6 Ways to Nurture Leads Effectively + 4 Things to Avoid

Digital MarketingMarketing Automation
By Julie Snow | June 9, 2022 | 13 min read

Intrusive marketing is kind of like social media stalking. Imagine your high school ex studies your last ten years of social media posts to find out all the personal information and details of what you’ve been up to since the breakup. Then that person uses the intel to try and win back your affection. Creepy, right? 

Marketers are in a tricky position nowadays. We have a lot of personal information about our prospects but we don’t want to be icky or intrusive with our marketing tactics. What’s the solution? An individual or B2B lead nurturing strategy is the marketing version of getting to know someone new at a socially acceptable pace. 

Don’t be a creep who stalks your leads, no matter how much you think they’ll want to connect with your brand. You’ll just end up being blocked forever and losing any chance of establishing any type of relationship at all.

Here’s what you can expect to read in this comprehensive guide on individual and B2B lead nurturing strategies:

Peruse these topics and think about how you can de-ickyfy your strategy for nurturing leads into a long-term, mutually-beneficial relationship with your brand. 

4 Reasons to Use a Lead Nurturing Strategy

You probably don’t need to be sold too much on the idea of lead nurturing because 94% of top-performing salespeople believe they receive better leads from marketing. 

Here are four other persuasive reasons to use lead nurturing best practices:

1. People are averse to being “sold” or “advertised” to. They want to be provided with value, which involves businesses personalizing, listening, and responding appropriately to the lead’s needs. There’s a fine line between sweet and scary and you must walk it with confidence.

2. Lead nurturing requires multiple interactions with your brand before most conversions happen. Customers want to take time to research and evaluate not only the products and services they intend to buy. They also research and evaluate the companies that sell the products and services. 

Are your products/services and brand trustworthy? How is your customer service? Do you hold the same values they do? These are all things customers want to know before they commit.  

3. Lead nurturing is more effective than cold calling. LinkedIn says:

  • Conversion rates for cold calls are only around 2%.
  • It takes 18+ dials to reach a prospect.
  • 63% of sellers say this is the worst part of their job.

4. Lead nurturing helps you avoid being too aggressive and less likely to lose a prospect. These too-aggressive techniques certainly don’t work in dating and they don’t work in sales, either:

    1. Too-frequent emails/texts/calls (stalking)
    2. High-pressure situations (harassing/bullying)
    3. Misleading facts/promises (lying)

Aligning the Sales Process with the Lead Nurturing Strategy

There are two ways the sales process can go, SQL or MQL:

  1. SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) = Jumping right into a sales pitch
  2. MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) = Nurturing a lead slowly down the path to a sale

You’re right if you think the first option is used far too frequently and fails much of the time (in dating and with sales). One of the biggest reasons for this failure is a misalignment between marketing strategy and the sales process. 

Step #1: The first step to creating alignment is to agree on the definition of a lead, which should be a person who has interacted with a business’s marketing content (emails, blog posts, surveys, etc.).

Step #2: Both departments need to agree on what should be done with the leads. The best answer is that it depends. There are occasions when leads are ready to be converted right away. Usually, though, leads must be nurtured before committing. 

Step #3: Both departments should create a sales and marketing service level agreement (SLA) to outline shared expectations, responsibilities, and goals. This will help hold each department accountable for nurturing and converting leads.

Once marketing has done its job to guide the lead to the bottom of the sales funnel, that’s the time when a person is ready to take the big leap to buy what you’re selling.   

6 Types of Lead Nurturing Campaigns

There are six types of lead nurturing campaigns that marketers use to effectively nurture and engage their leads. 

Note, you shouldn’t just stick to one type forever—these six should all be used in conjunction to make a real connection with your potential customers.

1. Content marketing: Many marketers consider content marketing to be the ultimate way to nurture leads. Create valuable content, promote it on the right channels, and you’ll build trust and a quality reputation. Leads will embrace your business. 

We have dozens of digital marketing stats to prove it, but here are three:

  1. Content marketing generates 3 times more leads than traditional marketing.
  2. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing.
  3. 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company through articles rather than ads.

2. Email nurturing: Nearly two-thirds of marketers say this is the best way to re-engage leads, far surpassing social media retargeting. Email marketing is very cost-effective and can be done weekly (the ideal frequency) without being overwhelming.

Nurturing campaigns within the email realm include:

  • Sending relevant content your lead enjoys
  • Combining email and video marketing to make a good impression
  • Segmenting the email/text list to speak directly to your target audience
  • Automating email/text sequences so you don’t miss anyone
  • Leveraging data to tweak your strategy as needed

3. Retargeting: Social media retargeting (54% of users are researching a product) and display retargeting (which can boost brand awareness by 80%) are the best ways to capture your lead’s attention once you’ve lost it.

The trick is to not repeat the information they’ve already seen. Convey new, valuable information and offer a demo or deal.

4. Personalization: More than 20% of marketers say personalization can improve email engagement and 78% claim it has a “strong” or “extremely strong” impact on advancing the relationship. Even consumers agree, with 44% saying they’re willing to switch to brands that are better at personalization.

Avoid sending generic, templated responses to your lead. Each interaction must be personalized through email, content, and direct outreach. This builds a positive relationship and personal rapport with a lead.

5. One-on-one interactions: Don’t forget how important a true one-on-one touchpoint can be for your lead nurturing strategy. This can be done by connecting with them on social, meeting with leads in person or online, or passing them on to your sales development reps to receive more information.

6. Surveys: A lead qualification survey has approximately 15 questions (with the first 2–3 questions used to screen participants) and only takes 3–5 minutes to complete.

These surveys are great for determining which leads to go after, how to nurture those leads, and which type of customized messages fit their interests. Just be sure:

  • The survey isn’t used too early in the sales funnel
  • The questions are relevant and unobtrusive
  • Your actions strictly relate to the answers

The Dos and Don’ts: Lead Nurturing Best Practices

Leads are smart. Treat them that way by using lead nurturing best practices. Here are the dos and don’ts.

The Dos

Implement these nurturing strategies to put yourself on the road to success.

1. Do Engage in Lead Nurturing

Your competitors already follow a lead nurturing strategy. Statista forecasts that $3.24 billion will be spent on digital lead generation advertising in 2023. You better get on board.

How can you do this quickly, immediately, and effectively?

  • Email leads weekly or monthly newsletters that cover necessary information, product announcements, FAQs, and promotions.
  • Post regular social media articles and video content (after doing keyword research) that is interesting and engaging to your audience.

2. Do Match Your Level of Nurture to Your Prospect’s Level of Engagement

Is it okay to call someone who attended an in-person event or webinar? How about emailing people who recently left stuff in their online cart? The answer to both of these scenarios is yes, but only if they personally provided you with their contact information and opted into receiving notifications. 

Think of it like asking someone out on a date only five minutes after meeting. That’s too intense, too fast. Match your efforts with your lead’s comfort level. 

3. Do Personalize Your Nurturing Communications

Using a prospect’s name in the email subject line is great, but you need to really speak to their needs, their niche. Otherwise, you’ll disinterest them. Or worse, alienate them. 

Here are five tips for personalized marketing communications:

  1. Target opt-in clients: Use a product strategy to provide a competitive price and unique opportunity to trial your product or service.
  2. Mine transactional data: Gain actionable insights by uncovering patterns and reaching out with the right offer at the right time.
  3. Use social proof: Reference a happy customer in the same industry when you reach out to other similar prospects.
  4. Bring experiences to life: Make interactions exciting by engaging in virtual calls, meetings, and webinars with added perks (deliver a meal, send a sample, etc.).
  5. Share feelings: Connect with others on a personal level by speaking out on related pain, hope, and joy.

4. Do Know Which Touchpoints Convert

Most marketing professionals agree—the number of customer touchpoints required for a first conversion numbers between six and eight. But let’s make something clear: Focus on quality over quantity. 

So how can you accomplish this quickly enough that your ROI doesn’t diminish? Focus on making a few quality connections during each stage of the customer journey.

Before a purchase:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media interactions
  • Online advertisements
  • Digital marketing content
  • Webinars
  • Conferences
  • Peer referrals

During a purchase:

  • Product catalogs
  • Customer reviews
  • Conversations 
  • Ecommerce
  • Point of Sale

After a purchase:

  • Thank you letters
  • Upselling and cross-selling emails
  • Subscription renewals
  • Feedback surveys

5. Do Use Marketing Automation Platforms

A marketing automation platform is designed to automate marketing campaigns and activities from the beginning of a buyer’s journey all the way through to the end.

Example marketing platforms include Hubspot, Marketo, Customer.io, and Sakari. These platforms can:

  • Segment your customer base to align with the most relevant marketing strategy.
  • Schedule campaign actions so actions aren’t forgotten and no lead goes lost.
  • Personalize and target emails and texts based on who they are and how they interact with your brand.
  • Identify strong leads before they’re passed on to the sales team.

The Lead Qualification Process

  • Measure and analyze the effectiveness of each step in the lead nurturing strategy.

6. Do Score Your Leads

You need to prioritize your leads so you don’t waste precious resources on someone who isn’t an inevitable prospect.

Lead scoring ranks prospects on a scale to perceive the value they represent to your business. It’s done by:

  1. Assigning numeric values to browsing behaviors, conversion events, social media interactions, etc.
  2. Giving a score to the leads that should be followed up with directly. 

This can be easily implemented in most marketing automation platforms and we highly recommend doing so to ensure you’re assigning the correct lead value to reflect actual compatibility.  

The Don’ts

Avoid common mistakes made in lead nurturing strategy by following this list of don’ts.

1. Don’t Communicate Directly Unless Invited to Do So

In one case featured by John Oliver, data brokers emailed someone directly to show off that they had a lot of their personal data. This is uber icky and a big turn-off.

Marketing automation must be done tactfully, not creepily. Invite interactions and offer opt-ins, but don’t be pushy. Muster up the patience to avoid communicating directly when it’s too early on in your sales relationship.

2. Don’t Take Too Long Before Reaching Out

On the other hand, if you wait too long to make a connection, you risk losing your lead’s interest. Remember, attention spans are waning. If used on the right person, immediate texts or emails can be hugely successful (especially when combined).

Let’s look specifically at a couple of SMS marketing message stats: 

3. Don’t Rely on One Channel

There’s no way for one channel to reach every lead. One of your personas may prefer LinkedIn while another likes to visit Instagram. Repurpose your content and customize it to work for several different channels. This helps you scale your strategy without much effort or expense.

Use omnichannel nurturing and retargeted ads to plug all your services anywhere that makes sense, which might include:

  • Social media posts and ads
  • SEO-optimized blog posts
  • Email marketing
  • DMs
  • Interactive content

4. Don’t Use the Same Individual or B2B Lead Nurturing Technique for Everyone

You can’t assume that every lead likes the same nurturing tactics. Therefore, you need to get a really good grasp of your prospect’s preferences before you pursue them. 

Segmentation, making your message more relevant to your lead’s industry, job function, and interests, increases the relevance of your lead nurturing technique. However, this can be a very time-consuming process. 

Some quicker lead segments to pursue that also bring high returns without requiring as much work include:

  • Homepage visitors
  • Product/service page visitors
  • Repeat visitors
  • Email subscribers
  • Content downloaders
  • Shopping cart abandoners
  • Repeat customers

Case Study: How Marketing Automation Makes Lead Nurturing Strategy More Successful

Who doesn’t love case studies? We’ve got one for you!

Our client Redmond Life was growing so quickly that its marketing team couldn’t keep up with its rapidly growing customer base. They decided to offload marketing initiatives to Big Leap so we could:

  • Perform an email marketing audit
  • Implement missing flows and automation
  • Leverage existing Shopify sales data
  • Capitalize on pop-ups and promotions

You’re eager for the results of this marketing automation campaign, aren’t you? Well, this lead nurturing best practice generated $318,000 with our email flow and automation. 

If that number gets your groove going (and how could it not), then we are a perfect match.

Let the Big Leap Marketing Automation Team Help

Are you struggling to get lead nurturing done right and don’t have the resources to dedicate to solving all your pain points? It’s not just you. Many companies get lost, lose focus, or can’t keep up with everything required to nurture leads through the sales funnel so they become loyal customers. 

Fortunately, you’ve got Big Leap. Our marketing automation services can win over more conversions with less time and effort. We’ve got the tools and resources to accomplish this:

  • Workflow automation
  • Sales enablement
  • Lead scoring
  • Email marketing
  • Segmentation
  • A/B testing

Let our experts take the lead and set you up for many strong customer relationships to come.

Get a Free 30-minute consultation

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