7 lead nurturing best practices

You may have a sales and marketing funnel that’s designed to move leads through the buyer’s journey, but the funnel alone won’t magically move prospects from lead to conversion — at least not at the rate that businesses need to get a return on their sales and marketing spend.

If you want to maximize your sales opportunities and your lead-to-close ratio, a funnel on its own isn’t enough. You need to implement a lead nurturing campaign to facilitate communication with each lead as they navigate this decision-making process, offering the resources and guidance that will increase the likelihood of a lead saying “yes.”

Recap: The benefits of lead nurturing

The importance of lead nurturing has everything to do with the relationship you’re building with leads as they move down the funnel. Few new leads are ready to convert right out of the gate: About 50% of all leads need to take time as they evaluate their options, according to Marketo.

Consideration is a stock stage of any conversion funnel, but the risk of losing those leads is high: The typical business loses 80% of its leads during the customer journey, meaning the majority of your new leads won’t deliver any value for your business. Naturally, marketers are eager to take whatever steps they can to reduce the number of these lost leads and ensure more leads convert into paying customers.

That’s exactly what lead nurturing has to offer any business. By establishing channels of communication with leads as they move down the sales funnel, marketers can build relationships and a level of trust that improves the quality of those leads and increases their odds of turning into a sale.

Those lines of communication can leverage multiple channels, from phone calls to email to online chat, in an effort to remain in contact with leads and be supportive of whatever questions or needs they may have. But it’s more than just remaining in constant contact: Marketers need to develop a program that not only outlines a strategy for successful lead nurturing but also offers guidance to points of contact on the best methods for engaging with leads and serving as a valued resource in the decision-making process.

Lead nurturing is less of an individual strategy used by marketers, and more of an organizational strategy that establishes a game plan for how individuals should engage with leads. This is especially true given the multi-channel nature of the way buyers move across branded properties: Because it’s unlikely that one person will be the sole point of contact with any given lead, it’s important for organizations to coordinate their nurturing activities and strategy to provide unified, helpful, value-added service.

How lead nurturing should work within your overall strategy

Although the two work together, lead nurturing is a separate process from your lead generation strategy. Marketers should work alongside sales team members to build a lead nurturing program that features messaging and guidance specific to each stage of the sales funnel, and for each targeted buyer persona.

In addition, lead nurturing can incorporate the data points collected during lead generation to improve the organization’s approach to each lead. Marketers can use the lead nurturing process to evaluate lead generation practices and determine whether the collection of additional data points might improve lead scoring and, thus, the company’s coordinated lead nurturing strategies.

Best practices for lead nurturing

Want to build a winning lead nurturing program for your business? Take the following steps:

  1. Develop a lead scoring or qualification method to prioritize your efforts. Many businesses don’t have the resources to nurture all leads equally. Identify your best prospects and give them your best.
  2. Embrace a multi-channel approach. Having a single person make phone calls to leads may be part of a winning lead nurturing strategy, but it’s not enough. Consider emails, targeted content, retargeting ads, social media, SMS, and other channels — and mix up your messaging across these channels so you aren’t beating leads over the head with the same point.
  3. Coordinate messaging across all of your channels. All of your messaging doesn’t have to take the same form, but it should be cohesive, producing an effect that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Rather than contradicting itself, this messaging should seek to appeal to leads in new, engaging ways.
  4. Use automation when possible. Retargeting and email are two great channels to automate lead nurturing and expand the capabilities of your marketing team.
  5. Personalize messaging whenever possible. Whether it’s targeted content, phone calls, live chat, or other channels, take advantage of any opportunity to target your messaging to the lead’s specific circumstances. If you’re dealing with a buyer from a business-to-business technology firm, don’t discuss your software benefits from a general standpoint — discuss use cases that apply specifically to that buyer’s needs. Use their name, company name, or city as a talking point to personalize your messages.
  6. Be responsive. When a new lead enters your customer relationship management (CRM) system, time is of the essence — the difference between a 30-minute response time and a five-minute response time can be a 21-times-greater likelihood of advancing down the sales funnel, per HubSpot. When your leads seek engagement, give them what they want — and fast.
  7. Integrate sales and marketing lead nurturing. As leads advance down the funnel, marketing passes the torch to sales team members. A seamless transition improves your potential rate of success. Make sure that lead information is well-documented in a CRM so that sales team members can pick up where marketing left off, rather than forcing leads to re-explain their situation and their needs.

Following through

Take the time to track the performance of your lead nurturing. Report on what methods of outreach, timing, and messaging are most effective in engaging your audience.

Successful lead nurturing requires a deep understanding of your target audience. As leads enter your CRM, marketing can move faster and more efficiently when there’s a strong familiarity with what your customers are looking for, and how your business can help. These insights can come from the lead qualification process, incorporating valuable data points from call tracking software, online forms, and other channels to build an in-depth profile of your customer and what they’re looking for.