Once you’ve generated quality leads, it’s time to start nurturing them
This is the second in a series of blogs covering the Hanlon methodology for Full Funnel marketing. In the first article we discussed how to generate brand awareness and quality leads. In this blog we’ll explain how to move your audience through the funnel into the next stage: Consideration.
A well executed awareness campaign is an absolute prerequisite for a successful consideration stage. If you’ve done it right, your audience is finally starting to know you, they recognize your name and branding, are aware that you solve a problem they need help with, and are starting to check you out on social media and your website.
Your channels of communication should be stocked with great content and producing high quality leads. According to Demand Metric, companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month than companies that don’t maintain one. Email is also an efficient channel for this purpose: 74% of B2B companies say email is their top lead-generating strategy. However, their own website is still ranked as the best source of leads by most B2B brands (83-percent).
Help Your Audience Make the Right Decision
That initial interaction was all about playing it cool, showing off your character and capabilities, and getting the relationship off the ground. Consideration, the next stage in the Hanlon Full Funnel approach, is where you start to gently make some arguments in your favor. You’re not likely to close the deal here, but you can offer helpful information your audience will need to make their final decision.
But don’t come on too strong. The consideration phase is where prospective buyers begin narrowing down their options. It’s a balancing act for marketers. Your tone has to match the frame of mind decision makers are in at any given moment — and at the consideration stage, they haven’t made their mind up yet. They want to be supplied with data and social proof, not pressured with sales pitches.
“Companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month than companies that don’t maintain one.”
That said, all the positive interactions and informative content you spent in the awareness stage generating, have hopefully won you some good will and the benefit of the doubt. At the consideration stage, it’s ok to start cashing in some of those chips.
Leverage your clout wisely, though. According to BuzzStream, 45% of consumers will unfollow a brand on social media if their platform is dominated by self-promotion. You’re not selling here, you’re taking the relationship further. Initially you were an unknown. After the awareness stage, they have an idea of you and why you’re worth knowing about. So, make the case as to why you’re different from the competition.
Speak Their Language
Don’t neglect to do your market research. Your messaging and content should be tailored to your audience. Direct all contact primarily to the people who will make the ultimate decision — and secondarily, to their influential subordinates and peers. Most importantly, don’t make claims you can’t back up. Your audience has powerful research tools at its disposal. Perhaps a few unwary types might take you at face value, but most will vet you with search engines, social media networks, and word-of-mouth research.
Social media is especially important because increasingly, it’s the first place people go to find answers. 80% of consumers report that they are more likely to evaluate solutions from the brands they follow on social media before searching elsewhere.
“45% of consumers will unfollow a brand on social media if their platform is dominated by self-promotion.”
How you treat your audience, your responsiveness, and how in touch with their preferred modes of communication you are will drastically affect how many people you are able to keep in your funnel and direct all the way to a conversion. In fact, 73% of buyers say the customer experience is the most important factor in their purchasing decisions. And 71% say they are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media.
Be Transparent and Helpful, but Strategic in Your Communications
The biggest mistake a brand can make at the consideration stage is to claim that they are the only option worth considering. There aren’t many products or services that are truly unique, and your audience knows that. Don’t position yourself as the only solution to their problem. Position yourself as the best option available. This is yet another delicate balance that has to be struck. Every brand has its own values and personality, but at the consideration stage, brand managers should generally aim for assertive but not arrogant.
“73% of buyers say the customer experience is the most important factor in their purchasing decisions.”
Timing is everything, and the decision stage is still to come. While you’re still at the top end of the funnel, your goal is to lay the groundwork that will close the deal further down.
Another key is consistency. Your brand values and verbal and visual brand language should dictate the tone and appearance across all channels. A Salesforce study confirmed that consumers expect a consistent experience whether they interact with a brand on social media, on a mobile device, or in person. Enforcing that consistency isn’t easy with a growing array of channels to contend with, but the ROI more than justifies the effort: revenues increase, on average, by 33% when a brand stays consistent.
What you can do, however, is take this opportunity — where you have their attention and they are actively scrutinizing your solution and brand — to solicit more information from them. Ask whether they like your content, and if you have reason to believe they do, consider gating it and asking for contact, demographic, and mindset details. This data will be crucial later on as it will help qualify your leads so you can focus on buyers that have demonstrated the intent, ability, and likelihood to be converted.
Don’t push too hard, however. The process should be fast, seamless, well-designed, and even fun if possible because 48% of consumers say they have left a business website and made a purchase elsewhere because the experience was poorly curated.
Resist the Hard Sell
Remember: don’t create a traditional commercial or advertisement for the consideration stage. Those are great tools for other marketing purposes, but may undermine your goal at the moment, which is to strengthen your relationship with your audience.
“Revenues increase, on average, by 33% when a brand stays consistent.”
Fortunately, 65% of U.S. consumers say a positive brand experience is more influential than even great advertising. Commercials can be very effective at building brand awareness and spreading messaging to large audiences, but they aren’t impartial or objective, and that is what your potential buyer wants now: trustworthy and helpful information to guide their research.
Your audience is looking for help to make a decision. Make sure your brand is on their shortlist of places to turn to.
Need help reaching your audience? Hanlon has a proven, data-driven approach to building brands and driving engagement.