Our last article shared lead generation tips for getting people to your online store and enticing them to provide their contact information for future communications. But getting people to your store is only half the battle.
In fact, the real bread and butter of lifecycle marketing happens after someone signs up for your newsletter—this stage is called lead nurturing.
The term “lead nurturing” is often used in industries with high price points and a team of salespeople, but online stores can also use lead nurturing to move window shoppers through the sales funnel.
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What is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with current and prospective customers during the buyer’s journey (sometimes called the sales funnel).
Successful lead nurturing programs use marketing to build trust by actively listening and responding to prospects’ wants and needs. Through trust and relationship building, lead nurturing creates loyal customers.
Elements of Lead Nurturing
While the core concept of lead nurturing is quite simple, lead nurturing strategies can become quite complex. Here are the essential elements that make up a lead nurturing program.
Lead scoring. Lead scoring is the act of assigning a grade or level to a prospect. A successful lead score program identifies where a prospect is in the buyer’s journey and their likelihood to make a purchase—the score assigned to a prospect influences how a prospect is marketed to.
Content marketing. Content is the backbone of a lifecycle marketing strategy. Relevant content is distributed to prospects through email, SMS, social media and comes in many forms: images, audio, video, webinars, white papers, blog posts, infographics, case studies, landing pages, etc. Content is also an essential part of inbound marketing.
Multichannel. To truly nurture a lead, marketers must connect with prospects in as many places as possible: social media, email, retargeting, even direct mail.
Automation. It’s near-impossible to market to every prospect across every channel, but marketing automation makes it a lot easier. For example, email workflows can ensure consistent communication, and retargeting can be mostly automated.
Benefits of Lead Nurturing
Better customer relationships. At the heart, lead nurturing builds better customer relationships by listening and providing what the prospect needs at that particular point in the buying process.
Lower costs. The cost of nurturing an existing prospect is much cheaper than chasing after new leads. By embracing the nurturing process, businesses can lower their overall marketing costs while increasing revenue.
Identify pain points. Segmenting your prospects helps identify pain points in the sales cycle.
Smoother sales process. If you correctly score leads, then you will only hand off qualified leads to your sales team.
Lead Nurturing Tips
Now that we’ve shared the benefits of an effective lead nurturing campaign, let’s talk about how to actually do it. Here are some ways that you can build trust with your target audience.
Welcome emails are the first step in most email marketing workflows. Welcome emails are your chance to make a great first impression with your email outreach. Use this opportunity to introduce your brand. Remember, nurturing emails don’t always need a sales pitch—instead of trying to make a sale, try to plant the seeds for a long-term relationship.
First Purchase Programs
Once you have a sales-ready lead, you can make them an offer to entice them to make their first purchase. Here are some ideas for first purchase programs to consider:
Percent-off. Providing a discount can help people make the first purchase. How much you offer depends on your business model, profit margins and what you can afford to spend to gain a new customer. The better the deal, the more people are likely to take it.
Free shipping. Free shipping is a big motivator, but not every store can offer it for every purchase. Many shops offer free shipping on purchases above a specific dollar amount, but first-time buyers may not be confident enough to spend that kind of money. Offering free shipping on first-time purchases of any size can help convince someone to make that initial purchase.
Risk-free shopping. If you don’t typically offer free returns, consider doing so for the first-time shopper. This can reduce the risk they feel they’re taking when shopping with a new company.
Tell-a-friend programs. Tell-a-friend or referral programs are a great way to reward loyal customers while also enticing new first-time purchases. They usually work by offering a reward to both parties if a first-time purchase is made. For example, a loyal customer might give someone a referral code for 10% off. If the code is used, the loyal customer also gets 10% off their next purchase. These types of programs have the added benefit of making your existing customers potential allies in marketing.
Freebie with purchase. You might throw in a free item if someone makes a first purchase with you. For example, a Shopify store that specializes in art supplies might offer a free pencil sketching set with first-time purchases of a certain amount.
General promotions for all shoppers—not just first-time buyers—can also help conversion rates. Coupon codes, for example, are proven to increase how likely people are to buy and how much they will buy. On average, people who have a coupon code will spend 24% more than those that don’t. And close to 30% will make a purchase they didn’t originally intend to make if the right promotion shows up.
The type of promotion you run impacts the result, but that varies by audience. Therefore, you’ll need to spend some time testing various promotions to find options that work best for your consumers.
Some options include:
- Free shipping
- Percent-off of purchase (10% off, 25% off)
- BOGO (buy one get one free, buy one get one half off, etc.)
- A specific amount off ($10 off a $20 purchase, $15 off a $40 purchase, etc.)
Cart Abandonment Emails
Remember the statistic about cart abandonment rates being around 88%? They can be much higher depending on your industry. Cart abandonment happens for many reasons, including:
- The final price after shipping and taxes is higher than expected.
- People are interrupted by life and forget to come back and make a purchase they intended to make.
- Someone may realize they need a credit card and go to get it and forget to come back.
- People often put things in carts while comparison shopping or browsing.
No matter why someone abandoned their cart, there’s a method for bringing them back to the fold. If you ask people to enter an email address when beginning the cart process, you may be able to send them a cart abandonment email or text.
That’s a message that says, “Hey, we noticed you left this item in your cart. Just reminding you about it in case you wanted to circle back and complete the purchase.”
Obviously, your emails shouldn’t say exactly that. You can try some different tactics with cart abandonment emails to see what works with your audience. Common examples can include:
The friendly reminder.You’re just doing them a quick favor and reminding them about the purchase they were in the middle of.
The urgent reminder. You’re letting them know time is of the essence. Maybe the price is changing, or you’re running low on that item, so they should act today to complete the purchase if they want it.
The deal sweetener. You remind them of the item in their cart and offer a deal to help convince them to buy it. For example, you might offer a 10% discount if they complete the purchase by a certain time.
The price reduction. Perhaps you lowered the price since someone put an item in their cart. That’s something they may want to know and might be a reason for them to go ahead and complete that purchase.
Pro Tip: Cart abandonment recovery is way more effective when email and SMS are used in conjunction. SMS is a great way to quickly connect with a customer with an urgent message. Email is better for longer-form messages that don’t necessarily have to be read right away.
Retargeting campaigns are similar to cart abandonment emails in that they remind someone of unfinished business.
They work like this:
- Someone visits your site. Their IP address is noted.
- You create a campaign in Google Ads or another advertising platform.
- You set the retargeting campaign with parameters such as “Any IP address that viewed a certain product.”
- The ad campaign then shows your ads to people that match your criteria.
Here’s an example of the result of a retargeting ad campaign:
- Someone visits your site and looks at three pairs of red shoes.
- They don’t make a purchase.
- Tomorrow, they’re on Facebook or another social media platform and see an ad for one of those pairs of shoes and a link to your site.
- Then they’re on a news site and see the same thing.
The goal isn’t to stalk someone digitally. It’s to create enough touchpoints that they remember they wanted those shoes and return to buy them.
Getting that first purchase can be a challenge. But once you get someone to buy, it’s usually easier to get them to buy again—which we’ll talk about in the following article.
People are wary of buying online, especially from stores they haven’t shopped with before. By being transparent about your policies, you can work towards building relationships with your potential customers.
Here are just a few things potential purchasers want to know before they press the buy button or finalize their payment:
Refund policy. Purchasing with a shop for the first time is a risk. Consumers might wonder whether they can return items if quality, fit, or other features aren’t as expected.
Refund policy. Let shoppers know whether you refund or give store credit. Be specific about refund windows, such as whether returns are allowed for refunds for a certain amount of time and how you provide processes to facilitate returns. For example, will consumers need to foot the bill for shipping, or do you provide printable labels for returns?
Shipping policy. How fast will people get their items? If you can let them know this before they enter their payments, you can help grease the wheels for a purchase.
Shipping costs. One of the top reasons people abandon carts is that shipping fees are more than expected. Let people know what shipping is before they get to that point and make it easy to find information about shipping options and prices.
Data use. Do you collect any information, including IP address? What information are you saving when someone makes a purchase? Tell people how you use it — especially if you don’t share the information with third parties. Consumers like to know that their information is safe.
Those are just a few lead nurturing tips for online stores. At the end of the day, you really want to ensure that your sales and marketing teams align so you can provide the best possible experience for prospects.
In the next chapter, we’ll discuss the conversion stage of lifecycle marketing so you know what to do when your high-quality leads are close to making a purchasing decision.