- Lead nurturing is a strategy that businesses use to maintain and grow relationships with potential customers.
- Lead nurturing can help you gain your audience's trust and increase sales.
- There are several lead-nurturing strategies you can try, such as focusing on content marketing, using data to target prospects by email and learning more about your audience via surveys.
- This article is for marketing professionals who want to build stronger relationships with customers via lead nurturing.
Nurturing leads is important to the growth of any business. According to Forrester Research, companies that are successful at nurturing leads generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. However, lead nurturing can fall by the wayside at many companies. If you haven't already implemented a lead-nurturing strategy, you should consider doing so. But before you get started, make sure you understand why lead nurturing is important and what strategies you can apply to your own business.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is when businesses build relationships with prospects. It is an important aspect of inbound marketing, which is the use of content marketing, social media and other online communications methods to attract customers' attention. When a potential customer finds your business, they may not be ready to purchase your products or services. Nurturing leads is an effective strategy for driving sales, because it can keep you top of mind for prospects so they come back when they are ready to purchase.
Lead nurturing is similar to any relationship: The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. But if you fail to strengthen a relationship, then you'll naturally drift apart. [Looking for customer relationship management software to help manage your leads? Check out our reviews of the best CRM software solutions.]
Key takeaway: Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with prospects.
What is the importance of nurturing your leads?
Although the ultimate goal of lead nurturing is to drive sales, it offers several other benefits:
- Introduces prospects to your company. Lead nurturing is an effective way to teach prospects about your services and products. You may not have enough space on a landing page to truly explain the impact of your products and services, but lead nurturing allows you to show potential customers a more complete picture of who you are and what you can do for them.
- Helps you gain your audience's trust. Showing your potential customers that you understand their pain points or giving them useful tips can help you connect with your audience and gain their trust. Sharing your knowledge lets them know that your relationship isn't just about your company making a sale but also about providing them with necessary tools and information.
- Makes you a thought leader. As you create thoughtful, relevant content and communications, lead nurturing can boost your reputation and help you be seen as a leader in your industry.
- Helps your audience remember you. If you communicate regularly with your prospects, they will likely remember you. Staying top of mind is especially helpful so they will turn to you when they need or want your products or services.
- Bolsters your sales strategy. Sales teams are usually focused on selling in the moment, which means many potential customers aren't being targeted. Lead nurturing gives you the opportunity to target future customers.
- Reduces customer acquisition costs. Lead generation allows you to turn to less-expensive methods of attracting customers, and spending less on marketing is good for your customer acquisition costs (CAC = total marketing cost/number of sales).
- Increases sales. With lead nurturing, you can turn prospects into higher-quality leads. In fact, nurtured leads make purchases that are 47% bigger than non-nurtured leads, Annuitas reported based on research from Marketing Sherpa.
Did you know? Lead nurturing is important for increasing sales, but it can also help you improve your company's reputation and gain your audience's trust.
7 effective lead-nurturing strategies
There are plenty of strategies you can use to nurture leads, but keep in mind that they can change over time. A method you successfully used to engage with your prospects in the past may not work in the future. The right CRM software will allow you to automate a lot of the nurturing strategies you need to close new business.
Here are seven effective strategies for nurturing leads:
Use email marketing.
Not only is email marketing more cost-effective than advertising, but it can also be personalized through data and user behavior research. Email segmentation, or the division of email subscribers into smaller groups based on different parameters, allows you to target leads more effectively.
For example, if your company created an e-book, you could send it only to subscribers who have engaged with past e-books or similar content, because they are more likely to welcome it. If you were to send it to your entire email list, some recipients would not open it and might even be annoyed by receiving an extra email, which would damage your relationship.
Email segmentation is versatile. You can target customers according to the products they browse, the type of content they download, where they are in the sales funnel, what emails they open and more. As you get more information about your prospects, you'll be able to create more-personalized messages.
In addition to segmenting emails to increase engagement, you should do the following:
- Keep the subject line short, and make sure it stands out.
- Spend time writing compelling preview text.
- Add calls to action (CTAs).
- Be concise.
- Make your emails mobile-friendly.
- Send relevant emails.
- Encourage prospects to reply.
- A/B test as much as possible.
Another benefit of email nurturing is that you can automate it. With the right tools, you can easily create email lists, as well as schedule emails when it's most convenient for you.
Keep in mind that with this strategy, you must strike the right balance. You want to communicate with your audience regularly so that you're building a relationship but not too often that they feel you are spamming them.
To get started with email nurturing, you'll need the right tools. Here are some to consider:
- For analytics and data:
- Google Analytics
- Seventh Sense
- For email campaign creation and automation:
Tip: Finding the right email marketing tools can help take much of the heavy lifting off your shoulders.
Build out your content marketing.
Content marketing is an incredibly useful strategy that revolves around creating content, such as blog posts, e-books, FAQs, how-to articles, webinars, research reports and more. You can use this content to build brand awareness and draw in more people.
Content marketing also feeds into your other lead-nurturing strategies. For example, you can use social media and email to distribute the content you produce. Or, you can add CTAs, such as encouraging readers to sign up for your newsletter or reaching out for more information.
Content marketing can also help to improve your company's reputation. Through content, you can show that you are concerned and understand your prospects' needs. Instead of concentrating solely on your own products and services, you can shift the focus onto your potential customers.
Using the sales funnel, you can account for different leads' needs. There are three stages in the sales funnel:
- Awareness (top of the funnel). This stage begins after a person comes into contact with your company and connects in some way. At this point, they may just be learning about your business and its products and services. You should make an effort to understand potential customers' needs. This stage lends itself to blog posts, social media posts, podcasts, e-books, videos and infographics.
- Consideration (middle of the funnel). In this stage, things start to get more serious. Potential customers may begin to understand how your products or services could work for them, and they start to consider purchasing them. This is a good time to build trust with your leads. You can engage them with events, webinars, emails, whitepapers and case studies.
- Purchase (bottom of the funnel). This is when you persuade your leads to purchase from you, and it's an opportunity to create loyal customers. Content in this stage includes coupons, product features, use cases, product comparison pages, testimonials and pricing pages.
While it's important to think about targeting your audience when you're creating content, you'll also want to make sure you are creating good content. Take these steps to enhance your content strategy efforts:
- Come up with a content plan.
- Focus on quality.
- Use keywords to find relevant topics.
- Avoid keyword stuffing.
- Write for humans, not algorithms.
- Check for grammatical errors.
- Create relevant content.
- Ensure your content has value.
- Write search-engine-optimized content.
- Include CTAs.
- Share your content on your other channels.
Get active on social media.
Social media is an effective way to build relationships with prospects. It gives them an easy way to talk to you, and it also puts your content where many people spend their time. In fact, internet users ages 16 to 64 spend an average of 2.25 hours on social media each day, according to Hootsuite.
You can use social media to distribute your content and to show some of your brand's personality. Follow these tips to excel at social media:
- Update your content regularly.
- Post the right content to the right social media channel.
- Chat with your audience.
- Study your analytics.
- Understand your audience.
- Be mindful of trends.
- Use tools to automate and improve the process.
- Consider starting an account dedicated to customer service.
You can also use social media to retarget ads. After potential customers leave your site, they may forget about your products and services, but social retargeting can remind them about your business.
Align sales, marketing and customer support teams.
Nurturing leads is a team effort. Sales and customer support teams learn about a company's audience firsthand, and the marketing team has a lot of actionable data.
Effective collaboration among these teams will result in better insight, which will lead to better solutions.
To build a connection with your leads, you must understand their needs. Surveys allow leads to tell you what they feel in their own words. If you ask them about their goals or the problems they face, you'll be able to make a plan for how to get them to the end of the buyer's journey.
Lead scoring lets you assign a value, often numerical, to your leads based on their behaviors.
Because not every lead will be in the same stage of the sales funnel, you shouldn't invest the same amount of energy into each prospect. For example, your lead-scoring model may assign more points to prospects who spend time browsing your site and have higher click-through rates, and fewer points to those who have signed up for a newsletter but rarely open emails. Your efforts will likely make a bigger difference if you focus on the prospects who are engaging with you.
You can try to connect with those who score highly on a more personal level, such as by having a sales rep reach out to them.
Follow up with your leads after you make the sale.
Lead nurturing doesn't end after the sale. After a customer has bought your product or service, you want them to keep coming back, because they are likely to spend three times as much as one-time customers, according to a report from e-commerce marketing platform Yotpo.