4 Effective Lead Nurturing Tactics Outside of the Inbox

by Dustin Hall

lead nurturing tacticsWhen most of us think about lead nurturing, we tend to think of emails first. After all, email is still one of the most effective ways to market to our audience, delivering one of the lowest cost-per-customer-acquisition rates of all marketing mediums.

However, times are changing, our audience's online habits are changing and thus, our tactics for nurturing them through our sales cycle must also change. Businesses can no longer maintain such a linear distribution path for content and must now adapt to where their audience "lives" online - leveraging more channels and smarter software. Is a multi-pronged lead nurturing approach more work? Absolutely. But it also delivers a stronger lead to customer ratio...the ultimate indicator of lead nurturing success.

Here are 4 proven ways to nurture your contacts through the sales cycles outside of email marketing.

Social Media

Social media has done wonders for content and inbound marketing. Primarily because it has the capacity to facilitate something all businesses want most - the ability to engage in 1 to 1 conversations with their target audience. Yet, with the billions of social media messages rattling around out there, this can quickly seem counter-intuitive. So how can social be leveraged for effective lead nurturing? Monitoring.

Leading marketing software, such as Hubspot, allows your marketing and sales teams to monitor for social activity based on keywords related to their initiatives. These are most commonly called "streams." An example of a keyword focused stream might be one created for sales in which they listen in on Twitter for those tweeting about "product x advice" or "product x & y comparison," giving them the opportunity to chime in and engage with the individual directly to answer their questions. Another example would be a stream created to monitor for competitors, in which marketing or sales receives notifications of people talking about their competition, giving them the chance to step in a present a relevant alternative...them.

Retargeting/Remarketing

How great would it be to present your product/service to a contact on other social networks after they've downloaded an ebook, signed up for your blog or even just visited your website? It would be pretty darn great and fortunately, many online companies and social networks have granted marketers this capability spawning a relatively new marketing tactic aptly named "retargeting," or "remarketing."

The first thing to understand about retargeting is that it's a paid medium. So if you don't plan on shelling out more than you already are, this may not be the most viable option to nurture your leads. However, it has been proven as an effective tool, increasing conversions for many B2B and B2C companies since over 95% of first time web visitors don't convert.

Here's how it can be leveraged for those willing to spend a little extra cash:

Build your audience - you can build your retargeting audience in any of the 4 following ways:

  1. Select marketing content - this is what you'll display to your audience. For example, if they downloaded an ebook on your site, you may want to show them ads for related case studies or maybe even a product demo.
  2. Pixel based interactions - this audience is built by placing a pixel on your website that uses cookies to track online visitors, helping you remarket to them.
  3. Contact list segments - this audience is defined by a segmented contact list you already have in your database, like Marketing Qualified Leads or Sales Qualified Leads in "X" Industry for example.
  4. "look alike" contacts - social networks like Facebook offer what's called "look alike" retargeting. Basically, these are outside contacts who are similar to those who have engaged with you, offering a way to exponentially increase the numbers of impressions made.

Choose your medium - select which network would be best for you to remarket to your audience. Are they big Facebook or Twitter users? 

Deploy and Optimize - Once you know who you're going after, what content you'll present to them and through what channel, it's time to put it into action! Since you're likely to get an abundance of activity, you may want to check in on your progress at least once per week.

As always, test everything, optimizing your images, messages, etc to continually improve your performance and ROI.

Smart Content

Smart content is something relatively new to the digital marketing world and is centered upon the general concept of personalization. But smart content goes far beyond the typical first name/last name stuff. Here's how it works in very broad strokes:

Your contacts and those visiting your website all have certain properties or characteristics, such as their lifecycle stage, job role or even where they originate from (the IP address location). Software like Hubspot can leverage this information to provide custom content, CTAs and images to these people based upon characteristics like the ones mentioned above.

So what does this mean for lead nurturing?

By offering a much more personalized website experience, the likelihood of that person engaging with you further is greatly increased. For example, you visit the website of a national plumbing services company. As soon as you hit the homepage, it instantly shows you info on their office that's local to you - saving you from searching around on their website for that info. Think you'd be quicker to contact them or request an estimate? Exactly.

The key to being successful with smart content is to, a) know your marketing assets and where they fit in your funnel, b) maintain logical list segments to ensure relevance, c) be agile in adapting your content, and, d) measure and test (as always).

Offline Marketing

Sure, I'm a huge advocate for the inbound marketing methodology but well executed direct mail, phone calls and events still hold weight. This is especially true if your particular audience responds well to more tactile marketing initiatives. I won't go into a ton of detail here but I do want to point out that all offline activities should somehow tie into an online component in order to ensure they are measurable.

For example, if you have a booth at a trade show, have those attendees who visit your booth fill out a landing page form using an iPad to collect their info, rather than just having the sales rep take their card. If you're really clever, you could even create a short workflow that sends the booth visitor an instant follow up email with a one-sheet on your services and connects them with their local rep. 

Nurturing Your Leads is Not a Linear Process

Like a sheep herder, if you want to be effective at guiding your leads through the sales process, you have to go where they are and redirect them into your flock. Simply sticking to email may get you some results but likely not the best results. Even if that means spending a little extra money and time to make it happen. If you're new to this, I recommend starting simple and don't involve too many of these tactics at once. This will allow you to accurately gauge what's working before scaling up to more complex (and expensive) activities.

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