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Posted bywpbizSat, Sep 21, 2013 @ 1:06 pm
Confession: I had been kind of dreading the lead nurturing process. It’s been exciting to watch my e-books and content offers bring in leads. But because the people downloading this content might not be ready for my services, I was grudgingly creating email campaigns to nurture the relationship (and sale). Until this week’s HubSpot Partner call, where our friends at Impact Branding & Design relayed how they use social media to nurture leads, and website traffic is skyrocketing. So I tried it. It’s more personal, enjoyable and eye-opening efficient for the sales process.
Email: The Traditional Way of Nurturing Leads
The beauty of an automated marketing platform is immediate response and less work for the manager. When a website visitor downloads a content offer, the system delivers the first of a series of e-mails related to that offer. Because visitors may not be ready to buy your services initially, these emails provide information as they:
- Identify problems.
- Consider solutions.
- Decide to invest in products and services.
For a busy small business owner or team-of-one marketer, traditional lead nurturing means that you have to write/finalize many emails, secure images, create links, format…it’s a time consuming process that should be executed alongside the content offer. Once people download the e-book, you want them to receive communication immediately—start the relationship on the right foot.
But the recipient may never open your e-mails. They get buried among hundreds of others your contacts are fielding. Always a bit frustrating when you’ve created a strong message or found information that could help in their quest for answers.
And really, who is overjoyed at receiving one more e-mail? When was the last time you responded to an email that is personal enough to have your name on it, but is clearly going out to a number of other people? E-mail is personal, but not personal enough to create dialogue and affect sales.
What We Lose Relying on Email and Marketing Automation
When the system kicks off an email stream, you lose the ability to personalize the message beyond what you have already created. You may not look at new contacts for days. And because personalization is becoming critical in online marketing—context being a major factor in reaching prospects and moving through the sales process more efficiently—you lose the chance to respond in a way that communicates an understanding of prospects’ situation and needs. And that’s what helps you get their business.
Social Media Gives Us Context About Our Ideal Customers
I was looking at creating about 20 emails to reach leads secured from four different e-books. Given my goal of publishing a daily blog and kicking off a new lead campaign, it seemed that connecting with contacts socially would be a better idea.
So I accessed my contacts database in HubSpot to see where each lead originated and which website pages they viewed. Most came from a social media platform, so I reached out on Facebook and LinkedIn with a personal message and offered information that might help decision making.
This process slowed me down, made me think and gave me clues. One of my contacts was a classmate from an Internet marketing program we graduated from three years ago. Another was a college classmate who now works in advertising. For each contact, I was able to gather information that could help me help them. Doing some quick online recon, I spotted things we could discuss: a company that might be transitioning into a new area, a contact that moved into a sales role. A consultant whose executive clients are questioning how use their website effectively to get business.
The messages I sent were short, sweet and invited conversation. They may have lacked fancy design, but they were personal and got a response. Sure enough, HI’s traffic doubled that day. Interesting, because I’m pretty active on social media. But there is a big difference between publishing content constantly on social platforms and interacting on them.
When you solely promote yourself, it’s boring and a turnoff. What kind of relationship can you build when it’s all about you? Conversation is the key.
The Advantage of Lead Nurturing via Social Media
It’s kind of interesting, email (and mobile) have been viewed as the most personal channels. But there is something very personal about a company publicly speaking to just you on a social platform. You’ve been singled out, you are special. It’s an endorsement of sorts. Others can see that, and curiosity may cause them to check out the brand. Or you.
And for the brand, social media offers so many possibilities. With the right tools, you can see what your prospects, leads and customers are saying about your brand, their struggles, your competition—anything they are posting. Which can help you think of creative ways to help and reach them directly, but also in a personal, human way.
Terra Hoskins wants to help small businesses grow—she’s experienced the power of inbound while managing marketing at a small company and seeks to share her knowledge as principal of inbound marketing agency, Hoskins Interactive. She tweets at @terrahoskins.
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- 4 Ways Monitoring Social Media Helps You Get and Keep Customers