Lead nurturing can help you to develop personalized B2B relationships with customers and prospects at every stage of the sales funnel. Our guide will help you understand the common problems a solid lead nurturing process can solve and what possible returns you can get on your investment.
We’ll also run through how you can plan, implement and fine-tune your own lead nurturing program and improve the bond between your company and your future customers.
In this lead nurturing guide, you’ll discover:
- What is lead nurturing?
- How marketing automation can help your lead nurturing strategy
- Common problems lead nurturing can solve
- Components of a lead nurturing strategy
- ROI of a successful lead nurturing program
- Plan, implement, and optimize your lead nurturing program in 4 simple steps
- Frequently asked questions
Lead nurturing is the process of developing and reinforcing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel. A successful lead nurturing program focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects and providing the information and answers they need to:
- Build trust
- Increase brand awareness
- Maintain a connection until prospects are ready to purchase
“On average, half of leads in any given system are not yet ready to buy.”
- Marketo Engage
That’s why it’s crucial to nurture relationships with buyers through a strategic lead scoring system. Additionally, lengthening sales funnels fosters independence within prospects, creating a greater need for well-crafted lead nurturing programs.
Marketing automation platforms enable your team to develop flexible, adaptive communications at scale by forming a lead nurturing strategy. In doing this, you create a pathway, through which you:
- Create relationships with potential customers and prospects.
- Maintain these connections as they move through the buyer’s journey.
By creating a lead nurturing program, you will help build lasting relationships, increase clickthrough rates (CTRs) and increase the chances of customer buys. This is all while building brand advocacy at the same time.
Lead nurturing campaigns not only allow you to interact with buyers. You can also use the data you collect to gauge their interest and monitor behavior to further optimize future campaigns and increase return on investment (ROI).
Nurturing through personalization.
The more connected we become via technology, the more necessary it is to create a cross-channel experience for buyers. Today’s consumers also expect personalization in marketing, to deliver seamless engagement, without bombarding them with ads or emails.
Buyers do not want to be sold to. They want to be heard. When you get to know your potential customers and what they want through a lead generation process, you can better serve them and earn their patronage through genuine understanding.
Effective lead nurturing must encompass your entire marketing calendar, to incorporate the total amount of communications your leads are receiving, including:
- Product updates
- Database emails
- Other cross-channel communications
Focus on making these interactions work harmoniously, in a way that is relevant and gives customers the best possible experience, and you’ll earn the loyalty of your leads.
“Lead nurture is still primarily centered on email marketing efforts, but the customer experience needs to span all channels to foster engagement and point-of-sale — from in-store, to mobile, sales, referral, social, and support.”
- Corinne Sklar, Global CMO, Bluewolf
Longer sales cycles, self-directed buyers, and shortened attention spans can be a headache for marketers. But a lead nurturing strategy can help you convert customers and build brand loyalty.
I have too many dormant leads in my database.
Lead nurturing increases the chances of a customer doing business with you, by maintaining solid relationships with them.
Such relationships are critical in today’s sales cycles, which can be volatile, given that many of your competitors are likely adopting a similar approach.
By nurturing leads, you can maintain that relationship over time. All the while, you’re using these communications to gradually build brand loyalty and trust.
My sales cycle is too long.
Buyers today take more time to explore their options and educate themselves, before making a purchase decision. Today’s sales cycles are longer, which is why it’s so important to nurture leads.
To adapt to this ever-changing customer environment, you can shorten your sales cycle. This may give you a better chance of converting more leads into buyers and long-term customers.
I have a lead nurture program but am not seeing good engagement.
To have an effective lead nurturing program, you must engage buyers. When you nurture your communications with leads, you demonstrate value in the content and knowledge you share.
This approach can begin the process of creating trust in your brand and an improvement in the impact of your marketing campaigns.
I’m not sure how to set up or measure the impact of my nurture program.
When you set up lead nurturing, you have to put goals in place, before you can hope to see and measure impact. Ask yourself how many leads you need to generate, what products you offer, and what audience you want to attract.
You can then use that information as a jumping-off point to gather relevant data.
I don’t have the technology in place to support my lead nurturing strategy.
Marketing automation is key to navigating longer sales cycles, lead scoring and lead lifecycle management. It’s also important when deciding on the level of personalization in your marketing and analytics you focus on.
Today, implementation of a manual program is simply too costly and time-consuming for most businesses. That’s why having an automated process is crucial to looking after and catering to those leads.
Learn more about how to set up the right program with How to Create a Lead Nurturing Strategy.Download Now
Lead nurturing consists of cross-channel communication that combines content marketing and marketing automation to create a system that builds and maintains relationships with customers. Here are some of the key elements.
To develop a successful lead scoring strategy, sales and marketing must come together to pinpoint a particular lead within the brand’s buying model. Such collaboration is the backbone of a strong lead nurturing process.
It identifies when and how to address each buyer with the most timely and relevant communications. Each lead scoring system will be unique to each brand and includes:
- Lead fit. Demographics, firmographics, BANT (budget authority, need, time).
- Lead interest. What content are they engaging with? How long are they on your site?
- Lead behavior. Are they serious about buying yet or still looking for information?
- Buying stage and time. What stage are they at in the sales funnel?
If lead scoring is the backbone of a successful online marketing strategy, content marketing is the muscle. It’s the process of creating relevant and valuable content for your customers and prospects.
This can include:
- Written content. Found in your emails and on your website.
- Audio content. Used in any company-branded podcasts.
- Video content. Shared on social channels, YouTube or on your website.
To implement a successful lead nurturing campaign, you must interconnect your channels to maintain contact with leads across the board. This is absolutely vital, as you can widen your potential audience by diversifying the ways in which you reach and maintain connections with your leads.
Plus, widening your scope for communications can help open up new revenue streams, simply by keeping in touch with more people across a wider range of channels.
Your website is a great place to capture new email addresses, but it’s also a fantastic location to continue and start conversations. The web experience can and should be dynamically personalized to reinforce and extend the dialogue started in emails.
Getting this part right is crucial. Optimizing your website’s content and functionality ensures you give new and existing leads a positive experience with your brand — increasing the chances of them continuing through the sales funnel.
Display ads and retargeting can be a large part of your marketing budget. But how can you create a consistent experience for your buyers across those channels?
It’s simple. Retargeting advertisements will need to be consistent in their branding, yet still personalized to the different customer segments you’re trying to win back. Each ad should also reflect where the user originally exited your website and provide content that is relevant to them.
Social media marketing is a critical part of cross-channel nurturing. Running social campaigns can be fantastic at engaging potential leads with one-off campaigns.
But making every campaign social is an even better approach. When you connect your lead nurturing to your social efforts, they enhance each other and can work in unison to help reach more possible customers than ever.
Consider adding direct mail to your lead nurturing campaigns to further personalize your marketing and add a human touch. Online channels dominate the customer landscape of today, but there’s still room for offline marketing.
A direct mail campaign puts your message into the hands of potential customers. While the outlays might be more than an online campaign, the long-term benefits of a grassroots direct mailout can be plentiful.
Marketing automation is a technology solution that allows brands to streamline and automate their marketing efforts across various channels, to:
- Improve efficiency
- Drive more sales
Automating a workflow helps align all your marketing efforts and messages and makes sure each lead receives the most relevant messages, at the most opportune times.
Learn more about what lead nurturing can offer in our Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing.Download Now
Since today’s sales cycle is significantly longer, nurturing leads is crucial to conversion and maximizing profit.
Lead nurturing can result in:
- More sales. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost (Marketo).
- Larger purchases. Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group).
- Improved performance. Email marketers rank automation campaigns among their top three tactics for improving performance (HubSpot).
Learn more about how lead nurturing contributes to the bottom line in Calculating The ROI Of Lead Nurturing.Download Now
Launching a lead nurturing strategy and program lays the framework for what you need to convert new and returning customers. Do it in 4 steps:
Step 1: Define your leads.
To define the perfect lead, you need to agree a joint lead definition between sales and marketing. You’ll need to determine:
- Your market
- Who is already in your database
- Current prospects
- Which buyers are closing
Once you know this, use these parameters to establish lead scoring thresholds, lead fit, and lead engagement points.
Step 2: Build your lists.
To grow your business and set up a robust lead nurturing program, you must feed the top of the funnel with list-building tactics. Regularly give your leads a check-up, identify and scrub duplicates, and remove inactive or junk contacts.
Step 3: Segment your audience groups.
We recommend your basic lead nurturing programs use two dimensions of segmentation: buying stage crossed with another measurement variable important to your business. This creates a happy balance.
One is not enough, and each dimension beyond two creates an exponentially more complex framework. Think of it as segments and subsegments.
Step 4: Test and optimize your campaigns.
You must monitor and test your lead nurturing process regularly. Testing gives insights into the aspects of a nurture track you could optimize, including:
- How many touches within a specific period of time
- The types of messages sent out
- What time of day interactions took place
You need to optimize your lead nurture frequency, path, content and creative (including copy length and design), and content mix.
Learn more about how to get lead nurturing working for you in What To Seek In A Lead Nurturing Solution.
How do we nurture leads?
The phrase ‘nurture leads’ is all about establishing a relationship with potential customers or clients. Then helping them through the buying journey, towards an eventual sale.
You can summarize the dictionary definition of ‘nurture’ as ‘taking care of something, or someone, to help them develop’. This is what happens when nurturing leads, as you get to know their issues, help them work out potential solutions and serve them relevant content.
What is lead nurturing content?
Lead nurturing content makes a direct connection with a prospect, by showing its creators have understood their needs and challenges. One example is an exclusive whitepaper that is created specifically for a group of prospects, that focuses on a specific challenge they have identified.
The whitepaper would empathize with their situation and contextualize it with data. It would also offer a viable solution, generally through a product or service provided by the company that created it.
What is a lead nurturing definition?
A good definition of lead nurturing would be that it is a mature marketing process, which is designed to identify prospects and buyers. It then builds relationships with them, listening to their needs, and guides them through each stage of the funnel, towards making a purchase or signing up for a service.