If your small business is spending precious advertising and marketing dollars to generate leads, and you have prospects calling or clicking just as you hoped, that’s great. But what now? As most business owners know all too well, leads must convert to sales – either now or in the future – before they can benefit your bottom line.
How you respond to your leads is critical – especially the ones who aren’t quite ready to buy … yet. So is speed. This is where “lead nurturing” comes in. Basically, lead nurturing is the process you use to follow up on leads and ultimately turn those prospects into customers. How well businesses do this varies radically, and so do results.
The goal of lead nurturing is to keep your prospects engaged and moving through the purchasing funnel.
Here are steps to implementing lead nurturing for your business:
• Establish a nurturing plan. The best approach to lead nurturing is to have a detailed plan that begins immediately (think real time) and shepherds prospects down the path to conversion in a consistent, logical fashion. That is, of course, easier said than done. Millions of local businesses regularly lose leads because they lack proper follow-up policies, which means they are wasting money and ultimately paying more for the leads that they do convert.
• Be quick and nimble. When it comes to converting leads, speed is a huge factor. Most lead conversions go to the business that responds first. Quick response should be at the top of your list. If you don’t respond quickly, you lose.
• Nurture the “not yet ready” prospects. While some leads may be ready to make a purchase immediately, many others must be carefully cultivated over time. To succeed at this you’ll need to anticipate the prospect’s needs based on who they are (using characteristics such as age, income, etc.), and what stage they occupy in the buying process.
• Provide relevant information that adds value in bite-size pieces. During the nurturing process, give prospective buyers the kinds of information they will need to make a wise purchasing decision. But keep it simple, and provide information in snack-size increments. Keep in mind that nurturing is about helping prospects throughout their buying “journey.”
• Tap lead-nurturing tools and tech. There are many terrific tools and Web-based services that can help you nurture leads. A few examples include VerticalResponse.com, SwiftPage.com and ConstantContact.com (all for email campaigns); AWeber.com and SendPepper.com (auto responder services); Enthusem.com and Thankster.com (for sending greetings and thank you messages), among others.