Lead nurturing is a process that companies use to interact with their prospective customers, providing helpful and educational content to them as they progress along the buyer’s journey. Rather than directly selling your product or service, your goal is to educate and help your leads. By providing them with useful information, you will develop a relationship and gain their trust. Because you have developed a trusting relationship, when a lead is ready to buy, they are willing to enter a sales process, and eventually purchase from you.
Lead nurturing is effective, but it’s a lot to manage. You want a powerful tool that can help you implement a lead nurturing program. HubSpot is a simple to use but powerful marketing platform that can help you nurture leads. In this post, we’ll discuss some lead nurturing strategies and how HubSpot helps you implement them.
What is Lead Nurturing?
When you do inbound marketing, you create helpful and educational content to attract visitors to your website. However, few of the people who visit your site will be immediately ready to buy. This is where lead nurturing comes in. You want to nurture your leads along-- not with pushy sales tactics, but by providing the information they’re looking for when they’re looking for it.
Good lead nurturing keeps the conversation going with your leads without inundating them with unwanted content. You want to connect with them in a way that is timely, efficient, and targeted.
A key feature of lead nurturing is getting the timing right. You want your message to be heard by your leads, so you want them to be receptive when you send them content. People don’t like be bombarded with information they don’t care about when they’re not interested-- that’s what makes traditional ads so annoying. Lead nurturing uses marketing automation to avoid creating unwanted interruptions.
Marketing professionals often need to repeat processes: sending emails, making social media posts, updating their website and blog, and others. Marketing automation, as the name suggests, automates these processes. It also helps you be more timely by sending content to leads when they’re most receptive to it. For example, if your lead downloads a whitepaper, you can use marketing automation to share a helpful blog post on the same topic a few days later. This helps nurture your lead along-- building your relationship and the trust they have in your brand-- with information you know they want. Marketing automation, such as workflows in HubSpot, can help improve the timeliness of your lead nurturing efforts.
The odds of qualifying a lead and moving them into a sales process drop by 80% if you fail to follow up within 5 minutes. That’s a pretty fast turnaround time, especially if you have a large number of incoming leads. The average company takes 42 hours to follow up! So, if you are anything like the average, a more efficient response process could create a dramatic improvement in conversions. Marketing automation helps to improve efficiency.
With HubSpot, you can automate a quick first response - like sending a helpful email or providing a calendar to schedule a demo or discussion. When leads fill out a form, their contact information is stored in a database where information about their interests and actions they’ve taken are stored. The information can be used to qualify your leads, so sales people can focus attention on the highest priority and most time-sensitive cases first.
Timeliness and efficiency are essential, but it’s equally necessary that the content you send be the right content. You want to build trust with your leads-- which won’t happen if you send them generic content on whatever promotion you happen to be running. You want to send them content based on their activity and interests. Targeting your content to your lead’s interests is the third component of good lead nurturing.
With marketing automation software like HubSpot, you can easily send emails based on the activity of your lead. If they are reading blog posts, you can enroll them in an email campaign that periodically delivers more information on the same topics. If they are engaging with your social posts, you can enroll them in a different series of emails tied to your social campaigns. By delivering highly targeted content, you’re showing your leads that you’re aware of their interests and genuinely interested in providing help.
Where Lead Nurturing Fits in the Inbound Methodology
Lead nurturing should be a core component of your inbound digital marketing strategy. The inbound methodology is a movement in digital marketing that is rethinking how businesses interact with their leads and customers, refocusing on customer delight and building overall trust instead of relentlessly pushing for a sale.
There are three stages of the inbound methodology: Attract, Engage, and Delight. A prospect is attracted to your brand through great content that grabs their attention, engaged when they agree to share their contact information (normally in exchange for further content), and delighted by prompt and helpful interactions with your company (before, during, and after becoming a customer).
Lead nurturing is traditionally part of the Engage stage of the inbound methodology. In order to be considered a lead, you need to have their contact information. After that, you can use lead nurturing to provide useful and timely information, enabling them to become educated buyers.
Lead Nurturing Example: Danny’s Doghouses
Imagine Danny’s Doghouses, an online retailer of ready-made and custom doghouses. Danny has been building his inbound digital marketing program with lead generation techniques such as blogging and email campaigns and wants to implement a good lead nurturing program to follow up on those efforts.
Danny wants to continue providing his leads with helpful information to build trust with his leads, so that when a lead is ready to purchase a dog house, they’ll trust Danny’s brand and want to purchase from him. He delivers this information in a way that is timely, efficient, and targeted to his leads using tools in HubSpot.
Lead Management Database
The foundation of a good program for lead nurturing is a lead management database to manage contacts and collect information. Danny uses the HubSpot CRM that is part of the Marketing Hub platform.
With HubSpot’s CRM, all of Danny’s information on his contacts is contained in one place. This makes it much easier to see what actions individual leads have been taking. All kinds of activities are stored with each lead and browsable in chronological order: web pages visited, forms completed, blog posts read, email conversations, etc. HubSpot CRM also allows Danny to segment his contacts using a wide variety of filters, including lifecycle stage, location, last activity date, job title, and others. When Danny wants more detailed information on a specific contact, he can click through to display every activity that contact has performed, in order, giving him an excellent picture of the contact’s history with Danny’s Doghouses.
Using the information Danny collects in HubSpot’s CRM, he can easily adapt messaging to the interests and lifecycle stage of his leads. For example, he sorts his contacts by “last page seen” and notices that a number of contacts have engaged with his blog post on “Housing Small Dogs: Outdoor vs. Indoor”. He decides to create a lead nurturing campaign engaging these contacts with other small dog content and offers.
Using Workflows to Automate Lead Nurturing
Danny wants to send out timely, targeted content in an efficient way. Research shows that it takes 6-8 touches in a marketing conversation before a lead is ready to buy. Sending out content on a large scale, to all of his contacts, would be a lot of work, so Danny relies on marketing automation to send out content at just the right time. Specifically, he uses HubSpot Workflows.
A workflow is an automated set of actions that execute automatically based on specific triggers. The triggers can be actions performed by a contact (subscribing to an email list, reading a blog, filling out a landing page form) or a time frame (3 days after an email has been clicked through). HubSpot workflows make it easy for Danny to have actions performed at multiple intervals and also lets him construct a workflow in advance to perform specific actions based on how contacts interact with different parts of his campaign.
Danny creates an email drip campaign (a series of emails sent out over a period of time) for leads who have subscribed to his blog from the post “Housing Small Dogs: Outdoor vs. Indoor”. He decides to send three emails: one showing related blog content (“Harnessing Small Dogs: When Not To Use A Collar”), one with a related content offer (“Download Our Whitepaper: Designing a Dog-Friendly Backyard”), and one with a sales offer (“Visit Our Online Showroom for a Free 10-Minute Consultation”). If leads don’t click through within 3 days, he unsubscribes them from the drip campaign. If leads do click through, his workflow marks them as sales-qualified leads (SQLs), who seem ready to buy a doghouse. For this, he uses HubSpot’s lead scoring tool.
Danny’s inbound marketing is successful and he’s getting a log of leads. He finds it helpful to score these leads based on behavior, fit, and interest in his doghouses in order to determine which are SQLs that are most likely to make a purchase. In HubSpot, Danny assigns a value to different activities leads may have performed on his website. He ascribes a lower value to reading a blog post, a medium value to filling out a landing page form, and a high value to clicking through an email from a drip campaign. Danny can also ascribe different values to to his lead’s behavior on the website. For example, he can track and assign scores based on if a user has clicked the pricing or contact us page.
With his lead scoring data, Danny can be even more targeted and timely in his lead nurturing by focusing sales-oriented content on leads that have attributes indicating that they are most likely to buy. He can design workflows that trigger for only leads with scores over a certain amount, or only scores over a certain amount who have taken an action that indicates buying interest. He decides to target high-scoring leads who have clicked on his “Housing Small Dogs” blog and visited a pricing page for small dog doghouses. Danny sends an email to the leads that fulfill all of these conditions with a discount offer for a small dog doghouse. As you might expect, he gets a great response to this email offer and sells a lot of doghouses to small dog owners.
When Should You Nurture Leads?
In general, there are 5 situations that are good times to trigger lead nurturing. Let’s examine them by looking at how Danny performs lead nurturing:
After their first conversion. Danny enrolls leads into workflows after they first provide him with contact information.
After downloading a content offer. Danny ascribes a higher lead score to leads who have filled out a landing page form and downloaded his guidebook, “Building a House for Your Puppy.”
After they subscribe to your blog. Danny uses the contact information he acquires through blog subscriptions to send drip campaign emails with valuable dog-ownership content.
After they request a trial, demo, or more details on your product. In Danny’s lead scoring system, requesting more information about a specific doghouse or visiting a pricing page cause a lead to be scored high enough to become an SQL. That may trigger an email with a sales promotion, or a hand-off to an internal sales person to close the deal.
Re-engagement after a period of non-interest. Danny enrolls inactive subscribers into a re-engagement campaign. He uses this specialized campaign to avoid list-churn and to keep contacts active. He decides to send an email showcasing new products that have been added since the contact has stopped engaging.
The key to lead nurturing is to build trust with your leads by providing them with helpful information when they want it. Danny, the owner of Danny’s Doghouses, goes out of his way to help his leads learn how to be great dog owners, building trust that he is a good source of dog-raising information. In return, his customers trust that his business would be a great place to purchase from, and they even do their part to help him grow his business through positive online reviews and referrals. Delighted customers who appreciate the information he provides become his promoters, spreading the word to friends, family and colleagues who may also be interested in doghouses.
Danny implements lead nurturing by using tools available in HubSpot to score leads, enroll them in workflows, and manage contacts so that he’s always at the ready with good information his leads are looking for. You can apply the same approach at your company and produce delighted customers who turn out to be your best marketers.