Inbound marketers spend a lot of time (and money) on lead generation, but usually focus a lot less on strategies to convert those leads. That's kind of like laying out a lot of money for a new car, but not filling it with gas—in either case, you're not going to move very far.
Why Lead Nurturing Is So Important
Marketers spend more than half of their total budget on lead generation but only about 10% of those leads eventually result in a sale. One of the reasons: only about 1 of every 3 marketers say they "actively nurture" their sales leads.
That's a mistake, because research from Forrester indicates that the marketers who do create effective lead nurturing strategies on average increase their sales by more than 20%. Even more important, those businesses which excel at lead nurturing programs increase sales by more than 50%, and do it for 33% less money.
So, What's the Problem?
Why would marketing professionals commit precious resources to generating leads when so many of those leads never purchase their products and services? For some, it's an inability to properly align the activities of their sales and marketing teams (for example, marketers typically measure success in terms of the quantity rather than the quality of the leads they generate). For others, it's a lack of understanding of best practices for lead conversion.
It's important for marketers to know what those best practices are, and to avoid typical mistakes which prevent leads from converting, including the following four:
1. Time and Tide Wait for No Lead
What would you think if you toured a house on the market, called the realtor to say it was exactly what you were looking for, and that realtor didn't get back to you for weeks? You'd probably conclude the realtor was above his pay grade, or that he didn't care about you, and you might very well pass on the house.
As ridiculous as it sounds, that's exactly what most marketers do when it comes to new leads. One lead response study found that just 16% of businesses contacted new leads within 24 hours, and that the average response time was 42 hours or more. That lag time can be deadly: the chances a new lead will enter the sales process are 20X greater when that lead is contacted within the first ½ hour.
The takeaway: touch new leads as soon as possible. If necessary, implement a marketing automation program to ensure a prompt response to every new lead.
2. You Can't Send the Same Content to Every Lead
Whatever you sell, you have customers with different needs. If you sell appliances, for example, some of your customers will be interested in refrigerators, others in washing machines, and still others in stoves.
To increase conversions, you need to collect detailed data about your customers, segment them based on that data, and send them content relevant to their problems, pain points and interests. For example, if you're a realtor, you wouldn't want to send listings for million-dollar properties to clients who make less than $75,000 a year. If you do, you'll alienate them and demolish the trust you need to increase conversions.
The takeaway: segment your customer database and the content you send to nurture leads. If you do so effectively, you'll increase sales opportunities.
3. It's All About Personalization
According to one recent study, personalized emails generate as much as 6 time more revenue than those which aren't. Whether you send emails, LinkedIn messages, text messages or Facebook messages, you need to show your leads that you know who they are, and what challenges they might be facing in their job.
Personalization is about more than simply inserting a lead's name into your messaging. It should reflect their recent behavior, such as content they've downloaded on your website or emails they've clicked on. That can be a challenge unless you have a powerful tool to personalize your messaging at scale, one which leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning. With the right tool in place, you can effectively personalize the messaging towards thousands of leads simultaneously, without hiring a single additional marketer or sales rep.
The takeaway: to maximize conversions and sales, you need to invest in state-of-the-art marketing automation tools which enable at scale personalization of your messaging.
4. If at First You Don't Succeed
You're not going to convert the lion's shares of your leads with a single touch. In fact, according to one recent analysis, it takes on average 10 touches with a lead to effect a sale. Still, more than half of all marketers send no more than 5 touches to their leads.
It's also critically important that the multiple touches you send effectively move leads through the sales funnel. For example, your first touch should welcome them and provide basic information, like what your business does, what products and services you offer, and what distinguishes you from your competitors. It should also include qualifying questions that you need your leads to answer. The further leads move down the sales funnel, the more specific (and customized) the content you need to send them. Without smart software, a human team can only handle so many hyper-personalized emails per day.
The takeaway: to maximize sales, create a comprehensive strategy of multiple touches which effectively move leads from welcome to purchase.
Effectively nurturing your leads to increase conversions requires smart, strategic thinking and the employment of best practices on both, the marketing and the sales side. It also requires state-of-the-art sales and marketing automation tools, including those which leverage the latest advances in artificial intelligence and natural language processing.
To learn more about the ways our lead generation and qualification, up and cross-selling, lead reactivation and recovery and CRM-logging services will help you drive sales and grow your business, contact us today to request a demo.