We are surrounded by relationships that require some form of ongoing nurturing – friends, family members, romantic interests, colleagues and professional relationships. One solitary act is not enough to nurture a relationship for the long term (think buying flowers for your girlfriend). One act cannot and should not be expected to achieve lasting effects all on its own. Nurturing is a long-term commitment and requires consistent effort. One email is not nurturing.
So it follows that merely sending an email blast to prospects and checking “nurturing” off your list is a grave mistake. As in any relationship, lead nurturing involves more than delivery, and certainly more than a one-time shout-out. It’s about communicating clearly and regularly, addressing concerns and providing the solutions, while you establish a rapport using relevant content.
Consider your strategy from the perspective of your target audience. Odds are, if you asked your prospects how they would prefer to be engaged, they would choose to be “nurtured” rather than “sold” approximately 10 out of 10 times. Pushy sales tactics rarely succeed. But how do you begin wooing prospects in the lead nurturing courtship dance?
Lead nurturing is a cumulative relationship-building process. This process consists of several components, including:
- Understanding the unique needs of your prospects,
- Communicating that understanding via educational and helpful content and demonstrating expertise, and
- Establishing trust and developing a rapport.
Can you nurture relationships via email?
Absolutely. What can be confusing is content delivery versus the nurturing process itself. There are several delivery systems that may aid in the nurturing process, including email, social media, videos, podcasts, blogs, website visits, conferences, and webinars. But the delivery vehicle (i.e., an email) is not in and of itself the same as nurturing. In order for email nurturing to be effective, it’s all about the content: what is delivered and how well it addresses the recipient’s needs, priorities and objectives over time. The perceived relevance of the delivered content is the key to your prospect’s heart (and business).
Email campaigns support lead nurturing. You are able to submit content that showcases your proficiency and understanding without imposing the overt expectation of any immediate response from your prospects. Email campaigns also assist in lead nurturing by recruiting prospects into your company’s social media marketing communities, which gives you yet another platform to interact with and bolster relationships with your prospective clients.
Those prospects who opt in to your social media communities are indicating a sincere interest in continuing the conversation with your firm. If you find that members of your email audience are slow to opt in to your social media communities, consider adjusting your content to ensure its relevance and make it more compelling. Integrate alternate messaging, whether via a special offer, a personalized note or a video.
Successful lead nurturing campaigns demonstrate patience, offering valuable information while honoring a prospect’s right to move through stages of the buying process at the pace they find most comfortable. We live in an age with access to media that enables alternative ways of reaching, and being accessible to, those we seek to attract for business purposes. Email, social media networks and conventional media outlets all play a valuable role in how we most effectively market our businesses. As with any relationship, multiple communication methods used in combination are often the most effective. Use your email campaign as the foundation for your lead nurturing efforts, and utilize the data you glean from the campaign to integrate additional relationship-building behaviors as your prospects glide through the buying process. Let the courtship begin.