Lead nurturing has to be a part of your sales process if you want to get higher-quality leads and make your sales funnel much more effective. This is a no-brainer. Forrester Research says that companies that do a good job of nurturing leads get 50% more leads that are ready to be sold for 33% less money.
Lead nurturing makes sense for businesses that want to make more money and spend less on getting new customers, but it’s not always easy to set up a process.
To turn cold leads into sales-ready prospects, you need to do more than just buy a tool for lead nurturing. To close the gap between failure and success, you need a good plan for nurturing leads.
Lead Nurturing Strategy and Lead Nurturing Tactics
With CRM and marketing automation software for small businesses, you can use any lead nurturing strategy you need.
For example, if a lead fills out a form on your website, you can send them autoresponders. You can create a 5-step nurturing campaign. You can set up tasks for your salespeople to do automatically as a follow-up.
But these small steps won’t lead to success without a bigger plan. Lead nurturing is a key part of your overall strategy for inbound marketing. If you don’t add new leads to your database every month, you don’t need to nurture them. (If this sounds like you, check out our course on generating leads to learn how to get new leads every month.)
To really be good at lead nurturing, you need to know how to help cold leads move through the sales funnel and become hot prospects.
Here are some overall strategies for nurturing leads and the ways you can put them into action:
Educate cold leads is a strategy
When you’re selling something like socks or ties that clip on, you don’t have to say much. But if you’re a B2B company selling something more complicated, like a new technology, program, or service, you have to give more background information. People may not understand why they need you. They might not even know that there is a solution like yours.
Lead nurturing is a great way to teach your leads about your business over time, especially if they are not actively looking for a solution. Instead of giving cold leads a sales pitch they aren’t interested in, you can find out what hurts them and offer solutions to those problems over time.
When leads are cared for, the sales cycle is 23% shorter (Market2Lead). So don’t wait for your leads to find out that you’re the answer they’ve been looking for. Don’t wait for leads to come to you.
Two Things to Try:
Send your new leads a drip email campaign. Include a link in each email that takes them to a blog post on your website that answers a question they might have.
Make a course of emails that leads can sign up for. Give your audience a lesson every day on how to solve a problem they are having.
Strategy: Send content that is targeted and personalized
Compared to stand-alone email blasts, lead nurturing emails get 4–10 times as many replies (DemandGen Report). In contrast to a general email newsletter, lead nurturing emails can be very specific to the person receiving them.
Find out what kind of content your leads will be interested in at each stage of the sales funnel so you can give them something of value and help them get closer to making a purchase.
Say, for example, you run a company that makes things. You sell a part for commuter trains that cuts down on friction and saves money on fuel. Even if a new lead isn’t looking for your exact solution, they may be very interested in saving money on gas. You can send them a guide to saving money on gas and tell them about your product at the same time.
A hot prospect, on the other hand, might already be familiar with your product and be very interested in your solution. You can send them a link to your pricing calculator, which figures out how much your product will cost to install and how much fuel it will save them over time.
Curate content or make your own content for your website so you can easily send highly relevant content to your leads based on what they’re interested in and how close they are to making a buying decision.
Try these three ideas:
- Using the pages they visit on your website, the links they click, and the forms they fill out, marketing automation software lets you tag your contacts’ interests.
- Details in the contact record, like the contact status and contact score, can tell you if a lead in your database is hot or cold.
- Marketing automation can help you pull dynamic lists based on the interests of your contacts or even start contacts on personalized campaigns.
Strategy: Keep in mind.
Lead nurturing has been shown to turn 15-20% of “not ready to buy” prospects into sales (Gleanster). Keeping in touch with your leads can help you make more money from your sales pipeline than you would have otherwise.
At the same time, if you follow up too often, your leads may get tired of your emails and choose not to hear from you anymore.
If you know, on average, how many days it takes for a lead to turn into a customer, you’ll have a good idea of how often to follow up. For example, if your sales cycle is 12 months, you probably don’t want to follow up every week.
Find out how many times you need to talk to a cold lead before they become a customer. Then, plan the best way to keep in touch. A mix of phone calls and emails can help prospects get closer to making a purchase.
Two Things to Try:
- Use automatic emails to stay in people’s minds. Send a birthday greeting or a holiday greeting, for example.
- Help your sales team keep in touch with leads by setting up automated tasks or alerts. Set up a reminder for every 30 days to follow up with warm prospects.
Strategy: Follow up with leads that are ready to buy
Lead nurturing works because it lets buyers know about your business early in the buying process, sometimes even before they know they have a need. Instead of using pushy sales techniques that are easy to ignore, lead nurturing builds trust in your business over time. This helps you start off on the right foot with your leads.
6 out of 10 survey respondents who use marketing automation say it has increased the number and quality of leads that get sent to sales (Lenskold Group & Pedowitz Group).
You have to ask for the sale at some point. So how do you know when a lead that has been nurtured is ready to be sent to your sales team?
In digital marketing, there are a number of ways to tell who on your list is ready to move on to the next step. When you send emails to bring leads back to your website, your sales team can reach out to these types of prospects:
- Very interested: A contact who has been very interested in your content and has opened emails, clicked on links, and visited your website is getting something out of your marketing. They are likely a good person to contact and will be interested in hearing more about your solution.
- Getting Detailed Information: When a lead reads your blog posts, they are doing a different kind of research than when they look at your pricing page or download product specs. People who visit
- Trying to Reach Out: Obviously, you should follow up with anyone who asks for more information on your website, whether it’s about a product or about setting up a meeting. But it’s important to have a good system in place to make sure that everyone is quickly followed up on and that no one gets lost.
Try these three ideas:
- Use the built-in lead scoring feature of your marketing automation tool to send high-scoring leads to your sales team.
- Set up a task or an alert to let your sales team know when a lead visits a page on your website that is geared toward sales.
- When a lead fills out an important form on your website, set up an automatic follow-up task for your sales team.
Effective Lead Nurturing Tips
Lead nurturing used to be out of reach for small businesses, mostly because the tools to do it were so expensive and hard to set up. Now that there are a lot of cheap and easy-to-use marketing tools, the only thing keeping your business from doing a great job of nurturing leads is a good lead nurturing strategy.
1. Set up an official way to follow up
Like any other sales activity, it’s important to have a formal plan for how you follow up with your leads. If you don’t do this, you might end up contacting leads at the wrong time, which won’t help you close the deal.
Mark Fershyten of Recapped.io says, “After every call, make sure to set a clear next step, who is in charge of the next step, and a specific target date for that step. You have to run the process of following up like a project.”
2. Think about what’s best for them
“At its core, sales is still about making personal connections with people. Getting on the same page. Being able to get along with each other. Setting up a real relationship,” writes Lydia Sugarman of Venntive.
“Only then can a lead or potential customer really believe that you are working together to solve a problem that bothers them often.”
Frootful Marketing’s Sean Dudayev explains how this method of nurturing leads works: “When you’re helping a friend make a decision, you shouldn’t be thinking about a specific outcome (like closing the deal). Instead, you should focus on listening to your friend’s problem and walking them through a solution to that problem.”
“You are probably 100% honest about the pros and cons of the solution and address their concerns honestly, instead of trying to steer them toward a certain result.”
“You end up giving them advice based on what works best for them,” Dudayev says. This sales method lets you connect with people and be honest with them. Customers today know a lot more about a product before answering a sales call, and they can spot “sales tricks” from a mile away.
3. Give extra value
Anne Fairfield-Sonn of CiBO Technologies says that marketers should make leads and target them with content that is tailored to each persona.
“When a lead comes in, you should figure out what content they liked and move them into that sales funnel. To help your sales team close deals faster, they need to know what kind of content appeals to your ideal audience.
Shane Barker thinks that this is the key to closing any kind of sales deal: “Instead of trying to sell your product, think about what the potential customer needs.”
“Ask them what they would like. Try to figure out what they want. People love to talk about themselves, so let them talk more and jump in when you have something useful to say. Barker says, “This way, it wouldn’t even look like you’re trying to sell something.”
Alex Birkett from Omniscient Digital adds, “If you’re starting from scratch and don’t have any previous relationships or touchpoints, the best way to get someone’s attention is to give them something of value.”
“For instance, CRO firms have reached out to me with quick site audits, ideas for improving the site, custom demos, etc. It probably doesn’t take too much time to put together, it feels very personal, and I can tell if the person knows what they’re talking about.”
Birkett says, “We usually give examples of content roadmaps and content gap analyses. They are easy to make and go beyond the basics to show that we care.”
Andrew McLoughlin of Colibri Digital Marketing agrees: “A free consultation, quote, product demo, trial period, etc. are a foot in the door that will get the other party talking and listening, and it adds depth to your pitch or offer that you won’t get from something static, like a newsletter or sales sheet.”
Lauren Pope is another pro who uses this method. She says, “At G2, we are always looking for the value-add. How can we show our customers why they should work with us and be part of what we do?
“Recently, we made a touchpoint by printing real user reviews from our website, framing them, and sending them to people who might be interested in working with us.”
Pope says, “This was a great strategy because it was cost-effective, personalized, and showed the value of what G2 does.”
“By showing these companies what real users are saying about them on our website, we open the door to more conversations and show the value without being pushy,” says Pope.
But for StoryTeller Media + Communications, this value comes in the form of feedback. As Britt Laeger explains, “When connecting with a lead that has converted or engaged on your website, we find it helpful to give them one or two very relevant pieces of advice or feedback.”
“Before we connect, we look at what they are doing on their site, in marketing, social media, etc., and give them a tip they can use to get their attention.”
As we said before, it’s important to have a single workflow for this, like Anna Kaine’s team at ESM Inbound: “When a prospect downloads one of our pieces of content or goes back to our website, we have workflows set up that let us get in touch with the contact right away.”
“We’ll send them a calendar invite to set up a Connect Call as soon as possible. Once the interaction becomes personal, you have a much better chance of understanding the lead’s pain points, helping them, and ultimately closing a deal.”
Kaine adds, “If a lead isn’t available for a call, we might send a video explainer instead. From prospecting to customer management, we find videos work really well, and people have told us how much they like them. Again, it’s a way to offer a face and voice instead of just sending an email.”
4. Investigate your sales cycles
Dhwani Shah of Acquire.io says that one of the best ways to connect with possible leads is to find out what they want before starting a conversation. “Better conversion can come from customer engagement that is based on their goals.”
“With customer behavioral insights, you can guess what a customer is going to do. McKinsey research shows that companies that use customer behavior insights do better than their peers by 85% in sales growth and by more than 25% in gross margin.
Shah says, “As the customer moves from the research phase to the consideration phase and then to the transaction phase, they visit different touchpoints. This is where they leave intent signals, which can help you predict their needs and what step they are likely to take.”
“This information about their behavior can help you map out what your customers want and where they are in the decision-making process,” says Shah.
Emily Vale of The Lead Agency adds, “It’s important to know that your customers aren’t all the same, even if they have similar interests and traits.”
“At each stage of a consumer’s journey, personalization shows them content that is relevant to them and has unique value for them. But this kind of strategy works best near the end of a customer’s buying process. It helps to set your brand apart from competitors.”
Vale says, “This approach can include anything from direct communication with prospects on social media platforms to personalized messages and ads that use consumer data.”
5. Turn off your technology
Everything is going digital. A big part of our daily lives is controlled by the Internet of Things (IoT), but our experts don’t think it’s the best way to keep in touch with your leads.
In fact, Mavens & Moguls’ Paige Arnof-Fern says that you should “disconnect from technology every now and then and focus on building relationships with real people.”
What does that look like? “Meeting for coffee or lunch can do so much more than exchanging emails, posting on social media, etc., and it’s a great way to learn more about people, their interests, hobbies, and goals.”
Arnof-Fern says, “Technology helps advance the conversation, but it will never replace the human interaction that builds trust over time.”
Danny Peavey of One Week Website uses the same strategy: “We like virtual meetings and phone calls. In the lead nurturing process, it’s a big plus if you can talk in a natural way.
“Someone may respond to an email at first, but a phone call or even a text is the best way to follow up. “When you talk to a real person in some way, you make a natural connection right away,” says Peavey.
6. Make profiles for leads
Know as much as you can about the people you’re trying to change.
Why? Because, according to Yvonne Haendel of IntentData, “instead of talking about hypothetical benefits for most users, you can use scripts, templates, and paid social creative that speaks directly to their stage in the buying journey and other details of their research effort.”
Haendel adds, “It’s because of this kind of nuanced outbound sales that we’ve seen close rates of 50% and a sell cycle that’s been cut by 82%.”
7. Use campaigns for remarketing
Srish Agrawal, who works for A1 Future Technologies, says that “remarketing to soft leads through social media is working very well.”
Retargeting website visitors with display ads makes them 70% more likely to make a purchase.
“Start by getting an email address, then build a second sales funnel and remarketing campaign to reach their users through the most popular social networking sites,” says Agrawal.
Facebook Messenger ads are a great way to get back in touch with your leads.
“Once you have a lead, put Facebook Messenger ads in their Facebook newsfeed to reach them again. Why? “Because no one likes to call a business these days, especially when it’s not during their business hours,” says Paul Fairbrother of AdEspresso.
“Most people like Messenger conversations better than phone calls, and they can start them while sitting on the couch and watching TV.”
Also, Fairbrother says, “Messenger ads are a way to stand out from the other 99% of marketers who are still using the old-fashioned call route.”
“Connecting on messengers is proving to be one of the best ways to close more deals,” says Jacqueline Phillips.
“Buyers today want to talk whenever they want and as quickly as possible. Say you’re not sure about a certain feature. Why wait for a Zoom call when a salesperson can send you a quick video over chat?”
Phillips says, “Chat makes it possible to put humanity back into communication on a large scale.”
8. Send targeted, relevant emails
“Email marketing is not just a way to spam people you don’t know with click bait and other information they might not have asked for,” says Tom Buchok of Mailcharts.
“In fact, most business leaders prefer email as a way to communicate. This is the perfect way to reach out to leads and give them more information to really close the deal.”
Andrea Loubier, who works for Mailbird, agrees that “newsletters are a great way to let your potential customers know what’s going on in your business.”
“If a business or person is on the fence about a product or service, sending them a newsletter with a 20% discount, for example, can be the final push they need to make a decision.”
Loubier says, “Most newsletters can be made in a few minutes, especially if you use a template that has already been made.” It’s a quick and cheap way to get in touch with a lot of prospects at once and send them information that shows you care.
Eric Melillo explains how COFORGE works: “In the early morning, I usually reach out to a warm lead who has shown some initial interest. Before I call the prospect, I look them up on LinkedIn, learn about their job to find common problems, look over the content offer they accepted, and find a way to help or add value.
“When I’m on the phone with a prospect, I use the “Give and Get” technique, in which I give them a tip for improving something on their website that they can do themselves and that has a big impact. Mellilo says, “From there, I ask the prospect if they’d like to learn more about how we can help them reach their goals and set up a second “planned” call.”
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers says, “Once you’ve turned your traffic or prospects into leads, the most cost-effective way to stay in touch with them is to send them personalized, automated email sequences.”
“This is why email marketing is known as the best way to market online in terms of return on investment (ROI).”
In conclusion, James Pollard of The Advisor Coach says, “Since email can be automated with an autoresponder sequence, I have more time to focus on high-value tasks like spending time with qualified prospects.”
9. Including videos made just for you
You’ve written your email, but you want to send something more than just a wall of text to get their attention.
Casey Hill says that Bonjoro sends personalized video messages through email because building rapport and a real connection with a prospect is a key part of closing a deal.
Hill says, “To test it out, take a small group of contacts, say 30 people you need to reach out to, and try a tool like Bonjoro, which lets you record a personalized video to send to a prospect, and then compare the open and engagement rates of those video messages with 30 standard follow-up emails.”
Michael Thebeau of HIVE Digital Strategy adds, “If you’re like most companies and your sales team is still sending out long text-based emails, the sad truth is that they probably aren’t being read in full.”
Because of this, Thebeau says, “Creating short, personalized videos that are easy for your ideal prospect to understand and add them to your email outreach is the best way to deal with the fast-paced lives we all lead.”
“My click-through and response rate has gone up by more than 25% because I use videos in my sales outreach and even in my sales automation campaigns. “Video makes for a unique experience that makes me stand out from the competition and has been shown to get people more interested in what I have to offer,” says Thebeau.
Plus, Gabriel Marguglio of Nextiny says, “Video is also very helpful when people are deciding between you and your main competitor in the final stages of the sales process.”
“A video can make a big difference right now because you can introduce your team and show what you’re going to do or how you or your product will help them. More importantly, it makes a product or service more personal, which makes it easier to connect with clients when we don’t see them face-to-face.
The people at Showcase IDX use a tool called Dripeo to make these videos. Kurt Uhlir says, “When I send my initial and follow-up emails to leads, I create a personalized message, and I’m getting 300% more replies.”
“The video lets potential customers see me as a person, not just as a business selling a product. Adding personalized videos will help you close more deals and faster, whether you use this tool or do it yourself on your phone.
Another company that uses this method is Vaetas. In fact, V. Michael Santoro says, “Our statistics show that conversions for cold video emails go up by 38% and conversions for warm follow-up video emails and text messages go up by 98%.”
10. Offer to give custom sales presentations
Matej Kukucka of Post Affiliate Pro says, “From my experience, DEMO is the best way to connect with leads and turn them into customers.”
Kukucka says, “We tend to overcomplicate things with our leads, and we try a lot of fancy nurturing and targeting strategies, but in the end, direct communication with our lead works best.”
Kukucka says that when giving sales demos, you should “make a special calendar with 30–60 minute slots, depending on how complicated your solution is, and make sure that your demo is visible across all of your communication channels.”
11. Use a platform from CXM
In the world of sales and marketing, there are so many acronyms that they can make your head spin.
CXM is a new one that you should pay attention to because Woodtex’s “It stands for customer experience management (CXM) SaaS platforms,” says Paul Farmer.
Farmer’s team uses CXM platforms because “the customer journey is getting more complicated, which makes it hard for many marketers to keep up.”
“Beyond CRMs, we now need to interact with people in a way that stays true to our brand at every stage of their customer journey. With the power of multiple departments or, at the very least, a solopreneur wearing different hats, engagement with each person can be changed.
Farmer says, “Consistent engagement starts with the marketing team taking the lead during the first contact, when the prospect has no idea what your USP is. The marketing team guides the prospect (politely!) to landing impressions on content and ads, clicking through, and eventually filling out a contact form. The sales team will then reach out in a friendly way to start the sales cycle.”
“After that, it’s important for the customer service team to pick up the torch and keep that connection going. LTV, churn, and CAC are all linked, and customer service has a direct effect on whether they stay the same, go down, or go up.
“If customer satisfaction is high, the customer service team can regularly send active customer leads to the sales team who are ready to be cross-sold, up-sold, or enrolled in a loyalty program.”
Farmer comes to this conclusion: “A unified portal is the only way to have the customer service, sales, and marketing teams all on the same tab. If you haven’t started investing in a CXM yet, both in terms of time and money, you should start looking into it today.
12. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Piia Sander says, “LinkedIn Sales Navigator has been the most effective channel for Messente Communications Ltd. The filters help you find the right person to talk to and stay in touch with at a company.”
Sander also says, “LinkedIn is a great way to build your own credibility because new contacts can see your past work and recommendations.”
13. Make content for thought leadership
Angela Ash of Flow SEO says, “When I’m trying to close a deal, I start right away to set up my company as a leader in the field.”
“Most of the time, I find that content is the best and quickest way to do that. I keep writing guest posts and useful content for our blog so that potential clients can see why we are the best company to handle their SEO and content needs.
Ash says, “If you know a company has a question, answer it in an authoritative blog post by giving a detailed answer that can help them and showing them how successful your strategies could be for their business.”
But Horseshoe + co.’s Andrea Moxham says that this thought leadership content doesn’t have to be a blog post: “Follow them on social media and respond to what they post. Download what they have to offer. Reply to their newsletter and share a tip that helps you establish thought leadership.”
What’s the best part? It works. Giving users content that is relevant to where they are in the buying process has been shown to increase conversion rates by 72%.
14. Produce case studies
Venkatesh C.R. of Dot Com Infoway says that case studies are the best way to sort out high-quality leads.
That’s because “9 out of 10 people look at online reviews of products before buying them. Most customers think that doing a little research online could help them avoid having a bad experience or making a bad investment in a product or service.
“Case studies make it easier for your business to connect with its target market. If your home page says “our service helps you get a higher return on investment,” then your case study page could say “our service helps you get a 200% return on investment by doing X, Y, and Z.”
15. Take part in their online groups.
Ross Simmonds, who runs Foundation, says, “Many of us see Slack as a way to communicate and work together inside the company. It’s a place where we can talk to our coworkers, talk about projects and deadlines, and share GIFs when it’s the right time.”
“But what many sales teams and companies don’t know is that Slack can also be used to keep in touch with leads.”
Simmonds thinks that “one-on-one conversations with prospects and possible customers in Slack communities are an underrated way to nurture leads.”
“If you can join communities where they hang out, you can keep an eye out for conversations that are relevant to your space and jump in when it’s the right time.”
“Similarly, if you’re in a Slack channel with a prospect, it’s easier to get their attention with a direct message than with an email. Because Slack is probably already open on their work computer or phone,” says Simmonds.
Not just Slack communities, though, can be helpful.
Ben Sansom of Ever Increasing Circles Ltd says, “We’ve found that being a helpful and informative member of online communities like Facebook groups for business owners has been a great way to get new business.”
“The key is to build relationships with your target market and find things you have in common with them. “Giving people your time and helping them is a great way to build trust and be the first person people think of when they need your services,” Sansom writes.
16. Call them right away
You’ve added a new lead to your CRM and are waiting for the right time to contact them… When will that be?
PriceMyCar’s David Lye says, “Not in 48 hours, 24 hours, or even 1 hour.” “Your conversion rate will go through the roof if you call someone right after they send an online inquiry.
Lye thinks this is because of a few different things:
Authority. Nothing says “these guys are on the ball” like a quick answer.
Get them right now. People are always getting hot and cold, but they never get as hot as when they hit that button. Within minutes, the lead starts to lose its heat.
Most likely, they will answer. They are obviously not sleeping or doing something else, so the chances that they will answer are much higher.”
We’ve already talked about how email is a good way to get in touch with your leads.
But since your leads’ inboxes are often full—the average worker gets 121 emails per day—what other ways are there to get in touch with them?
17. Call your prospects
Ivan LaBianca of Seventh Sense writes, “We’ve found that calling leads when they’ve already responded to emails improves our connect and conversion rates by a lot.”
“This works especially well for leads who show interest and open/click emails but don’t respond or book a meeting.”
LaBianca’s team does this by “using Seventh Sense to find the best times to call, but you can also just look at their open history in your CRM.”
18. Send a text message to them
Text has a huge 98% open rate, while the average email only has a 20% open rate.
That’s probably why Brett Casey of HealthMarkets has found that “texting a potential client is very effective.”
“These days, many people don’t answer their phone when it rings with an unknown number. I’m one of them! So, if you want to follow up on a lead and you have their cell phone number and leave a message, I have found that sending a text message a few days later to follow up again works very well.
19. Give those with a high lead score more attention
Lead scoring is a way to figure out which of your leads are the best.
Usually, it’s on a scale from 1 to 100, and things like “read an email” or “visited a pricing page” make their score go up. (Leads with the highest scores are the best ones.)
Dillon Yong of B2B Marketing Lab says, “With the HubSpot system, you can track what the lead does on your website and get a lead score.”
“Therefore, I think the best way is to get this information and then send an email (with information about the lead’s interest) asking for a connect call to talk more. It’s easier to connect with someone if you know what they want.”
Only 25% of a company’s leads should be sent to sales, according to research. A lead scoring system can help get rid of them.
Last things to say
As you can see, staying in touch with your leads throughout their sales journey isn’t just a nice surprise for them; it’s also a key way to close the deal.
Don’t forget to retarget them on other platforms, give your best leads the most attention, and get in touch with them as soon as possible.
It will be good for your sales pipeline. If you need help with proper lead management, then Office24by7 can be your partner here. Our lead, deal management software and sales CRM will ease out the entire process. Contact us on +91 7097171717 for more details.