Lead Nurturing: what is it and how to apply it?

Lead Nurturing Apply How

Lead Nurturing is an essential ingredient of the methodology inbound marketing because it is the key to nurture the relationship with your customers and get turn and loyalty to the brand.

Getting a user to leave you their data and become a lead is a very important first step, but from there to the final conversion we still have a long way to go. A good lead nurturing strategy helps us optimize and automate this path, ensuring that our contacts receive the messages they need at the right time.

As you can see, lead nurturing is essential to achieve your marketing goals. So in this article we are going to see what exactly it consists of and how to incorporate it into your campaigns.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing literally means “contact feeding” and is the process of preparing and accompanying leads throughout the purchase cycle, from the first contact with our brand until they become loyal customers.

To move potential customers along this path, what we do is offer them a series of content, actions and interactions, from general articles to personalized incentives based on their interests. In short, we take care of the relationship with the client to contact them with relevant offers at all times.

Lead Nurturing has a long history in marketing. From the moment a company can collect information directly from users and create a database, it can do lead nurturing. Some traditional methods were telephone calls, postal mail, or home delivery of magazines and catalogs; there were also many ways to network and qualify them.

However, it is in recent years that we see a great development of lead nurturing thanks to digital marketing. We now have the ability to collect information directly from users and create a more scalable digital database, with thousands or even millions of people. The consequence is that we can no longer do manual work contact to contact, but instead use automation tools and technologies.

Statistics on lead nurturing

According to classical marketing theory, it takes 7 “touches” for a user to become a customer. Now this idea is out of date because the process is much more circular and interactive. But what is clear is that  lead nurturing is still necessary, as these figures show us:

  • On average, 50% of the leads in a system are not yet ready to buy (source: Marketo).
  • Almost 80% of leads never convert to a sale (source: MarketingSherpa).
  • Companies that are very good at lead nurturing generate 50% more qualified leads for sales at a 33% lower cost (source: Marketo).
  • Leads who have been nurtured make 47% larger purchases than those who have not undergone this process (source: The Annuitas Group).

Benefits of lead nurturing

  • It improves the ROI of marketing campaigns, as it achieves more conversions at a lower cost.
  • It takes full advantage of the data we have on users, since it turns the “raw” information into concrete steps to follow.
  • By automating the process, lead nurturing saves resources, both time and energy. By not having to do a lot of manual tracking tasks, the team will be freer to focus on activities that add more value, such as creativity and strategy.
  • It reduces the risk of rejection and abandonment since instead of sending mass messages, we contact the right users with the right messages at the right time.
  • It allows us to clearly see the entire marketing process and optimize workflows to know what is happening at all times.
  • It allows a very high level of segmentation and personalization, with the consequent increase in efficiency.

Requirements to be able to apply a lead nurturing strategy

In order to successfully implement a lead nurturing strategy, there are several elements that we have to count on: a good online presence, effective ways to communicate with customers, and a system to qualify the leads obtained.

Online presence

The inbound marketing methodology is based on attracting customers to the brand. Therefore, when they look for us, it is essential that they find a developed online presence and with elements such as:

  • An optimized website with a pleasant user experience. There are two fundamental factors that define the success of a website. The first and most important is that the people who visit it can easily navigate the page and find quality information. The second is that the web is optimized to appear when users search for it.
  • Presence in social media. For brands that target consumers directly, it is usually advisable to have a presence on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. B2B brands should especially focus on their LinkedIn page and take advantage of all the interaction possibilities it offers: company pages, personal profiles, groups, articles …

Effective communication with customers

Having a presence on the web and social media is essential to attract users and generate leads. But it is important that the brand channels are not conceived in a unidirectional way, but that  you actively communicate with the audience through:

  •  Email campaignsEmail marketing remains a pillar of lead nurturing campaigns, allowing us to connect directly and personalized with the leads. The key is to offer them relevant information without ulterior motives beyond establishing a relationship, for example, by sending them the content of interest.
  • Quality content. The content strategy is another of the bases of inbound marketing, since they serve to add value to users and nurture the relationship at each stage of the process.
  •  Valuable sales materials. If we strive to create quality content for the early stages of the process, there is no point in neglecting brochures and catalogs, so make sure they stand out for their quality.

A lead qualification system

One of the fundamental principles of lead nurturing is that not all leads are the same and therefore, we should not treat them in the same way. Normally, we will qualify the leads through a lead scoring process, in which different elements will be taken into account to assign a score to the lead:

  • The level of knowledge and interaction with the brand, determined from the actions it has taken. For example, if you have visited our page, if you have left a comment on social media or if you have clicked on our advertisements.
  • To what extent does the user correspond to our ideal customer profile. Clearly defining the buyer persona of the brand will help us to know what type of users we should focus on.
  • The moment of the purchase cycle you are in. The interests of a user who has just discovered the brand will be very different from those of another who is almost ready to buy, so we must clearly identify and segment leads based on this criteria.

How to apply lead nurturing to your strategy

Time to get going! We are going to see what steps we have to follow to achieve maximum efficiency in our lead nurturing campaigns and what tools we can rely on.

The steps of lead nurturing

1) Know the user purchase process

If lead nurturing consists of accompanying the user throughout the purchase process, it is obvious that the first thing will be to know what this process is like.

Depending on the product we are dealing with, we will have a longer and more complex or simpler purchasing process. There are products in which the purchase decision is very quick; for example, if I’m thirsty, I’ll go down to the store and buy myself a drink in a matter of minutes. But if what I want to buy is a house, business software or a master’s degree, the process takes weeks or even months. Therefore, it is in this type of product that it makes sense to create a lead nurturing strategy to accompany the user.

2) Define the segment on which we are going to work

The division into segments will depend on the marketing objectives of the brand and the lead scoring strategy that we have followed. We can start by dividing them into the basic phases of the conversion funnel according to when you are in the purchase process: TOFU, MOFU and BOFU.

  • Users in the TOFU phase (“top of the funnel”) are beginning to identify their need and to find ways to solve it. Therefore, it will be interesting to offer them content of general interest, for example, a newsletter with the most read articles on our blog.
  • In the MOFU phase (“middle of the funnel”), the user already knows our brand and has several clear alternatives. Therefore, we will send you more specialized content, for example, an ebook that explains in detail a way to solve a problem.
  • And finally we have the BOFU  phase  (“bottom of the funnel”), in which our lead is now ready to convert. Here we can send you more commercial content directly, from catalogs and testimonials to discounts or product demonstrations.

3) Establish the objectives of lead nurturing

We have to define what we want to achieve for each of the segments that we have defined in the previous phase, depending on the moment of the purchase cycle in which each user is. For example, download content, hire a product demonstration or make a purchase.

4) Design the communications sequence

Now that we are clear about the purchase process, the segment and the objectives, we will have to design the series of messages  that we are going to send to the user. Keep in mind that you can use a combination of different channels, for example email, social media, and text messages.

The idea is to think about which message will have the most impact at all times, to accompany that person and position ourselves as a benchmark in our sector.

Once we have defined the messages we want to send, marketing automation comes into play  to automate the flow of communications and let them be sent without intervention on our part. This way we can make the initial setup effort profitable over and over again.

5) Run, test and repeat

No matter how well designed our lead nurturing is, you already know that in marketing there are always opportunities for improvement. Therefore, we must measure the performance of all lead nurturing actions to constantly refine the process.

In the same way, it is necessary to constantly carry out tests to validate our strategy, taking a small sample from the database to do something different and see the results. Remember that you can not only change the content, but also the channel or the time of delivery. A change as simple as allowing a day instead of a week to pass between two messages can help us multiply conversions.

Lead nurturing tools

In the market there are many tools that can allow us to automate our lead nurturing strategy and facilitate the entire process. Choosing one or the other will depend on sales, the number of leads and the type of interactions you want with users. These are some of the best rated currently:

  • Hubspot. More than a specific tool, Hubspot is a mega platform with all kinds of solutions for marketers, such as Workflows, designed to drive growth and spend less time on repetitive tasks.
  • Adobe Marketing Cloud. Another great platform that combines content management, campaigning, personalization and B2B marketing solutions.
  • Mailchimp. Perhaps the most popular email marketing tool in the world, essential for creating automated email sequences and measuring the results of each email in detail.