So you've done all the hard work of building a reliable lead generation machine. You're drawing in leads from all kinds of sources (PR, articles, AdWords, word of mouth, blogs) and you've put together a formidable number of useful and educational materials on highly optimized landing pages.

When you look at your numbers, you couldn't be happier. Your ads are converting at 7-10% depending on keywords, your press releases are driving 10,000 page views with every blast, and you're getting 15% conversion rates on your landing pages.

\"cleaning House\"

You look at your overall numbers and you calculate that over 5,000 unique leads are going into your database every year. However, as your CEO points out, the sales force has only converted 500 of those leads into customers. Now, this isn't so bad considering that you're selling a 0,000 product, but it's human nature to fixate on those 4,500 leads that haven't gone anywhere.

You have to figure out a way to nurture those leads, to figure out where they are at in their decision making process, and to clean house.

The first step is to identify any and all leads who didn't buy your product but who have had multiple interactions with your company. They've downloaded a few white papers, attended a demo or webinar, maybe had a few calls with your team.

Let's say that these account for 1,000 leads in your system. Send them all a survey that asks for their feedback. Essentially, shape your survey such that you figure out why they haven't bought. Did their company lose interest? Did they lose their budget? Did they lose their mandate? Have they purchased from your chief competitor? Most important, ask them if they want to continue the conversation or if they want to keep receiving information from you.

A certain fraction of these folks will bow out of the process, removing themselves from your loop. Another fraction will tell you that their plans have been delayed but not canceled, but please stay in touch. A whole bunch of others won't answer at all.

For all those who don't answer, send them a follow up postcard reminding them to take the survey. The point is not to bug them, but to point out that you're seeking to serve them better.

Next, take all those people who have only had an initial interaction with you (downloaded a special report and nothing else) and invite them to sample something else from you, like an audio podcast or an upcoming teleseminar. Be sure to do this at regular intervals, and be ready to delegate people to a lower level of attention if they don't act on something after x number of attempts (say, 8-10 invitations).

Keep in mind that a lot of these folks with just a single interaction are tire-kickers, very early in their research, or otherwise highly undecided. They're gathering information, just curious, or window shopping. Make it really easy for them to continue this process, but also make it really easy for you to use your resources elsewhere.

Without a systematic process that is part of your organic process, this lead nurturing program won't work. For example, if you haven't systematized your email newsletter efforts, all of this data analysis and segmentation by behavior will consume your marketing and sales team.

This needs to be an automatic thing, where every Friday a sophisticated query runs to see who has only downloaded one item from your site but has been invited less than 8 times so they get another invitation. Everyone with only one download and 8 or more invites gets moved to an inactive list so a sales person can see it and give them a last-chance call.

And that's the gist of it, really--using systems and automatic processes to filter people up out of the great mass of leads flowing into your company. They should filter up if they're moving toward a close, or they should filter up if they're about to be dropped and need a high-touch event to get them back in the loop.

(Naturally, the latter is up to you. A lot of companies either keep dead leads in their system for all eternity or quietly flush them out after a year or two of inactivity. Seems like a waste to do either especially if a quick call to invite them to a live demo only takes 3-5 minutes. After all, these people have been receiving your invites for a while, so they know and trust you at some level.)

The Gentle Art Of Lead Nurturing

Thomas Myer is the Top Dog of Triple Dog Dare Media, an Austin TX Web consultancy that helps customers turn their online marketing dreams into reality. You can go to to get more tips on online marketing, or become a member of the Lead Generation Center at [] to learn how to maximize your lead generation efforts.

Categories: ,