by: Dana Chen Fischer
We’ve talked a little about lead nurturing before (see our post, “How to turn your website into a lead-generation machine”), but let’s take a little deeper look at this subject, because lead nurturing is an essential part of your online conversion system.
Lead nurturing earns your prospects’ interest and trust over a period of time, especially for a more expensive or hard-to-define product or service. You’re not selling -- you’re giving out useful information that encourages your leads to rely on you as an expert in your field. Then when they’re ready to buy, they’ll buy from you. It's farming, not hunting. Just as a farmer plants seeds and nurtures them as the grow, you stay in touch with your prospects as they learn more and more about your services and gradually become ready to make a buying decision.
Let’s use a chiropractic office as an example. Many prospective patients don't even know what a chiropractor really does, and they have tons of questions and concerns: "How do I tell a good chiropractor from a so-so chiropractor? Is chiropractic right for my condition? Does it make sense financially?" They're much more likely to go with the chiropractor who addresses their questions with helpful bits of information spread out across a series of communications -- say, one day after the initial contact, then five days, then a week, then two weeks. Along the way, the chiropractor builds trust by sharing his expertise and positions himself as the logical choice when it's time to make that first appointment.
This kind of lead nurturing pays off in the business-to-business sector too. If, say, a bank distributes regular “state of the industry” blurbs to the businesses it serves or works alongside, it solidifies its position as the trusted advisor for financial information.
Whether you’re B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer), however, bear in mind that you don’t just take your leads and throw them into a generic series of emails (it's one of the most deadly mistakes for many email marketing campaigns). You want to craft a series of responses that address where they are in the decision-making process.
If they’ve just begun to shop, for instance, you may want to present general industry information about how to select the right company for their needs. Then as they stick with you as leads you can gradually offer more direct information about your own company -- again, not to sell but to add value and strengthen their feeling that they know and trust you.
Nurture your leads, and eventually they will nurture your profits!