Business 101: Turning an Online Lead into a Customer (Pt. 2 of 3)

online lead nurturing

When you’re a small business owner, you know that every lead counts. You also know that you can’t always rely on foot traffic and referrals to keep new customers walking into your door. 

That’s why you turn to digital marketing. Online advertising is a different kind of beast — one that you can tame with patience and a keen eye, but requires some experience to really get under control. It all starts with online lead nurturing, which brings us to part two of this Business 101 series. 

Part one went over everything you need to know about in-person lead nurturing, so if you missed that, check it out here

Online Lead Nurturing Basics

In part one, we went over some lead nurturing basics that are crucial for you to know, even online! If you read part one, you can skip ahead to the next section while we recap it here. 

Lead nurturing, at its core, is taking someone who is researching a product or service that you offer and turning them into a customer. It’s the process of showing a complete stranger that you are a trustworthy business who is worthy of their support. 

In marketing terms, lead nurturing means moving customers through the sales funnel. A sales funnel is a visual representation of a customer’s buying journey. Picture a funnel for a second — the top part catches everyone who is looking for a specific product or service and the ones that get through the bottom of the funnel (which is a significantly smaller amount than those that entered the funnel) are paying customers. 

For example, let’s say you’re looking to find the best dog food for your puppy. You start at the top of the funnel as a researcher. You find a list of “10 Best Puppy Food Brands” on Google. From there, you read reviews, look at ingredients, and compare prices until you have it narrowed down to what you know is the best choice. You add that 50-pound bag of food to your cart and hit purchase. You just went through a sales funnel! 

  • Top of the funnel: Researching puppy food
  • Middle: Comparing different brands to find the best one
  • Bottom: Finding your favorite and adding it to your cart

You want your lead nurturing to take your customers through a similar journey. So how do you accomplish that online? 

How to Create a Successful Online Lead Nurturing Strategy 

The most important thing you can do online is target the right audience. When it comes to lead nurturing, one size does not fit all! You need to be targeting the right people to have an effective campaign. 

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to do this. All you need to know is who your customers are — who you are trying to sell your products and services to. 

Start by understanding each of your unique buyer persona. Break it down into their simplest avatars: 

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Income 
  • Problem they’re looking to solve

From there, you can pick (if you haven’t already done so) which medium best fits that customer avatar. It could be Google, Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, etc. 

Finally, keep your customer avatars in mind when you’re writing content. You want to appeal to your customer avatars at all times. 

Knowing that, you can start…

Using Multi-Channel Techniques

Gone are the days where you can rely on one platform or technique to bring in new customers online. There are a number of methods that can be automated, so you only have to check in on them every so often to gather data and ensure they’re still bringing in leads. 

These methods can be: 

  • Email Marketing
    • Automated deals and discounts
    • Weekly/monthly newsletters
    • Informational/Education campaigns
  • Posting on Social Media
  • Paid remarketing on Google
    • Ads that are only served to people who have interacted with your ad or website before
  • Paid retargeting ads on Facebook 
    • Ads that are only served to people who have interacted with your posts, ads, or website before
  • Sales outreach
    • Cold calling
    • Email marketing (such as offering a discount for new signups)
  • Dynamic website content (posting blogs that customers want to come back to read)

Be Personal! 

There are many ways to personalize your lead nurturing strategy. Using the customer’s name whenever possible sends a powerful message. For example, in emails, you can automatically set your content management system to fill in their name. So instead of reading, “Greetings Customer,” it would read “Hello Jane!” 

In online ads, you can be personal by directly addressing your customer’s pain points and things they value the most about your products and services. Utilizing a second-person point of view to give your potential leads ownership of the problem and your solution as well.

One of our favorite real-life examples of this is Dove’s 2021 Selfie ad campaign. You can watch it here

In the video, a young girl is struggling with her image and wants to create the perfect selfie. It shows the process in reverse — her amazing, done-up, and fake self taking off all of the makeup, the filters, and revealing her true face. It’s a powerful message, with the only sound being music that slowly builds up over the course of the 60-second long ad. 

Dove masterfully shows the struggle real women go through every single day on social media, and uses that message to promote their brand. When you see their logo on it, they are telling you that Dove sees you as beautiful, no matter what. Isn’t that a company you want to support? 

Be Direct! 

Secondly, be direct! You want your potential customers to turn into real customers, so no wishy-washy language here. Tell them exactly what you want them to feel, to do, and what they need to buy. To best illustrate this, look at these two ad examples: 

Ad 1: 20% off Steak. Best dinner in Phoenix. 

Ad 2: Get 20% off our Steak Dinner this Valentine’s Day. It’s our gift to you for making us Phoenix’s best Steakhouse. 

Both of them say the same thing, but the second one tells you exactly what to do and when to do it — get your 20% discount on the best steak in Phoenix on Valentine’s Day. 

Follow up in a Timely Manner

Finally, online is a fast and fleeting place. If you don’t follow up in a timely manner, then that lead will forget about you. 

Automated lead nurturing can help you reach large groups of prospects, but a timely follow-up email or a phone call is still often the best way to convert inbound leads into qualified sales opportunities. 

When you make a timely, well-planned call to an inbound lead, or send that discount email within minutes of them signing up for it, it’s far more effective than any volume of cold calling. Stay in their mind and you increase your chances of getting their business, guaranteed. 

The same can be said for reviews! Review management is a huge and often overlooked method of following up with existing customers and building trust in your business. Showing gratitude for good reviews and offering explanations, apologies, and further help to your customers shows everyone — both existing customers and potential leads — that you care about them. We highly recommend looking into review management systems to help you keep track of all of that. 

So, What Do You Need to Know About Online Lead Nurturing? 

To summarize, online lead nurturing is about two things: who you nurture, and how you say it. Be picky about your audience so you don’t waste your time or money on the wrong people and on the wrong platform. 

When you have your audience narrowed down and find the right places to begin your online lead nurturing, be personal, direct, and timely. It may take some trial and error, but the beauty of online lead nurturing is that you can always be testing and gathering data to find out what works and what doesn’t work. You can’t do that in-person! 

That’s it! Stay tuned for part three, where we’ll go over how to give extra value to your offers, products and services, and business so you can convert even the most brand-loyal leads into recurring customers. 

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