5 Lead Nurturing Secrets To Turn Strangers Into Customers

10/07/2015 17:35

    B2B research consistently shows that 30-50% of leads are not ready to buy when they first inquire about your business, but about three quarters of these leads will become sales ready within 12 to 18 months.

Sales Leads Not Ready to Buy

So how do they progress from stranger to lead to sale? Lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing is the process of building a relationship with prospective buyers (“leads”) who are not ready to buy yet. The goal is to nurture leads to a sale by using your company’s expertise to educate and provide value from the first point of contact through every step of the customer journey.

There are a ton of benefits to lead nurturing, including:

  • Increasing awareness for your brand or product through regular customer touchpoints
  • Generating more qualified leads, while saving time for the sales team in the process
  • Growing your revenue by re-activating cold leads and creating new sales situations
  • Earning repeat customers by continually drawing them back (who then tell their friends)
  • Establishing your credibility as a domain expert and educating people who want to learn more but are not yet ready to buy

We’ve previously covered 10 different types of lead nurturing strategies and their KPIs. In this post, we will dive into the lifecycle nurture journey, which we informally call “The Nurture Machine.”

The Nurture Machine

You’ll learn what The Nurture Machine is, why it’s important for your business, and seven secrets for turning strangers into customers through lead nurturing. Let’s get started.

1. Know thy customer journey

The first step to building the The Nurture Machine is to map out your customer’s journey. The customer journey is the chronological set of learnings, decisions, and touch points that a person experiences as they first get to know your company, then hopefully become a customer, and eventually become a repeat buyer and referrer. Whether you’re a tech startup with a freemium model, an ecommerce site selling shoes or wine, or a consulting firm selling services, your customer is on a journey that you need to guide.

Stages of the Customer Journey

Each stage of the journey requires different content. Early on in the journey, the most effective content builds your company narrative by linking to industry trends, community or user reviews, shareable facts, and your company’s About page.

Later in the journey comes more product focused content and targeted calls-to-action like invitations to set up a demo or sign up for a trial.

For your nurture machine, use your cream of the crop content to build trust and establish yourself as a thought leader in the mind of your audience.

Pro Tip: If you’ve already been blogging, take a look at your Google Analytics to analyze what content is driving traffic. Repurpose this top-performing content in future nurture campaigns and follow these 5 tips to double your open rates.

2. Grow your email list with irresistible incentives

The Nurture Machine begins with a permission-based (“opt-in”) email list, and can include anyone who gave you their email address by downloading a whitepaper, attending a webinar, filling out a contact form, or signing up for your newsletter.

How do you start building this email list to nurture? Best practice is to create a “lead magnet” that draws people in to give you their email address in exchange for something incredibly valuable. Here are a few examples:

  • A marketing consultant giving away a free 45-minute strategy session
  • A wine business giving away a free bottle of wine (I’d sign up for that!)
  • A tech company giving away a free t-shirt to anyone who signs up for a free trial (New Relic has shipped over 75,000 t-shirts with this swag marketing strategy)
  • A tech company or brand that captures leads by offering a free weekly or monthly newsletter. Here’s an example from Duct Tape Marketing:

Duct Tape Marketing

Because people do business with companies they know, like and trust, crafting an email offer readers can’t refuse is a step towards building trust with your audience and the beginning of educating them towards a sale.

3. Quickly find the gold nuggets in your stagnant marketing list

Whether you know it or not, your email list is chock full of leads who are ready to get back in touch with you and be nurtured towards a sale.

Some of these people on your lists might have connected with you recently, but how many of those leads are sitting in your CRM, are on stale call-down sheets, or are scattered business cards from tradeshows attended months ago? You have invested time, money and resources gathering those contacts, and it’d be a waste to let them fall through the cracks.

The good news is that there is a fast and easy way to find low-hanging fruit (sales leads) while also testing the quality of your marketing database: The 9-Word Email.

People go gangbusters for this email – which I learned from Dean Jackson from Ilovemarketing.com – and can quickly flood your inbox with new clients at absolutely zero cost.

It’s this simple:

Subject: –first name–

 “Are you still looking at getting [insert your service/product]?”

Here are a few examples:

  • “Are you still looking at getting your kitchen renovated?”
  • “Are you still looking at improving your home security?”
  • “Are you still looking at buying a new patio?”
  • “Are you still looking at getting your house painted?”

The reason it works is it’s short, personal, and expects a reply. After sending this email to her stagnant list, one woman got 750 responses after emailing 1200 people (a 62.5% response rate!). 

Pro Tip: Use this approach for abandoned shopping carts. Here is an example of Amazon using this same strategy to bring a potential customer back to the abandoned cart.

The 9-Word Email In Action

4. Create content that’ll leave people clamoring for more

Now that you have defined your customer’s journey, have a growing email list, and found the low hanging fruit, it is time to proactively position yourself as a thought leader in your field with helpful and educational content.

A solid principle in how to approach your content is to out-teach your competition. While everyone else is out selling (explicitly or implicitly), focus your attention on providing value by sharing industry insights, best practices, community reviews, and customer case studies. All of this content can be repurposed to educate your audience through emails, whitepapers, website content, webinars, blog posts, and more.

By building your nurture machine with all of this content, you will drive more leads, position yourself as an expert in your field, and grow conversions in your funnel. The hard work pays off. When customers are ready to buy, they will come knocking on your door.

Pro Tip: Get started quickly and easily by auditing your website, blog, emails, whitepapers, customer stories, to reuse existing content. Create summary emails (like ours below) that hook your reader with an image and a few lines of text, then link them back to the source content (don’t forget to add UTMs to your links, so you can attribute leads to emails). Don’t have a blog or content? Consider services like Scripted, where you can outsource blog writing on a per-post basis.