You know what they say about assumptions, right?
I’m not allowed to say that word on this blog, but you know how the saying goes. Sometimes, from our point of view (isolated in our offices) we can make assumptions about leads that aren’t quite correct.
These misconceptions can cause us to push leads too hard and too soon, which can cause leads to abandon your brand because you’re annoying them.
It’s like when you go to a furniture store and the salesperson follows you around from the moment you get inside. Tactics like this have bothered leads throughout the history of business and caused them to seek better experiences.
Here are some common misconceptions marketers (and salespeople) might have about lead nurture and what the reality is.
Cold Leads Are Ready for a Call
Assume any and all leads that you welcome into your database are cold. No matter the source. In fact, it’s estimated that 50% of leads are qualified, but not ready to buy.
When you buy leads or engagement data from a third party, assume they are ice cold. Never assume they have received any nurture. Organically captured leads may be slightly warmer, but not by much.
We’ve all gotten those emails in our inbox. The ones from a person at a brand you’ve never heard of. They ask you if you want to take a call to “discuss how we can help each other” or how their organization can help you.
Have you ever actually responded to one of those emails? If I do, it’s to tell them to get lost. But usually, I just mark the item as spam and move on.
No matter if you purchased your leads or collected them organically, lead nurture is critical for getting leads to trust your brand.
They won’t want to make a purchase just because they signed up to be on your mailing list. Maybe they are just interested in your content. Often, they will not even have the budget or authority to make a purchase at the time.
This is why it’s so incredibly important to nurture your leads. New leads are not ready for a call, they are not ready to buy. Don’t assume that they are, and your brand will have a lot more success than cold-emailing these already ice-cold leads.
You Don’t Need to Score Leads to Nurture Them
Marketing, sit down with Sales and define a system for scoring leads as you nurture them. Otherwise, Marketing and Sales can have entirely different ideas about who is ready to buy. There’s a reason that 68% of effective and efficient marketers point to lead scoring as a top revenue contributor.
That confusion makes it nearly impossible to close a deal and can even send mixed messages to leads.
Define a score for each open, like, click, download, etc. Some actions are worth more than others. Then, figure out what happens when a lead reaches a certain score. Maybe they start getting more detailed content, followed by an offer for a free trial as they progress.
Use the behavior of previous customers as guidance for setting up your lead scoring system. This means it’s established on evidence, instead of random guesses on which leads are “ready” to buy.
Any Content Will Do For Effective Nurture
Specifically crafted content is the best for effective lead nurture. Find out what your target audience likes by watching which pieces of content get popular and where. Then figure out the profiles of who likes that content.
Distribute that content and content like it to the correct audiences. Make sure you only nurture with the best content you have. After all, you don’t want to send out irrelevant, off-topic content that will either muddle your message or make your brand look bad.
Lead Nurture Only Happens in the Inbox
We are beyond the point where email drip campaigns are the only form of lead nurture. Your leads are everywhere, you just need to locate the channels they frequent.
And while lead nurture is still the most effective in the inbox, other channels represent mounds of missed opportunity.
If you’ve only been focusing on email marketing, think about expanding your strategy into an omnichannel approach. Consider using social media for targeting and retargeting. This means you’ll hit leads on their personal feeds, keeping your brand top of mind.
Map out all the locations that your leads get information, then try to capture their attention in those spaces. Email campaigns only get 20% open rates on average, but you can increase that rate by increasing your leads’ trust on other channels.
Just a Handful of Touches Will Do
The average marketer only sends out five or so touches before a lead is considered “ready” to buy. But it can take an average of 6-8 touches before a lead even considers a purchase.
Don’t jump the gun and start pressuring leads with pushy CTAs before they are ready. Ensure you slowly work them up towards the sale. If you push to close the deal after just a few touches, you will do nothing but put them off.
Consider that buyers are researching many options at once, especially when they buy from B2B companies. Just because they have interacted with your brand doesn’t mean they are ready to reach out to you.
Today’s buyers are slow and deliberate, they usually don’t make a rash purchase. Wait for them to come to you, after you’ve hit them with gentle touches on various channels.
Follow-Ups Don’t Need to Be Immediate
This is obviously incorrect. When a lead signs up to be on your mailing list, please don’t make them wait. Think about it. When you sign up to be on a mailing list or to receive an asset, you want it right away. You don’t want to wait 30 minutes for the welcome email to arrive or the asset to reach you.
It’s the same principle throughout the entire lead generation process. If someone reaches out and wants to make a call, you must respond to them as fast as possible.
In some cases, this might have to be automated. You should have a lead scoring process that includes emails that allow people to check a box if they want to be contacted by a sales rep. Unless your sales reps are available literally 24 hours a day, the reply should be automated, at least at first.
Have them dictate what time is good for them. Waiting for a reply equals friction. Since the lead is already stepping out of their comfort zone to give you their email address or ask to be called, you want to reduce any additional friction as much as possible.
Personalization Only Means First Name
We sort of talked about this above, but remember, when you distribute content, that personalization doesn’t just mean slapping the lead’s first name on the email.
That’s the lazy way to do personalization. Instead, as part of your lead scoring system, identify certain actions and triggers that yield more content for that lead. Research by Aberdeen shows that aligning content to a specific stage of the buyer’s journey yields 73% higher conversion rates for marketers that do it.
Say they download a specific asset off your website. That could auto trigger a complimentary infographic that helps them in the area they are working on.
Every Lead Wants the Same Amount of Content
This is another aspect of personalization, but one that warrants its own category. Don’t assume that every lead wants the same amount of content.
Some leads will want to be fed very large amounts of content about a diverse variety of topics within your niche. Others will want only a little content and will see a large amount of content sent to them as a nuisance.
You can monitor who wants what by checking the opens and clicks on your nurture content. If a lead is ravenously devouring each bite of content you send, consider sending them just a bit more content each day/week.
Keep doing this until you either reach a reasonable limit, or the lead starts to open less of your content.
This is another great opportunity to create deeper insights into your target audiences. A marketing manager might open more content than the Chief Marketing Officer, or vice versa. See if there are patterns in who likes how much content.
This will give you a better baseline when you start a new lead on your nurture track.
Leads Who Don’t Buy Are Lost
This might be the worst misconception that some marketers make. If you have a lead that has been progressing through each stage of the buying process, then suddenly stops as your CTAs get more noticeable and action-oriented, don’t mark them as a loss.
Instead, step them back in your nurture until they start engaging again. Maybe they were thinking about buying, but then chose a competitor. That doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in your offering in the future. Or they were thinking about buying, but then didn’t have the budget. Or they were simply researching and decided to not solve their problem at this time.
There are many reasons that leads cool off and, as hard as it is, you have to let them. Let leads dictate where they are in the process, even if your numbers say otherwise.
These common misconceptions often hinder marketers who use lead nurture to push their leads down through the funnel. Make sure you target leads accurately and watch how they respond to your efforts.
To use the furniture store metaphor again, instead of pestering them from the moment they get through the door, try simply greeting them and offering your help if they need it. As they get more comfortable in the store and start looking at specific items, perhaps offer a recommendation on another piece of furniture that’s similar to what they’ve expressed interest in. If they seem annoyed, back off and let them continue to research on their own.
Without heeding these cues, you will push too hard, which inevitably results in lost leads. Let your leads set the pace, while you give them little nudges along the way. They shouldn’t feel that you’re pushing them, rather that you’re aiding them in their journey to solve whatever problem they have.
This is the only way to successfully nurture leads in 2018.
If you like this post, consider checking out our lead nurture infographic.