Every year I send out my holiday cards and think, wow, I haven’t talked to that person in while. For me, my holiday cards (and well, let’s face it, Facebook) are the ways I keep up with friends I’ve otherwise lost touch with.
Maintaining a solid connection with your database is the same. Like that old song, “make new friends and keep the old” (not to get corny and cheesy on you), it remains true in business as well.
I run into this often with the B2B companies I work with. They have done a lot of work to grow their database but are having trouble getting these contacts to convert into sales. I’ve found it’s very much like a real-life friendship. You need to nurture them, find opportunities to keep in touch, get together, stay top of mind, etc.
So, to start 2017 off on the right foot, I’ve put together some tips for how you can take your leads from that “getting to know you” stage down to that point where they become a customer.
#1: Assess the assets you have, as you may need to create new ones.
To run an effective nurture campaign, you need assets that touch the three stages of the sales funnel.
- Top of the funnel (TOFU) – new/cold lead: In this stage, you need assets that are educational and explain why there is a need for your product, the problems it solves, etc. It doesn’t have to be a long white paper – most people don’t have the attention span for those these days – a short 2-to-3-page tip sheet or an on-demand webinar or analyst report can work well. It should be an informative, helpful piece not an outright endorsement of your product.
- Middle of the funnel (MOFU) – warm lead: This lead has shown interest by downloading (one or two) TOFU assets. They are interested in you but not yet ready to purchase. At this point it’s good to share some of your success stories – short case studies or use cases, videos or testimonials if you have them. How-to articles work well at this stage too. This can be your chance to give them the convincing argument they need to get buy-in from their boss.
- Bottom of the funnel (BOFU) – HOT lead: This lead has downloaded both TOFU and MOFU assets, and they are ready to learn more about your product. It’s time to offer them a demo or a data sheet to help get them to buy.
#2: Meet with sales to determine trigger points for assets.
Once you have the assets in place, set up a meeting with your sales team, if you don’t already meet with them on a regular basis – it’s always good for sales and marketing to be in sync on all marketing initiatives. Give them an overview of what you plan to do and how it will be tracked – I recommend tracking this through the sales automation software that your company uses so that sales can also see the progress too as it happens. Make sure that everyone is on the same page and in agreement with the process so that sales is ready to handle the BOFU leads when they are ready. And make sure they are aware of the assets that the contact has previously downloaded.
#3: Organize your lists.
Evaluate your database lists and make sure that you segment current customers separately. This may require some work with your sales team, but see if you can divide out your list by the different stages of the sales cycle. This will allow for better tracking. You may find that you already have some people that are MOFU but you haven’t spoken to them in a while. In that case I would recommend warming them up again by reaching out to them with some MOFU-stage assets.
#4: Keep in touch at least monthly with newsletters, blog round-ups and more.
I wish I could say that in setting up a nurture program, that all leads will immediately end up at the bottom of the funnel. It doesn’t work that way – a lot of your contacts may stay TOFU or MOFO for a while without any movement (it could be months or years even). Don’t let that deter you; keep sending them updates on your activities on regular basis. Do you have a webinar coming up or a new white paper or are you attending an industry trade show that they might be attending? Maybe you just opened a new office, or were featured in an industry article. These are all good to share. A newsletter is also a great way to keep in touch, and depending on the amount of activity you have going on, you can send those on a monthly or quarterly basis to keep a steady flow of communications.
As email volumes continue to grow, it can be harder to get your message through, so don’t fall into the “holiday card trap” – keep in touch frequently, and take advantage of a variety of channels (like social media), to stay top of mind.