When you're selling your own products, marketing automation can be quite the time-saver. Setup a paid media campaign once for each new product you add to your catalog, let the leads drip in, nurture them, convert sales, and move on. However, as powerful as marketing automation can be for generating revenue, there are some cases where automation just doesn't cut it.
Plenty of people argue against cherry picking leads, but the reality is, there are likely to be some prospects that really want to close – usually for strategic growth reasons. Keeping an eye on the people who recently opted in to your list, you might recognize an influencer’s name, a potential strategic partner, or someone from a well-known, highly profitable company.
In these cases, you’ll need to manually pull the leads out of your automation funnel, so you can apply the human touch when building a relationship with them. How can you do this?
Understanding the Basics of Lead Nurturing
Your marketing automation setup is designed to nurture leads, using triggered email content to build relationships with your buyers at all states of the sales funnel, and throughout the course of the buyer's journey.
With automation, there's a focus on providing information and advice, but to truly deliver content that provides the value your leads are looking for, you’ll need to listen, paying close attention to the signals that your prospects send you via onsite behavior and overt messaging.
Whether automated or manual, nurturing usually involves using a number of tactics, including but not limited to:
· Content marketing – Publish targeted content that’s optimized to interest and inform your audience. This content should live on your blog, as well as on well-known publications that can add to your brand’s credibility.
· Multi-channel engagement – Some 80% of marketers report their email open rates don't exceed 20%, so 80% of their audience is neglected without the use of additional channels. Today, even B2B buyers are using social media to discover and learn more about products.
· Timely follow-ups – If you claim that you always follow up within 24 hours, do it. If you say you'll follow up in an hour or less, do it. The odds of qualifying a lead are 21 times greater when contacted within five minutes after converting on your website, compared to waiting 30 minutes.
Choosing the Right Leads for Manual Nurture
It's important to know which leads are worth cherry-picking for manual nurturing. Don't always go for the ones you know are most likely to convert based on your intelligence data. Instead, focus on those you know to be valuable to the overall business because of their status – either as an influencer, a potential partner, or association with a profitable company. Then look at their likelihood to convert and go from there.
Think about it like this… if Bill Gates approached your company, you wouldn't want him to go through the automated lead nurturing strategy, would you? You'd want to manually build a relationship with him because of the potential value he'd bring as a customer and/or a partner.
But, you must first outline your criteria for what makes a lead worth cherry-picking – and then look for leads like this to come through. You can't assume all the leads will be like this, or you'll be wasting time and lose the benefits of automation all together.
Rather than relying on data like prospect name, phone number, address, etc. to choose the leads you'll manually nurture, look at other meaningful data that is useful to the buyer's decision making process.
Consider what types of products you're selling. If you're selling eBooks, your cherry picking process will differ compared to if you're selling online courses and memberships. The customers who are interested in your eBooks may not be the same kind of customers who would be interested in online courses or membership platforms. This may mean picking different leads for manual nurturing.
Reach Out with a Personal Follow-Up Email
Yes, you can setup marketing automation to personalize your email responses, and that's great for most situations.
But for those really important leads, taking a few minutes out of your day to actually write a light, personalized follow-up email lets that particular prospect know you're paying attention, that you’re invested in their success, and that you value what they have to say.
Pay attention to what they say in reply to your message. They're likely opening up to you about what their pain points are, what they hope to gain from a solution like yours, and their impressions about the extent to which your products might or might not suit their needs.
Offer Real Value
Think about which of your products are likely to be most valuable to your lead. Let's say you are a designer, and you have a series of eBooks to teach people how to handle their own graphic and web design. You might offer a book for free, in hopes that you can convince customers to either buy the rest, participate in your online coaching course, or hire you for private one-on-one consulting gig.
Whatever you offer to your leads, make sure it offers real value that speaks to their needs. In other words, don't offer high-level content to an audience of beginners.
When you follow up with that email, offer a discount membership, or a one-time free 15-minute consultation. Send another eBook from your series for free. Offer a package deal exclusively available to that lead. Take that feedback from the follow-up email and craft a customized solution to make sure you can meet those needs. Just keep demonstrating how much you’re interested in helping your prospect, and you’ll build brand equity over time.
Stay in Touch
Of course you need to ask for permission to stay in touch with your leads and customers, but when someone says you can, do it. Reach out periodically to find out how they're using your products, and what you can do to make their experience better. Take what they have to say to heart, especially if you notice many leads saying the same thing. Adjust your product offerings or strategies accordingly.
Marketing automation is great, because it saves you time and weeds out the leads you know won't convert. It allows you to focus more time on the leads you know will become customers, and the customers you know bring the most value to your business. But relying on automated nurturing alone can have detrimental effects to your business. Don't be afraid to cherry-pick leads here and there, and nurture them manually.