Some purchase decisions are easy. If you're at the grocery store and need a certain product, you may look at the choices on the shelf and simply pick a brand you trust, or one that fits your budget. Other purchase decisions are more complicated, like buying a new software system for your business. It might take a year or more from the time you start your initial research until you actually make a purchase.
No matter what business you're in, if you're selling a product or service that involves an extended buying cycle, you'll want to make sure that you retain prospective customers throughout the entire buying cycle. That's where lead nurturing comes in.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of keeping your prospects engaged and interested so that your company remains top of mind during the entire buying process, especially when they're ready to make a decision.
This article explains the different ways to nurture leads, with a special focus on how phone calls are an effective tool that can help you nurture customers through the buying process.
Understanding the sales funnel
Lead nurturing is one of the most effective ways of moving customers through the sales funnel. As a refresher, the sales funnel is simply a concept where there are a lot of potential customers in the top of the funnel, but much fewer who come out at the bottom and actually make a purchase.
The goal of lead nurturing is to move your prospects incrementally down the funnel. And the way to do that is to connect with them at every stage of the sales journey. You’ll want to be there in the beginning (when they’re researching you and your competitors’ offerings), in the middle (when they have questions or want more info about your product), and at the end when it comes time to seal the deal.
Ways to nurture leads
Lead nurturing can take many forms. Today there are more tools than ever to connect with your prospects. Below we take a look at some of the common lead nurturing tools — with a special focus on lead nurturing with a voice call.
Each tool has its advantages and disadvantages so you’ll need to experiment and find the way that works best for your potential customers. Some of the most effective lead nurturing campaigns use all of these tools, in an effort to deliver the right message at the right time using the most appropriate delivery method.
- Email – Email is a great way to keep in touch with your prospective customers. It’s inexpensive and is relatively unobtrusive — meaning prospects can open your emails at their convenience, or pick and choose what to read based on the subject.
- Marketing automation – Marketing automation generally uses email, but it automates many of the tasks. Instead of simply sending out emails on a regular basis, emails are sent automatically based on actions taken by the prospect. For example, if the prospect opens an email and downloads a white paper, the system can automatically send the prospect other helpful content on the same subject.
- Social media – Social media is another great way to connect with your prospects. It’s usually less formal than email and is a great way to share videos, podcasts, news articles and other content your prospects may be interested in.
- Webinars – Webinars are a useful tool as your leads get closer to the bottom of the sales funnel. Webinars are great for product demonstrations and can accommodate many potential customers — who often have the same questions — at the same time.
- Direct mail – Direct mail has become less common, but that makes it stand out. It’s more expensive than other means of reaching your leads, but a smartly designed direct mail piece can often have an outsized impact.
- Phone – The phone call is sometimes overlooked in lead nurturing campaigns, which tend to favor digital and automated means, but every good campaign should include a strategy that includes voice calls. A voice call is personal and allows for customers to ask questions. It’s a great way to build rapport and trust, and helps move the lead further down the sales funnel.
The power of the voice call
According to Hiya’s 2023 State of the Call Report, which surveyed more than 13,000 consumers and 2,000 businesses, consumers rely on voice calls for their most important communications. This is especially true for certain industries. Below you’ll see some of the industries where consumers said they preferred phone communication over other means.
For their most important communications, consumers preferred a phone call over other communication methods.
When to use a voice call
When is a phone call appropriate in lead nurturing? Ideally phone conversations should happen at various stages of the buyer’s journey, such as early on when the prospect is narrowing down potential providers, and certainly at the bottom-of-funnel stage when details of the purchase need to be hammered out.
There are certain times when a phone conversation is especially critical:
- When sensitive personal or business information needs to be shared.
- When convincing and explaining is required.
- When communicating with prospects who are less technologically savvy or if they’re less likely to use email regularly.
How branded caller ID can improve answer rates
Placing voice calls to your leads requires more time than automated emails, but a phone conversation is likely to forge a greater connection with the potential customer.
When incorporating voice calls into your lead nurturing strategy, one of the hurdles you’d need to overcome is the fact that many people don’t answer their phones – especially if you’re not in the prospect’s phone contacts and show up as an unknown caller. Hiya’s State of the call report shows that 87% of consumers believe that an unidentified call is or may be fraudulent.
Many companies have overcome this obstacle by implementing branded caller ID. Branded caller ID enables companies to display their company name, phone number, logo, and reason for the call on the recipient’s mobile phone. It immediately answers the two biggest questions a prospect has when receiving a call: who is calling me and why?
With and without branded caller ID.
Download the Branded Caller ID Buyer’s Guide
Customers are finding success using Hiya’s branded caller ID, Hiya Connect, which also includes a robust analytics console so you can understand the impact branded caller ID is having on your key metrics.
One of Hiya’s clients, a 150-year-old Fortune 500 insurance provider, experienced these results after implementing Hiya Connect:
- 37% increase in answer rates
- 27% increase in answers on the first attempt
- 14% more calls lasting 60 seconds or longer