Lead nurturing is an essential part of an effective marketing presence. What is lead nurturing? It is the act of understanding where each lead is in the buyer’s journey and providing them what they need at that moment and stage in the sales funnel.
You nurture a house plant as it grows, giving it more sunlight when needed, watering it when it’s dry, and transferring it to a larger pot as it grows. Nurturing leads is similar. You must recognize when they need more resources, and when they have outgrown their space so you can provide them with more nutrients and room to grow.
As you nurture relationships with leads and move them through the marketing funnel, they become closer to converting to customers. However, along the way, you must provide them with more fuel and space to grow more interested in your product or service, just like a house plant.
This is referred to as lead nurturing and it’s vital to the life and growth of your business as a whole. But how do you do it successfully? Let’s dig in and see.
Lead nurturing best practices
Lead nurturing can be a boon for your business if you approach your lead nurturing process correctly. If not, you can spend loads of time and energy on initiatives that bare no fruit. Below, we cover our most effective lead nurturing tactics for successful business growth.
1. Know your leads
Who are you marketing to? Who are you trying to nurture through to conversion? You can’t nurture leads through the funnel unless you know who they are, what they need, their challenges, their interests, etc.
The best way to know your leads is to create buyer personas, which are detailed, hypothetical profiles of your ideal buyers. By conducting a carefully thought out customer survey, you can answer these questions and gain a detailed picture of who you’re marketing to and what they need at each stage of the lead lifecycle to move along to the next stage (more on the lead lifecycle below).
Creating buyer personas is an endeavor that all companies should engage in. To really dig into the topic, read our article on how to create a detailed buyer persona.
2. Create lead lifecycle stages
Lead nurturing is quite difficult if you don’t create lead lifecycle stages that align with the different stopping off points along the buyer journey. They help you get the timing right on your lead nurturing tactics and provide leads with what they need at each stage of the journey.
Map out your lifecycle stages according to your business needs. Most companies’ first stage is “unknown lead”—someone who has been browsing your website and is being tracked by your marketing automation solution but has not yet identified themselves by providing you with their contact information.
Other common stages include (in this order):
- Known Lead – Someone who has provided you with their contact information but has not yet engaged much with your brand.
- Engaged Lead – Someone who has shown increasing engagement and is moving toward your lead scoring, marketing qualified threshold (learn more about lead scoring).
- Marketing qualified lead – Someone who has engaged enough to be considered sales-ready.
- Sales qualified lead – A marketing qualified lead who sales has validated as having a real propensity to buy and is ready to enter into discussions about their options with your brand.
- Opportunity – Someone who sales has opened an opportunity for and is working to convert them to a customer.
- Customer – A prospect who sales has closed a deal with and is now a new customer.
By having these stages in place, your team knows where each lead is in the buyer journey. And if you use an all-in-one CRM that includes marketing, sales, and support automation, everyone in your entire organization has access to that information.
3. Make leads feel special and valued
Here, I’m referring specifically to personalization in marketing and other interactions your teams have with leads.
When you use an all-in-one CRM that includes marketing automation and customer support features, you store huge amounts of data on each customer.
You can use this data to personalize your communications to and interactions with leads. How does that work?
For example, personalized emails include more than simply the recipient’s first name in the salutation or subject line. You can pull in any information that you have stored in your CRM.
You can send leads offers that are relevant to their geographical area, buying behaviors, product interests, and more. In this way, you can deliver highly relevant messages every time that are sure to be more engaging and deliver a better, more personal experience in your lead nurturing efforts.
4. Educate leads with inbound content
When nurturing leads, you want to ensure the content you provide them through your marketing efforts aligns with where they are in the lead lifecycle.
Inbound content is useful in the early stages of the buyer journey. This is content that is designed to educate leads about best practices and emerging trends. It is intended to educate them, not sell to them.
Educate leads with inbound content and you gain their trust, which can result in them sharing your content and expanding its reach to new leads. Leads will start to look for you when they need answers to common questions.
If you can solve common problems for leads, it will do wonders for your lead nurturing efforts, not to mention your brand reputation management initiatives.
5. Monitor leads’ flow through the funnel
With lead lifecycle stages defined and automation software tracking each lead’s stage in the lifecycle, you can keep an eye on how quickly (or slowly) they are progressing from one stage to the next.
If you see leads piling up in one stage and not moving to the next, you can dig in to see what is causing the bottleneck and change course accordingly.
Ensuring that leads are flowing smoothly from one stage to the next is critically important to a solid lead nurturing strategy. So, make this a routine when engaging in lead nurturing activities.6.
6. Make it easy to contact you
When a lead is interested in your product or service and wants to learn more, it’s imperative that you make it easy for them to do so.
Offer multiple channels through which they can get in touch and ask questions. Leverage live chat on your website. Offer email and telephone contact information so leads can reach you in those ways.
Offer online appointment scheduling so that leads can schedule time with you at their convenience rather than having to go back and forth numerous times to find a time that fits everyone’s schedule.
And always monitor your social media feeds closely so you can respond to any questions posted there. The best way to do that is through the use of social monitoring and listening tools.
If leads are interested and have a question but can’t reach anyone to answer that question, they will quickly look elsewhere.
7. Social media ads
Social media ads are one of the best and cheapest ways to get your brand and offerings in front of new leads.
You can target who your ads are displayed to in a very detailed way based on leads’ specific demographics.
Always be sure to include visuals in your social media ads and use engaging language and messaging to spark leads’ attention.
If your social media ad is executed properly, the return on your investment will pay dividends. Leads who may have been slightly interested will click your ads and provide you with their information in exchange for what your ad offers.
Pro tip: If you engage in social media advertising, be sure what you are offering delivers real, unique value—value that is worth exchanging personal information for. Otherwise, it will quickly be ignored.
8. Social media contests and offers
Once leads are engaged or at least familiar with your brand, it’s likely that they will start to follow you on social media. That can be a golden opportunity for lead nurturing. You already have their attention (assuming your social media presence is engaging). And you can leverage that to increase their interest in your brand.
A great way to do that is to hold social media contests or provide special offers. Contests—such as asking followers to submit their best idea for how to solve X, Y, or Z—gets people involved. This is because humans, in general, love competition. Offer a prize for the winner and plan a series of posts around the contest, its progress, deadlines, and then announce the winners.
Or, you can offer special, one-time offers for the first 100 or so people to click your post and complete a survey or form of some kind. By using lead generating web forms, you can gain additional information about known leads and capture new information about unknown leads.
Plus, it’s great engagement, which is what you need in order to move leads through the pipeline towards conversion. It’s one of many great lead nurturing examples.
9. Targeted communications
Today, with so much personal data about each lead stored in your CRM database, you can use that data to segment and target groups of leads with similar characteristics. In this way, you can send them messages and content that is much more relevant to their industry and demographic.
If you have a sale on outdoor pool furniture, you might not want to send a nurturing email about that to your leads in Alaska and Maine. But your leads in Florida and Texas certainly want to hear about it.
Use the data in your CRM to target your messages to your audience’s demographics and needs, and you’ll increase engagement as well as conversions, which will drive up revenue and increase company growth.
10. Engaging landing pages
When you send an email as part of a lead nurturing campaign or publish a lead nurturing post on social media, the goal is to motivate the viewer to take action. This is normally in the form of a clickable call-to-action (CTA)—a button or other link that leads them to a landing page where they can receive an offer of yours.
If your email or post is engaging and leads click through to your landing page, half of the work is done. However, once they arrive, your landing page needs to engage and inspire them to take the next step, which could be completing a form, watching a video, etc.
If your landing page is boring or confusing, leads will close your page and move on with their day. That’s why you need highly-engaging landing pages to keep leads’ attention once they arrive by clicking your email or post.
There are many elements of a strong, engaging landing page. There are also many pitfalls you may encounter along the way that can leave your landing page boring and uninspiring. The lucky thing is that with the help of marketing automation, creating an engaging landing page is easy if you follow best practices.
Not sure how to proceed? Read our recent article on how to build a landing page that converts leads. Once you get the basics down, check out this article about 30 killer landing page examples that can provide you with inspiration and ideas to implement on your own pages.
Nurturing leads isn’t as complicated as it seems. You simply need to ask yourself: What would I need at this point to engage with this brand based on what I already know about them?
Always keep that tip in mind and follow the best practices above, and you’ll see your lead nurturing efforts start to take off. Continue to follow emerging trends about lead nurturing and you’ll continue to rise and never look back.
Do you have any lead nurturing tips you’d like to share with our readers? Post them in the comments section below!