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Written by Richard Farrell
on March 17, 2017

Think of lead nurturing as a journey you and the client set out towards the ultimate goal, conversion. This path you follow can include obstacles, dead ends, or even distractions and wrong turns. Ultimately, it should bring your lead to the point of sale. The most important part of the lead nurturing process is in its name, "nurturing". Nurturing here can be seen as a sort of incentive strategy - the farther along the Buyer's Journey a lead goes, the more incentive you can offer them. This comparison can be akin to the sweet lollipop reward given to a child after their first shot at the doctor's office.

An incentive can be seen as a sweet reward offered after a free trial survey or phone consultation. Your job as a business is to fulfill the needs of your clients. You do this by listening to them and providing resources to help identify and specify their needs. The more they know and understand their problem, the more you learn about the ways you can help them.

THE SAAS MARKETING GAME PLAN

Technically, the people we are talking about are leads, and not yet customers. Lead nurturing assumes the relationship is not yet in place. But, what if we imagined it already was in position: What if we treated our free-trial based users as valued clients? How would this change the way we do business?

Treating these leads as already paying customers gives them an idea of how they will be treated in the future if they choose to become real clients. Offering them free incentives like a free consultation or training webinar will give them a taste of the benefits of your business. Showing that you care about more than just their money, but their success as well is a more beneficial strategy than treating them as just numbers on a page.  After all, the customer stage is the next phase in the process, why not warm them up to the customer mindset?

Read: 5 Ways to Get the Best ROI from Your Lead Generation Strategy 

Making SaaS Conversion as a Fun Experience

Marketing and sales are traditionally a linear process. They had to be in the days of brick and mortar. First, we snagged a customer. Then we sold them something and took the money. The general idea was the product would delight them enough to come back for more. In the case of important business customers, we might even invite them out to a free lunch.

Thank heavens the internet successfully eliminated brick and mortar, and business lunch expenses. Nowadays, the true pleasure lies in the quality of the SaaS service we provide, and we can make good money at it if we persist. Along the way, we can delight lead customers with tasty snippets of information and other goodies. For as long as they enjoy the experience, this internet marketing technique should keep them on the line.

Common Scenarios When Nurturing Customers

Our inbound marketing technology has to be nimble enough to single out our free trial customers with the dexterity of rose pruners. And we have to be fleet-footed enough to tip-toe through the standard excuses they put out too.

 

1. ‘Sorry, I’m a start-up and I can’t commit to that kind of expense.’

A: There may be a solution if we have a series of tiered options.

2. ‘Sorry, I am no longer interested in your SaaS offering.’

A: What went wrong? They invested their time. Where did our lead nurturing jump tracks?

3. ‘Sorry, but I can’t see my way to ever needing your product.’

A: We missed the boat on this one:  Perhaps we under-marketed some functionalities.

 

An effective SaaS marketing strategy gives the person benefitting from the free trial all the training they need to experience the full range of opportunities. If, on sober review we decide they are not a good fit, we should snip them away like spent roses, ditch the file and put the paperwork in the trashcan.

Read: How to Increase Sales Productivity to Drive Revenue Growth

 

1. The Exit Survey

Dale Carnegie of How to Win Friends and Influence People wrote, “You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” There are few things sweeter than people asking us our opinion. This makes an open-ended exit survey a great internet marketing technique for keeping a foot in the door.

What we do is ask one simple question about why we did not cut it, without providing the easy way out of check boxes. While we will have more ‘ouches’ than ‘wows’, there will be some opportunities to call back and re-engage.

2. The Trial Extension

If our foot is still in the door after the callback, we can try to nurture our customers further by offering free trial extensions. At the very least, this inbound marketing technique keeps the customer away from the mitts of your competition. I don’t recommend an extended period of more than two weeks. The shorter the duration, the more likely the customer will recall who we are at the end.

3. The Drip Email Campaign

There’s a whole lot to say about drip email marketing here, but I don’t have the space. I am sure we will include it in a future post. The most important points in order are:

  • Use a title that mentions your company and makes a sticky promise
  • Deliver on that promise with valuable content and a summary paragraph
  • Have a CTA that explicitly tells the customer what to do next

We really do need to be precision-goal-directed in the email marketing game. This means having different email series’ and workflows segmented by customer demographic, industry type, and position in the funnel. As I mentioned in that previous post the process for signing up should have the simplest possible workflow.

 Read: 10 Best Lead Nurturing Strategies to Increase Sales Revenue 

Final Attempt: The Bye-Bye Email

And finally, there is the somewhat embarrassing question of having to admit defeat. As Romeo complained somewhat petulantly, “Parting is such sweet sorrow. How come I got hitched up with you, Juliet?” The best we can do here is to thank the lead-customer for their time, express genuine regret, but perhaps ‘next time’. We should ask them if they would like to continue receiving our blog feeds.

Every signed up lead is a way to make money directly. I put it to you that every lost lead is an opportunity to become smarter and perhaps close a bigger opportunity. Our campaigns with each person – whether successful or unsuccessful - should end with these three questions:

  • How was the quality of our engagement
  • Why only that amount?
  • What did we do well, what did we do badly, and what did we not do at all, when it came to matching our customer’s needs and aspirations?

Read: 10 Ways to Convert Free Trial Users Into Customers  

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