I think you’ve already noticed that most of your carefully generated leads don’t buy without a peep. Those who are highly qualified and hot need nurturing as well as barely warm leads. The former group isn’t so obvious, though.
The number of people who will return to you in 12 months after your first contact may surprise you. There may be up to 50% of extra revenue hidden behind the proper lead nurturing system.
There are different nurturing strategies and tactics based on the customer journey stage and business model. It might be confusing. We are here to show how to make the process of growing leads more powerful and bring the expected results.
What is the definition of lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the soft accompanying leads on the way to the purchase. Nurturing is the opposite of active closing when you try to sell right away. You start nurturing leads to stay top of mind in case they aren’t ready to buy right now. This may include: educating them about the niche and product, providing helpful materials for their routine, and providing personalized support with a product.
How to nurture leads: sample workflow
- Step 1. Understand your Ideal customer profile
- Step 2. Check your lead generation process
- Step 3. Qualify your leads
- Step 4. Work hard on your content for lead nurturing stages
- Step 5. Choose amplifying tools
- Step 6. Track results and refine a leads nurturing process
Step 1. Understand your Ideal customer profile
It is the baseline to grow leads effectively. ICP defines who will qualify as a hot / highly qualified lead. At its best, the document is actively used across departments and regularly updated. In case you don’t have one or doubt its necessity, visit our three-part guide. Here is the first part.
Step 2. Check your lead generation process
Before jumping into lead nurturing strategies, ensure your lead generation system delivers quality leads. I mean, most of them can potentially become your customer. The stream of quality leads noticeably amplifies your nurturing efforts.
Go through the article to know more about outbound lead gen channels and how to use them to their full potential.
Step 3. Qualify your leads
Most likely, your leads are at different buying stages, and some might be non-qualified. Qualification (or scoring) helps you to segment these groups and engage them in separate lead nurturing campaigns. So that those warm leads who already consider your product get detailed info on the product of interest and those who subscribe to your newsletter get educational content about the problem and solution.
Check the piece to recall how to set up the lead qualification process.
Step 4. Work hard on your content for lead nurturing stages
For each qualification segment, you will create different offers and, hence, content. Something might overlap. It should be done consciously, though.
The content should be helpful and address customer pains. To make sure your content has these 2 characteristics — perform regular surveys. Add it to your newsletter, send it to current users, create a simple Hotjar form in your blog and other website pages with important content, and ask for feedback when sharing it in cold outreach.
Here is a sample of how the B2B lead nurture content might look:
Top of the funnel. Cold and barely warm leads — they don’t know your brand and don’t consider your product yet. You generate demand and offer help to their daily problems at this stage. Possible content forms: blog articles, guides, podcasts, etc.
Middle of the funnel. Warm leads — they know your brand and your product among the alternatives for their problem. You make a case that your product best fits their needs and offer a product test. Possible B2B lead nurturing content forms: product how-to guides, comparison with competitors, case studies, use cases, webinars, etc.
Bottom of the funnel. Warm and hot leads — they consider buying your product. Here your goal is finally to sell, to ensure they don’t go with an alternative. Possible content forms: demo, customized offers, templates, etc.
Step 5. Choose amplifying tools
One of the lead nurturing best practices is to automate tasks related to nurturing cold and staying top of mind for low-qualified and non-qualified leads. Examples of automation you can leverage at this step: action-based email drip campaigns, lead qualification/scoring, pipeline analytics, lead management, and event management.
Note: Automation is useless to implement if you have a sales-heavy, high-priced product. To succeed, you need manual personalized outreach.
Step 6. Track results and refine a leads nurturing process
Choose a tool to document all your nurturing activities with leads. Set a metric for each segment your outreach. For example:
Top of the funnel segment — depending on the channel, you will track engagement rate (e.g. open rate in email lead nurturing, comments in social media) and interest in your product (e.g. clicks to product pages).
Middle of the funnel segment — signups to the free version, demo requests.
Bottom of the funnel segment — sales.
This will give you a clear picture of what you can improve and timely react to any unexpected rises and falls.
Types of lead nurturing campaigns
- Type 1. Educating campaign.
- Type 2. Stay-in-touch campaign.
- Type 3. Freemium sign-up campaign.
- Type 4. Upsell and cross-sell campaign.
Effective lead nurturing isn’t limited to the top-of-funnel leads. Actually, your customers are also your leads. You can sell them more. Here are the key types of nurturing based on the buyer journey stage.
Type 1. Educating campaign. With this content, you, in an indirect way, communicate the problems you deal with and possible solutions. The campaign consists of useful content in any form that you deliver to potential customers across channels. Often you don’t even mention your product in such campaigns. Your goal is to build trust as an industry thought leader. Examples are lead nurture emails, YouTube channels, podcasts, and social media posting.
Type 2. Stay-in-touch campaign. The objective of the campaign type is to keep the connection with low-qualified or non-qualified leads. The former are unable to buy for temporary reasons, and the letter — because of long-term reasons. Examples are a bi-weekly newsletter with industry news, stats, and tips; social media engagement with the leads.
Type 3. Freemium sign-up campaign. The campaign refers to the email sequence you send once someone is registered in your tool but hasn't bought anything yet. In this case, it makes sense to provide the lead with practical product information: onboarding videos, use cases, guides about features, etc. Here is one of the B2B lead nurturing email examples:
Type 4. Upsell and cross-sell campaign. It may include emails about product updates, personalized use cases and blogs related to features they don’t use, tips on improving their current processes, etc.
Lead nurturing strategies based on business type
- Strategy 1. For self-serve product
- Strategy 2. For hybrid (individual to enterprise) product
- Strategy 3. For enterprise-oriented product
Strategy 1. For self-serve product
Companies with low-entry thresholds and free-forever products will rely mostly on marketing efforts in growing leads. Some of the activities that might work for your business are:
Email drip campaigns. This section includes as product-related content after leads sign-up for your tool, as newsletters mostly have educational useful content, not directing leads to buy your product. You can find many lead-nurturing email examples of this kind in your inbox. Type any tool you use, and you will see the full email campaign they’ve sent you.
Webinars. One of the email nurture best practices is to invite your newsletter subscribers to online events to showcase how their problems can be solved with your product. It is a good idea to present the event as «ways to solve a particular problem» rather than directly promoting your product. For instance, «how to research smarter and easier when writing an article» VS. «how to use this chrome extension for Google».
Communities. It allows you to develop stronger connections with current and potential customers. The outcome of the leads nurturing process includes: leads getting to know tips and the success current customers have with your product; communities amplify word-of-mouth; increase up-sales and cross-sales. Communities also provide a lot of feedback that helps you handle their objections and become a better product for your leads and customers.
Strategy 2. For hybrid (individual to enterprise) product
Typically the type of companies balances between quality and quantity. So their strategy is a mix of B2B lead nurturing best practices from the 1st and 3d strategies. Lead nurturing is performed both through marketing and sales channels. The tactics may include:
Social selling. It implies creating useful content intended to convert interested followers, engaging, and leaving meaningful comments under leads posts.
Slow email lead nurturing sequence with industry news squeezes, articles, guides, etc. Those leads who aren’t ready to buy or are non-qualified might be put on the cadence to get 1-2 emails per month from you.
Communities, webinars, and newsletters are also may be the case here.
Strategy 3. For enterprise-oriented product
B2B lead nurturing for such companies is primarily done by a sales department equipped with marketing materials and other help. You may have come across an account-based marketing concept. It is pretty much what lead nurturing means for companies selling high-priced products.
So, here are the lead nurturing examples for the type of business:
Delivering personalized branded gifts. For example, Samantha McKenna, Founder of Samless, on the Zoom call with the client, saw the guitar neck in his background. Turned out he collects guitars. So, her team made a branded guitar pick and sent it to the client.
Organizing meetups related to your product updates, product education, or just any industry topic discussion. For quality B2B lead nurture, invite your current loyal customers and leads so the latter has a chance to talk to them and learn more about how your product helps.
Inviting leads to conferences. It doesn’t have to be your conference, it might be just something niche and interesting for your leads.
Arranging personal offline meetings to spend free time together. Potentially related to their hobby. Connecting with leads on a personal level increases your chances of a sale.
Why is lead nurturing important
Reason 1. Reduced customer acquisition cost. It means with a lead nurturing system in place, you will treat generated leads strategically. Generating new prospects is pricier than maintaining a nurturing system.
Reason 2. Increasing revenue. By growing customers with your best lead nurturing strategies, you expand your revenue possibilities. The market of leads ready to buy from the start is objectively limited for most companies.
Reason 3. Brand. Nurturing leads of all types, you build brand awareness. If done properly, they start treating your company as a go-to industry leader. They will direct others to your brand for particular insights. Moreover, if you nurture them on social media, their followers can see and remember your efforts too.
Reason 4. A pool of loyal customers and leads. Those who finally become your clients get a better experience through lead nurturing stages and are more likely to refer your company. Those who don’t — will be satisfied with your attitude and still can recommend you to their peers.
The process of growing leads isn’t limited to cold and barely warm leads. It is a good idea to nurture leads at every buying stage and even when they are already customers.
There may be educational, stay-in-touch, freemium, and upsell nurturing campaigns.
For rewarding lead nurturing workflow, you need an ideal customer profile, lead generation and lead qualification systems, perfect content, and a relevant toolkit.
Consider different nurturing channels. Don’t focus just on email drip campaigns.
The importance of lead nurturing lies in reduced customer acquisition cost, increased revenue and brand awareness and boosted word-of-mouth.