Business 101: Turning Walk-ins into Recurring Customers Using Lead Nurturing (Pt. 1 of 3)

lead nurturing
lead nurturing

For small businesses, converting a walk-in or an online visitor into a new customer is everything. It can be a challenge to convert a researcher or a bored window shopper into someone who wants to spend their money with you. Which is why we at Business Warrior are putting together a three part guide to help you master the art of lead nurturing and converting. 

Here’s a breakdown of what all three parts will cover: 

Part One: Turning in-person leads, such as walk-ins and window shoppers, into returning customers. 

Part Two: Converting online leads into returning customers. 

Part Three: How to add more value to your services, products, and offers to convert the hardest leads into returning customers, both in-person and online. 

Without further adieu, let’s get right into how to nurture a walk-in lead so they become a recurring customer. 

What is Lead Nurturing? 

In its simplest form, lead nurturing is forming a relationship with your leads — your potential customers. It’s showing them that you are a trustworthy business and you will honor their purchase with the best possible service, product, and experience possible. 

Think of it like this: the last time you walked into a store, were you greeted by an employee? If yes, this is a simple form of lead nurturing. By greeting you, the associate is telling you that this business is welcoming and that someone noticed you, and therefore, is willing to help you if you need them. 

A successful lead nurturing process takes the lead all the way through the sales funnel, which is to say that it guides the potential customer through their research and right to the “buy now” action. 

Before we go any further, it is imperative to understand what a sales funnel is so you can understand exactly how customers think and interact with your store, whether in-person or online. 

What is a Sales Funnel? 

A sales funnel is a visual representation of a customer’s buying journey. When you’re looking to buy something, you don’t immediately run into the first store you see, right? You look around and do research, window shop, and find the best deal and best fit before you commit to buying something. A sales funnel represents this exact process. 

Picture an upside-down triangle, where the point is at the bottom. Divide it into three horizontal sections: the top, middle, and bottom. Each section of this triangle represents the buyer experience. 

The top of the funnel, being the largest section, has the most leads in it. In the top section, you’ll see people who are window shopping, researching, and the general population of your demographic (people who may be interested in your service/products). Most of these leads won’t buy anything: MarketingSherpa reports that almost 80% of new leads never wind up making a purchase at all. This is normal! It’s your job to nurture the right leads — those who want to buy something — down into the middle section of the sales funnel. 

The middle section is filled with people who are more serious about buying, but aren’t ready to hit “add to cart” or “schedule a service” quite yet. They’re still shopping around for the best deal. This is where you can start making a sales pitch. You have them intrigued, now reel them into the bottom section. 

The bottom section is filled with leads who are ready to buy and, if you nurtured them correctly, ready to buy from you. It’s the smallest section with the least amount of people, but it’s the most valuable, especially if you nurtured them correctly from the beginning. So, how do you do in-person lead nurturing? 

How to do In-Person Lead Nurturing

In-person lead nurturing requires specific skills and eye-catching imagery to get people into your store and to turn those curious walk-ins into repeat customers. For maximum success, we broke down lead nurturing tips based on where customers are in the sales funnel. 

Top of the Funnel In-Person Lead Nurturing 

As a business owner, you know how valuable foot traffic is. You also know how challenging it can be to get those window shoppers to actually walk into your store. Get them to take the first step through the threshold by…

Offer Free Samples

In some industries, such as the food industry and the beauty industry, free samples are essential. They not only showcase the quality of your product, but they entice the lead to want more. 

The key here isn’t to make it a sales pitch. Every shopper knows what free samples are for and what you’re doing with them. So be different and offer a no-commitment free sample with your business card or information attached to it. Be nice, hand them the sample, thank them, and let them go about their shopping. That’s it! If the customer loves it, they will come back on their own. There is no need to complicate the relationship by turning it into a sale before they try it. 

Use Eye-Grabbing Signage

Be creative and go beyond the “SALE SALE SALE” signs — everyone uses those. Instead, try pop culture references, jokes and puns, highlight deals and discounts in a creative way such as offering 10% off to anyone sporting the favorite brand you sell, or have some of your actual products spell out the word “SALE” instead of a big red sign. 

It’s the little things that matter to customers. If you can relate to their creativity through your signage, you totally should!

Invite Influencers or Experts 

In today’s digital world, social media influencers and YouTubers hold a lot of weight. In many cases, they’re more famous than television celebrities. Inviting them to advertise your product or doing a photo-shoot in-store could be a HUGE traffic draw for you. 

For example, book stores will invite authors to do signings. Beauty salons will invite well-known professionals or influencers to do a style tutorial or makeup tutorial. Restaurants bring in famous chefs. All of these are amazing advertising and lead nurturing strategies that subtly let your leads know just how awesome you are. They may not buy from you, but they will always remember and talk about that time they met their favorite influencer in your store. That word of mouth can be a huge traffic magnet too! 

Middle of the Funnel Leads

Once they’re in the store, you can get them hooked a lot easier. Here’s what we recommend. 

Offer Value

Always offer something that others don’t. Whether it’s a free sample, discounts for first-time shoppers, or a free mini-treatment (such as letting them test acupuncture with a needle or two, feel how cold cool sculpting gets, or a free vitamin shot), do something to get them interested and to see the value in shopping with you. 

Don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t work — remember, only about 20% of new leads will be interested in buying, according to the earlier data from MarketingSherpa. Even if you don’t get 1-in-5 people to show interest, don’t give up! 

Market to Existing Customers 

Existing customers can fall in the middle and the bottom of the sales funnel, depending on your service. Marketing to existing customers is critical for converting those one-and-done purchasers into loyal, repeat customers. Show those one-and-done folks that you value them to get them back into your door. 

You’ll find that your current customer base is a much more profitable source of traffic because these individuals are easier to convert.

Achieve this by letting them know how valuable they are when they’re in your store. Offer them a pleasant experience and friendly service, and they are more likely to return in the future. You can also offer them free touch-ups if you’re in the beauty industry, or a discount if they return. A great example of this is Kohl’s Cash. Kohl’s gives customers a coupon that expires in about a month after you receive it, which entices them to come back in so they don’t waste their $10 off their next purchase. 

Socialize with Customers

Encourage your staff to socialize with your customers. Have them go beyond the typical “Welcome to Business Name!” and “Can I help you?” script and teach them to connect and interact with your customers in more meaningful ways. 

How? Start with having a strong greeting when people walk in. You can strike up conversations with simple starters like: 

  • “Welcome! Are you enjoying your afternoon?” or “Where are you off to for the rest of the day?”
  • “Are you enjoying all the sun we’ve been having?” 
  • For recurring customers only: “What brings you to see us again?” or commenting on a previous purchase they made to show them that you remember them

Encouraging conversation beyond the sale can turn a good shopping experience into a great one, thus increasing the chance of a lead becoming a customer, and a customer becoming a repeat client. 

Bottom of the Funnel Lead Nurturing

This is where you drive it home. Hopefully by now your leads already know they want to buy from you, so this part is usually the easiest. All you have to do is…

Make the Experience Simple

Short/moving lines, no hiding reception or check-out areas, and attentive employees are key. Make the experience simple from start to finish, and make sure your future customer knows exactly where to go to get things done. The easier it is to buy from your store, the more likely customers will return! 

Make the Experience Their Best One Yet

Give them 5-star service. No one likes to have a great meal and then have it soured by the waiter dropping the bill unceremoniously on the table and telling you to “get out.” While that example is extreme, that’s what it can feel like if your service is stellar until the moment it’s time to pay. So just ensure everything goes smoothly from start to finish and your customer will be leaving with a smile on their face. Bonus points if you help them bring things to their car (if needed)!

The Takeaways about In-Person Lead Nurturing

In-person lead nurturing is all about the customer experience. Be the kind of business owner that you would want to buy from: be friendly, welcoming, not pushy, and know that the customer’s time is just as valuable as the money they potentially will spend with you. Make it all about them and make their time with you amazing, and you’ll increase your chances of turning a reluctant researcher into a recurring customer. 

Stay tuned for part two, which will go over how to nurture a lead through online sources. 

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