Sales

How to nurture leads from cold to hot

Summary

To best nurture leads, you need a combination of content and channels to transform passerby’s into customers. Discover which content and platforms work best per stage of the sales funnel.

Today’s buyer is highly informed and active across multiple channels. Therefore, sales and marketing representatives have to provide relevant information for each step of the buyer’s journey. 

So let’s talk about the content and channels you can use to effectively go after leads and increase your odds of turning them into customers.

What is a lead?

Let’s start with the basics. A lead is anyone who expressed an interest in the products or services that you offer but may not be ready to buy yet. This person may have shared their contact information and browsed your website a few times, but you have no idea whether or not they are genuinely interested in becoming a customer down the line.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing and reinforcing a relationship with potential customers. From stranger to customer, you want to offer your target audience useful content, relevant information and support them across each stage of the sales funnel.

Sales lead classifications: cold, warm and hot

That being said, all leads are not the same. There are three kinds of leads interacting with your brand: cold, warm and hot leads.

  • Cold leads: Cold leads are companies who are unaware of your brand or who have shown little interest. They don’t know who you are and that they need your product or service. Don’t fret. The vast majority of your leads will start off as cold.
  • Warm leads: Warm leads are companies that want to know more about your product or service. They’ve interacted with your brand a few times, either by visiting multiple pages, filling in a lead generation form, or signing up for your newsletter. These people might not be ready to buy, but they know who you are, and you’ve built up some trust with them.
  • Hot leads: Hot leads are qualified prospects who are interested and ready to buy. You simply need to convince them to buy from you versus your competitors.

And how do you move leads from cold to warm to hot? By nurturing them.

How to turn cold leads into hot ones

Before you begin, be sure to have a clear buyer’s persona in mind. Because it’s a lot easier to create content that resonates emotionally when you know who you’re talking to and what challenges they face. In fact, using a clear persona can lift sales leads by 124%.

In addition, outline the path to purchase a lead might take. A process also known as designing a sales funnel. Because it’s not enough to know your target audience, you also need to know how they will do business with you. Break down the stages a person goes through to become a customer. From the content which introduces leads to your company to the channels you’ll use to keep in touch, and the actions that your sales and marketing teams need to take to move a deal from start to finish.

Armed with a buyer persona and a sales funnel, let’s delve into how to nurture leads through each stage of the buyer process.

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Top of the Funnel (TOFU) nurturing

The top of the funnel is also known as the awareness phase. In this stage, you’re looking to attract a large audience of potential leads. You’ll want to cast a wide net to gain the attention of many people without deliberately filtering or discouraging conversions.

TOFU content aims to create awareness and educate your audience about a specific question, need, or pain point they’re looking to address, but without a sales tie-in. So, forget the sales pitch and focus on building a genuine connection. Create content that tells a story, piques the reader’s interest and provides leads with valuable and actionable information.

Here are some TOFU content examples:

  • Informative and educational content that does not promote your product but instead focuses on simplifying the life of your target audience.
  • SEO refined content that targets the search terms your audience searches for.
  • Introductory videos that showcase your brand personality and product or service.
  • Podcast episodes that discuss trends or the state of the industry.

Unfortunately, people won’t always find your content immediately. To help draw people in, use the following digital channels:

  • Organic posts on social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.
  • Paid social media ads or Google Ads.

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) nurturing

The middle of the funnel, also known as the consideration stage, is where prospects become more serious and show more definitive interest in your product or services. Perhaps a company has read your blog or follows you on social media, but they show little interest in buying.

Therefore, content during this stage aims to educate leads about your product or service and how it’s the solution they need to help them. You also want to keep building up trust, so don’t focus on making a sale or come off too strong.

Content that will resonate in the Middle of the funnel includes:

  • Client case study or testimonials which demonstrate how your product or service helped others.
  • Downloadable content such as ebooks or whitepapers which encourages browsers to give you their email address. Making it easier for you to keep in touch with them.
  • Webinars or YouTube tutorials.
  • Persona or industry-specific landing pages which speak directly to a potential customer and their pain point.

Digital channels that you can use to promote your content include:

  • Organic social posts.
  • LinkedIn InMails directed at leads who have interacted with you before.
  • Email marketing flows or newsletters.
  • Paid campaigns on social media or Google.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) nurturing

The bottom of the funnel is the decision stage in your sales pipeline. Leads have transformed into prospects. They are well aware of who you are and what you have to offer and a ready to buy. They simply need a bit more motivation to seal the deal.

These people are most likely comparing you to your competitors to see which company best fits their needs. So, engage with prospects. It’s not about selling. Instead, keep a dialogue going and provide valuable resources that demonstrate how uniquely qualified you are to help them face their challenges.

Bottom of the funnel content includes:

  • A clear pricing page
  • Customer references.
  • Free assessment or evaluation.
  • Product or service demos or a consultation.
  • Discount code for e-commerce products or a free trial for SaaS companies.
  • An FAQ page which answers common questions that prevent conversion.
  • A comparison table that highlights your unique features versus those of your competitors.

Although many of the above content assets will exist directly on your company’s website. You can also use the following digital channels to keep nurturing prospects at the bottom of the funnel:

  • Email marketing.
  • LinkedIn InMails if you are already in personal contact with some prospects.
  • Paid retargeting ads on social media or Google which keep you top of mind and advertise your USPs.
  • Presence on peer to peer review sites such as G2 or the equivalent for your industry.

Bottom line

Once a prospect has converted, that doesn’t mean all efforts stop. Keep using sales and marketing tactics to upsell, nurture loyalty and drive referrals. However, you’ll have passed the biggest hurdle.

And although this entire process might appear complicated at first sight, it quickly pays off. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads, and those leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

So start creating relevant content and pushing it on your target audience’s preferred channels to drive more and bigger sales.

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