Lead generation is an undeniably important corporate goal that drives strategic communication tactics and practices. A well-developed communications plan takes into consideration the uniqueness of each customer journey. Your communications strategy should recognize the important role the customer journey plays in informing you when and where to reach out and with what message.
We sat down with Sean Sandhurst, our Head of Marketing, to discuss the role strategic communications plays in nurturing a customer along their journey from lead to loyalty. Typically, a customer progresses through four lead generation stages: lead, recognition/consideration, decision, and loyalty. Read on as Sean explains the specific communication strategies you can employ at each stage to ensure your customer successfully moves through the lead to loyalty pipeline.
Stage 1: Lead.
Typically the first stage in the lead generation process, this is when the customer identifies the problem that needs solving and realizes they do not know who to go to. This is where you can establish initial contact with the customer and reach out to them about who you are. Through strategic communications, you can use earned and paid opportunities to get your organization’s name before the right eyes. The most important point to keep in mind when raising brand awareness and creating leads is that your content at this stage should be more informational than actionable. Some tactics that can help you include keyword research for SEO, referral marketing, educational and relevant social media, and an up-to-date website.
Stage 2: Recognition/Consideration.
Now that the customer knows some of your business, it is time to educate them. At the recognition/consideration stage, your communication efforts should focus on building positive “Top of Mind” awareness. Doing so ensures that your business is the first name that comes to their mind whether in terms of brand recognition or brand recall. A higher level of brand recognition increases traffic to your business organically. Strategic tools like testimonials, case studies, thought-leadership content such as blogs and an omnichannel presence can help establish how your business can solve the customer’s problem the best way possible. This is also the stage where you can highlight your brand values, culture and story.
Stage 3: Decision.
The decision stage is perhaps the most critical moment in the customer journey to lead generation. The communication tactics you put into practice at this stage can make or break the customer’s decision to purchase your product or service. By this point, the customer should know enough about you to make a well-informed decision in your favour. Compelling calls-to-action, inquiry forms on landing pages, successful discovery calls and emails, and sales presentations are some strategic communication tactics that make all the difference when it comes to guiding a potential customer from mere consideration to decision.
Stage 4: Loyalty.
So you were successful in using strategic communications to convert a lead into sales. Now what? Maintaining a customer’s loyalty is equally as important as winning their business. A satisfied customer advocates for your business and spreads positive word-of-mouth to those in the initial stages of their customer journey. Building loyalty is important to strengthen customer retention so that the next time someone asks your existing customer who they went to for a specific problem, it’s your business they not only recall but also recommend. Many businesses often underestimate the power of strong customer loyalty and forget that it serves as a lead generation tool in and of itself. Some ways you can enhance customer loyalty are by conducting regular check-ins, surprising and delighting customers with exclusive deals, building authentic working relationships and aligning mutually beneficial and achievable goals with common values.
As we’ve seen, strategic communication plays a pivotal role in lead generation. Here are three things Sean recommends keeping in mind when building your next lead generation campaign:
- Use the right tools: Don’t try to do everything for everyone. The key is to reach the right audience, at the right time, on the right channel and with the right message. This takes expertise, continuous market research and ongoing collection and analysis of data.
- Surprise and delight at every stage: Not everyone interacting with your strategic communication tactics is at the same place in their lead-to-loyalty journey. Nurture and nudge each customer along their unique journey by offering personalized deals and valuable content that is relevant to their specific position within the buying cycle.
- Be consistent in your messaging and actions: There is nothing that drives away an interested customer faster than inconsistent messaging and inaction. Don’t say one thing and do another. No matter what communication tactics you choose, make sure that your business presents a consistent and doable message across all your channels. Delivering on your promise helps customers move through the lead generation stages with more trust and satisfaction.
Interested in developing a purposeful lead generation strategy that’s aligned with your corporate goals? Let’s chat!