As a manufacturer, you’ve worked hard—and spent a good portion of your budget—capturing leads through your website, trade-show efforts, ads, phone inquiries, etc. But chances are your sales team doesn’t have the time to follow up on all these fresh leads. And not all of them are going to be worth following up on just yet. However, if you let them go cold, you might as well flush those hard-won potential customers down the drain.
This is where lead nurturing comes in. Lead nurturing is a process of moving potential customers through your marketing/sales funnel, keeping them warm until they’re ready to engage with your sales team and ultimately close the deal. It’s not an easy process as there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but an investment in lead nurturing can have significant ROI.
A Forrester Research study found companies that nurture leads generate 50% more sales at 33% lower cost compared to companies that have no lead nurturing process. Those numbers are hard to argue with, but you’re probably wondering what exactly a manufacturing lead nurturing process looks like…
Step 1: Know and Segment Your Leads
The first part of this step — defining your customer — typically comes into play before the lead is captured, but it’s never too late to put a face on your customer. If you haven’t already, put together personas that put clear definitions around your ideal customers. They should include everything from demographic information to the role they play in their company and their pain points.
With personas in place, you can segment your leads accordingly. By dividing them into specific persona categories based on vertical market, job responsibilities, or area of interest, you’ll have a basic understanding of what information they might be looking for along their buyer journey, which will make the next step all the easier.
Step 2: Map Out Your Content
The entire purpose of lead nurturing and content marketing as a whole is to meet your customers where they are with the information they need. You can’t do this without a plan. This plan is called a content map. It combines the information you know about your leads (personas) with the way they vet products (buyer journey) and targets the content you create to the points of convergence.
In most cases, the content map starts in the awareness phase of the buyer journey — before you capture the lead — but it becomes even more important in the consideration and decision phases — after you’ve captured the lead. In these later phases you have a greater understanding of the solutions your leads are seeking and they expect content that is tailored specifically to their needs.
Step 3: Create the (Quality) Content
Once you know what content your audience is looking for, you can go about creating it. This may include emails, reports, product information, case studies, guides, and more. Regardless of the topic or form factor, one constant should remain true across all your content. You should be delivering quality, relevant information in every phase. Emails should make their job easier. Product information should highlight key features designed to solve their specific pain points. Content topics should appeal to where they are in the buying cycle.
You’ve already established who your ideal customer is and what they’re looking for at any given phase of the journey. If your content doesn’t reflect this knowledge, they’ll quickly lose interest and you’ll burn a valuable lead.
Step 4: Deploy, Measure and Adapt
With your content pieces in place, you’ll have the tools you need to nurture the leads you worked so hard to capture. Now, you just need to get those tools in front of your potential customers. The final step is deploying your content according to your content map and continuing to move your leads down the funnel.
It’s important to know everything you created up until this point isn’t final. You should be measuring the success of each tactic and piece of content and making adjustments along the way. If your follow-up emails aren’t being opened, change your subject lines. If your customers aren’t clicking through to find out more about your product, start sending them industry reports with more high level information they can use to solve day-to-day issues related to the solutions you offer. The more agile you can be with the content you’re delivering and how you deliver it, the more you’re able to optimize the buyer journey, and ultimately, your close rate.
The biggest thing to understand as you build your lead nurturing process is that it’s not about you and what you bring to the table. It’s about your lead and what they need. If you build your process around this understanding, you’ll be well on your way to developing a healthy lead pipeline that will yield bumper sales!
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