Lead generation will get leads in the door…
But it’s lead nurturing that turns them into paying customers.
67% of B2B marketers say they see at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more.
We’ll show you what lead nurturing is, detail even more reasons why it’s important, and provide you with some lead nurturing best practices you can implement in your next campaign.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing means building relationships with qualified leads who have the potential to become customers but haven’t bought your products or services...yet.
The goal is to continually increase a lead’s awareness of you and raise their trust in your solution, demonstrate your authority and expertise in your niche, and prove to the lead that you’re the best option for what they need.
All lead nurturing programs begin with collecting contact information you can use to communicate with leads directly and personalize the messages you send them.
Why Is Lead Nurturing Important?
The overarching reason lead nurturing is important is because leads require a lot more than one brush with your brand to make a buying decision.
Many leads you generate will have first discovered you through a single blog post or FB ad. They’re interested, but they need to see a lot more sales enablement content from you and about you to be sure you have what they’re looking for.
The good news is, according to Forrester, you can expect a 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured leads as compared to non-nurtured. They go on to show that when companies execute highly-effective lead nurturing strategies, they generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost.
That’s a big win-win.
And even if your efforts don’t deliver the results those statistics promise (as of right now), you will start to learn what kind of communication and content works best to convert your leads into opportunities and customers.
You’ll also find out what hurts your credibility or disengages your audience.
But whatever the case, doing the hard work of lead nurturing is what you must do. After all, 62% of high-performing marketing teams use lead nurturing, while it’s used by only 47% of moderate performers and 33% of underperformers.
Example of a Typical Lead Nurturing Campaign
A lead nurturing campaign begins with smart lead generation strategies.
Let’s say, for example, you start a blog and post and promote high-quality content on a regular basis.
This works to elevate your SEO, and therefore, draw in many people from the search engine results pages (SERPs).
But people reading your blog aren’t necessarily leads yet - they haven’t provided you with any contact information.
To encourage them to do that, you need to give them an offer in exchange for their information.
So, in this example, you create a short, valuable pdf that busts the top 10 myths of a topic your audience cares about. They give you their name, email address, and maybe even their phone number to receive your offer while being added to your email list.
Now, they’re a lead you can start nurturing.
The most common form of lead nurturing at this point is email marketing.
Email is the most direct form of communication next to a phone call or face-to-face meeting, and it’s much more effective in converting leads into customers than other forms of communication, like social media.
Continuing this example, you would create an email “drip” campaign that’s sent to all new leads.
One email will welcome them and deliver the offer you promised them when they signed up. Another may detail deeper pain points your leads are likely dealing with and reveal a light solution to them.
The next may discuss real customer stories of people similar to your leads who had great success with your solution.
And yet another email may dive into all the benefits of your solution, both in the short and long-term before a final email pushes them to your sales page where you go for the close, or hand them off to a salesperson who finishes the job you started.
Of course, all of this isn’t always accomplished in a single campaign.
More often than not, you’re executing multiple campaigns back-to-back, designed to drive leads deeper down the buyer’s journey to the point where buying your solution becomes the obvious and natural next step.
Lead Nurturing Best Practices
Learning how to nurture leads will deliver bigger and better returns for your business year-over-year, but it won’t be easy and it won’t happen instantly.
The lead nurturing strategy you use today may be different than the one you use a few months from now. That’s just how it goes.
The lead nurturing best practices we lay out below are meant to be evergreen strategies to assist you in your current campaign or any future campaigns you plan on running.
Determine a Lead Management Process
Before you can hit the ground running with lead nurturing, you should have a well-defined lead management process.
This means you need to work together with sales management and marketing to create a process that achieves your mutual goals and keeps all the leads you generate organized.
The goal is to make sure that your sales team is only talking to the most qualified, hottest leads who have been primed to buy - leaving the other leads to continue being nurtured by marketing.
There are six steps to a solid lead management process:
- Identify and understand leads by gathering their demographic data, behavior, and engagement with your brand.
- Collect intelligence about your leads through the forms they fill out for your free offers, through links with a tracking token added to them to see who interacts with your content, and through your marketing analytics to see how people are finding your brand and solution.
- Score your leads (which we’ll cover later in this post) to separate the most valuable ones from the lowest value.
- Nurture your leads to lead them closer to the sale.
- Give the hottest leads to your sales team so they can close them.
- Track and measure your leads through the entire sales cycle to measure the ROI on your activities.
Develop an Email Marketing Campaign
As we noted earlier, email marketing is the most effective form of lead nurturing that currently exists.
Marketing Sherpa found that 64% of companies they surveyed said that email marketing provides the highest ROI of any marketing tactic.
There are many forms of email marketing you can use in your lead nurturing program.
Immediately after a lead subscribes, you can begin sending them educational content that demonstrates the value your solution(s) can offer. Generally, you’re not going for the sale with these emails. But keep in mind, every email can be considered a type of sales email because the ultimate goal is to convince the lead to buy from you.
Another form of email marketing is a newsletter.
Educational content can be part of your newsletter. But you can also send tips, advice, and insights that enable them to upgrade their skills or grow their business.
After a while, you may consider sending product-specific emails.
This can come in the form of a product demo, encouraging subscribers to sign up for a webinar that walks viewers through your product, how it works, and why they should consider it for their business.
Or, perhaps you have an event coming up.
In that case, you may send event invitations through email to drive traffic to it. This works for trade shows, conferences, keynote addresses or other speaking engagements.
If leads are showing a lot of engagement, they showed up to an event or attended a webinar, maybe they’ve perused the pricing page on your website, then it may be a good time to send them a personal email from a salesperson.
At this stage, they’re much more likely to keep up communication with your sales team and buy what you’re selling.
We just talked about personal emails from salespeople, but that’s not exactly what we mean when we say personalized emails.
Personalizing your emails means making them appear like they’re being sent directly to one person - the lead receiving the email.
You don’t want your emails appearing like a mass blast from a faceless corporation. Those are quickly filed away or deleted.
One way to do this is by putting a real person’s name in the from line. Like “Joanna from ACME.” So they see they’re getting an email not just from ACME, but from a real person with a name at the company.
Another step is including the lead’s name in the subject line, or at the very least, in the opening of your email. “Hey Susan,” is much better than “Hey Reader.”
To take personalization a bit further, consider segmenting your list into specific groups based on their behavior. People who signed up to your email list through a blog post should receive different emails than those who attended a product webinar.
The people who went to your webinar are much closer to buying, and therefore, should be sent emails that direct them toward a salesperson or link them to a sales page.
Another form of personalization is sending “triggered” emails to specific people after they take (or avoid) a certain action.
For example, if a customer visits your product page and then doesn’t buy, you could immediately send them an email with a coupon. The goal is to hit the right person with the right message at just the right time.
It works by assigning values to every lead you generate, usually in the form of numerical points, although it can also take the form of alphabetical rankings like A, B, C, D or terms like “cold,” “warm,” and “hot.”
Leads will take wildly different actions and their behavior will tell you if they’re getting closer to a sale or further away. This is the scale for the score you give your leads.
These actions can range from submitting their contact information for a lead magnet to requesting pricing from a sales rep. If you used numerical values, submitting a form may only get +5 points while requesting pricing gets +30.
Lead scoring primarily helps your sales team quickly identify high-value leads and prioritize them over low-value leads - increasing the rate at which they close new customers.
And according to the Lenskold Group, 68% of successful marketers cite lead scoring based on content and engagement as the most effective tactic for improving revenue contribution from lead nurturing.
Using Visual Communication to Supercharge Lead Nurturing
The best way to communicate with leads is to use their preferred mode of communication.
It’ll be hard to figure that out one-by-one, but we can tell you right now, the majority of online users prefer visual communication over anything else.
That means screen recordings showing how your product operates.
Webcam video for sales meetings.
Or fun and instructional GIFs for support.