Lead Nurturing 101: Definition and Practices
Imagine walking into a clothing store and having the salesperson offer you clothes without asking your size or what you need. What are the chances that you’d purchase that? You’d probably walk out of the store and not even look back. Well, lead nurturing stops this from happening.
Customers don’t like to be bombarded with your products right from the get-go. Instead, there are better ways you can turn your leads into buyers.
Lead nurturing is the process that keeps your customers engaged through all the separate stages of your sales funnel. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s not a secret that leads nurturing is a commonly used practice in sales and marketing, and it’s for a good reason. It simply works.
You’ve come to the right place if you’re not yet familiar with the lead nurturing process.
This guide will walk you from the A to the Z of lead nurturing. We’ll talk about the benefits of lead nurturing, its best practices, goals, and tools. We’ll also cover the steps of a successful lead nurturing strategy to help you build your own.
So, without further ado, let’s jump right in and learn all there is to know about lead nurturing.
Understanding Lead Nurturing
Welcome to the first section of our lead nurturing guide. We know that time is money, so let’s get right to it. What is a nurturing process?
As the name suggests, lead nurturing is the process of nurturing and supporting your lead until they are ready to convert. During the journey, your goal will be to establish a relationship with the potential customer rather than trying to make a one-off sale.
But there’s more to the strategy than that.
Let’s talk about lead nurturing, why it is essential, and how it can bring value to your business.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing in marketing is a fantastic inbound marketing tactic for building meaningful and authentic connections with your leads. This way, you’ll be the helping hand that makes them want to purchase your product because they fell in love with your brand.
So, what does it mean to nurture a lead? From gathering info about your customers’ needs to using relevant content to give them a reason to choose your brand over others, lead nurturing covers all the bases of a sales funnel.
Whether customers come in at the awareness, consideration, or decision level, your lead nurturing strategy determines if they’ll come out of the other end.
We will discuss the stages of lead nurturing later, but in the meantime, let’s talk about why it is vital to your business.
Why Is Lead Nurturing Important?
The short answer here is – lead nurturing helps you give the correct information to your customers at the right time. Essentially, you get to target each customer based on what they need. The right content will take you to the finish line.
We’ve identified four reasons why lead nurturing is vital in marketing:
- Improves the turnover of your sales funnel
- Cultivates more valuable customer relationships and creates loyal customers
- Improves conversion rates and saves money
- Establish and maintain contact with customers at all times
Before we dive into how to create a lead nurturing campaign for yourself, let’s talk about one last thing: how it can help your business.
How Can Lead Nurturing Help Your Business?
What are the benefits of lead nurturing? Naturally, you’d want to know how a particular strategy would benefit your business if implemented. Well, we’re here to answer.
We found three main benefits of lead nurturing, so let’s see what they are:
- Get insights into your customers’ wants, needs, and pain points
- Identify and take advantage of upselling and cross-selling opportunities
- Make your sales cycle shorter (by 23%)
Now that you know what’s in it, let’s talk about how to create a lead nurturing campaign for yourself.
Drawing a Lead Nurturing Strategy
Welcome to the most crucial section of our guide. Here, we’ll learn how to create a lead nurturing strategy. We’ve created a step-by-step tutorial that includes our best practices.
How long should a nurture campaign be? How do you nurture warm leads? What is the goal of a lead nurturing campaign? We’ll answer all these questions and give you our tips for lead nurturing campaigns.
So, without further ado, let’s jump in and talk about the first step of drawing a lead nurturing strategy – lead scoring.
Before deciding how to nurture each lead in your sales funnel, you need to assess where each lead is. Are they cold leads or sales-qualified leads? That is what lead scoring helps you understand.
Lead nurturing and scoring go hand in hand. In fact, without understanding where your leads are, you will have an adamant time showing them the proper support at the right time.
Step 1: Understand sales funnel stages
Your sales funnel is separated into three stages – top of the funnel (TOF), middle of the funnel (MOF), and bottom of the funnel (BOF). Leads come in from the top and slowly progress to the bottom, which is when they make a purchase.
Note: Not all leads reach the bottom of the funnel. Depending on your industry, you can expect different rates of conversion.
Step 2: Determine lead fit with demographic characteristics of leads
Lead fit refers to how well a lead fits into your ideal buyer persona based on location, age, gender, etc. If you have a local store, the leads who live in your city would have a positive score, and those who are too far would have a negative score.
Step 3: Determine lead interest with behavioral characteristics of leads
Here, you’ll need to assess the level of engagement a lead has shown toward your content. The leads will get a positive score if they’ve downloaded a white paper from your website and filled out a contact form. If the lead has only liked one of your social media posts, they might not receive a high score.
Step 4: Assign point values to each characteristic
Assigning point values to each characteristic based on your priorities would be best. For example, you could say that a lead who subscribed to your newsletter should get 3 points, while those who followed your brand on Instagram should get 1.
Your lead scoring metrics should be discussed with your sales and marketing teams before being set in stone.
Once you assign all values for all characteristics to all your leads, you’ll get a list of leads with scores. The higher the score, the more likely they are to convert, aka the closer they are to the bottom of your sales funnel.
Step 5: Determine the score threshold that represents sales-qualified leads.
Through trial and error, you can understand the lead score at which leads are ready to make a purchase or be contacted by your sales team. This threshold will highly depend on your lead scoring metrics.
Now that you know how to do lead scoring, it’s time to move on to the next stage of your campaign – nurturing your leads.
Let’s be honest. Nobody likes seeing through the marketing efforts of brands. As a customer, you want to know that your brand cares about you. Lead nurturing in digital marketing helps you accomplish just that. Content marketing is one of the tools that will do the trick.
Usually, content marketing efforts are made at the top and middle of your sales funnel. It includes emails and video content to social media posts and educational blogs.
Whether you send weekly newsletters to leads with scores below 50 or use content marketing to bring in new customers, content marketing is a crucial element of lead nurturing.
Your marketing team will handle everything that goes along with content marketing, including visuals, promotions, tone of voice, etc.
Next up in your campaign will be the multichannel distribution.
While your marketing team is working on your content marketing material, you’ll need to decide on distribution channels. What different ways will you use to reach out to leads?
The beautiful thing about content is that you can repurpose it for different channels. For example, you can write a blog, link it to a whitepaper, send an email campaign about it, reuse the content on social media, and more. This way, you’ll get more out of one piece than before.
Multichannel distribution or channel interconnection is an excellent tool for widening your communication with prospects or leads; this is why it ultimately increases your revenue.
More leads come into your sales funnel without additional effort, meaning you’ll get the most out of your content marketing.
Next up, you’ll need to hash out your campaign’s web and retargeting section.
Web and Retargeting
Your online presence plays a huge role in generating leads, no matter your industry. Having a website doesn’t only ensure your online presence, but it can also be a tool to reel visitors into your sales funnel.
Contact forms are effective. If you’re trying to gather emails from website visitors, you can tempt them by offering a 10% discount in exchange for their email addresses. You can also ask for their email address in exchange for white papers or a free trial.
Having a website also means that you can take advantage of retargeting. Using Google Display Ads, you can retarget previous visitors to your website who are already aware of your brand. The likelihood of conversion increases when you target those who have already heard or browsed through your products.
Social and Direct Emails
The seemingly easiest and cheapest ways of nurturing leads are social media and email marketing.
The first place people will turn to learn more about your brand is Instagram or your website. Having a social media presence means giving your leads a platform to know about your brand and products. They’ll get a perception of how famous your brand is, what your products are, and what tone your brand has.
If you get them to follow you, you’ll get a chance to grab their attention through your posts. With a carefully mapped out social media strategy, you’ll hopefully nudge these cold leads into the next stage, where they’ll be interested in your product.
Establishing immediate contact is crucial for cold and warm leads. When it comes to email marketing for lead nurturing, your chances of getting a conversion go up. You get to remind your leads about your brand, and you’ll also get the opportunity to reel them in with a deal or a new collection announcement.
Remember that automation makes drip email marketing campaigns much more effective. How? Let’s move to the next section of our strategy creation and see.
When your customer list grows, you stop being able to show each one of them special treatment. It’s when you’ll need to find a way to care for them without individual efforts. Enter: automation.
There are lots of CRM and lead nurturing marketing automation tools out there that you can use to improve your campaign’s efficiency. Whether it’s an email marketing tool or a full-blown customer relationship management software, it’ll enable you to distribute your content more thoughtfully.
Lead nurturing automation tools give you the power to treat each customer in a particular way without additional effort. Set up automation workflows and let the software do the work for you.
We will discuss lead nurturing tools later, but for now, let’s talk more about the three stages of lead nurturing.
Lead Nurturing Stages
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – What are the elements of lead nurturing?
As you may already know, sales funnels have very distinct stages. When it comes to lead nurturing, there are three stages you should know about. So, what are the three foundational steps of its strategy?
Image Source: freshworks.com
The three stages of lead nurturing are awareness, consideration, and decision. Let’s go through each step and see how it works.
Potential customers learn about your brand and products at the top of your sales funnel. It is when you’ll need to give them the info they need to start feeling familiar.
At this stage, you’ll want to use your lead generation tools. These tools can be anything from SEO and content marketing to online ads and PR.
After your new cold leads become familiar with your product, a portion of them will move on to the second stage – consideration.
The second stage of your campaign is a consideration. It is when your leads look deeper into your product’s specifics and maybe even compare it to your competitors’ products.
Some say the second stage is when your lead nurturing strategy starts to yield results. At this stage, you’ll want to use tools like drip email marketing campaigns, social media, and other engaging content to tempt a purchase.
If you convince these warm leads that your product is worth it, they’ll move on to the final stage of your sales funnel – the decision stage.
The finish line is very close at the very bottom of your funnel. Your potential customers are ready to make a purchase, where timely and relevant CTAs or discounts come into play.
You could also offer demos and unique promos to seal the deal.
After this, you’ll need to work on maintaining your relationship and turning them into repeat, loyal customers.
You’ve learned about the stages of lead nurturing, so let’s talk about more technical issues, namely how you can calculate the ROI.
Lead Nurturing ROI
After implementing a lead nurturing campaign, it’s time to reap the rewards. So, how would you calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) of lead nurturing?
Here’s our formula:
Lead Nurturing ROI = Revenue with nurturing campaign – Revenue without nurturing campaign
Essentially, the additional revenue you make from new leads who have gone through your lead nurturing process is your return.
To make it a little more simple, let’s break this formula down even further:
Revenue with nurturing campaign = new leads x new conversion rate x new average order value
Revenue without nurturing campaign = new leads x old conversion rate x old average order value
Suppose you assume your old conversion rate and average order value. How much less would you have made with the same number of leads?
Lead Nurturing Tools
Manually nurturing leads can be feasible up to a certain number. Afterward, you’ll need to get help from tools.
Choosing a lead nurturing tool can be challenging. The market is saturated, but it helps to know what you need precisely. If you need a simple email marketing tool, you can go with ActiveCampaign or MailerLite. If you’re looking for a social media management tool, Sprout Social can do the trick.
But what if you’re in the market for a complete lead nurturing and CRM solution? Well, it’s your lucky day! We’ve hand-picked three CRM solutions that can help you improve your sales funnel. Let’s talk about Salesforce, EngageBay, and HubSpot.
Salesforce is a popular full-suite CRM solution that can handle everything from sales and marketing to commerce and customer success. The platform’s ultimate goal is to help you be more efficient and reduce the costs of running your business.
You’ll need to check out their “Marketing Cloud Account Management” tool if you want to use the platform purely for lead nurturing. It’ll help you build and maintain customer relationships through automated marketing communication materials.
Long story short, customer behavior triggers specific types of messages, leading to a connection between your brand and your lead.
But don’t get too excited just yet.
The truth is that Salesforce is a compelling solution, but it’s made for bigger brands with more significant needs. That is why their pricing might scare you off a bit. The Salesforce solution will cost you anywhere from $1,250 and $15,000 per month for 10,000 to 75,000 contacts.
If this solution is too advanced for your brand, you might like EngageBay.
EngageBay is a more affordable solution for sales, marketing, and support teams to take care of lead nurturing. It is an all-in-one CRM solution that helps you build upon your customer relationships.
EngageBay is a less advanced solution, but it is free for up to 15 users of your team! Plus, it still has all the essential tools you’d need to run a lead nurturing campaign. Essentially, it doesn’t hurt to try it out.
If you like EngageBay after using it, you can upgrade to better plans. EngageBay pricing plans range from $14.99 to $99.99 per month, but you can get 10-20% off by paying annually or biennially.
If EngageBay is not what you were looking for, maybe HubSpot will be more up your alley.
If you’re in the marketing field, you’ve heard of HubSpot. Maybe you’ve read one of their wildly popular blogs or even run a free trial of their product. Let’s figure out if HubSpot is worth all the fuss.
HubSpot is a CRM platform that offers different marketing, sales, operations, and customer service tools. They have basic and advanced features so you can choose based on your preferences.
HubSpot has free tools for everyone, but their pricing plans range from $45 – $3,600, with $60 for an additional 10,000 contacts.
It will never hurt to try if you’re interested in trying out HubSpot for your lead nurturing campaigns. After all, 150,000+ users are happy with its performance, so it must be good.
Now that you’ve learned about our top three software choices let’s close out this guide and run a quick recap of what we learned.
Lead nurturing is a very efficient tactic for anyone looking to enhance their sales cycle.
Want to make your sales funnel shorter? Lead nurturing can do the trick. Plus, it’ll leave long-term effects. Why? Because lead nurturing focuses on building customer relationships, uniquely treating each lead based on their needs, and giving them the right content at the right time.
This guide taught us how to build a lead nurturing strategy, including lead scoring, content marketing, automation, multichannel distribution, and retargeting.
We also taught you the different stages of lead nurturing, why it is essential, and how it can benefit your business. With calculations of your lead nurturing ROI and supportive tools for your lead nurturing campaigns, this lead nurturing guide is complete.