Most qualified leads that come to your website aren’t ready to buy. In the manufacturing sectors, industrial services, or distribution industry, longer sales cycles are expected. Industrial marketers understand that it is important to keep a business top of mind while respecting the fact that many leads may not yet be ready to make a buying decision.
Marketing automation tools address this by enabling marketers to build lead nurturing email campaigns which send pre-scheduled emails to leads over the course of the sales cycle. Once a lead completes a form, or views gated content, they are automatically added to the associated nurture campaign.
Nurturing is a powerful tool and has proven its ability to convert leads into customers. There is an art to it, though, and keeping these tips in mind will help industrial marketers develop effective nurture campaigns that guide leads through the sales funnel:
The first step to building nurture campaigns is getting leads. Websites should be designed with conversion in mind, meaning that visitors are guided towards forms and gated content which asks for their contact (email) information. This not only provides marketers with permission to contact leads but also gives them a sense of what exactly they are interested in, which helps build effective lead nurturing campaigns (more on this later).
Nurture campaigns aim to build relationships with leads that are not yet ready to buy.
Nurture emails should offer valuable content which can help prospective buyers with their decision making. Any sales offers should be avoided in early nurture emails.
Let’s look at an agricultural equipment manufacturer for example. A nurture campaign might send an email one day after a form is filled in exchange for access to a combine header spec sheet. The first email should thank the lead for their interest in the company’s resources and provide access to other easily accessible content. Links to a blog or company LinkedIn page allow a lead to connect with the business on their own terms, without feeling any sales pressure.
The next emails might provide downloads for whitepapers discussing harvest efficiency techniques and case studies highlighting farms that have improved harvest yields using the specific equipment. This is information which helps buyers decide if a product is right for them or not.
As the buying cycle nears completion, the last email in a nurture campaign should provide a sales offer that will make it easier for the lead to transition into a customer. Offers such as a trial period or money back guarantee can be effective, though specific offers will depend on individual business models.
No one likes spam, which makes timing important. Emails which are sent too frequently become annoying. This can have a damaging impact on the chances of a lead becoming a customer.
So how do you determine appropriate timing?
This depends on the average length of a business’s sales cycle. Try to space emails evenly across the entire sales cycle, with sales offers being presented closer to the end.
For example, if the average sales cycle for our agricultural equipment manufacturer is three months, then scheduling four emails in a nurture campaign might work well. The final email, likely to contain a sales offer, will be delivered on the 11th week, right around the time when an average customer is likely beginning to consider buying.
Nurture campaigns should be treated as an opportunity to expand a prospective buyer’s knowledge of the products or services they have already expressed interest in, and not to promote the other products or services a company offers.
Staying with the agricultural equipment example, a nurture campaign triggered by a combine header spec sheet download should not contain details about the grain hopper extension offered by the same company. One size does not fit all, it is important to build campaigns that are highly relatable to the content which triggers them.
For more information on lead nurturing view our free whitepaper.
About Martha Boulianne
Martha is the resident marketing lead at ActiveConversion. You'll find her behind much of the content, design, and social media efforts that help continue to grow our online presence. She has spent her professional life developing mad skills in web design and conversion optimization, and spends her time not at work charging around after her family and making things.