In the land of leads, generation is king, while nurturing is more like the exchequer. Most companies focus their marketing budget on lead generation, with lead nurturing receiving far less. However, nurturing is how a lead becomes an actual paying customer. Like the exchequer, lead nurturing is the keeper of the treasury; without it, you can’t unlock the revenue. Thus, a good lead nurturing strategy is crucial to lead-gen success.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the delivery of multiple marketing contacts to build a relationship between a company and a prospective customer over time. The number of contacts and length of time can vary greatly depending on the nature of the industry, product, buying funnel, and customer behavior, but a general guideline is to offer 7-10 touchpoints to a prospect to usher them through a considered buying process.
The standard methods of lead nurturing have been inbound/content marketing and email marketing. They were chosen for their ability to deliver value to customers in convenient ways (organic search results for content marketing, email inbox for email marketing).
These lead nurturing tactics are often praised for being cost-effective and customer-friendly. However, we see two limitations of relying solely on email and SEO:
- Compared to paid media advertising, yes, content marketing and email marketing are low-cost. But are you being “penny wise and pound foolish” by not investing in activities that might make the difference between potential revenue and actual revenue?
- Content and email marketing are dependent on actions taken by the prospective customer, such as opening and reading an email or searching for and reading content. For a process designed to court a customer, these methods require a fair amount of effort from the person being courted.
Instead, why not approach the customer where they already are, and offer value with very low effort?
Using Paid Media for Lead Nurturing
The use of carefully targeted paid search ads is a proven, effective way to generate new leads. But the opportunities for additional touchpoints through paid media are often unexplored. Here are a few ways to harness paid media in a lead nurturing campaign:
- Social and video ads: For the kind of sales that require lead nurturing, social and video ads will almost never work for sales or closing. However, they can be very effective in keeping the company and brand top-of-mind for prospects, which is especially important in a long sales cycle with multiple competitors.
- Remarketing: This channel is practically made for lead nurturing. By appearing in front of visitors who have filled out a form on your site, remarketing ads can keep you top-of-mind and offer valuable content.
- A B2B SaaS company wanted to increase their MQL-to-lead ratio. Strategic use of remarketing increased the percentage of leads who downloaded multiple content assets by 37% over 18 months and boosted MQL-to-lead ratio by 125% in that same time.
- Inbox remarketing: Like email marketing, this tactic puts you in your prospective customers’ inboxes. But unlike email marketing, they don’t have to open or read an email. These ads appear above or alongside your prospects’ messages in Gmail for Google, Outlook for Bing, or Yahoo Mail for Yahoo, and can be used for awareness or content offers.
Paid Media’s Unique Advantages for Lead Nurturing
What does paid media offer for nurture campaigns that other channels don’t?
- Data: With the robust data-gathering capabilities of paid media platforms, you can easily track the paid media touchpoints in the buying funnel
- Speed: Paid media is the channel of choice for fast results and iterations
- Views: Your email might go into a prospect’s spam folder, or they might unsubscribe, but they’ll see your ads on paid media
- Control: With paid media, you can add touchpoints at specific times and places, rather than hoping prospects will search for your content at the right time
When Not to Use Paid Media for Lead Nurturing
Of course, every company’s business, audience, needs, and goals are different, and paid media might not be a good choice for nurturing leads. These conditions in particular work against this use of paid media:
- Incomplete tracking data: Without end-to-end tracking, it’s almost impossible to prove the impact of any channel on lead closure and revenue. In fact, if your company has a long or complex sales cycle that requires nurturing leads but doesn’t have end-to-end tracking data, we will decline or delay working with you until that tracking is in place long enough to have statistically significant data.
- Infrequent communication between Marketing and Sales: Generating a lead is largely a Marketing activity, closing it is largely a Sales activity, and nurturing a lead often requires both teams. Sales and Marketing must be aligned in their strategies, tactics, messages, and expectations for lead nurturing in general, but alignment and communication are absolutely essential when using paid media due to the speed of decision-making often required.
To be successful in an industry with complex or long sales cycles, it’s not enough to generate leads; you have to nurture them until they evolve into customers. Traditional lead nurturing methods have relied on prospects having search habits that align with your company, willingness to interact with your company, and relatively lax spam filters.
Paid media is well known as a lead-generation channel, especially for paid search ads. However, the same qualities that make it powerful at creating initial conversions can also help build relationships and promote final conversions efficiently. If you’d like to learn more about how paid media can boost your lead nurturing campaigns, let’s talk.