Once upon a time, there was a world with no Internet. In this world, salespeople had little to no access to consumers who were in the early stages of the buying process. Maybe those consumers looked at magazines to do some early research planned purchases. Maybe they browsed showrooms, just looking at what was available. But they did not leave their contact info with a salesperson.
Today, things are different. The Internet has changed the way consumers and salespeople relate to each other. Because people can get online and communicate with businesses, salespeople often encounter consumers who are at the early stages of making a purchasing decision. Sometimes salespeople just go with the hard sell at this stage, but most people in the early stages of their buyer's journey are not ready for this. It is a big turn off. Effective salespeople lay off the hard sell and use this time to build trust with their potential customers. As the relationship grows, people come to view the salesperson as a trusted adviser and not someone who is just out to make a quick buck.
This process of building a trusting relationship is called lead nurturing. It is accomplished through providing relevant educational material for prospects long before they are ready to make a purchase. This material helps build brand loyalty and product preference without a heavy-handed sales pitch. Research confirms this: companies with strong lead nurturing practices can generate 50% more leads for one-third of the cost.
Lead nurturing is driven by content. Here are some tips for developing effective content for lead nurturing:
Spare the Sales Pitch
Content for lead nurturing presents educational material without a sales pitch. People want information to help them solve their problems. They don't want a hard sell. So if you are a financial adviser, you might start by offering very general advice about saving and investing for the future. This makes you appear to be a knowledgeable expert in the field. When one of your readers is ready to take the next step, you will already be a trusted source of information. This person is highly likely to think about the services and products that you offer when make a decision to buy.
Guide Your Prospects Thinking
Instead of selling, your content should try to get your prospect to think about the issue in a certain way. For example, a yoga studio might try to make prospects aware of the dangers posed by high impact workouts. In this way, the idea is formed that a low impact workout is a requirement when looking at taking an exercise class. This will dispose the prospect more favorably toward taking a yoga class without a strong sales pitch.
Targeted and Personalized Content
Your target market is not monolithic. It is composed of different groups of people. For example, a sporting good store may have people interested in a wide variety of sports. There may be other segments of the audience based on gender, age and income. Sending one message to all these groups is difficult. You wind up watering things down. The key is to develop different content that caters to each of these groups. Research shows that targeting your content in this way can increase sales opportunities by 20%.
The first step to targeting your content is to develop buyer profiles for the most important segments of your audience. Then you can use the profiles to develop content that would be attractive to people who fit the profile. Finally, you can track prospects based on identifying with a particular persona and send him or her only content developed for this particular persona.
Personalization also helps connect with prospects. This is more than just including the prospect's name in an email subject line. It means creating content corresponds to specific aspects of prospect behavior. For example, if a prospect downloads a particular ebook, then subsequent content could refer to this action. When your marketing is responsive to your prospect's behavior, the prospect will feel like you are paying attention to him on a personal level.
Content for Each Stage of the Buyer's Journey
Consumers need different content at different stages of the buyer's journey. In the first stage, they are seeking to understand their options. In this stage, basic educational information is required. This can come in the form of ebooks, white papers, slide shows and videos. In the middle stages, prospects are actively considering various concrete options. Now they are more ready to hear about how your products or services can fulfill their need or solve their problem. At this stage, they may want to see case studies, product demos and longer webinars. Finally, at the end, the prospect will come to a decision about a purchase. Here is where free trials, consultations and discounts do well. For your lead nurturing to be successful, you have to have content options for every stage of the buyer's journey.
Develop Multi-Channel Content
In the past, most lead nurturing was done through email. But today's open rates can be as low as 20%, so it really behooves a marketer to think creatively about using a wide variety of channels for lead nurturing. This complex strategy involves deploying a marketing automation platform to integrate email marketing, social media promotion and paid re-targeting ad campaigns. These strategies coupled with dynamic website content and direct outreach from the sales team creates a system that puts the right content in front of the right person at the right time for sophisticated lead nurturing.
As technology continues to develop, ways of nurturing leads along in the buying process become more sophisticated. At the foundation is creative content creation that produces high-quality, educational and targeted material that helps people solve their problems and fulfill their desires. These tips will help you to begin to create this kind of content to get your lead nurturing system going.