"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," the futurist and sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke once wrote. He was obviously talking about lead nurturing and management—right?
The last decade has seen a ton of technological wizardry all trying to solve the same challenge: In this hypercompetitive digital era, how can businesses attract, nurture and retain new customers?
The buyer's journey is complex. Researchers report that leads encounter between five and ten marketing touches on their purchasing path. Encouraging your leads to progress down the sales funnel—qualifying them, converting them to prospects, and ultimately to customers—while tracking their engagement and touchpoints across different channels is a huge challenge.
Fortunately, lead management automation can supply a little magic of its own. By eliminating the need to duplicate or manually enter data into different marketing tools, automating your lead nurture can boost your productivity and keep your leads and current customers engaged with your brand.
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How automation can help you manage and nurture leads
Maintaining the flow of leads is often tedious work with lots of manual interventions. There are so many moving parts—forms, CRMs, email marketing lists, eCommerce platforms, to name only a few. And shuffling information between these apps can overwhelm even the most seasoned marketing pro. But with automation, you can simplify your lead generation workflows by connecting your lead sources to your lead management tools.
Zapier is a no-code solution that helps you automate repetitive tasks between two or more apps. For example, if a lead completes a survey on your site, you can create a Zap—our word for our automated workflows—to automatically take the captured data and send it to your CRM. Or, if a site visitor signs up for one of your events, you can use automation to automatically send a confirmation email with a link to a personalized landing page.
You can create Zaps from scratch in the editor, which guides you through the process step-by-step. Or if you're new to Zapier, you can use a Zap template—our term for our pre-made templates. We've collected some of the most popular lead nurture workflows to get you started.
Manage leads from forms and registrations
One of the biggest challenges of lead management is dealing with the many places your leads come from. Most businesses use a combination of web forms, ads, eCommerce transactions, and events to find new prospective customers. At the same time, you probably also want to track and manage those leads in one central app, like your CRM or marketing platform.
Instead of moving those leads into your preferred app by hand—either by copying and pasting or exporting and then uploading a CSV file—you can set up Zaps to do it for you.
For example, if you use Typeform to collect information from potential customers, you can use a Zap to add it to Mailchimp so you can also add them to your mailing list. Or, if you're hosting a webinar and want to make sure your sales team follows up with registrants, you can connect a tool like Zoom with your CRM.
Here are a few Zap templates to get you started:
Use surveys to nurture your leads and customers
You might get some basic demographic data using a drive-by form or registration. But that first contact point probably won't tell you why a particular lead landed on your site, their role in a purchasing decision, or the scope of the deal that's at stake. To craft a compelling customer experience, you want to understand as much as you can about your new lead.
Surveys help you take the lead generation process beyond the data gathering phase and into nurturing and real customer engagement. With apps like Typeform and SurveyMonkey, you can craft appealing conversations—leveraging videos, interactive animation, and branching logic—with existing leads to learn more about their specific needs.
And automation can help you move that rich, segmentable data anywhere you need it—whether that's adding more data to a shared spreadsheet or updating a record in a marketing automation app.
Nurture your eCommerce customers
Once someone purchases your product or service, they become an entirely different type of lead—a customer, one you want to work as hard as possible to retain. By taking those purchasers and automatically turning them into qualified leads in your sales app, you can easily nurture and maintain that relationship without all of the monotonous work of merging and massaging data.
For more tips and tricks on automating your eCommerce brand, check out our guide to how to automate your eCommerce business.
Nurture mailing list subscribers
When you do acquire a new lead, getting them into the proper email marketing channel is critical. You'll not only want to ensure they receive timely communications from you, but that your message matches the reasons they reached out in the first place.
But keeping systems up-to-date is tricky, especially if you track contacts, leads, and deals in a CRM, and send marketing emails through a dedicated email newsletter platform. Automation can ensure every contact added to one place is also added to the other.
You can also update or create new contacts in your CRM whenever a subscriber is added to a specific list in your email marketing software.
Follow up with event attendees
Event management is a tough gig. The good news is, you don't need to deal with the added stress of manually adding event attendees to your CRM or email marketing app. Instead, connect your event and contact management tools.
You can automatically tag contacts that come through your event platform, ensuring they receive communication specifically for them and that every attendee is signed up for event-specific nurtures.
Automate email responses
Sometimes, you might want to follow up with a lead personally. Knowing you took the time to reach out can mean a lot to the lead. You probably don't have the time, though, to write original responses to every single person who contacts you. So—automate it. Then you can invest your time and energy into nurturing those leads as they move down your marketing funnel.
Scale your lead nurture with automation
Somehow you need to manage and nurture an ever-growing number of leads, from an ever-growing number of sources, in a way that makes all your customers feel known and valued. So how do you scale yourself up to the challenge? Offload the most repetitive, manual tasks to your Zaps and stay focused on high-touch efforts.
Here's another way to think about it. If every new contact really needs ten touchpoints before completing a purchase, and you want to convert just 5,000 leads this year, that's 50,000 interactions (nearly 200 every weekday) to manage, migrate, update, log, etc., to reach your goal. Without automation, your next best hope may be a magic wand.
This article was created in March 2020 with information from previous articles authored for Zapier by Alison Groves and contributions by Hannah Herman. It was most recently updated in December 2021 by Jack Beaudoin.