As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
Did you know that around 79% of marketing leads don’t convert?
That’s a considerable chunk of your leads, not to mention of the time you’ve spent developing and executing marketing campaigns to get them in the first place.
Businesses either do not conduct lead nurturing campaigns at all (mistake), or just don't do it very well.
If it was easy, everyone would do it and crush it. But it’s not easy. And, as difficult as it can be, it’s extremely necessary.
20 Common Lead Nurturing Challenges
When building effective lead nurturing campaigns, organizations usually struggle with these common challenges:
- Relationship Building
- Content Development
- Strategy + Execution
- Reporting + Performance
We’ll discuss why these struggles can occur during the implementation of lead nurturing programs, as well as some actionable steps to overcoming them.
Sending The Right Message at the Right Time
#1. Determining The Length Of Lead Nurturing Campaigns
Rather than narrowing down an exact time frame, base the duration of lead nurturing initiatives on where leads are in the buying journey.
For example, TOFU, or top of the funnel leads could last up to eight weeks, as leads are still doing their research. There’s no guarantee they’ll even buy, and are one of thousands of potential customers. Instead of obsessing about timing, target their potential pain points, the information they’re seeking, and the questions they’ll potentially ask.
#2. Identifying Cooling Leads
According to HubSpot, there’s a 400% difference between following up with a lead within five minutes, rather than ten. The success of follow-ups also depend on factors such as the time of day, the day of the week, response time, and how often you touch base.
By no means should you harass leads, but you need to enroll them in lead nurturing campaigns that remind them of the value your company offers.
#3. Too Many (Or Too Few) Follow-Ups
One of the most common lead nurture challenges is the balance of communication frequency. Focus on the quality of your campaigns and content rather than the quantity of messages. Keep your follow-up to a few emails or calls, each with their own unique intention.
Mastering Relationship Building
#4. Difficulty Warming Up Leads
When you invest the time and energy after the first correspondence with a lead, you can effectively target leads that aren’t educated about your product, service, or brand. Invest in creating more impactful messaging that talk to the leads who do not know you.
Experiment with a few different channels such as print ads, email, digital advertising, and media tactics to see what works, while spreading more brand awareness.
#5. Turning More Contacts Into Customers
Examine how accurate your assessment of the desires, motivations, purchasing behavior, and pain points of your leads are. Then, take a look at how you’ve engaged with them historically. Are you providing content they find useful? Is your sales team following up with high-quality leads?
If you're struggling converting contacts, it's possible there’s a misalignment somewhere in your process. Audit the content you’re developing, refine your understanding of who your customers are, and reevaluate how they prefer to engage.
#6. Quick, Genuine Check-Ins
When a potential customer indicates interest, either by downloading an asset, subscribing to your blog, or inquiring about a product or service, have an automated follow up. This should occur as soon as possible.
On average, only 37% of companies follow up with leads within an hour. Start by setting up an automated email detailing gratitude and next steps to trigger as soon as they engage, then have the lead’s information sent via email, or through a designated Slack channel.
Depending on the quality of the lead, the sales team can follow up within the hour with the information they need to build rapport with that individual.
#7. Learning More About The Audience
Another of the most common lead nurturing challenges is stopping at just developing buyer personas. Constantly look for opportunities to learn more about potential customers. Send surveys via email with qualifying questions, have one-on-one interactions with customers either online, or in person, go through subreddits related to your industry, and implement social listening tactics.
With the unlimited amount of tools, information, and influencers, there isn’t really any reason you shouldn’t continue to learn more and more about potential customers, how they spend their time, and what they find value in.
#8. Gaining ROI From Lead Nurturing Campaigns
After implementing CRM software and marketing automation tools, marketers can automate, enhance, and deliver stronger campaigns. HubSpot, in particular, offers the ability to access analytics about campaign performance, down to an individual email, blog post, or landing page. HubSpot also offers the ability to set up workflows, and track the behavior of a lead from the very first time they interact with your brand, until they convert.
With this technology, brands can understand their audiences faster and optimize assets quicker.
#9. Small Email Lists
Many brands experience lead nurturing challenges because they're concerned about their small email or lead list. Even if you have Have 10,000+ people on your email list, it doesn’t matter if they’re not engaging with your brand.
While building up leads, focus on creating genuine relationships with the ones you have by providing constant value. Quality over quantity.
#10. Setting Up Referral Programs
Dropbox grew their users to 4,000,000 in just 15 months with the help of referrals. Before the referral program, they had just 100k. In exchange for a referral, the referrer, as well as whomever they referred the program to, obtained extra storage space on the platform.
The key with Dropbox was the value. If they had offered a discount, or nothing at all, they wouldn’t have gotten the same result. It was worth it for Dropbox to offer extra storage, as they got to skip over creating, launching, and funding of other costly marketing initiatives, such as traditional ad spend. In that instance, for their $99 product, running ads would cost about $233-$388 per customer.
Developing Interesting Content
#11. Types Of Offers To Develop
When it’s time to create offers, start with running through a content audit. Determine where each existing content asset falls in terms of the buyer’s journey. Does it answer the question or concern of a TOFU lead, or is it more pointed and persuasive, serving a purpose for a BOFU lead?
Then evaluate the quality and effectiveness of each asset. Can anything be repurposed into another medium, such as the topic of a podcast, or a video? Can older ebooks or white papers be optimized?
Once you’ve established what you already have at your disposal, you can find potential gaps, or areas of opportunity for new offers targeting various stages of the funnel.
#12. Determining Content Subject Matter
This is where audience insights, research about your audience, and buyer personas will be very helpful. With this information, you can create content based on challenges and pain points future customers are experiencing.
Already have that covered? Check out what types of content other brands are creating. Use social media engagements such as Facebook posts and tweets to gauge what kinds of subject matter is trending, or in demand.
#13. The Frequently Of Offers + Content
If content creation is covered, but you're unsure how often to distribute, go back to the buyer’s journey. For TOFU offers, you’re looking to educate and enrich potential customers with relevant information. At first, blog content and offers can be put out frequently, tapering off over time.
However, for MOFU content, there’s more commitment needed. The content is geared towards generating prospects, not just leads. The information is still valuable, but catered towards leads that are closer to making a decision. It’s not time to be overly aggressive, so while blog posts a few times a week are okay, MOFU leads will not want to watch an array of videos or sign up for multiple webinars.
The goal is not to overwhelm, and to appropriately engage based on their stage and urgency.
Effective Strategy and Expert Execution
#14. Aligning Inbound and Outbound Efforts
Tools such as HubSpot can help connect the dots between inbound and outbound. Sales teams can check to see where leads are in their buying journey, how frequently they’ve engaged, and what their specific interests are. Marketing teams have access to communication between sales and prospects, and can easily share insights that can help close deals.
To succeed in inbound and outbound, you need to have your whole team on board. Download Preparing Salespeople for Inbound Marketing Success to learn how you can help transition your salespeople to buy into inbound marketing.
#15. Organizing + Segmenting Leads
Unorganized leads aren’t going to serve a purpose. You should have a lead segmentation process in order to target and message leads effectively. Map out lead behavior, update which persona they fall into, which products or services they’re interested in, as well as any demographic data.
Continue to segment and learn more about your leads. This can be accomplished through email surveys to acquire more demographic data, or by adapting progressive profiling.
#16. Adding Structure To Lead Nurturing Campaigns
To really add structure, consistency, and the ability to scale to your lead nurturing process, you need a reliable sales and marketing automation software. By investing in this type of software, and committing to it, you can have all of your marketing, sales, lead, and customer information in one place.
You can also cut down on the amount of time creating marketing materials. With a good automation platform, you can efficiently build email marketing campaigns, run reports and analytics, track lead behavior, and so much more to help accelerate lead and sales volume.
Monitoring and Reporting Performance Metrics
#17. Metrics To Measure Performance
To really understand whether or not your marketing initiatives are working, you need to track indicative metrics such as form submissions, click-through and email open rates. By regularly measuring performance by these metrics, you can use the data to optimize and improve your lead generation methods.
#18. If Improvement Is Accurate
A surprising amount of marketers base their decisions on hunches, guessing, or inaccurate hypothesis from blog posts, forums, etc. If you cannot reach a confidence level from intentional A/B testing and data analysis, which is 85% - 95% certainty that an assumption is correct, the findings may be incorrect. Aside from analysis, good reporting is also based on logic and instinct.
#19. Inconclusive Testing Results
If you’re testing and testing, without any significant results, it’s time to reexamine your methods. Standard A/B tests don’t always provide clear-cut results. Dedicate some time reading through customer reviews, social media interactions, or complaints from customers. You may find information that would be nearly impossible to generate from simple testing, such as quality issues, bugs, inconsistencies in the buying process, and more.
The tl;dr? Big data isn’t everything.
#20. Frequency Of A/B Testing
If you’re looking to improve conversion rates, A/B testing is the way to get there. However, only 38% of organizations do it. Run A/B tests on emails, landing pages, and even blog posts regularly. Most marketing automation platforms enable marketers to do this easily.
Even seemingly insignificant tests such as different images, headlines, or the color of a CTA button can drastically improve the overall user experience. So test, tweak, document, optimize and repeat.
Overcoming Your Lead Nurturing Challenges
Working through your company lead nurturing challenges requires dedication, patience, and preparation. To improve the quality of your leads and accelerate their time through the marketing funnel, your team needs to constructively assess what's working about your lead nurturing process now, and where optimizations could be made.
Successful lead nurturing campaigns start with a solid understanding and execution of Inbound Marketing. To learn more about how you can set more achievable goals, define better, more detailed personas, and nail down the key components of your editorial calendar, check out Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain.
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