More leads don’t necessarily equal more sales. In fact, a massive surge or a rush in leads can often mean many unqualified prospects that will quickly fall to the bottom of your sales funnel.
Without a solid lead nurturing strategy, your leads might get lost in the shuffle, wasting time and resources.
From the moment a prospect becomes a lead, there needs to be a plan to guide them through the buyer’s journey towards becoming a paying customer. The longer you put off implementing a lead nurturing strategy, the more likely your leads will go cold.
This guide will show you how to develop, implement, and manage a lead nurturing strategy to help you close more deals and grow your business.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel and delivering the information and resources they need to move down the funnel. It’s cultivating relationships with leads that aren’t ready to buy yet.
The goal of lead nurturing is to build trust and credibility so that when the lead is finally ready to buy, they think of your company first.
A typical lead nurturing strategy might involve:
- Sending educational emails
- Setting up targeted ad campaigns
- Offering free resources
- Engaging in social media outreach
- Hosting webinars and podcasts
For example, imagine a lead coming to your website and downloading a white paper. From there, that lead is added to an email list and receives a series of educational emails over several weeks. These emails provide more information about the topic they’re interested in and what your company has to offer.
When the lead is ready to buy, they will better understand your products or services and be more likely to do business with you.
If you’re selling a complex product or service, the lead nurturing process might be longer, involving multiple touch points over months.
Some marketers think of lead nurturing as a marathon rather than a sprint. It’s essential to keep your leads engaged over the long term instead of trying to close the sale too quickly.
Why Do You Need an Effective Lead Nurturing Strategy?
The global marketing landscape is in a state of flux. People are more skeptical, an issue that’s only compounded by the sheer amount of content that’s now available online.
73% of B2B leads aren’t sales-ready when they first come in. Still, 65% of companies haven’t developed a lead nurturing process. So, designing a lead nurturing strategy will give you a true competitive advantage. You’ll be able to qualify leads better and move prospects through your funnel faster.
Some other benefits of implementing a lead nurturing strategy might include:
- More SQLs: By sending targeted content to leads at different stages of the buyer’s journey, you can convert more leads into sales-qualified leads.
- Reduced sales friction: When a lead is ready to talk to sales, they will already understand your products or services well. This makes it easier for sales to close the deal.
- Increased ROI: A lead nurturing strategy can improve your return on investment by generating more high-quality leads ready to buy.
An effective lead nurturing strategy will help you close more deals, grow your business, and improve your bottom line.
Related Reading: Why Marketing Automation could be your next big move.
What Does a Lead Nurturing Process Look Like?
Although lead nurturing differs from industry to industry, some commonalities exist.
The typical lead nurturing process might involve these elements:
- A strategic sequence: the sequence of content and touchpoints that will move your leads down the funnel.
- Drip campaigns: a series of emails, usually automated, that are sent to leads over time.
- Lead scoring: a system that rates leads based on their likelihood of becoming customers.
- Content: the educational resources that you’ll use to engage and nurture your leads.
- Analytics: metrics that will help you track your progress and ROI.
- CRM systems: a way to manage and keep track of your leads.
Let’s explore each of these in a little more detail.
A strategic sequence
One of the most important aspects of lead nurturing is sequencing your content. That is, deciding what content to send your leads at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
The goal is to gradually move your leads from awareness to consideration to decision without bombarding them with too much information too soon.
The adage, “the sale begins when the customer says no, ” is an excellent way to think about this.
In other words, you should continue providing value even after a lead has decided not to buy from you. By staying in touch, you keep your business top of mind and increase the likelihood that they’ll come to you when they’re ready to buy.
Drip campaigns are a great way to automate your lead nurture process.
A drip campaign is a series of emails, usually between three and seven, sent out over a period, typically a week or two.
Each email contains valuable content that moves the lead further down the funnel.
Drip campaigns can be a great way to keep your leads engaged without much manual effort.
For instance, you could set up a drip campaign that sends a lead a piece of content every day for seven days.
Recommended: Everything You Need to Know about Drip Marketing
On the seventh day, you could include a call-to-action (CTA) for a free consultation or a discount on your services.
The key is to make sure that each email contains value and that the overall sequence makes sense.
Lead scoring is a way of assigning a numeric value to a lead, based on their likelihood of converting.
Lead scoring can be a helpful way to prioritize your leads and focus your attention on the ones that are most likely to buy from you. It can also help determine what kind of content to send a lead.
For instance, if a lead has a high score, they may be ready to talk to a salesperson. In this case, you would want to send them content geared towards making a purchase, such as a case study or a white paper.
On the other hand, if a lead has a low score, they may need more education before they’re ready to buy. In this case, you would want to send your leads content designed for awareness and consideration, such as blog posts or eBooks.
The important thing is to use lead scoring as a guide, not a hard and fast rule.
It’s also important to remember that lead scores can change over time. A lead with a low score today may have a high score tomorrow, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your leads and adjust your nurturing strategy accordingly.
The only way to know if your lead nurturing strategy works is to track and measure your results.
You’ll want to keep an eye on a few key metrics, such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.
You’ll also want to track how long it takes a lead to convert from one stage of the buyer’s journey to the next.
By tracking these metrics, you’ll see what’s working and what’s not. You can then make adjustments to your strategy as needed.
For instance, if your open rates are low, you may need to rethink your subject lines. Or, if your click-through rates are low, you may need to revise your CTAs.
The important thing is to continually experiment and make changes based on what you see working.
A CRM system can be valuable for managing your lead nurturing strategy.
A CRM system can help you keep track of your leads, their contact information, and their stage in the buyer’s journey.
A CRM system can also help you automate your lead nurturing process by sending emails and other content on a schedule.
There are a variety of CRM systems available, so it’s essential to find one that’s a good fit for your business.
Some popular CRM systems include:
- Salesforce: enterprise-level CRM system
- HubSpot: CRM system with built-in marketing automation
- Zoho: CRM system with a free tier for small businesses
You can also use low-code platforms, like monday.com or Airtable, to build your CRM system.
Of course, you don’t need a CRM system to manage your lead nurturing strategy.
You can also use a simple spreadsheet to track your leads and their contact information.
That said, a CRM system can be a valuable asset you may want to consider as you scale your business.
Content is what will ultimately move your leads through the buyer’s journey. It’s the cohesive thread that ties everything together.
6 in 10 decision-makers believe that content influences buying decisions more than any other type of marketing collateral. Content generates 3x more leads than traditional marketing methods at a 62% lower cost per lead.
Not all content is created equal, however. The key is creating content targeted to each stage of the buyer’s journey.
With a solid understanding of the buyer’s journey, you can create content that is specifically designed to nurture your leads and move them through the funnel.
The important thing is to make sure your content is helpful, relevant, and valuable. If it is, your leads will be more likely to engage with it and eventually convert.
How To Design a Lead Nurturing Process From Scratch
To design a successful lead nurturing strategy, you must start with the end customer. What do they need to see, and when do they need to see it? Work backward to put together a plan to take them on a journey from stranger to paying customer.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you design your lead nurturing process:
Map the customer journey
Map out the steps your customers will take on their journey from stranger to paying customer.
- What content will they need to see at each stage?
- How will you move them from one stage to the next?
- What actions do you want them to take?
A typical customer journey might look something like this:
- Awareness: The customer becomes aware of a problem or need
- Interest: The customer research solutions to their problem or need
- Consideration: The customer narrows down their options and begins considering specific products or services
- Purchase: The customer chooses a product or service and makes a purchase
Not every customer will go through all these stages – some may already be familiar with your product when they first encounter it, while others may not be ready to purchase until after they’ve already tried it.
It’s essential to consider all the different types of content your customers might need at each stage and how you can move them from one step to the next. For example, you might use blog posts to raise awareness of a problem, ebooks or webinars to generate interest in a solution, and free trials or demos to encourage consideration.
Your lead nurturing strategy should consider the different stages of the customer journey and what content will be most effective at each location in the funnel.
Identify key touchpoints
Once you’ve mapped out the customer journey, identify critical touchpoints where you can reach your customers with targeted content.
A touchpoint is any interaction between a customer and your brand; an advertisement, a piece of content, a customer service interaction, or anything else.
Your brand will own some touchpoints, like your website or a blog post. Third parties will control others, like social media or a partner website.
Think about all the different places your customers might encounter your brand and how you can use each touchpoint to deliver the right message at the right time.
Produce the right content for each stage in the funnel
Now that you know what touchpoints you’ll use to reach your customers, it’s time to start producing the content they’ll need at each stage in the funnel.
Remember, the goal of lead nurturing is to move customers from one stage of the funnel to the next by providing them with the information they need to make a purchase decision.
Your content should be designed to educate customers and help them move through the funnel, from awareness to purchase.
Some standard content formats include:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Free trials
- Product demos
Depending on your business and your customers, some content types may be more effective than others.
Experiment with different content formats to see what works best for your business and customers.
Develop a lead nurturing workflow
Once you have a library of content, it’s time to use it.
A lead nurturing workflow is a series of automated emails triggered by specific events, like subscribing to a newsletter or downloading a piece of content.
Each email in the workflow is designed to move the customer closer to a purchase.
For example, a lead nurturing workflow for a SaaS company might look something like this:
- Email 1: Welcome email, with links to helpful resources
- Email 2: How to get started with the product
- Email 3: Product features and benefits
- Email 4: Case studies and customer testimonials
- Email 5: Free trial offer
This might seem like much work, but once you have a lead nurturing workflow in place, it will run automatically in the background, freeing up your time to focus on other things.
Personalize your messaging
One of the great things about lead nurturing is that it allows you to personalize your messaging and content for each customer.
With lead nurturing, you can send different messages to different segments of your list based on their stage in the funnel or their interactions with your brand.
For example, if someone downloads an ebook on your website, you can send them follow-up emails with more information about the topic they’re interested in.
Or, if someone subscribes to your newsletter, you can send them a welcome email with links to your most popular blog posts.
Personalized messages are more likely to be opened and read, and they can help move customers through the funnel by providing them with the information they need when they need it.
Iterate and optimize
Lead nurturing is a long-term strategy, and it may take some time to get it right.
That’s why it’s vital to constantly iterate and optimize your lead nurturing campaigns based on what’s working and what’s not.
Some things you may want to consider when optimizing your lead nurturing strategy include:
- Testing different content formats
- Experimenting with different touchpoints
- Segmenting your list
- Sending more or fewer emails
- Changing the length or frequency of your emails
The only way to know what works best for your business is to experiment and test different campaigns. Over time, you’ll be able to fine-tune your lead nurturing strategy and develop a campaign that gets results.
Lead Nurturing Is the Key to Increased ROI
Lead nurturing is a vital part of any successful marketing strategy.
By creating a library of valuable content and implementing a lead nurturing workflow, you can move customers through the funnel and turn them into lifelong fans of your business.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different content formats and touchpoints; always be sure to iterate and optimize your campaigns based on what’s working.
With a bit of time and effort, you can develop a lead nurturing strategy that works for your business and your customers.