Let’s be clear from the start: lead nurturing is NOT Fight Club.

There most definitely are rules for lead nurturing and the first rule is that these must be applied to succeed. 

So, gather round because we’re about to outline all five of them one by one.

Hang on, what exactly is lead nurturing?

For those that slept and are looking for an overview of exactly what lead nurturing is, we provided a succinct overview of the way that you can develop prospects from funnel-entry to sales-ready in an earlier post.

Right now we’re going to lay out the ground rules that will, paradoxically, blast those sales figures sky high.

Rule #1: Align your sales and marketing departments

A common misunderstanding is to view lead nurturing as the preserve of the marketing department.

How very, very wrong!

Leads must be nurtured throughout the entire sales journey. 

This means that before the handover, sales must have an active stake in how the process is managed. And that, after the handover, marketing can still greatly influence the nurturing that takes place.

For this to work sales and marketing alignment is essential. And this is tougher to achieve than it sounds.

Sales and marketing need to share the same view of – and share common goals at – every step of the customer journey. That’s throughout the sales cycle in general and in all of their…

  • Key metrics used to define this cycle
  • Definitions of the ideal customers that inform it
  • Understandings of how buying decisions are reached during it
  • Perceptions of the competitive marketplace that it takes place in
  • And so on.

Lead nurturing without sales involvement, or with a tailing off of marketing input toward the top of the funnel, is like trying to dance with two left feet.

It’s more likely to fall flat on its face than waltz to victory.

 

Rule #2: Identify and address every stage of the sales cycle

Now you are neatly aligned across sales and marketing it’s time to start gaining benefits from all your hard work. Together you can piece together a complete view of your customer journey.

At its simplest, customer journeys move from a need for generalised information toward tailored and more specific content.

To put some flesh on these bones, buyer personas can be used to determine exactly what type of information would be most useful to each of your audiences at different touchpoints. 

And, voila, you have effectively created a lead nurturing strategy.

 

Rule #3: Automate to personalise and segment

Automation is theoretically not essential for lead nurturing, but theory alone has never brought in a sale.

In practice, successful lead nurturing is delivered by marketing automation solutions and CRMs.

These not only make things easier – they also make things smarter and more effective and, by linking your CRM and automation tools, you also create greater transparency and alignment between marketing and sales.

  • Automated distribution brings productivity gains and ensures prospects and touchpoints do not fall between the cracks of your busy daily schedule.
  • Automation also enables greater personalisation and increased contextual relevance of communication.
  • As the data you build up gets more comprehensive your campaigns can use smarter ways to segment prospects and thus increase the relevancy of the content you share further.

 

Rule #4: Keep on track with tracking

Data helps you understand your customers – it’s nice like that. 

But data should also be helping you understand yourself – in particular, the success of your marketing campaigns, including your lead nurturing strategy.

Hint: without a bedrock of metrics and KPIs your data will never ground your understanding. Get these in place or risk floating through a sea of unfathomable figures.

 

Rule #5: Opt to optimise

Let’s keep the maths simple as we sum up optimisation.

Lead nurturing: 

Customer journey mapping +
Content marketing

= More and more useful data

 

Optimisation

More and more useful data +
Understanding

= Effective action


That customer journey is just the start of the road to optimisation: use the data you gain from addressing it to loop back and improve your understanding of it and response to it. 

Here’s some examples of that virtuous loop in practice::

  • Profiling leads progressively
    Smart forms can collect a bare minimum of information first of all as an easy entry point for prospects. But, as your prospect interacts more with your content, you automatically collect more information about them to further nurture and qualify them. 
  • Landing page optimisation and segmentation
    Test CTAs, button design, length, imagery, headlines, forms and don’t just go with a winner but review to see if there is a ‘type’ of prospect who prefers A over B. And then segment (and test again).

A/B testing of email campaigns
Why let landing pages have all the split testing – apply this to your emails too.

 

Five golden rules – melted down to one 24 carat nugget

The furnace is lit – let’s drop our golden rules of lead nurturing in and see what comes out.

The nugget we are left with is this: COMMUNICATION

Lead nurturing is all about good communication.

  • Good communication lies at the heart of sales and marketing alignment.
  • Good communication helps you address the needs at every stage of your customer journey.
  • Better communication comes from testing and analysing data to further personalise and target content.
  • And communicating learnings from this will strengthen sales and marketing alignment.

Rinse and repeat.

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