So you've got a website in place, you're attracting qualified visitors, and you're even converting a good percentage of those visitors into leads. What's next in your small business web marketing plan? Capturing lead information is just the beginning of your marketing process -- you're just getting the party started! Now it's time to begin nurturing those leads into buyers and lifetime customers. That's exactly what you'll learn how to do in this next post in our series.
NOTE: This is part of a five-part blog series, which explores the 5 key components of building a powerful small business marketing plan that works! If you enjoy this post, please be sure to read the other posts in this complete series:
What Is Lead Nurturing?
The truth is, lead nurturing is something you do constantly in your marketing process. It never stops, and it's really key to making this whole "sales and marketing" stuff work. Your customers want attention, and they want you to stay in touch with them. Most importantly, they're constantly thinking about "WIIFM" -- what's in it for me?
You should think about lead nurturing like you think about gardening. To flourish, a garden needs regular attention. Watering, weeding, trimming, feeding, caring -- it's all necessary to keep your plants alive and well.
Unfortunately, most small business marketing plan lists do NOT include "nurturing" on their list of things to do. Rather, they focus on grabbing the lead and making the sale. If you can transform your thinking about this, you'll begin to see much better long-term results in your entire sales and marketing system. As Zig Ziglar once put it, the longer your sales process the bigger the sales potential. (paraphrasing)
How To Educate, Empower, & Enlighten Your Prospects
I like to think of lead nurturing in terms of "The Three E's" -- Educate, Empower, and Enlighten. This is how you want to nurture your leads as they sit on the fence waiting to buy. You want to keep stirring the pot by showing up periodically (but consistently!) with educational content, empowering ideas, and enlightening opportunities.
Every business will need to approach this differently. Professional services like attorneys, doctors, dentists, and the like will want to demonstrate their expertise and unique take on their area of specialty. Local service businesses will want to show up with helpful information about the local community and what makes their service and their offering unique. And so on.
Think of this process as "showing up with a reason to show up." If you want to build a thriving business, you need to follow up with your prospects constantly. Sometimes you can just "follow up" and call it that. But most of the time you need a clever reason for following up. A reason that demonstrates you're on your prospect's side. You're truly there to help.
How To Nurture Leads Online
The single best tool for online lead nurturing is email marketing. Email gives you instant access to your prospects most treasured and most personal of places -- his or her inbox. Every single day, your customer is right there looking at their PERSONAL email. Regardless of what your prospect might think, she treats those messages like each and every one is intended especially for her. That's a major opportunity!
Your job with email marketing is to show up in a variety of ways, but in ways that are relevant to your prospect's specific needs and concerns. (This is why in part three I recommended setting up multi-step lead forms so you can capture special information about each prospect.)
Email newsletters are not a bad idea, but they shouldn't be the only way you show up. Experiment with a variety of messaging strategies, including but not limited to your weekly email newsletter or monthly email newsletter.
How To Nurture Leads Offline
Offline is an exciting place to deepen your relationship with your prospects. Of course, this is a post series about online web marketing strategies, but don't let that fool you -- just because you capture a lead online doesn't mean your conversation should only take place online. Never forget: media is just media. The Internet is specifically very good for finding and generating leads, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best medium for follow-up.
Here are some other ways you can nurture prospects offline:
-SMS Marketing (send text messages to your prospects)
-Print Newsletter Marketing (send a monthly print newsletter to your prospects)
-Phone Calls (yes, you really can just pick up the phone and check-in)
-Direct Mail (aside from print newsletters, try postcards and letters)
Again, your goal is to nurture (not to be a slave to online marketing). Most of your competitors are overly focused on the web, so take this opportunity to get in front of your prospects in a low competition format.
How To Move Towards The Sale
The more often you nurture, the more often (and more easily) you can ask for the sale. Think of this as a "give, give, take" strategy. If you're always "take, take, take" your prospects grow to dislike your messaging and dislike you!
As I mentioned early on in this post, nurturing never really stops -- even after the sale. It's a critical component to your entire web marketing plan.
What questions do you have about Lead Nurturing? Please leave your comment below.