Exactly what is lead nurturing and how is it different from regular email?
Most email campaigns are focused on generating a specific transaction such as a request for information, product purchase, or a response to an event invitation. Lead nurturing is an email campaign where the prospect is not yet ready to purchase, so the purpose is to build a relationship until they’re ready to buy.
As discussed in our article, "Sure-fire Strategies to Build Customer Trust Through Content Marketing", lead nurturing is an example of the type of communication required in the new world of “un-marketing.” The goal is to build authentic relationships with your audience by sharing valuable content with them prior to their purchase commitment. This is the new sales funnel. By giving away content prior to purchase, you are providing a reason for the prospect to trust you and your company. Companies that develop lead nurturing funnels have demonstrated increases in qualified leads and decreases in cost per lead.
Here are some best practices to consider when constructing a lead nurturing program:
- Not everyone in your target audience is equally ready to buy. So segmenting your prospect list allows you to better target your messages to build trust and authenticity with your prospect. Segmenting can be done using a whole range of criteria. Think about where prospects are in the buying cycle, what their roles are in purchasing, what type of interest they’ve expressed in your products, and even more basic demographics like job title, state, and grades taught. All of these aspects provide clues about what kind of content will generate your prospects’ interest.
- If you don’t know what type of content your prospects would find valuable, then ask them. You can do this through a general survey or by sending an email that directs each prospect to a landing page with topic choices. Using your social media channels is another great way to engage your audience and gain valuable information about what is of value to your customers and prospects.
- Always focus on your prospect and what they need. This relationship is not about you – it’s about the needs of your customers and prospects. Typically, lead nurturing begins with simply providing valuable information that is not sales driven. As your prospects get further into the lead nurturing funnel, sales messages and incentives can be integrated. Just make sure you don’t jump the gun too soon.
- Good subject lines are still the key to getting prospects to open emails. Remember that the unspoken question is always, “Why should I open this? What’s in it for me?” So, make sure to offer value.
- Be consistent with your lead nurturing. Before you launch your program, make sure you’ve developed a calendar and process for your communications so that your prospects are receiving messages relevant to their interests on a regular basis. Your goal with lead nurturing is to be top of mind.
People like to buy from people they know and trust. Building authentic relationships takes time. Fortunately, in the education industry, most buyers and sellers care deeply about educating students. The market is bound together by a desire to improve educational outcomes; so it is relatively easy to develop authentic connections. If you provide quality content to your prospects, you will give them many reasons to choose you as their vendor.