Lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is always a must but is even more important during a tough economy since many marketing budgets are facing level funding or cuts.  The reason is:

generating a new lead = bigger marketing investment

re-marketing to existing leads = little budget; just time and effort

It costs money the first time you reach out to get that first contact info – whether it’s a trade show, purchased email list, direct mail, print ad – any outbound marketing activities cost you money. But once you get that contact info, it’s now time to optimize conversion to a closed sale and pump up your ROI.  Lots of firms are very good at filling that funnel with new leads but many of them drop the ball once the leads are in the system.  And that’s the fault of the marketing group.  You spent a lot of time and effort to get these leads, why would you stop paying attention to them once they are passed down the funnel?

That was rhetorical but the answer is YOU SHOULDN’T.  Even the most qualified lead sometimes balks at purchase for a variety of reasons.  Could be budget issues suddenly arise, change in management or direction, or who knows what.  But if marketing and sales have spent time and money to generate a lead and walk them down the path, that lead is likely very interested and should not be dropped at the end if they don’t purchase.  Instead, re-cycle these leads in a “lead nurturing” program.  If you can, tag these leads with as much information as possible in you database.  It will help you if you want to better target your message by segmenting your audience.

Lead nurturing programs can take many forms and varying degrees of complexity.  The simplest and easiest is to implement a periodic e-newsletter (monthly, quarterly, whatever makes sense).  Newsletter content (another topic!) should be informative, interesting, and educational but you can sprinkle some additional lead gen items in there.  I always include promos for upcoming webinars, new whitepapers, etc.  For B2C you can add coupons, specials or extras for repeat customers.

More complex lead nurturing usually includes segmenting your leads into specific buckets and developing content just for them.  For example, a software company that targets IT, software developers and desktop users.  Or even existing customers vs. prospects.  Any additional information you have can help you better target your lead nurturing program.

The key thought is that marketing should not just generate leads and throw them over the wall to sales.  Both marketing and sales have a vested interest in how the leads work out.  And for marketing, once you spend the time and money to get those leads in, you should measure, analyze and nurture them so you can get the maximum ROI on your investment.

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