Leads are a vital part of any business’ sales strategy. Without them, your sales potential is extremely limited, so most businesses focus the majority of their marketing efforts on lead generation. However, all too often, businesses pay too much attention to lead generation and not enough on lead nurturing.
Many aren’t even aware of the difference between these two approaches. Lead generation and lead nurturing are two sides of the same coin, each with their own unique factors, but both equally important to your overall sales strategy.
What Is Lead Generation?
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Marketing is all about leads, which simply means finding people who are interested in using your services or buying your products and then following up those leads to make sales. Lead generation gets your message out there for people to see.
There are two main methods of lead generation: outbound marketing and inbound marketing. The former is what most people think of when they hear the word “marketing” — print and TV ads, poster campaigns, and cold calling. While this is certainly a powerful way of generating brand recognition, it’s not always appealing for lead generation because it can feel forced. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, takes a less intrusive approach and gently nudges potential customers in the direction of your products and services.
Lead Generation Is Only the First Step: The Importance of Lead Nurturing
There’s no doubt that lead generation has a valuable part to play in your business’ success. However, four out of five of these leads are never converted into real sales. That’s because of a lack of lead nurturing. Instead of just bringing people to your website, lead nurturing is about getting them ready to buy from you. According to an old proverb, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink — or at least it takes a different approach to do that.
Nurturing leads isn’t a difficult concept to understand. However, it is often confused with lead generation, though it actually works in a slightly different way. In practice, lead nurturing involves showing prospective customers why they should buy from you.
What Does Lead Nurturing Involve?
Before creating your business, you should have a clear image in your mind of what makes your service great and why you’re a better choice than the competition. It is essential that you have a mission statement that keeps you moving in the right direction and reminds you why customers should trust you and your business. This mission should also remind you of how you differentiate your organization from competitors.
You gain customers’ trust by creating real, personal relationships with them. Rather than treating them like cattle being led to your product, lead nurturing uses consistent communication to make them feel more valued.
It’s easy to see why this is a better approach than standard lead generation. Who wants to feel like they are being force fed a product when they could, instead, be made to feel like they are genuinely important to a company? It might be easier to send out the same email message to everyone, but you’ll need to personalize things to really connect with customers.
Each buyer will be at a different stage of the buying process, so you’ll need to determine where they are and tailor your message accordingly. Come in with a hard sell too soon, and you risk scaring them off. However, the only way to find out how close a customer is to buying is to ask him, but you need to start to build your relationship before you can do that.
How To Build a Relationship With Your Customers: The Importance of Personalization
Of course, this is easier said than done, but you’d be surprised at how far simple, honest interaction can go, especially in a business world where customers are often taken for granted. If you’ve generated a lead that is particularly promising, then reach out to the individual on a human level.
Frame useful information about your product or service in an email that references your prospective client in particular so that the customer knows you aren’t just sending out another of the hundreds of bulk emails already clogging his inbox. Another approach to lead nurturing might be calling with something directly relevant to the prospective client instead of the standard lead generation approach of cold calling.
How To Get Personal With Clients? Use Big Data
We’ve been talking about personalization, but you might be wondering how you can tailor a message to an individual when you don’t know much about him. This is where “big data” comes in. You’d be surprised about the amount of information that can be gleaned from someone’s online interactions by using the right techniques.
Online lead generators will often provide you with analytics and other data about the leads that they create for you. By examining these carefully and creating a customer profile from each one, you’ll be able to tweak your message to appeal to that individual. Suddenly, rather than just inserting the name of the lead into an email you send to everyone, you can make every prospect feel like you’re genuinely being helpful, which helps to create a lasting relationship out of those initial interactions.
Why Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing Are Both Essential
Lead generation and lead nurturing are both important tools to use when you’re growing your business. Lead generation means nothing if you don’t properly follow up those leads, but lead nurturing can’t take place if you haven’t already cast your net wide enough to catch a few promising potential customers.
What’s more, the information that you harvest as part of the generation process can feed into the way that you nurture each particular lead. By knowing the difference between the two approaches and utilizing them at the right point in the buying process, you can build up strong relationships with customers who will then be more likely to keep on coming back and using your services.