While it may be a bold statement to call it ‘the #1 most important skill in marketing’, there’s little doubt that it is the reason we do SEO, PPC, Social Media marketing, etc in the first place. Throughout the entire customer journey from discovering your brand to becoming a retained customer, engagement with your brand should be at the forefront, and mastering this skill is key to amplifying these results:
Marketing software developers Marketo describes lead nurturing as:
“The process of developing relationships with buys at every stage of the sales funnel and through every step of the buyer’s journey.”
This is an excellent way of describing what is arguably the most important skill in marketing. Ultimately, business is about relationships; you can build an amazing company with a fantastic line of products or services but if people don’t trust you, your efforts are wasted.
In 2018, there is a myriad of choices when it comes to purchasing products or services online. When multiple companies offer the same product at a similar price with similar delivery, what makes people choose one over the other?
The answer is trust.
Delivering Value (Watering) = Building Trust (Growing) = Increased Investment (Flowering)
Trust that your product or service will improve their life in some way can be built in many different ways, but the best way to do this digitally is via the medium of content. Content that delivers value to your potential customers, that makes them feel an emotion such as motivation, inspiration or humour helps associate your brand with that experience, increasing the level of trust they place in it.
A great starting point is the 4-1-1 method popularised by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute. Basically, to set your sales team/product up with the best possible chance of converting a lead, provide 4 pieces of unbiased, sales-free content; then 1 soft-selling piece of content; then finally 1 piece of hard-selling content.
Your 4 pieces of unbiased, sales-free content could include things like blog posts, infographics and videos; while your soft-selling content could be an introduction video to your product or description on your service’s features; and your hard-selling content could be a product demo, discount code or a free survey/quotation.
While the details will vary from industry to industry, the principle of building a repertoire with a potential customer through the medium of content remains the same. At each stage, ask your visitor for a larger and larger investment.
Here’s how that could look in practice:
- Minimal investment – Post something helpful/funny/interesting on social media.
- Visit your website – Use social remarketing to direct that user to a blog post on your website related to the content they interacted with in step 1.
- Submit their email address – Ask the user to sign up for your newsletter by offering a free downloadable (e.g. whitepaper, ebook, video guide, etc).
- Read your email – Send them a relevant email with valuable content (link to your website is optional).
- Interact with a part of your product/service – You could ask them to watch an explainer video of your product/service, offer a free audit/survey, explain your product/service and its benefits in solving their problem.
- Maximum investment – Purchase/trial your product/service.
This process will look different for each business and customer alike. Take some time to talk to your sales team and work out what kinds of questions and problems are common amongst your customers and aim to help solve these throughout this process at varying levels of investment on their behalf. If the 4-1-1 method didn’t work the first time around, and they stayed subscribed to your email address, then simply keep sending them valuable content and try again a while later to see if they are in a better position to invest in your product/service. Remember that everyone’s situation is unique and different people take varying amounts of time before they are ready to go up a step in terms of trust and investment.
Marketing automation software developers Marketo have released a fantastic book on Lead Nurturing completely free. Take a look at it here (note the investment of your email address, we’ve essentially done stages 1 & 2 for them, proof that valuable content does work!): https://www.marketo.com/definitive-guides/lead-nurturing/