Half of your leads aren’t ready to buy when they fill out your lead form, and a whopping 80% of them will never convert. But don’t let these dismal stats get you down – you can dramatically improve your sales outcomes after lead generation with lead nurturing.
Companies that execute well-defined lead nurturing strategies generate 50% more sales at 33% lower costs, according to conversion rate optimization firm Invesp.
In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about lead nurturing, cover how to build your own lead nurturing strategy, and introduce the most effective lead nurturing tools available.
First, what is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of engaging and educating your leads as you nudge them down the sales funnel. It’s a way to build relationships with potential buyers, offer value, build trust, promote brand awareness, and maintain a connection until they’re ready to convert.
Your two main goals when designing your lead nurturing activities are:
- “Cooking” or educating leads on your product or service so it’s clear exactly what benefits and advantages you’ll offer them when they become a paying customer
- Understanding the needs of your leads so you can better offer support and value at each stage of the sales funnel
If you can achieve these two goals, you can significantly increase the likelihood that a lead will choose your product or service when they’re ready to buy.
What’s in a lead nurturing campaign?
A comprehensive lead nurturing campaign engages leads and prospects across a variety of channels, in different formats, and with different objectives.
While some lead nurturing campaigns are executed by sales reps, others are under marketing’s domain. That’s why – as always – close collaboration with marketing is integral to success.
Here’s a list of methods to include in your lead nurturing campaign:
Each of these methods promotes lead nurturing in different ways.
For example, your email marketing team may run a weekly email newsletter that covers feature updates and customer success stories to educate leads on your product’s capabilities and demonstrate how you already help existing customers.
Blog posts, infographics, and eBooks provide relevant content on industry pain points and specific challenges your leads will relate to.
Webinars featuring industry thought leaders that offer helpful data or actionable tips can help you strengthen your relationship with leads by providing real-world value.
Meanwhile, your sales reps will speak directly to leads on the phone and during demos. These one-on-one conversations are extraordinarily valuable lead nurturing opportunities. You’ll get the chance to ask leads about their challenges, offer guidance and support, and explain how your product or service can help their companies excel.
Why is lead nurturing important?
Without lead nurturing, potential buyers won’t understand who your company is, what exactly you do, how you can help them, what value or advantages you offer, and most importantly, why they should choose you over your competitors.
While lead nurturing helps you build engagement and develop relationships with the leads you generated, it also delivers important information that will ultimately guide their buying decision.
What is lead nurturing’s role in account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy B2B companies use to target individual, high-value prospects. The primary objective of account-based marketing is to engage these prospects with extremely personalized and high-value content and messaging so they gain a crystal clear understanding of how your company will benefit them specifically.
Lead nurturing is inextricable from account-based marketing. It enables you to quickly engage and form meaningful relationships with high-quality prospects, retarget “dead” or dormant leads, and prove your brand value.
If converting high-value and strategic leads is your goal, you’d be wise to develop customized lead nurturing campaigns for each of them.
Here are three key factors for lead nurturing success in ABM campaigns:
- Highly targeted and coordinated. All of the content you present to your prospects – whether it’s in the form of email campaigns, blog posts, or ads – should be entirely personalized, targeted, and coordinated across channels.
- Engagement-oriented. When developing your lead nurturing strategy for strategic accounts, ensure every touchpoint provides an opportunity for engagement. By adding calls to action within your content or offering one-on-one consultations, you can cultivate interest while preventing lead abandonment and lost revenue.
- Data-centric. Without access to up-to-date industry- and organization-specific data, it will be difficult to offer insights that deliver value. Data plays a central role in lead nurturing content and conversations.
How do you create a lead nurturing strategy?
Here are seven steps for building an effective lead nurturing strategy:
1. Align sales and marketing
As mentioned already, close alignment between sales and marketing is crucial to executing a successful lead nurturing strategy. Think of lead nurturing as a relay race; marketers run the first laps, and sales teams are the ones who cross the finish line. Both departments play a crucial role.
Marketing is responsible for attracting new leads, scoring them, and delivering them to sales for prospecting. On top of this, all of the content, webinars, newsletters, and social media ads that will be used to nurture leads are developed by the marketing team.
Sales is responsible for carrying out sales prospecting, performing sales outreach, scheduling follow-up meetings, providing demos, and serving as trusted consultants via a consultative approach to selling.
Unless these two departments work in tandem, there will be a damaging mismatch between what marketing produces and what sales reps say. That’s why leaders from marketing and sales must build the lead nurturing strategy together, from the ground up.
2. Define the sales funnel
Once you have key marketing and sales stakeholders in the room together, it’s important to determine what the sales funnel will look like.
By answering these questions, you’ll be able to outline both timelines and specific needs from sales and marketing.
3. Find out what your leads care about
If your goal is to provide targeted and personalized information to your leads, you need to first understand what kinds of information will be valuable to them. Specifically, you need to gain a deep understanding of your leads’ challenges, pain points, needs, and goals.
- You can do this by:
- Interviewing your best customers
- Unpacking successful customer relationships
- Performing research into the industries you’re targeting
- Interviewing customer service managers
- Speaking with expert consultants
Having the right tools will often be invaluable here (see step 7 below).
After you define what your prospects care about, you’ll have a clear picture of how to target them with content and information.
4. Perform lead scoring and enrichment
Lead scoring and enrichment are two important activities to include in your lead nurturing strategy. Both enable you to prioritize and target the right leads.
Lead scoring is the process of attributing a value to each new lead. Scoring systems allow you to rank leads based on criteria you determine (such as how likely they are to convert and their predicted lifetime value) so you know which ones to prioritize.
When done correctly, lead scoring empowers your sales reps to pursue the most relevant leads while filtering out those that wouldn’t be a good fit for your company.
Lead enrichment is when you augment lead profiles in your CRM with additional data and insights. By periodically updating lead data with relevant information on metrics like website visits, category, geography, paid traffic, page views, and more, you can gain a clear and up-to-date assessment of the true opportunity.
5. Determine content needs
Content is one of the primary mechanisms for lead nurturing. Through different forms of content – such as blogs, eBooks, white papers, emails, and social media posts – you can relay useful information to your leads.
This information shouldn’t only educate them on how your company offers value, but also prove that you understand their challenges and pain.
Start by identifying which types of content will be the most impactful for your target audience, and then create a timeline. For example, instead of publishing three blog posts in one week, and then none for the rest of the month, establish a regular cadence. This will help leads begin to see your blog as a reliable source of information, not just a marketing tool. Read more about it in our B2B content marketing blog post.
6. Establish measurable KPIs
When building a lead nurturing strategy, it’s important to determine how you’ll monitor performance and measure success.
By establishing quantifiable key performance indicators (KPIs), you’ll have a standardized and replicable framework for measuring progress.
For example, you’ll want to monitor the open and click-through rate on your email drip campaigns and newsletters. Count how much traffic goes to each blog post, check the session duration to assess relevance, and measure how many leads clicked on your CTA for foolproof insights.
Higher-level KPIs – such as the ratio of new leads to qualified leads, and the time it takes to close a new deal – give you an overview of how effective your lead nurturing strategy is as a whole.
7. Choose the right lead nurturing tools
You’ll likely need several kinds of lead nurturing tools, as different types of tools support different lead nurturing activities. The key is identifying which ones offer the most possible value.
For example, marketing automation software is fundamental to carrying out email campaigns for different customer personas and accounts at scale. Google Analytics and other types of content engagement platforms help you manage and monitor lead nurturing content.
Similarweb Sales Intelligence is designed to support lead nurturing at every step of the sales funnel. With up-to-the-minute traffic and engagement data for more than 100 million websites, Similarweb’s unrivaled insights help you instantly identify the most relevant prospects – saving valuable time and boosting efficiency in account-based marketing.
Once you’ve identified them, you’ll need something compelling to gain (or regain) their attention. What should you say to them, and when? Using Similarweb’s inside track on leads, their competitors, and the industry at large, marketers can insert insightful nuggets throughout the content they create, while every sales rep can build credibility as a trusted advisor – not just another salesperson.
With the right tools in your armory, you can personalize and enhance all of your lead nurturing efforts to achieve the optimal effect.
Here’s a quick and condensed recap of some of the most common questions on lead nurturing.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with your leads, through education and engagement. By maintaining a connection with each potential buyer over time – offering them value, promoting brand awareness and creating trust – you can move them down the sales funnel until they convert.
What is a lead nurturing strategy?
A lead nurturing strategy is the methods and processes you use to achieve the outcomes we just outlined. It involves establishing alignment between sales and marketing, mapping out the sales funnel, researching your leads, ranking them, defining content needs, and creating KPIs.
What are the main lead nurturing tactics?
The most common lead nurturing tactics are:
- Targeted email newsletters
- Drip campaigns
- Prospecting calls
- Sales demos and consultations
- Targeted PPC ads
- Organic social media marketing
- Blog posts, eBooks, and whitepapers
- Webinars and in-person events
What kind of lead nurturing tool should I use?
The most valuable lead nurturing tool is one that enhances the most possible lead nurturing activities throughout the sales funnel. Similarweb Sales Intelligence empowers both marketers and sales reps with up-to-date, granular data on their leads, which you can use to enhance content as well as one-on-one conversations with them.
Wondering what Similarweb can do for you?
Here are two ways you can get started with Similarweb today!