Are you investing time, energy, and resources into generating leads, but struggling to see bottom-line results?

You’re not alone.

Many businesses focus so much on driving traffic and lead generation they neglect the second half of the equation…

Turning those leads into sales.

Enter lead nurturing.

By developing a lead nurturing campaign, you’ll establish ways to cultivate deeper relationships with your leads. You’ll uncover their needs and wants and be able to craft a strategy that meets those needs, turning a lead into a sale.

In this article, we’re covering everything you need to know about lead nurturing. We’ll talk about what lead nurturing is, the different types of lead nurturing, and how to create and measure a lead nurturing campaign.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of purposefully developing relationships with leads or contacts in order to move them down the sales funnel. The strategies within lead nurturing help you convert more leads and use marketing resources more effectively.

Unlike lead generation, which is the process of finding new prospects, lead nurturing is focused on getting to know those prospects and customizing your sales and marketing strategies and communication according to their needs and preferences.

Lead nurturing is becoming more important, too. 40% of marketing leaders said improving lead quality is their top objective for 2021, and 38% said their top priority is to drive increased sales across identified leads. Lead nurturing helps with both.

You might already be using some lead nurturing tactics, and you just don’t know it.

Here are a few approaches you might be familiar with, making it easier for you to get started on a lead nurturing strategy:

List of lead nurturing tactics including drip campaigns, remarketing, sales calls, etc

An effective lead nurturing program will likely use a combination of these tactics as the lead moves through the sales funnel. Using these tactics together in the right way will yield the best results for your sales team.

5 types of lead nurturing campaigns

A lead nurturing strategy can take many forms. It’s imperative to choose the right strategy so you can meet your business goals.

Here are a few examples of lead nurturing campaigns you can adapt for your needs:

  1. Welcome campaign: Once prospects have signed up for your email list, filled out a contact form, or otherwise expressed interest in your company, send a series of emails introducing them to your company and offering detailed information about your products. In this phase, 50% of marketers say email is your best bet for a good return on investment (ROI).
  2. Re-engagement campaign: Leads fall off at every stage of the sales cycle, but a re-engagement campaign works to get them back. Send new product information, your latest white paper, or a special deal to entice them back.
  3. Product deep-dive campaign: When your lead is in the learning phase of the sales funnel, consider an informational campaign to educate them on every aspect of the product they’re most interested in. Consider offering demos or meetings too. This approach is wildly popular, with at least 68% of marketers using content to nurture leads.
  4. Multichannel campaign: Consumers don’t spend their entire day in a single online space, so your sales team shouldn’t either. Track customers across platforms and provide multiple touchpoints so that you’re top-of-mind no matter where they are.
  5. Promotional campaign: In the final stages of the sales process, make a push to close the deal by offering special discounts, deals, and pricing.

pie charts showing that 68% of marketers use content to nurture leads and 50% say email is the best channel for lead gen ROI

There are plenty of other ways to approach a lead nurturing campaign. You can combine and adjust these tactics, too, depending on what you need. Just remember to focus on meeting the needs of your leads at every stage of the buying process.

7 steps to creating a lead nurturing strategy

With so many ways to nurture leads, it can be difficult to understand where to start building your own lead nurturing program.

By following these seven steps, you’ll create a framework for a lead nurturing strategy that turns more prospects into sales.

7 steps to creating a lead nurturing strategy

1. Understand your sales funnel

Before you start planning your next drip campaign or retargeting ad, it’s critical to understand your customer journey. Outlining your sales funnel from start to finish helps you identify the touchpoints where you can nurture leads.

For instance, you might notice that conversions drop off rapidly after an initial boost from your welcome campaign. That’s a good opportunity to establish a re-engagement campaign or set up some education content marketing to catch your leads’ attention.

2. Develop buyer personas

Lead nurturing requires a deep understanding of your customers so you can build a true relationship with them. To help you best do this, consider creating buyer personas to organize what you know about your customers.

With a buyer persona or customer segmentation strategy, you can use customer information to understand their needs and pain points and develop approaches to address them.

A buyer persona should include:

  • Demographic information like age and gender
  • Geographic location
  • Needs, wants, and pain points
  • Habits and lifestyle
  • Preferred online channels

3. Plan cross-channel lead nurturing campaigns

As we mentioned above, it’s unlikely that your leads are spending time exclusively on one online channel. It’s much more likely that they’re switching between email, Instagram, and other platforms regularly throughout the day.

Your lead nurturing strategy should take place across channels too. Choose the top channels for your audience and tailor your message to fit the channel you’re using, even if the content itself doesn’t vary greatly.

In 2021, 54% of marketers are relying on social marketing as a top digital strategy channel. 53% of marketers are using digital advertising and retargeting, while 44% continue to rely on email marketing.

top three digital channels for 2021 include social marketing, digital advertising, and email marketing

4. Create targeted content for each channel

No matter what digital strategy channel you use, you’ll need excellent content to engage and educate your readers.

Of course, the content you create will vary greatly depending on your marketing channels, lead nurturing strategies, and business goals. You might share a white paper on LinkedIn, a key statistic on Twitter, and a blog post summary via email.

The important thing is to make sure your content is as personalized as possible. Marketing automation software like ActiveCampaign even offers a dynamic content feature that uses customer information to write personalized emails, adding a special touch for your prospects.

5. Establish lead scoring criteria

Lead scoring assigns point values to leads based on their actions so that marketing and sales teams can better serve them.

In a lead nurturing strategy, lead scoring is important for assessing which leads are ready to close the deal and which need a little extra attention before they’re ready to buy.

Some teams use lead scoring to define a qualified lead, while others might use it to note the difference between a sales lead and a marketing lead.

When you’re setting up your lead scoring criteria, consider using the following:

  • Email opens or click-through rate
  • Website visits
  • Length of time spent on the website
  • Social media likes or shares
  • White paper or e-book downloads

Your lead scoring criteria should depend on the strategy you use to nurture leads. And, you should adjust your lead scoring over time to best reflect the value of your prospects’ choices.

For instance, an e-book download might signal a more valuable lead than an email open. Your lead scoring should reflect that.

6. Leverage lead management and automation tools

For a full-scale lead nurturing campaign, it’s smart to invest in a tool to help you automate parts of the customer experience. You can scale up your lead generation and nurturing programs while still providing personalized, top-quality customer service.

Graph showing that 84% of marketers say AI/automation allows them to deliver real-time, personalized experiences, but only 17% are using AI across their marketing efforts

Marketing automation software like ActiveCampaign is a huge asset to lead management and nurturing. In fact, 84% of marketers say AI and automation allow them to deliver real-time, personalized experiences to their customers.

But, only 17% are using AI across their marketing efforts. That means you have a chance to stand out and offer unparalleled customer experiences to your leads, crushing your competition.

7. Measure results and refine your process

Like most business processes, you probably won’t have a perfect lead nurturing strategy on the first try. You’ll need to tweak and optimize your process as you start to see results.

Use your marketing data to identify weaknesses in your lead nurturing process. Then, make gradual changes to see if the adjustments yield the results you want.

In the next section, we’ll look a little closer at how to measure your lead nurturing results.

How to measure your lead nurturing campaign results

Before you launch a lead nurturing campaign, it’s crucial to establish a baseline for your lead-to-sale conversion rate.

You can use existing data to calculate this over the last month, quarter, or year. Use this number to compare the difference in conversion before and after nurturing leads.

How to measure lead nurturing ROI in 3 steps

Then, choose key performance indicators (KPIs) that will best show whether or not you’ve met your lead nurturing goals. Conversion rate will almost always be one of these KPIs, but you could also track sales, revenue, customer engagement, and more.

Next, compare your growth over time. Remember that lead nurturing can be a long process, especially for B2B marketers. Be sure to allow for enough time to see the right results.

If you’re just getting started with lead nurturing, you might also consider starting with a lead nurturing test group. Then, you can compare your nurtured leads to non-nurtured leads to see how effective your strategy is.

No matter how you do it, measuring results is absolutely necessary for sustaining your lead-nurturing success and optimizing your results moving forward.

5 tips for setting up your next lead nurturing campaign

We’ve covered a lot about lead nurturing, but we’ve got a few more tips to help you start off on the right foot.

No matter how you decide to use lead nurturing, follow these tips and best practices:

1. Use different content formats

Even if you’re trying to get the same message across, use different formats such as blog posts, social media graphics, and short videos to accommodate many different types of consumers.

You can repurpose and repost this content across channels to get the most out of your creations.

2. Leverage A/B testing

79% of marketers use tests to compare the effectiveness of their message across channels, and you should too. You can split-test dozens of elements of your lead nurturing campaign to hone in on exactly what gets customers to buy.

3. Personalize the little things

You can customize everything from the subject line to sending time when it comes to email campaigns. And if you’re like 63% of organizations, you’ll find that your conversion rate rises when your personalization is effective.

4. Start small and scale over time

Jumping headfirst into a company-wide lead nurturing strategy could do more harm than good.

If you’ve got the wrong approach, you risk turning away more leads than you nurture. Instead, start with small campaigns and groups of customers, and gradually expand your lead nurturing program as you learn more.

5. Always stay on topic

Consumers are inundated with information online, so don’t add to the clutter. Stick to the point of your latest nurturing campaign, rather than trying to entice a lead with something they may not want or need.

Nurture your leads into sales starting now

Lead nurturing helps you build relationships with leads so that you can convert more of them to sales. With buyer personas, customer data, and a lead nurturing tool in hand, you’ll be ready to convert more leads than ever before.

Use our guide and check out the ActiveCampaign blog for more on how you can meet your customer needs, improve your conversion rate, and boost your bottom line.