Over the years, as digital marketing evolves, the lead nurturing process has changed considerably. The early versions of lead funnels focused on a very simple approach that did not factor in the many stages that leads go through to reach conversion.
Marketing automation tools have given way for a far more comprehensive way to nurture leads throughout each stage of the journey. In this guide, we take a look at some of the ways that you can improve your lead nurturing funnel to ensure that leads are effectively targeted from the moment they become leads to the moment they are handed over to sales and the moment they convert.
Improving Your Lead Nurturing Funnel at Every Stage
One of the biggest problems with taking a one-size-fits-all approach to lead nurturing is that it fails to consider the stages that customers go through when making purchasing decisions. Leads at the top of the funnel have very different needs to those at the middle of the funnel and those at the bottom of the funnel. Rushing leads through the funnel will often result in lost leads. A funnel that is not designed with the customer journey in mind will struggle to convert leads. To help you nurture leads at every stage of the funnel, you need a funnel that is optimised and carefully planned. Keep reading to find out how best to nurture leads at each stage of their journey.
Top of Funnel - Awareness
The lead cycle begins at the top of the funnel with awareness. This is when customers are introduced to your product or service. Without awareness, it is impossible to make sales. At the top of the funnel, you will need to focus your efforts on attracting leads to your landing pages or website. You will need to create content that draws leads in, such as free downloads, podcasts and other lead magnets. Some of the ways that you can improve your lead generation efforts at the top of the funnel include the following:
Use niche marketing
Rather than creating vague, generic campaigns, ensure that your content and ads are unique and focused to your key audience and market. This is where buyer personas can be very useful. Make sure that you know exactly who you are targeting and then craft content that is geared towards your target audience. Sales and marketing teams should work together to make sure that messages are focused and relevant.
Keep data clean
Using a marketing automation platform such as Grapevine Interactive is the best way to ensure that your data is clean and reliable. This will make it easier to automate the nurturing process and prevent problems such as duplicate email addresses, missing information and other similar issues caused by dirty data. Using specific questions and dropdown menus will help you keep data uniform at the early stage of lead nurturing.
Establish trust early
On a similar note, it's also essential to establish trust right from the start. You will need to provide potential leads with the assurance that their data is safe. Make sure that you are updated on all legal aspects of data collection as well as privacy regulations such as GDPR or any other compliance laws that apply.
Middle of Funnel - Evaluation
The middle of the funnel is typically the stage when leads will begin the decision-making process. The evaluation stage is critical to conversion. This is when leads will start to compare your services or products against other similar offers. Here, leads will be looking for information to help them make a decision. Trust is also critical during this stage. Personalisation is very effective during this stage, but only to a point. Overly personalised messages can end up being more off-putting than enticing. Some of the ways that you can target leads at the middle of the funnel include the following:
Know your leads
During this stage, leads will be researching your company and offering. You should also be learning as much as you can about your leads. One of the biggest lead generation mistakes is passing over leads to sales without having enough information available. This means that your sales team goes in cold, making it far harder to close the deal. There are many things that will help your sales team convert more leads. Especially useful information includes the lead's position within the company, common challenges and opportunities within their industry and anything else you can find that may help sales make a better connection. Sales teams should also ask the right questions (and listen to the answers) rather than assuming to know what customers want, know or think. Open-ended questions are essential to understand leads better.
Offer relevant content
At this stage of the funnel, education is key. The content you want to offer at the middle of the funnel includes anything that helps to educate leads on your products or services, overall challenges within the industry, solutions to problems, helpful tips and resources, case studies, testimonials, FAQ, and anything else that educates and informs. Customer segmentation is very useful during this stage. This will allow you to tailor your messages according to your segments for even more personalisation.
Show the value
You can also look at offering value through free content and information. At the middle funnel stage, content that is genuinely useful, relevant and free can be offered in a way that is designed to educate rather than pitch. This helps you build trust and reputation, positioning your company as an expert in the process. During this stage, you are showing leads why you are the best choice to meet their challenge or needs.
Bottom of Funnel - Decision
By now, you will have narrowed down your leads to a much smaller but far more targeted number. This is when you start to use lead scoring and similar strategies to focus on the leads that are more likely to convert into actual customers. Throughout every stage, personalisation has been used. It is every bit as important – if not more so – at the bottom of the funnel. During this stage, leads reach the decision-making stage. This is when they are just about ready to be handed over to sales. Some tips to get more from your lead nurturing during this stage include the following:
End on a personal note
Make sure that your final messages are personalised and tailored to your audience. You can use specific information that you have learned during the nurturing process. Be very careful here not to include generic information or incorrect information at this point. Mistakes made at the decision-making process can be fatal, costing you not just your lead but also your reputation. Keep your messages focused and make sure that your sales team is fully prepared to take over in a way that is seamless and cohesive. Once again, this is where a marketing automation platform comes in handy.
Ready to start fine-tuning your lead funnel? Get in touch with Grapevine today to learn more about our innovative lead nurturing solutions that help you convert leads through each stage of their journey.