Stage 3: Nurturing Traffic
Updated: Oct 15, 2021
Stage 3 of the Marketing Flow is when you nurture your traffic or your leads.
That’s just another way of saying you build relationships with prospects who aren’t ready to convert yet but who could become customers in the future with a little tending.
That tending comes in several forms. At its heart, however, it’s all about these things:
Educating them about your offerings as well as the value of those offerings to them, and
Building their trust in you.
Now, if you read our article on the stage before this - Stage 2, where you capture traffic - you already have an idea of why nurturing traffic is so important.
But in case you didn’t, let’s go through a brief explanation of what nurturing traffic can do for you. After that, we’ll talk about how you can actually nurture your leads.
Why Nurture Traffic?
Nurturing traffic lets you account for the consumers who don’t want to buy instantly. As we discussed in our guide to capturing traffic, that may be as much as 99% of all the people visiting your site.
While these people may not be ready to buy from you yet (or do whatever action you want them to perform as an ultimate goal), that doesn’t mean they never will.
So, it can be useful for you to keep working on them.
Keep talking to them, keep showing them why your product or service is something they can use, keep offering them great discounts, and so on.
The idea is to slowly build on your arguments or persuasion for why they should convert or buy. Do it well enough and a fair number of these previously undecided consumers will actually buy what you’re selling.
In fact, statistics bear this out across various industries. Gleanster, for instance, managed to convert 15%-20% of their leads who weren’t ready to purchase yet via lead nurturing.
And it’s not just about getting more customers to give you that one big sale or conversion either. With lead nurturing, you also lay the groundwork for a potentially long-lasting relationship with a customer.
That relationship can benefit you beyond a single conversion later on, perhaps through their advocacy of your brand or even repeated purchases.
For instance, as we stated in our discussion on capturing traffic, studies show that nurtured leads have purchases about 47% larger when they finally convert.
So, for the price of a little patience and a little more marketing effort, you can get sales or conversions 47% bigger by nurturing some consumers!
Finally, lead nurturing is smart from a cost-to-value analysis. This is since lead acquisition costs more than lead retention.
As an illustration,Forrester Research asserts that companies that are particularly good at lead nurturing get 50% more leads for sales yet spend 33% less than other companies to get each lead.
How to Nurture Traffic
There are many ways to nurture your leads. What most of them have in common is an appeal to relevance for the target.
That is, they’re about showing the target (or prospect) how your product or service is relevant to them.
In that sense, nurturing traffic is thus largely about educating your traffic.
The education can’t be done haphazardly, though. You have to educate consumers on your brand or offerings according to whatever chapter of the customer journey they currently stand on.
For example, if they’re still just becoming aware of your brand or product/service, you can offer useful articles about the industry, a primer on the product or service, etc.
On the other hand, if they’re already pondering the decision to buy, you can go ahead and offer detailed reviews or even demos.
Again, this is all about relevance: the way you nurture leads has to be relevant to their needs and thoughts at the particular time you reach out to them.
A person who’s still only learning about your product isn’t likely to be interested in demos immediately. They barely know what it does yet, and may not even know why they should be interested in trying it out.
They might not even know if they can trust you yet! That’s why nurturing them will also be about proving that you’re an authority and key player in your industry.
On the other hand, a person who knows enough about your product to already be thinking of buying it would be likely to benefit from a hands-on test.
And they don’t really need you to send them news of your industry to prove your legitimacy because they already think you’re legitimate. They wouldn’t consider buying from you otherwise.
In any case, there are some other guidelines for nurturing traffic. We’ll go over them here so that you can work up your own plan for nurturing your leads.
1. Segment Your Traffic
Given what we said about relevance, audience or prospect segmentation is crucial. If you organise your prospects into clear segments, you have a better chance of using relevant nurturing techniques and approaches with each one.
And of course, consumer profiling is critical too. It’s part and parcel of figuring out what tack to take with someone.
Arguments that work with someone who’s middle-aged may not work as well with teenagers, for instance. Hence, knowing profiling data like age can be useful here.
You can segment by any number of potentially relevant factors besides age, though:
Stage of the customer journey
Confirmed behaviour (you can set certain actions as markers of buyer intent)
If you read our article on driving traffic (that’s the first stage of the marketing process), you should also already know about marketing personas.
As a quick reminder, they’re detailed descriptions of fictional people built on generalisations about your real target audience.
They can make your audience segmentation simpler. You see, you can use personas to guide your content creation, messaging, ads, and even channel selection.
For instance, let’s say you’re thinking of remarketing to some of your leads using social media. (Remarketing is a crucial technique for nurturing leads, by the way!)
Now let’s say your leads can be segmented into 2 age groups and that you have marketing personas for each of those groups.
Your marketing persona corresponding to the younger age group is named Dan, and he’s usually on Instagram.
You put this in Dan’s description because you noticed, when you built these personas, that people Dan’s age preferred Instagram to other social media platforms.
On the other hand, your marketing persona corresponding to an older age group is named Jim. His preferred platform is Facebook.
And again, you put this in his description because you found that people of Jim’s age prefer Facebook.
With a quick glance at those marketing personas, you already know which social platform to use when remarketing to the 2 segments of your audience. Use Instagram for the younger leads and Facebook for the older ones.
2. Create Multiple Phases of Nurture
Another vital tip for nurturing leads is that you should plan every part of the nurturing stage for each persona.
You see, the way you nurture them should go in phases:
The first phase is about introducing them to the brand and the product/service.
The next phase is about deepening their knowledge.
The next is about showing them concrete ways to use it in their situations, etc.
The idea is to move them further and further down the funnel, ever closer to conversion.
But you obviously can’t do that by just repeating the same nurturing attempt every time. There’s a gradual escalation here and as we said earlier, an appeal to relevance.
Again, this harks back to what we said about nurturing people according to what chapter of the consumer journey they’re on. It’s about giving people what they need at that point in time.
It’s also about working up a contact/sales cadence to keep you at the forefront of their minds. You don’t want to annoy them but you want them to remember you - all so they can consider your offerings further.
Hence, you should plan what nurturing technique to use for people at each phase of the customer journey. Assign nurturing techniques and objectives to each phase.
Planning all of these things ahead of time will make execution easier later.
3. Assess Your Leads
Assessing leads helps you figure out which ones are more likely to buy and which ones are probably not worth spending too much time on.
In other words, it’s a strategy for ensuring you focus your nurturing efforts on the leads that are most likely to yield returns.
Now, there are many lead assessment techniques.
For example, lead scoring is an example. But it only works if you have a lot (and we mean a lot!) of leads and have a lot of data on them too.
RFM is another example, and it focuses on analysing customer value through prior behaviour. It’s actually one of our favourites here.
It refers to the Recency, Frequency, and Monetary model. This model asks the following questions:
How recently did the customer purchase?
How often do they purchase?
How much do they spend when they purchase?
It considers the answers to such questions in order to identify your best customers. In other words, it analyses customer value.
This not only tells you which current customers you should continue to nurture (so they can keep converting). It also tells you which customers to profile so you can look for leads who have similar traits.
Why do that? Obviously, because there’s a good chance those leads will join the ranks of your best customers later on.
Techniques for Nurturing Traffic
Now that we have the basics of nurturing traffic, let’s go over the techniques you can use for it. Here are some popular methods of nurturing leads:
Email is still arguably the most popular technique for lead nurturing. It’s easy to see why: it’s easy to set up (you can even automate it!) and it’s very effective.
For instance, a UK study found the average ROI on email marketing to be £38 for each pound invested. Numbers are similar all over the world.
It doesn’t hurt that you can also nurture leads via email in several ways. Here are just a few examples:
You can send them direct (often heavily personalised) emails individually.
You can send them email newsletters.
You can send them email drip campaigns.
Let’s take a closer look at these options to show you how to nurture leads via email.
Personalised (Individual) Emails
The first option is actually a technique that tends to see high open and response rates.
That’s probably because the level of personalisation in such emails tends to resonate with leads better - marketers tailor each email, even its subject line, to each lead’s needs.
This differs from the old method of doing it, which is just to send a single (non-personalised) email to a big list of recipients. This technique is called the email blast.
The email blast is not generally advised unless you have a really spectacular list of leads - a lot of people ready to buy your product or service, that is.
Still, most people consider email blasts too spammy now. Consumers tend to be far more receptive to personal emails that recognise them as individuals.
The problem, of course, is that personalising each email takes a lot of time. If you have just 100 leads, that’s still 100 emails to personalise!
Moreover, if the initial email doesn’t provoke conversion just yet, you’ll have to send more emails. The same goes if they reply.
And keeping up heavy personalisation through all of that will eat up even more time and effort.
That’s why most marketers prefer email drip campaigns and newsletters. They often overlap, so we may as well describe them together.
Email Drip Campaigns & Newsletters
Email newsletters are pretty much standard now for any company. They’re emails sent to subscribers to the company’s mailing list, and they’re often full of the latest industry info, news, and announcements from the company.
As for email drip campaigns, they refer to pipelines of prewritten emails that can be set up to send after specific triggers. They don’t necessarily contain the latest industry info, news, or company announcements, in contrast to newsletters.
They’re also called drip campaigns because they drip marketing information or messages to the consumer gradually and persistently.
That’s actually why the two may overlap - newsletters can be set up as parts of drip campaigns.
For instance, if a subscriber clicks on a link in a particular newsletter, it could trigger a pre-specified email to get sent to them later, courtesy of the drip campaign.
Both are excellent methods for lead nurturing because they’re cheap and can also be automated, say with platforms like MailChimp or GetResponse.
Moreover, some degree of personalisation is available even with them. You can personalise emails by writing specific emails for specific audience segments, for example.
You can even write specific emails for people at various stages of your email drip campaign, e.g. for people who’ve purchased from you but haven’t visited your site again within 3 weeks of the purchase.
Is it worth taking the trouble to add personalisation? Definitely.
As with most other types of lead nurturing, email campaigns work best when personalised to suit recipients’ interests. Nurturing is all about relevance, remember?
In fact, email campaigns can generate up to 6x more revenue when personalised, vs. when not personalised, according to Experian. That’s why it’s worthwhile.
This is also known as dynamic creative optimisation.
We actually discussed DCO in an earlier article: it’s technology that produces personalised ads for the viewer at the moment the ads are viewed. The personalisation is based on data about the viewer.
As an example, let’s say the ad being served is for a car with great fuel capacity.
Let’s say people from different locales are served the ad.
The ad server uses DCO to personalise the ad for each one of them by specifying a local destination each viewer could reach (from their actual location) with a single tank of petrol.
This is a real-world example, in fact, and it still doesn’t show everything DCO can do. DCO can be used to personalise lead nurturing attempts in various ways, although the core idea is the same: to provide them with the material most relevant to their situation.
DCO can be a little complicated to pull off on your own, but we’ve included it in this list because it’s an important part of lead nurturing for most marketing funnels.
A bit old-fashioned? Perhaps, but sales calls are still a mainstay for businesses looking to nurture leads: that’s why so many telemarketers are still in business!
As you may well have guessed by now, though, sales calls are most effective when they’re not only personalised but aimed at specific consumers - or rather, consumers at a specific phase of the consumer journey.
Essentially, you only want to make sales calls to consumers who already have a high interest in your product or a strong need for it. Otherwise, most calls will be duds.
Social Media Marketing
Definitely another popular option, social media marketing is a great way to nurture leads because it can help make marketing attempts seem more human from the get-go. It’s social media, after all!
A big part of lead nurturing on social media is actually just interacting with leads and getting them to engage with you. That can be anything from “liking” your social media content to following your account.
This builds your relationship with the lead and can lead to further interactions that give you opportunities to talk about your actual offerings.
Most people just interpret content marketing as writing blog posts or articles now, but it can actually include the use of e-books, visual guides, instructional videos, etc.
Basically, it can involve any type of content that helps you nurture a lead, whether by showing off your products/services or building on their positive impression of your brand.
Obviously, this is another technique that often overlaps with the others. You can serve up content to leads via email newsletters, for example.
Now you have the basics of lead nurturing. You can use any combination of the techniques above to pull off an effective lead nurturing strategy.
Just keep in mind that lead nurturing is all about building relationships with your customers.
Hence the terminology: you nurture your customers; you don’t just sell to them.
In fact, this concept is integral to the Marketing Flow’s cyclical nature. Your relationship with customers isn’t supposed to end after a single conversion from them, because they can offer you so much more than that if you treat them properly.
Whether it’s through repeat purchases or brand advocacy, customers who feel they’ve been treated well are likely to help your business more than once.
Besides, when you nurture your leads properly, it’s so much easier to move them to the next stage of the flow. That’s the Conversion Stage, when they actually go ahead and take the action you want - like buying what you’re offering them.
Head on over to our next article to learn more about converting your nurtured prospects. You can also subscribe if you want more marketing tips from us!