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August 24, 2022

What is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of educating and building trust with your prospects in order to guide them through the buyer’s journey. The ultimate goal of lead nurturing is to provide your prospects with a unique experience that keeps them coming back for more — and eventually converts them into customers. 

However, the first step to a successful lead nurturing strategy is to understand who the people on your website are, what their pain points are and how you can solve for them. By analyzing your popular web pages and conversion points, you can get a better idea of how people are interacting with your website. Then, you can use that knowledge to provide value to your prospects in a contextually relevant way. 

Lead nurturing is vital in personalizing your prospects’ buyer’s journey. It allows you to guide someone from where they are to where you want them to be while helping them understand the full scope of their pain points in the process. 

Additionally, lead nurturing will directly impact how much revenue you’re able to generate and the lifetime value of the customers you bring in. In fact, research has found that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.  

Basics of Lead Nurturing

1. Segmentation

Consumers come in all shapes and sizes, meaning the way you market to one audience may not be as effective with a different audience. This is where segmentation comes in handy. Segmentation breaks your leads into subgroups based on their actions, purchasing habits, interests, and other characteristics. Ultimately, your subgroups should organize leads based on their purchasing behavior, so you can effectively cater marketing material to their particular needs.

A mass generic message to all of your leads may resonate with a few individuals, but likely fails to make a meaningful connection with your wide range of buyer personas. With segmentation, you can send the right content to the right people in order to ensure each subgroup is set on a buyer’s journey that’s unique to them.

2. Know what motivates your audience

What drives your audience to take action? Are they simply looking for a better way of doing things? Do they need something that’s going to streamline and simplify their work? Or are they fearful of what might happen if they don’t find the right solution? Knowing what motivates your audience is what enables you to make meaningful connections with them. By understanding what their most pressing needs or desires are, you can fine tune your marketing material to ensure it’s going to strike a chord with them.

Keep in mind that your audience is likely made up of multiple buyer personas with varying pain points and needs. What motivates one buyer personas might be different than what drives another. Ensure that you’re personalizing your content marketing efforts in order to craft the proper message for each subgroup.

3. Provide Value

If you’re expecting prospective leads to immediately see the value in your product or services, think again. Building consumer trust takes time, which is why your lead nurturing tactics should be built around the customer’s best interests above all else. Especially in the early stages of the sales funnel, it’s important to provide value to your target audience without asking for anything in return. This could come in the form of free educational content, such as a relevant eBook or whitepaper, or a complimentary demo of what you have to offer.

Developing long-lasting relationships with your audience starts with demonstrating your commitment to doing right by them. Once you understand the needs and desires of your buyer personas, you can provide them with resources and information that they’ll legitimately find useful. Once you’ve built that all-important consumer trust, you can start to promote the value of your products or services.

4. Use Progressive Profiling

Progressive profiling enables your organization to better understand your prospects without hindering their buyer’s journey. Naturally, knowing the ins and and outs of your target audience helps you optimize your lead nurturing tactics and cater to their individual needs. At the same time, gathering information about prospective buyers can’t come across as overly pushy or intrusive. Otherwise, you risk losing out on their business entirely.

Through progressing profiling, you’re able to gradually collect information on your leads through brief questionnaires that don’t create added friction on the customer’s end. It’s a more organic way of getting to know your audience without asking too much from them in the early stages of consideration.

6 Lead Nurturing Tips

1. Know Your Buyer

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again — defining and understanding your buyer personas is what makes effective lead nurturing possible. Before you start to determine performance goals and test marketing strategies, you first need to know who your buyers are. Different buyer personas may require different nurturing strategies, so ensure you’ve got a strong sense of each unique audience before you refine the rest of your lead nurturing strategy.

2. When in doubt, whiteboard it out

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that certainly rings true when it comes to whiteboard ideation. It may seem archaic in today’s digital world, but whiteboards are a great way to turn lead nurture ideas into action. Working collaboratively with sales and marketing personnel, use a whiteboard to map out the ideal customer journey. Include key moments in the awareness, consideration, and decision stages for each buyer persona, and see how those moments interconnect with one another. If your teams are spread out across the country, you can opt for a virtual whiteboard that replicates the in-person experience.

3. Determine Clear Goals

Once you’ve gotten to know your buyers and have a clear sense of how to move them through the sales funnel, it’s time to start determining lead nurture goals. The KPIs you use to determine the performance of your lead nurture program will play a major role in your ability to optimize tactics and strategies over time. Whether you want the focus to be on high conversion and clickthrough rates or are more concerned with customer lifetime value, determine clear goals and communicate them to all relevant parties.

4. Automate Your Process

Your teams are likely stretched thin as-is, so finding ways to remove tedious, time-consuming tasks from their plates is a must. This is where automating elements of your lead nurturing program can make a huge difference in the productivity of your company. Tasks like sending follow-up emails after a form has been filled out and providing educational resources to leads who are in a certain stage of the sales funnel can easily be handled through automation. Given that buyer journeys today aren’t typically linear, it’s especially helpful to lean on automation software to keep users organized and provide them with the right information at the right moment.

5. Monitor Your Performance

The only way to improve your lead nurture processes over time is by monitoring your performance. As you begin to execute on your lead nurturing plan, make sure you’re keeping an eye on what’s working and what isn’t within each buyer’s journey. We know that it can be tricky to pinpoint exactly what drove a prospective customer to become a buyer. With so many variables at play, it’s important to invest in performance monitoring software that helps you identify the biggest drivers of success within your sales funnel. With the right tools at your disposal, you can determine which pieces of content are responsible for generating the most conversions.

6. Test Your Messaging

Feel like your marketing material is falling flat? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Test out multiple messaging approaches to see what works best with your varying buyer personas. A tech-focused buyer personas may want the hard-hitting information on what you provide as opposed to high-level value props. On the flip side, an executive-level buyer personas will want to know how your products or services improve their ROI. Once you’ve tested different messaging approaches with each of your buyer personas, you’ll have a better sense of how to effectively connect with them.

Lead Nurturing Tactics 

When developing your lead nurturing strategy, there are multiple tactics you can use to reach your prospects. In your efforts to foster a relationship, keep in mind the inbound tenet of “Add value before you extract value” and make sure you’re not asking for more than you’re giving in return or marketing too intrusively.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a tried and true tactic for lead nurturing. Once a site visitor has filled out a form to become a lead, you have their email address in addition to some other information about who they are and what they’re doing on your website. You can use that information to follow up by email and provide more information about the interests they’ve expressed. 

For example, if a prospect converts on a content offer about inbound marketing, you know they’re interested in that topic. You can send them a follow-up email recommending a more in-depth resource on inbound marketing to nurture them further down the funnel. 

Marketing automation features like personalization tokens, email workflows and segmentation can enable you to do some of this nurturing automatically. By structuring your outreach around the actions your leads take and the challenges they tell you they have, you ensure your conversations are contextually relevant and increase the prospects’ trust in your company with every interaction.

Download the Essential Guide to Demand Generation to learn the essentials of  deploying this powerful strategy within your business.

Remarketing ads 

Once a prospect has visited your website, you can cookie them and serve them remarketing ads across different websites and social media platforms. These ads can bring previous website visitors back to convert on your website. 

For example, if a visitor was on a landing page for a demo but left your site before submitting a request, you can show them ads for the demo while they’re browsing other places on the internet. The goal is that seeing your ads will keep your company at the top of the prospects’ minds so they’ll eventually come back and finish requesting your demo.

You can segment your remarketing ads into two groups of people to start off: people who spend the most time on your website without converting and people who get close to finishing a conversion. 

Conversational marketing

Conversational marketing enables leads to have an experience on your website that’s similar to what they would have in a physical store. If someone walks into a store with questions about a specific product, they can ask an employee and get the information they’re looking for. 

If someone comes to your website looking for specific information, a chatbot can direct them to what they’re looking for in real time, instead of requiring them to fill out a form and wait for a response.

What’s most important in this case is to be sure you have a stellar playbook strategy — no one is going to answer a chatbot that doesn’t ask the right questions. 

Smart content

Smart content or dynamic content changes what’s displayed in a website module, ad or email based on the behaviors and interests of the viewer. 

For example, you can change the body content of an email based on whether or not the recipient opened a previous email. Or, you can change a blog call-to-action (CTA) if the reader has already downloaded that content offer.

Using smart content allows you to continuously offer your leads a unique experience and increase the likelihood of them continuing to engage with your content.

Social media

Social media groups are a great way to tangibly segment your leads and prospects into an online community dedicated to offering solutions and relevant content to their needs. Facebook and LinkedIn both offer a groups function where you can create an exclusive online group for leads and prospects who have converted on specific offers. Additionally, brand-specific hashtags provide a searchable online space where your prospects can ask questions and interact with your content. 

Key Takeaway

Lead nurturing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. While some companies may find great value in conversational marketing as a conversion tool, others may find email performs better — it all comes down to who your prospects are and what their digital body language looks like.

The first step of effective lead nurturing is understanding how to communicate in a way that best resonates with your personas. But, once you know that, you can use lead nurturing to bring in bigger deal sizes, higher win rates and a faster sales cycle.

Lead nurturing is just one element of ensuring your lead generation efforts turn into revenue for your company. Learn how to optimize your marketing efforts throughout the entirety of the buyer’s journey with our Essential Guide to Demand Generation.

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Guido Bartolacci

Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.

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