January 15, 2016

How to Use Your CRM Software to Nurture Leads

This is a guest post from Kelsey Rosauer, the Marketing Brand Specialist for AgencyBloc, an agency management system designed specifically for life and health insurance agencies. AgencyBloc helps agencies grow their business by organizing and automating operations using a combination of an industry-specific CRM, commissions processing, and integrated marketing automation.

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Lead nurturing is a vital part of any successful business or agency’s marketing plan. If you aren’t sure what exactly lead nurturing is, we’ll use Andre Pino’s basic definition:

“Lead nurturing is a process by which leads are tracked and developed into sales-qualified leads.”

No matter how your business or agency obtains leads (inbound marketing, purchased leads, etc.), you cannot simply contact those leads once and expect them to buy. Lead nurturing is a process, but it works:

79 percent of marketing leads never convert to sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause for poor performance.”

And, businesses that use lead nurturing create more sales-ready leads at a lower cost than those who don’t use lead nurturing techniques.

So, we can see why lead nurturing is so important. Below are four tips on nurturing your leads using your CRM. After all, the data is already all there, so why not use it?

Maintain Clean Data

First and foremost, you need a database of leads that are effectively organized in order to use that data for lead nurturing. “Clean” means that the information you have is accurate and current. And that you and the team enter data in the same way. For example, you either don’t abbreviate or your entire team knows and uses certain abbreviations consistently.

Another example is filling out data in its entirety. Fields that hold information such as status (prospect, client, etc.) and lead source are especially important for lead nurturing, and there will be additional fields that are specifically helpful to your industry.

The ability to segment your data is important for lead nurturing. Be sure your CRM has the fields you need or that you can create custom fields so that you can segment your list. You segmentation criteria will depend on what industry you’re in. Insurance agencies, for example, could segment based on status, coverage type, carrier, or group vs. individual.

Bottom line: You cannot have a successful lead nurturing program until your data is consistently maintained in a CRM that fits your specific industry needs.

Use Email Marketing Based on Triggers

Now that you have a CRM filled with clean data, pair it with email automation. When a lead takes a specific predetermines action, it can spark an email or an activity within your agency. That’s a trigger. Email campaigns built on triggers are successful because they provide personalization to your leads.

For example, an insurance agent may set up an email campaign based on when a prospect becomes a lead. This means the email campaign sends an automated email that gives the lead their information, says they’ve received their request (if you have a lead form), and mentions the agent will reach out shortly to discuss the lead’s needs. This can be done within your CRM, and it’s even easier if your CRM has lead form and email marketing capabilities.

Your email campaigns could be about a direct lead, like the example above, or it could be set up when someone fills out another form on your website. Maybe they downloaded an eBook that you determined is valuable enough to require an email to send. You can set that up within your CRM so that as leads funnel in from that eBook download, they also receive an email from you shortly after with either the eBook download again, another piece of content, or both.

From both examples, you can see that we’re talking about the initial contact you make with a new lead. So, what kinds of campaigns can you set up to nurture your leads? Steve Anderson suggests “9 touches in 90 days,” detailing a set of emails you can send that grab attention, ask for referrals, and retain business.

The list of emails you can send to current leads after the initial contact is endless: relevant content, new blog posts, webinar invites, product or service education, an offer to call them, etc. If you’re genuine in your concern for their needs, you’re offering truly valuable content, and your product alleviates their specific needs, you’ll see them move through your sales cycle.

The main point here is to be sure your CRM either provides email marketing capabilities directly within the software (easiest) or that it integrates with an external email marketing service. What you don’t want is to spend a ton of time exporting and importing lists. You want the CRM to work for you, not the other way around.

Automate Your Workflow

There is a lot more you can do for leads than just send emails. You should sprinkle phone calls or direct mail within your campaigns. This is where automated workflows help. Though you can absolutely automate emails within your campaign, you should also set up reminders within that campaign to notify you to call or send a piece of mail where and when appropriate.

Within your CRM, you can set up the reminders for yourself or a teammate to be sure the contact is made. Putting a voice behind your emails is extremely important even if you’re simply calling to see if they found your webinar or eBook valuable (Bonus: You get feedback on your marketing efforts).

Monitor Your Lead Sources

One of the most impactful actions you can take is to monitor and regularly review everything you do. Analyzing your lead sources allows you to see which lead generation avenues perform best, which leads convert most based on lead source, and more.

A good CRM will include monitoring tools. Here’s a look at AgencyBloc’s “Individuals and Policies by Lead Source” chart:

What can you do with this data?

No matter where your lead sources come from, analyzing each avenue gives you valuable insight about each channel’s effectiveness.

Are some lead sources more effective than others?

Should you move more marketing resources to the lead sources that work well and completely eliminate a lead source that isn’t performing well?

Analyzing your lead sources and other metrics allows you to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t, so you can iterate on your strategies until you make progress. It’s all about knowing your data to make smarter business decisions.

Start Nurturing Leads Today

Now that you know the importance of maintaining clean data, triggered campaigns, workflow automation, and data analytics, it’s time to get started.

For a more in depth look at lead management, check out our post What Is Lead Management and Why Does It Matter? Once you’re familiar with why lead management is the backbone of a successful sales operation, you’ll need to garner buy in from your insurance agents. Don’t worry, it’s easy to learn How to Encourage CRM Adoption Among Your Sales Force.

Already have your CRM in order and looking to take lead nurturing to the next level? Check out The Advantage of Integrated CRM and Marketing Automation by Jessica Lunk of Hatchbuck.

If you’d like to learn more about lead generation in the insurance space, here’s a guide about ways you can expand your reach and gain more online insurance leads.

No matter how old or young your business is, you can use your CRM to start nurturing leads today.

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