Cashflow is king, but how many people are you turning away by focusing too heavily on sales? Are you sacrificing the long-term for the short-term gain?
People can enter your marketing funnel at all stages from mildly curious, to actively researching through to hot and ready to buy right now. The reality is that probably the majority of the time people visiting your website are not ready to buy right now, so trying to push them towards a sale could be driving them away.
So how do you know when you should be closing a sale versus capturing and nurturing leads?
The truth is that not all businesses will be the same and how quickly people move through your marketing funnel is related to urgency and price.
If urgency is high or the price point is low, then lead nurturing is not such a big factor. You need to be on point with your messaging highlighting the benefits people will derive from your product or service, prominent points of credibility (e.g. testimonials, clients using your product and service, case studies, etc) and a clear call-to-action.
However, if the price point is high and/or urgency of purchase low then people are going to spend more time searching and making a decision so you need to focus on capturing and nurturing the lead. Granted, this is going to take more work but you are setting the groundwork for a long relationship that includes more than just the single initial converted sale.
How does a leads focused approach work?
A leads focused approach recognises that people enter your marketing funnel at different stages of readiness, and to move people through the stages you need to nurture a relationship with them until the point that they are both ready to buy and trust that you offer the solution they are after.
The Lead Life Cycle
As a lead enters your marketing funnel, they will develop from one ‘type’ of lead to another as they become more engaged with your brand and as they become more likely to buy from you.
A cold lead is someone that fits your target market but has no real awareness of your brand and products or services. They may have landed on your website after performing a search for something related to what your business does or from some advertising you have in place, but other than that they ave no particular interest in you over anyone else that may be offering the same service or product.
This type of visitor has no affinity with you or your brand they will not be pushed into making a sale without checking alternative providers. If you don’t have your message right the vast majority of these people will leave your site never to return.
The warm lead, just like the cold lead, fits your target market but you now have some way to market to them. They have shown some actual interest in your brand (if not your product) and hopefully even given you permission to contact them.
This might mean they have followed you on social media, it might mean they’ve joined your mailing list, or it might mean that they have sent you an email praising your site and all your hard work. These people haven’t necessarily indicated that they want to buy from you but they have demonstrated some kind of liking for your brand and your ethos. These people are thereby much more likely to buy in future when compared to people that you’ve never had any contact with.
A qualified lead is then a lead that has taken the next step and gone from being interested in your brand to being interested in your product or service.
That means they have somehow shown interest in buying from you – perhaps they have asked for more information about a specific product for example, or perhaps they have added your product to their cart or to some kind of wish list. They might have asked for a quote, or they might literally have told you they want your product.
Either way, the qualified lead is now someone who wants to buy and who just needs that tiny push in order to actually take the plunge.
Nurturing your leads and their ascension through the leads life cycle
A focus on nurturing your leads takes a more value-centric approach. It means providing value at every possible opportunity with content marketing through your blog, your social media and your email marketing.
Through your content, you are establishing your position as an authority in your niche and building brand familiarity. You are increasing touch-points with your leads through every piece of content you send out, leveraging top-of-mind awareness to become the preferred choice when the lead becomes ready to buy.
Should you wait for a lead to tell them they are ready to buy? Should you leave the ball in their court? Not necessarily…with the proper tracking in place you can measure how engaged a lead is with your content and by extension how ready they are to hear a sales message.
Lead scoring and categorisation
There are more ways to think about your leads and to categorise them. Some companies for instance will actually ‘score’ their leads and use this as a measure of how likely they are to buy from you. Only once the lead has reached a certain level do you then go on to actually try and sell to them by sending a special offer by email, or by getting a member of the sales team to give them a call.
How do you score leads as it relates to your online marketing? That’s up to you – but ultimately the more data you can collect the better. You might for instance score your customer in terms of engagement with your brand (How often do they visit the site? How many of your emails do they open? Do they comment on your posts?) and in terms of the interest they’ve shown in buying from you. So for example, a lead with a good score will be someone who has done Google searches for your specific product, who has spent time looking at the item on your ecommerce store and perhaps who has actually made a purchase in the past.
Finally, you should also categorise your leads based on their demographics. That means thinking about their age, sex, income, location and more. This is important because a lead that has more money is more likely to spend more money with you and a lead that meets certain criteria will be more likely to buy specific products that fall into categories they’re likely to be interested in.
The switch from heavy handed sales to value-added customer relationships
Switching your focus from sales to lead acquisition is going to transform the way you approach business and give you a much more value-centric approach. In turn, this will ensure that you build an army of loyal customers that you can sell to again and again.
What’s more is that this will also change the way you approach marketing your site. This means a shift from overt SEO and sales talk and a switch to better social media marketing and content marketing. It means providing value at every possible opportunity and ultimately, this will all lead to happier customers and more revenue…. and even brand evangelists that have never even purchased from you!