What makes clients buy?
See, in software sales, contracts are far from tiny. When a company decides to buy from a software vendor, it means they’re ready to change certain business processes and embrace new ways of doing things. They’d have to train their employees to use your software and make sure the whole team is sold on the promise of better efficiency using your product.
This type of trust is very rarely earned by a single pitch.
Pitching your product’s features, displaying case studies, and showing product demos can only do so much. Your product may be the best in the market–but will they believe you when you say so?
You need to earn the trust of your leads and prospects.
And the way to do that is through lead nurturing.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with your prospects and leads with the goal of laying the foundation for closing sales. Those relationships are created by ensuring that you–your product and your company–are a trustworthy industry authority in the eyes of your leads and prospects.
The key is content. Delivering useful content that brings real value is the way to earn the trust of your prospects.
To carry out an effective lead nurturing campaign, you must map out the journey of your customers–from when they are still prospects to when they’re qualified as solid leads, up until they become happy clients. For each stage, you must identify the questions and problems they’d have, and then you create pieces of content that address those questions and problems.
Creating content for your audience is a must. When prospects and leads are searching for solutions to their problems on their own, they must be able to find your content pieces that have what they exactly need. This way, they will see you and your company as an expert, your product being the most viable solution. You want to be the “top of mind” choice.
Ensuring that you’re able to bring valuable content in front of the audience it addresses is crucial. The core of an effective lead nurturing campaign is having the right strategies for creation and distribution in place.
Lead Nurturing Best Practices for Email
Email inboxes are the tech equivalent of personal space.
When someone lets you in their inbox, you better make it count.
You’re also dealing with the reality that your prospects are getting a lot of emails from their own contacts and the other companies trying to get their business.
Yes, you’re competing for their attention. The only way your content can do its magic is if your leads actually see and read it.
Getting prospects to open your emails
Crafting effective subject lines are crucial in getting your emails opened. More than half of all emails get opened on mobile–and we all know that checking emails on mobile is not so much as a quick scan.
Here are best practices in creating subject lines:
- Keep it short. <50 characters is best when taking the screen size of most mobile devices into consideration. You want your subject lines to work? Better make them readable and complete.
- Write something that catches their interest while keeping it consistent with what’s inside. Use questions to grab the attention of your prospects. Is it an email that contains content directly addressing a common problem in the industry? Use a subject line asking if they’re experiencing that problem. You get it: ask the question for them in the subject line and answer it inside.
- Personalize. Use their name or their company’s name on the subject line. This signals that they’re not just a row in your lead list.
- Look at past emails and use subject lines that were proven to work. First of all, you should have access to email analytics: your open rate in particular. Examine which subject lines work best with your audience and use that style as long as it works. Segment your emails and keep using subject lines that work for certain segments.
- Don’t send too many emails. Don’t send them emails every day. You want to be seen as an expert, not a spammer. Only send emails when you have something valuable to add. If you always have something valuable to add, you have to pool that together into a content offer and write an email giving your leads the option to see the rest of your content.
Creating content for email lead nurturing
Let me say it again: you’re asking for some airtime with your lead in their own virtual home. You must make it count.
Here are best practices to keep in mind when creating content for emails.
- Focus on one thing. Each email should have a single goal and all the content inside it must drive the lead to respond to your call to action. Keep the content tied to that goal. If you’re reaching out to a lead after they downloaded a whitepaper and you want to reaffirm the points of the whitepaper through email, writing something that reiterates the points and asks for their feedback
- Reward them with value. They opened your email–don’t make leads feel like they’re doing you a favor by doing so. Make sure there’s something in there for them. Thought-leadership is powerful in lead nurturing emails. Wow them with your content by sharing insight they wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. Emails are an amazing channel to educate your clients and leads.
- Value isn’t about long emails. Keep it short. You only get well under a minute so make sure you communicate the point for your email in the first few lines of it. If you want to bring them something more substantial, summarize your points or put in a lede inside the email and link out to a blog post or a content upgrade. Sending a wall of text is one of the most effective ways of getting your emails deleted.
- Keep it within their interests. You should segment your leads to ensure that you’re only sending them emails that are actually within their interest. Move them through your sales funnel by sending content relevant to both their concerns and your solutions.
- Personalize as much as possible. Don’t be tempted to send mass emails. Not only is that lazy, it’s also wasting your time and theirs. Personalize by using their name and their company name where appropriate. Personalize further by addressing their exact concerns. A note: highly personalized emails are not scalable so it may make sense to only personalize down to their exact concerns when they are deeper into your funnel.
Another channel where your leads should find you is social media. Let’s go over some best practices.
Lead Nurturing Best Practices for Social Media
Many companies are still stuck with the belief that social media is only a playground for B2C. If you’re not one of those companies, great. But if you still need convincing on the ROI of using social media to nurture leads for b2b industries, here are some numbers:
- 63% of companies that outgrow their competition partly thank social media for their success
- 67% of companies that use lead nurturing see at least a 10%increase in sales opportunities
- 40% of B2B buyers say they use LinkedIn extensively when looking for new software to purchase
- Companies that use Twitter to generate and nurture leads get twice the production than companies that don’t.
These days, it’s a huge mistake to think that social media isn’t a platform for meaningful conversations.
The reality is that decision makers and business leaders are active on social media. To an extent, social media is as valuable as email when reaching out to certain prospects and leads. So step up your social media game!
Here are some best practices when nurturing leads on social media:
- Find a basis to connect. Many sales and marketing professionals still make the mistake of just connecting with every profile on social media. When nurturing leads,timing is crucial. Did someone download content on your site? Ping them on Twitter or LinkedIn. Ask for feedback like how they used your content for their situation.
- Use personal accounts. It’s definitely a must to keep social profiles for business and professional connections. Use this when reaching out to leads on social media. It’s not a no-no to keep separate personal profiles but it’s much better if your messages are consistent with your profile content. This adds to your trustworthiness.
- Don’t connect and forget. Lead nurturing is not about reaching out to as many leads are possible. The goal is still to convert leads into customers–and it’s essential to always keep that in mind when connecting with leads. Find ways to get the conversation rolling.
- Chat is not the devil. Some professionals still think that instant messaging is too casual for professional correspondence.It’s debatable, really. But let me make the case for it:
- It makes your brand human. Through IMs, they know they’re not getting a canned response. It’s an opportunity to really make a connection. IM is arguably the next best thing to a phone call. It’s personal contact! Like calls, you can pickup buying signals and psychological cues through your leads’ messages.
- Don’t over-automate. You’re selling software, working in a tech company–it’s not surprising to know that many tech companies want to jump at every opportunity to automate. Well, if we say we do lead nurturing to develop relationships, techniques like automating tweets and using auto-IM could be really counterproductive.
Know what works
Let me reiterate: creating content that resonates with your audience is the most important ingredient of your lead nurturing efforts.
There are many ways to find out what kind of content works–research, social listening and keeping on top of current events are good ways. However, the best technique to find out what interests your leads is by asking your current clients. Yes! Remember, they were prospects and leads once upon a time.
Assuming you’re delivering great services and products to them, you’ll be hard-pressed to find clients unwilling to help you reach more clients. Ask them not only about their concerns regarding your product and the industry. Take advantage of this relationship by asking them what portions of your lead nurturing process could be improved–and act on it quick! Don’t forget to thank them, too.
What are your go-to techniques for nurturing leads?
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