If you're seeing a steady influx of leads enter your sales and marketing funnel, you need a lead nurturing strategy.
An effective lead nurturing strategy will help you convert more qualified buyers into customers, increase the ROI on your sales and marketing spend, and ultimately, lead to more revenue for your company.
However, only 8% of marketers say their lead nurturing efforts are 'excellent'.
If you're part of the other 92% and know your lead nurturing efforts have room for improvement, this article is for you.
In this guide, we're going to walk you through the steps you need to take in order to plan and execute a high-converting lead nurturing strategy.
We'll look at best practices, tactics, and actionable ways you can implement lead nurturing into your sales process.
Let's dive in.
What is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the way you build a relationship with your future customers, move them through their buyer journey, and help them understand if they're a good fit for your product or service.
The best lead nurturing programs have benefits for both your business and your audience. You'll help show good-fit customers why they should choose you, as well as filtering out buyers that aren't a fit.
Most lead nurturing is done using email, but other channels work too.
Lead Nurturing vs. Lead Generation
Lead generation involves the strategies and tactics you use to drive new audiences to your product or service.
Common lead generation strategies include cold email, LinkedIn outreach, and Facebook Ads.
Lead nurturing, on the other hand, is how you turn the audience you attracted through your lead generation efforts into paying customers.
Why is Lead Nurturing Important?
1. Turn More Warm Audiences into Customers
You're already spending money on marketing — cold outreach, content marketing, publishing videos, or running ads to build awareness for your product or services. But, 80% of leads— even those who you think will be a great fit— won't end up buying.
To improve your lead to customer conversion rates, lead nurturing is essential: companies with established lead nurturing processes generate 50% more sales-ready leads.
If you have a lead nurturing process that works, the results are clear. You'll build better relationships with your leads, and turn more leads into customers.
2. Get More Replies from Cold Prospects
If you're running any cold email outreach campaigns to generate interest for your product or service, following up and adding value to the conversation is key.
It's rare that someone will see your first cold email and be ready to buy.
Over 55% of replies to cold emails come from a follow-up.
If each touchpoint in your campaigns adds value and is focused on starting a conversation, you'll be able to nurture your sales leads, resulting in more replies and better overall results from your cold emailing.
3. Reduce Your Customer Acquisition Costs
If you're spending money to get your brand in front of your target market, you need to ensure that your marketing budget isn't wasted.
Imagine you spend $1,000 on Facebook Ads and generate 40 leads who all gave you their email address in exchange for a useful content download, registering for a webinar, or starting a free trial of your product. In the end, only a couple of those— at most — will take action and convert from your ad.
But, if you nurture every lead that comes in with an email sequence or follow-up retargeting campaigns, you'll keep those leads in your sales funnel, prove why they should care about your product or service, and increase the likelihood of them purchasing from you in the future.
As you'll convert more leads that come in, your customer acquisition costs will fall, and the ROI on all of your customer acquisition efforts will increase.
What Type of Leads Need Nurturing?
Lead nurturing campaigns apply to any sales or marketing lead that's showing interest in your product or services.
If you run a SaaS company, you'll want to nurture leads who start your free trial, attend your webinars, or download your eBooks and gated content.
If you're a recruiter, you'll need to nurture candidates by sending them updates with new opportunities or nurture company clients showing why they should use your services.
If you run a web design agency, you can nurture past clients by showcasing recent success stories and customer case studies.
There’s no list of people you should be nurturing. The key is to look at your marketing and sales efforts and find opportunities where you’re already engaging with your audience, and find a way to nurture those engaged leads into customers.
Common reasons a lead is worth nurturing is if they:
Visit key pages on your website
Download content assets like eBooks, free templates, or signed up for a webinar
Signed up for a free trial of your product
Booked a sales call with you
Setting Goals for Your Lead Nurturing Program
The goals you aim for will depend on your business. But, it’s always good to have a rough measure of success.
To judge how effective your lead nurturing is, look at metrics including:
Engagement Rate: how well are your leads responding to emails, ads, or other initiatives you’re testing?
Customer Acquisition Cost: effective lead nurturing should bring down your customer acquisition costs in the long run.
Conversion Rate: What percentage of leads in your nurturing program are converting into customers?
Once you start tracking how your campaigns are performing, you can run experiments to see if you can improve your results. In the long run, you’ll learn what works, what doesn’t, and be able to make decisions that result in more revenue and increased ROI.
How to Nurture Leads with Email and Paid Ads
The two most effective channels for lead nurturing are email and paid ads.
Email is direct. Once an audience member has given you their email address in exchange for something they want — such as an eBook, free trial, or seat at a webinar registration —you’ll have direct access to their inbox.
Paid ads are a powerful way to retarget anyone that fits certain criteria automatically. Once you define your budget, audience, and creatives, you can let your ads run and learn what messaging and creatives resonate with your audience most.
Here’s how to put both email and ads into action.
1. Creating a Lead Nurturing Campaign using Email
The most high-impact tactic you can put to work today is implementing email campaigns to nurture your leads.
First, look at your available opportunities: are you running webinars, using lead magnets on your blog, or offering a free trial to leads?
If so, you can create an email sequence for each of those opportunities.
Here's how you can implement an email campaign to nurture leads using QuickMail:
Firstly, identify the source of the leads. In this case, let's say we're nurturing people who started a free trial for your SaaS product.
Next, head to your QuickMail account and create your campaign. Give your campaign a clear name so you and your team can keep track of the campaigns you're running.
Next, create your first campaign steps. These will be the emails that get sent to your prospects.
All good lead nurturing campaigns include a mixture of content, including:
Useful content and resources to help your audience learn how to use your product
Short, conversational emails asking your subscribers if there’s anything they need help with
Call-to-actions to encourage someone to take the next step and become a customer
When your email is ready, hit ‘Create Step’, and it’ll be saved in your campaign.
You can add as many steps to your campaign as you’d like, and add time delays between each step to ensure your leads are engaged at regular intervals.
If you offer a 30-day free trial, make sure that your campaign includes multiple steps that happen over those 30-days. As their trial comes to an end, you can ensure you’re regularly reminding them that their trial is almost up and send them useful resources to build trust.
Once your email campaign is ready, it’s time to start adding your audience to it so you can nurture them towards a purchase.
If you already have a list of people joining your free trial stored in Google Drive, you can automatically import them to QuickMail. Whenever someone joins your trial, you can automatically add them to the campaign, and your nurturing program will run on autopilot.
Once you start your free trial, you can have your first campaign up and running in minutes.
You’ll also get access to reports with how many opens, clicks, replies, and unsubscribes each email in your campaign is generating to help you improve and optimize your campaigns.
Remember — the key to converting more leads into customers is to provide real value to your audience. Help them achieve their goals and targets, and if your product/service is a good fit for them, they’ll naturally gravitate towards it.
If you want to learn all the ways to use email to nurture leads, make sure to read our guide to email nurturing here.
2. Retargeting Qualified Visitors with Ads
Social media, search, and display ads retargeting your leads is a powerful nurturing tactic.
First, you’ll need to define the audience you want to retarget.
To do this, you’ll first need the Facebook Pixel and your Google Ads tracking tag installed on your website.
Once that’s done, in your Facebook Ads Manager or Google Ads dashboard, you’ll need to select the audience you want to retarget. You can choose from targeting options such as:
Audiences who added a product to their cart
Audiences that viewed specific pages on your website (e.g., pricing page, contact pages)
Audience who have engaged with past ad campaigns
You can also set a timeframe — for example, if you don’t want to nurture anyone that hasn’t visited your website within the last 30 days, you can exclude them from your campaigns.
Retargeting is an excellent way to use your advertising budget. You don’t risk wasting your marketing budget on cold audiences, and you’ll already know the people seeing your ads have shown interest in your product or service.
As well as Facebook Ads, consider running display ads on Google to get your ads in front of your audience while they’re searching for useful content, and test LinkedIn ads if you’re marketing to a B2B audience.
Lead Nurturing Best Practices to Convert More Leads
1. Always Personalize Your Messages
When it comes to email marketing in general, personalization is key.
When you’re running ads, this can be tricky as you usually won’t have access to personally identifiable information.
However, when it comes to email, personalization is easy.
The first requirement is that you need to be collecting any details you need about your prospects—for example, their first name and their company name.
From there, you’ll need to ensure you’re bringing that information into QuickMail when you’re importing prospects.
Once your prospects are in QuickMail, you can use attributes in your email templates to automatically personalize every email that you send in your nurturing campaigns.
When you’re creating your emails, make sure you include your attributes wherever you want to personalize your message.
In the example below, the email will automatically include:
Your prospects’ first name
Your prospects’ company name
Your custom email signature (with your name, contact information, and anything else you need to include)
It’s a simple but powerful way to increase engagement from your emails, and you can add your own custom attributes for anything you need to personalize your campaigns with, such as the name of a webinar someone attended or the title of the eBook they downloaded.
2. Understand What Motivates Your Audience to Purchase
The best lead nurturing campaigns are based on research and data you have on your customers.
For example, if you run a lead generation agency and know that your customers care about reducing their cost per lead and booking more consultation calls, those are two key talking points you can highlight in your nurturing campaigns and messaging.
On the other hand, if you had a 10-step email nurturing campaign that never mentioned either of those pain points, you’ve wasted an opportunity.
Before investing too much time and effort into your lead nurturing efforts, ensure you have clarity into:
What your ideal customer profile looks like
What pain points your customers have
What messaging and content resonates with your best leads
3. Score Your Leads to Prioritize Your Efforts
In the ideal world, every lead that enters your sales funnel will be a great fit. In reality, you’ll see a mixture of good leads and bad-fit leads. It’s important that you have a way to filter through them all and identify the sales opportunities that make the most sense to pursue.
From there, you or your sales team can reach out and find the best way to move things forward with each lead.
You can score leads based on:
Engagement: are they regularly clicking or replying positively to your email campaigns?
Demographic criteria: does their job title match the type of customer you sell to?
Firmographic criteria: does your lead work at a company that is a good fit for your product/service?
Lead scoring is essential if you want to optimize how you spend your time. All good CRMs let you implement lead scoring, and it’ll help you cut down time spent filtering through leads that aren’t a good fit, and let you spend more time talking with those that are.
Lead nurturing is the best way to maximize your opportunities to close new customers.
Lead nurturing isn’t complicated, but it does require a clear understanding of who your ideal customer is, and what they care about.
From there, you can implement nurturing strategies like email automation and paid ads to engage with potential customers, and keep your product or service top of mind. If your lead nurturing efforts are successful, you’ll reduce your overall customer acquisition costs, improve your conversion rates from every marketing campaign you run, and grow your revenue.