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What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of engaging a target audience and moving them through the buying journey by delivering relevant, valuable information that helps your audience make the decision to buy. This process continues until they are ready to purchase and become a customer.

According to Marketing Sherpa, 73% of leads are not ready to buy when they first give their contact details. If they’re immediately chased by sales teams looking to make a sale and achieve their sales quotas (instead of gently warmed up through nurture marketing campaigns) many prospects will be put off, go away, and drop off your marketing radar.

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The importance of lead nurturing

Lead nurturing marketing has become a key component of lead management for many B2B companies (and for many B2C companies) whose buyers must make complex or considered purchases, because it allows for buyers to be tracked through the marketing and sales journeys. To put it as simply as possible, lead nurturing is important because:

1. It increases your lead’s potential to buy

2. Only a small percentage of leads are ready to buy

3. Good lead nurturing marketing keeps your brand top of mind

Lead nurturing statistics

There are a plethora of statistics surrounding lead nurturing and nurture marketing campaigns and their benefits, but here are just a few think about:

  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads#Lead nurturing emails get 4-10x the response rate compared to email blasts
  • 35% of B2B marketers have established a lead nurturing strategy
  • On average, nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads

The process of lead nurturing

Mention “lead nurturing” to any marketer and you’ll see their fear at the mammoth amount of work these campaigns can involve! However, we don’t think it needs to be scary. Using a Marketing Automation tool for your lead nurturing marketing will not only help you build up a scalable model, but it also means you don’t have to build everything for day one.

That’s right: modern marketing automation tools allow you to layer content into your campaign week after week, so you can start small and build up over time. This reduces the overall starting cost of nurturing campaigns and makes building a nurture campaign achievable for all organisations, no matter their size (or their budget).

JTF Marketing use a standardised lead nurturing framework that has four key nurture streams broken into the fundamental stages of the buying cycle. Here’s an example: if we think about nurturing a prospect to buy a marketing automation technology we would have four key stages:

Discovery
This lead nurturing stream focuses on developing the prospect’s knowledge – not only in the world of marketing automation (including terminology, structure, and benefits) but maybe even on toolsets too. At this stage of the funnel, we will want to use ungated informational content which informs and educates the client – and, of course, having a good mix of content is critical to avoid content fatigue.

Consideration
In this stage, the prospect might start thinking about building a business case, so our nurture marketing campaign should fuel our prospect with information and guidance for writing their internal business case. Some of the content types at this stage would include gated content, whitepapers, and webinars, among others.

Conversion
Often the hardest part of the nurture cycle is the conversion phase ; this is also where the marketing team tend to get a little more “hands off” as the sales team picks up the conversation and encourages the client to buy. This is where content might include webinars, case studies, credentials, or product demos.

Retention
One of the most important parts of managing a customer lifecycle is retaining the client – and we all know the famous quote: “it’s 10x harder to win a new client than to keep a current one happy”. This part of the nurture campaign is about ensuring the client stays up to date and has the right solution. At this stage, nurture content would include articles, products, services, and guides, for example.

The 7 fundamentals of a lead nurturing strategy

1. The most important part of every lead nurturing strategy is a clearly defined and mapped buyer journey, which holds the key milestones and required data points

2. Every strategy must also include documented and agreed sales and marketing alignment, including clear definitions of what a good lead is and agreed handover processes

3. All great lead nurturing programmes benefit from a dynamic lead scoring system that focuses on driving the quality of leads and ensuring that sales teams can easily identify which leads to accelerate through the journey with a physical contact

4. A lead nurturing strategy should also encompass omni-channel or multi-channel campaigns that take into account social media marketing, digital advertising and even offline marketing

5. Quality content should be created and delivered across the different stages of the programme, based on a content marketing audit that identifies your current content and which content needs to be created. It’s also important to think about the cadence (frequency) with which this content will be distributed!

6. Personalisation should be enabled on all levels, covering everything from job level, to industry, to existing purchasing stage. (Don’t just take our word for it: according to Hubspot, personalised emails generate 6x higher revenue than non-personalised emails!)

7. Establish an agreed follow-up service level agreement (SLA) with sales to ensure you have a feedback loop for your nurture marketing campaigns, resulting in a closed loop and a regular process of optimisations and efficiencies.

Lead nurturing use cases

Lead nurture marketing campaigns often get pigeonholed as lead generation but there are actually a number of different use cases that go well beyond focusing on acquisition of prospective clients. Here are some of the ways we’ve worked on lead nurturing campaigns with our clients:

  • Lead nurturing for lead generation can be incredibly fruitful as we’ve shown in our work with Sommet Education
  • Lead nurturing campaigns can also be implemented for onboarding to ensure that leads and clients are provided with the information they need to be follow processes
  • Retention of current clients can be managed and ensured with a lead nurturing campaign, as we’ve shown in our work with an automotive leasing company, in which clients were educated and provided with information to maintain their current products and service agreements, leading to an uplift in renewal rates
  • Finally, upselling is another use for lead nurturing campaigns – marketers can tailor their messages to educate their clients on further products and services

 

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