One thing you'll notice about most lead nurturing campaigns is the fact that they usually take place after prospects land on your site and enter your database. However, what happens when qualified prospects visit your site or social media sites anonymously where you don't necessarily have their names or e-mails?
This is where seed nurturing comes into play. Seed nurturing is the process of building relationships with qualified prospects before you have their contact information.
It comes down to is this: prospects are educating themselves long before you actually identify them by landing on your corporate Web site as anonymous visitors, and researching your products and services through third-party resources, word-of-mouth recommendations, and social media sites. Just because you can't identify these individuals doesn't mean they aren't qualified prospects — and because of this, you must nurture them just as you would the known contacts in your database.
If you succeed at this, you will stay top of mind with your prospects as they educate themselves and move through the early stages of their buying process. As a result, they will come to you when they are ready to engage with a sales rep, and you will create a steady flow of highly qualified inbound leads. If you ignore the requirement to build relationships with these very early stage prospects, you're yielding this opportunity to more agile competitors who will scoop these savvy prospects out from under you.
Seed nurturing best practices
Personalize interactions with anonymous visitors
When prospects visit your website anonymously, you can and should still take advantage of the visit to deepen the relationship with them with relevant and personalized content. You may not know their name and email address, but you certainly can know a great deal about their interests and behaviors. First time visitors can see different offers than repeat visitors. Visitors that use specific search terms can see different promotions that generic visitors. Visitors who visit specific pages and show specific interests can see even more specialized content and offers. Using these techniques, you can design “drip marketing” campaigns that help buyers educate themselves before they ever share their contact information with you. For more on this, see the on-demand webinar Supercharge your Demand Generation with Personalization (an oldie but a goodie).
Make valuable content freely available on your site and over social media.
By eliminating the need for registration in order to obtain your whitepapers, eBooks, and other valuable content, you are making the effort to build relationships with people before you have them in your database. You may be thinking to yourself, “If I do this, I'll be wasting valuable offers on people I'll never be able to identify.” On the contrary, you will strengthen your readership, and these dedicated yet anonymous leads will likely come to you as inbound leads once their levels of interest are high enough. Moreover, whether you like it or not, in most cases the information is already out there on social sites, so you may as well embrace the trend rather than fight it. David Merman Scott writes more on this topic in Say NO to squeezing your buyers.
Use social media to build a rock-solid reputation that builds credibility and trust with prospects.
One of the biggest obstacles in the B2B purchasing process is the feeling of risk that overcomes B2B buyers, causing them to behave irrationally during the decision-making process. Seed nurturing plays a key role in diminishing this risk by acting as a vehicle for you to build your reputation as a thought leader and gain the trust of early stage prospects. For example, you can use Twitter to inform people of your views on developments in your industry or show your ability to solve specific business pains by becoming an “Expert” on LinkedIn. B2B buyers trust thought leaders who can demonstrate they understand buyer problems and how to solve them. While a reputation of thought leadership will never be as “risk-reducing” as a personal referral, it is a great way to build awareness and increase your chances that the prospect will respond to future demand generation efforts.
While these ideas represent a departure from what you may consider traditional lead generation techniques, they will help you plant the seeds for highly qualified prospects to reach out to you when they are ready, and once this happens, you can rest easy knowing that you've nurtured them appropriately and gained their trust as you would through a traditional drip marketing campaign.
How have you incorporating seed nurturing into your marketing mix?