With the maturation of the Internet, there has been a dramatic shift in how technology buyers educate themselves about new solutions. Once very dependent on sales professionals for the majority of the education process, buyers are now using search techniques, emails, blogs, videos, webinars, and social media for this process.
Lead nurturing is a cost-effective tool to identify and track where prospects are in the buying cycle and to keep your company’s name and solutions in front of prospects until they are ready to buy. Based upon various industry studies, roughly 5% of qualified leads result in an immediate sale. This means the other 95% of leads are left in the pipeline and may or may not receive any attention from sales.
However, just because a prospect is not ready to buy now doesn’t mean that prospect will never be ready. Given the time, effort, and money you have already invested in your marketing campaigns, it’s essential to keep nurturing those leads to achieve the best ROI possible for your marketing dollars.
How lead nurturing is defined and implemented varies greatly from company to company. Some view lead nurturing as an automated process consisting mostly of repeated email contact with potential customers. While marketing automation for lead nurturing is valuable, an equally critical component is the “live” touch — the relationship-build.
Call-centric lead nurturing not only enhances the web-based approach, it also creates opportunities to forge relationships with prospects that go beyond the click-through. Direct, personalized outbound contact with prospects ensures that you can:
- capture the pain points that a prospect is facing,
- build a long-term relationship,
- identify critical business intelligence that influences buying decisions, and
- receive regular updates on a prospect’s status.
While the lead nurturing process is customized for each Client’s specific needs, there are standard components that Winn regularly employs in our Demand Center platform.
- Support the modeling and development of a target universe for “suspect” nurturing or augment a client “prospect” database (non–sales ready leads) to broaden the reach within each company.
- Develop a marketing calendar outlining a series of touches by phone, email, direct mail, social media, etc. Each touch should relate to a component of or complement the overall client solution.
- Deploy a “suspect” or “prospect” lead scoring model through Winn’s internal closed–loop demand center platform. Lead scoring and touch schedules are fully automated yet flexible enough to allow for changes as the nurturing initiative matures.
- Provide a structured inbound response management system.
- Integrate lead activity tracking and scoring based upon proactive touches (phone, email, event invitations) and reactive responses (clicks, opens, downloads, event attendance) made by the prospect/lead.
- Identify each prospect’s budget and purchase authority level and gather detailed information on the prospect’s business pain.
- Additional business intelligence is collected with each touch to advance the prospect relationship, lead status, and lead score. In the Winn Demand Center platform, lead scores are reclassified automatically after each contact with the prospect.
Prospect nurturing addresses a group of prospects that have, in some fashion, expressed interest in a client product or solution. They may have downloaded a white paper, registered for a webinar, attended a live event, or responded to any other type of marketing initiative implemented by the client. The prospect leads can be overwhelming for the sales team to qualify and differentiate between the more immediate opportunities and longer term ones that require nurturing.
A leading company in email archiving and eDiscovery markets contracted with Winn to provide lead qualification and lead nurturing services for prospects early in the sales cycle. Winn received approximately 1500 leads per month. Leads were delivered on a weekly basis through SFA downloads and Winn guaranteed to contact each lead within 5 business days of their receipt.
Winn and the client developed a scoring system to categorize leads. The system scored prospects based on the company’s budget for email management solutions, the contact’s authority, the perceived need, and the timeframe for purchase. A scoring matrix, based on the brief survey administered by Winn, was used to convert a contact’s answers into a score.
During the first 4 months of lead nurturing contact, 24% of prospects originally identified as non-actionable leads converted to sales-ready leads. On completion of the campaign, Winn turned over 908 leads being nurtured to the client.
Suspect nurturing involves marketing to a list of target accounts where a Client seeks to penetrate a specific market sector, find the “low-hanging fruit,” and nurture and cultivate interest in the Client product or solution over a longer period of time (6 to 12 months). This type of campaign may begin with a traditional demand generation initiative, followed by a closed-loop nurturing methodology to cultivate the target suspects, migrating suspects to leads over the long term.
A Fortune 100 technology company engaged Winn for a 6-month lead generation campaign combined with lead nurturing. The client gave Winn a cold list of 300 target Fortune 2000 accounts that it wanted to penetrate for its business collaboration solutions.
Winn provided detailed data analysis and augmentation adding 1600 business units of the target accounts and 4,200 target contacts, both IT and line-of-business. Touches consisted of phone calls and one-on-one marketing emails as well as targeted email campaigns with focused messaging.
A standard 3-round lead generation campaign was conducted in the first 6 to 8 weeks prior to launching the lead nurturing protocol. As a result of this 6-month campaign, 41% of the sales-ready leads delivered to the client were converted from non-actionable leads through lead nurturing. In addition, 157 nurturing leads were carried over to the next campaign for further cultivation.