Recently, a feline friend had a litter of kittens. (Yes, dogs can have cat friends.) When I saw these little furballs, it was love at first sight. They’re so cute, but because they’re tiny and helpless, I felt the need to be their protector. Between their mama and I, these kittens get lots of love and care. My humans say I’m a “natural nurturer.”
As it turns out, kittens are not the only ones who need nurturing. In fact, I found out that it’s very important for businesses to nurture customers. They may not need constant feedings and tongue baths, but customers want to be engaged throughout the buying journey with informative, relevant content. They want to know you care.
This process is often referred to as “lead nurturing.” Inbound marketing is all about bringing prospects to you by nurturing customer relationships. But, how do you do this effectively?
Get to Know Your Customers – Really Well.
One of the first things I learned as a kitten nurturer is that they’re all different. Even though they’re siblings and kind of look alike, if you watch them closely, you’ll find that each one is unique. For instance, Smokey is outgoing and social, while Patches is shy and needs more encouragement. The same goes for your customers. They may work within the same industry and have the same titles, but each prospect is a unique individual.
That’s why my humans suggest developing detailed buyer personas for each potential customer. Don’t forget to include “influencers” in this process. Influencers are those people that impact the buyers’ decision. (If you’re not sure about the difference between buyers and influencers, and how to create content for each, read this helpful blog: “Why Creating Content for Buyers and Influencers is Key.”)
Prepare to nurture customers by asking yourself:
- What does the customer journey look like for our products?
- Who are the buyers and who are the influencers?
- How do they gather information?
- What are their pain points or problems, and how can we solve them?
- Where are potential customers falling off in the buying process, and why?
For example, the problem with PeeWee is that he’s not aggressive enough and therefore gets pushed aside during feedings. My solution is to give him a gentle nudge in the right direction. As content marketers, that’s your job – to nurture customers by giving them a gentle nudge in the right direction!
I know it might sound a little creepy at first, but effective nurturing requires getting personal. (Trust me, I now know more about cats than I ever wanted to). Did you know that 86% of surveyed customers, would pay more for a better customer experience (RightNow’s Customer Experience Impact Report), which was further defined as a more “personal experience.” Think about it: None of us wants a bunch of bulk emails or generic communication. We want content that is addressed to us and tailored to our needs and interests. We want to feel special, right?
When I interact with my kitties, I know which ones like to play with my tail and which ones like to have their heads licked (and those that don’t). So, of course, I’d never annoy the non-head-lickers with a big slobbery dog tongue – that would just be annoying.
Sending customers irrelevant content or communicating too often can be a big turn-off. Thankfully, technology can help marketers get to know the preferences of their prospects and send personalized content, which brings us to the next tip…
Make the Most of Technology
Personally, I’m not very techie, but I can see the value in today’s automated marketing tools. A robust marketing automation (MA) system is the most efficient way to nurture customers. These tools allow you to see how customers engage with your content and how they like to be nurtured. When deciding on an MA platform, it’s important to determine your goals first. Include both your sales team and your marketing folks in outlining what you want the system to do. It’s vital that these groups work together to get the most out of any MA tool.
Once you have an MA system and specific goals, you can design highly-effective drip campaigns to nurture customers. To learn more about drip campaigns, check out: “5 Ways Drip Campaigns Can Boost Your Bottom Line.” Automating your interactions will make the most of your resources and allow for more frequent, targeted communication.
Create a Strategy
Nurturing is just part of an overall marketing strategy. It should work in tandem with all your other marketing activities, which requires a master plan. Some questions to consider:
- What is our overall message?
- Which content will be delivered during each phase of the journey and to whom (segmented lists)?
- How often we will send emails?
- How will this timing fit with other marketing activities?
- Once leads are identified and scored, who will follow-up and when?
- How will we nurture existing customers to improve retention?
Create a seamless, natural feeling program by following a plan, rather than a disjointed effort.
And, remember, customers and their needs change over time, so be prepared to be flexible and responsive. I’m already learning that as the kittens get bigger and more self-sufficient, I have to change the way I interact with them. It’s hard to let go of the little fluffballs!
Nurturing is not easy, whether you’re raising kittens or taking care of customers! There’s a lot more to the process than first meets the eye, from segmentation and scoring, to creating meaningful content and implementation. But, it’s worth the effort. It’s incredibly satisfying to have happy, engaged kittens (er, customers), and build long-term relationships. Your customers will appreciate your efforts.
If it gets too overwhelming (who knew kittens could be so exhausting?), do what I do: Ask for help! My humans can be incredibly helpful. Start with our Marketing Director (and Certified Pardot Specialist), Jeremy Sterling, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-546-5434.
Meanwhile, I’ll be taking a nap.