leads, then convincing them to buy: these are the three main stages of your sales funnel. To achieve your business objectives, you must then promote the progression of your prospects from one phase to another: this is the very goal of lead nurturing. If you want to optimize your conversion rate, it is therefore fundamental to understand this key concept of Inbound Marketing.
Our webmarketing experts invite you to familiarize yourself with lead nurturing, its definition and its challenges, to enable you to develop an even more formidable acquisition strategy.
What is lead nurturing?
If we want to translate “lead nurturing” literally, we would then speak of “raising prospects”, but we can give a more concrete definition.
Lead nurturing consists of maintaining a marketing relationship with prospects who are not yet mature enough to buy your products or services. The objective is then to move these prospects forward in the conversion funnel until they become customers.
If we talk about the concept of lead nurturing, it is essential to remember that of Inbound Marketing. This strategy, divided into four phases, consists of:
- ATTRACT visitors, thanks to quality marketing content that meets their needs;
- CONVERT these visitors into qualified leads, through call-to-action, lead magnets or landing pages, for example;
- CONCLUDE the sale, thanks to the information you have collected on your prospects and thanks to lead nurturing;
- LOYALTY, strategic step to sustain your income and maximize your profitability ( loyalty costs 7 times less than acquisition).
In your Inbound Marketing strategy, lead nurturing therefore intervenes before the conclusion phase to transform your prospects into customers.
Why implement a lead nurturing strategy?
You have launched acquisition campaigns that generate new leads, but your sales figures are not up to your ambitions? It is far from being inevitable. Many of your prospects may not yet have come a long way to feeling ready to buy. In other words, they are not yet mature enough to sell.
Implementing a lead nurturing strategy makes you active with this audience. These potential customers need time and arguments to be able to invest. Your role (and that of lead nurturing) is then to provide them with content to help them make decisions.
Thanks to personalized and high value-added content, your lead nurturing strategy works to create a solid and lasting relationship with your prospects. You will actively help them progress through the funnel by removing any purchase barriers they may encounter.
Lead nurturing and content strategy
Lead nurturing is intrinsically linked to your content strategy. It is the content that you will produce that will “feed” your prospects. Imagine your lead nurturing strategy as an instrument and your content marketing as the score. It is she who guides your prospects towards conversion.
To develop an effective content strategy, you must adapt it to the maturity level of your leads. Three key phases can thus be identified:
- The discovery phase: you are just initiating contact with your lead and you focus on informational and generic content. A welcome email can be the first step in making this contact.
- The evaluation phase: your prospect advances in his reflection, he is ready to consider options to solve his problem. You can then submit your offer and demonstrate your expertise. You can, for example, invite your prospect to download a lead magnet on a topic likely to interest him.
- The decision phase: soon ready to buy, your prospect is just waiting to be convinced. You can put him in touch with your sales representatives in charge of closing the sale. At this stage, a demonstration or a free trial are arguments that can tip the scales in your favor.
Your content are all levers to help your prospects form an opinion about your business. They must allow them to assess your expertise and the quality of your offer and, all the more, to want to discuss with you.
The challenges of your lead nurturing strategy are multiple. First of all, you must identify the most relevant contact points to reach your targets (search engines, social media, landing pages, emailing, etc.). Then, you must produce content marketing that responds to the issues of your target.
Finally, you must ensure the profitability of these marketing actions: lead nurturing, to be relevant and effective, requires that they be personalized. This is fundamental to maximizing conversions.
This is why it is preferable to automate your digital communication strategy. Thanks to marketing automation, you can opt for the automated sending of your marketing content, in particular e-mails. This makes it possible to deploy personalized scenarios, rigorously elaborated, according to the actions carried out by your prospects.
That said, marketing automation assumes that you can manage your contact file and segment it according to your needs. As such, we advise you to use CRM software to optimize your lead nurturing strategy.
Expert tip: In your content strategy, the quality of the content you send to your prospects is as important as the sending timing. It is essential to master it at the risk of scaring away your prospect, who hates being over-solicited.
Lead nurturing and lead scoring
In your lead nurturing strategy, the content you will produce and send to your prospects depends mainly on their degree of maturity. It is therefore essential to know how to evaluate it in order to “feed” your leads with relevant content that is adapted to the phase of the buying process in which they find themselves. For this, you can use lead scoring.
This can be demographic or behavioral. The first is based on criteria relating to the profiles of your prospects: age, geographical area, profession, etc. This can be the subject of an initial rating phase. In your lead nurturing strategy, behavioral lead scoring is more appropriate, since it is based on the actions that your prospects take.
For example, opening a marketing email earns 5 points, downloading a lead magnet 10 points, etc. The more actions an Internet user carries out, the more he demonstrates a priori his interest in your company and your offer. You thus set thresholds of points, adapted to your sales cycle, to determine the degree of maturity of a lead: from x points, you estimate that your “hot” prospects can be transferred to your sales team.
Developing a lead scoring grid has several advantages. First of all, it allows you to send only (very) qualified leads, that is to say, ready to buy, to your sales representatives. This saves time in data processing, and therefore makes your sales and marketing teams more efficient. You are able, thanks to automation and lead scoring, to identify and educate your leads more easily and improve your return on investment.
The stages of a lead nurturing strategy
Now that you have understood the definition and challenges of a lead nurturing strategy, it is important to know how to implement it.
- Set the objectives of your lead nurturing strategy
This is the bab.a of any marketing strategy: determining objectives, preferably SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). It seems superfluous, but it is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of your digital strategy.
When the analysis and optimization stages come, you will compare your results to the objectives initially set. You will be able to adjust your action plan to make your lead nurturing strategy even more effective.
- Segment your contacts
Through your various marketing campaigns, you will gradually collect data on your prospects. Do we still need to be able to store and use them optimally? The management and segmentation of your contacts ( lead management ) is highly strategic. To do this, you can start by creating your marketing personas to define your target segments and make it easier to categorize your prospects.
This will allow you to subsequently personalize the sending of content. You can also segment your leads using the lead scoring method mentioned above. It is an effective marketing tool to determine the position of the lead in the sales cycle. You can then use this information to launch automated marketing scenarios (marketing automation). The ideal is to use a CRM tool that centralizes all this data and facilitates the management of your marketing strategy.
- Create content with high added value
Content is the foundation of a lead nurturing strategy. You must then be able to produce qualitative content, with high added value to initiate contact with your prospects and build a relationship with them. This happens, for example, by writing engaging marketing emails, creating white papers or organizing webinars.
Your content marketing adapts to your target segments, your objectives and to the phases of the purchasing cycle, which can be longer or shorter depending on the sector of activity. The more personalized your content, the more effective your lead nurturing strategy will be. You can call on a web writing agency, specialist in content strategy, to guide you in this area.
- Optimize the customer journey
Your lead nurturing strategy is based on the customer journey: you must understand the behavior of your prospects to offer them appropriate content. This is a preliminary step to planning your acquisition campaign. This is all the more strategic if you opt for marketing automation. You must be able to determine scenarios adapted to the profiles of your prospects. Then, once everything is launched, your work does not stop there, quite the contrary. It’s now about measuring your results to optimize the customer journey and, in fact, your lead nurturing strategy.
You can then test your content, vary the delivery times, change the format of an e-mail, etc. This approach is based on the evaluation of KPIs, strategically chosen and in line with your initial SMART objectives. This analysis phase is essential to find the right strategy which, for sure, will allow you to transform a maximum of prospects into customers (loyal, what’s more!).