What Is Lead Nurturing and How to Excel at It

Posted on February 15, 2021 | Updated on December 29, 2023

What is lead nurturing and why does it matter to your company’s success? Building relationships with people most likely to buy your product or service ensures they feel a sense of loyalty to your brand. You’ll also gain the advantage of understanding their needs and wants and will be better equipped to solve problems.

In HubSpot’s 2023 State of Marketing report, they surveyed 1200 marketers from various countries. They discovered 22% listed gaining and keeping followers as one of their top challenges. But, what do you do with those followers once you’ve found them can mean the difference in success and failure. 

What is lead nurturing and how does it differ from lead generation? When you find a lead, you simply drive qualified traffic to your website or business. When you cultivate a new customer, you get to know them on a personal level and come up with personalized ways to solve their pain points. 

Now that you understand the basic premise of what is lead nurturing, here are several ways to stand out from your competitors as you schmooze your way into your future customers’ hearts.

1. Start with Education

The first step of any type of lead nurturing must be educating the consumer about your business and what you do. They need to see what you offer, so they and you can decide if you’re a great fit. What the process looks like is a bit different for each business, depending upon the industry you’re in.

Create content personalized to the needs of your clients. Share case studies, testimonials and customer videos showing what you’ve done for similar leads. At the core of what is lead nurturing is a deeper understanding of one another. 

2. Fix Your Sales Funnel

Does your sales funnel take too much time? People are busy these days. They might work a full-time job or run a company, take the kids to soccer practice, help their parents with some tasks and barely have time for dinner. The faster you get them from Point A to Point B, the better.

Even the speed of your website has an impact on the lead’s willingness to hang around. According to Google, speed means almost everything. Older articles on Google Think indicate when a page’s load time increases from one second to three seconds, the bounce rate increases 32%. An increase to five seconds, which is pretty fast by most standards, raised the bounce rate 90%. 

In the last year, Google Think mentioned adding a Google Tag Managing server-side tracking. Those who adopted GTM tagging saw a 25% improvement in page load speeds.

Think about the bones of your site and how fast pages load, but also look at the funnel itself and if there are any unnecessary steps in the process. Aim for a fast conversion process that takes a lead and educates them on your offer in mere minutes. 

3. Follow Up With Leads

When thinking about what is lead nurturing, the word follow-up comes to mind. There are many ways to get in touch with someone after they express an initial interest in your brand. Email marketing is perhaps the most effective. It removes the difficulty of speaking on the phone, but also gives you a chance to show how you personalize solutions to the person.

Once you’ve developed rapport via email, you can move to in-person or Zoom meetings to further solidify your case.

Most companies create what is known as a drip campaign. It’s crucial to understand the phases of the buyer’s journey. Initial contact is usually about them becoming aware of your product and learning more about it. As they move through the sales funnel, they will realize they need what you offer and come to a decision to buy or not.

Each stage of the journey must be smooth and address the concerns of where the person is in the process. Focus on a single goal for each touchpoint.

4. Know Your Target Audience

While personalizing your efforts to individuals is important, you must know your target audience before you even begin lead nurturing. Create buyer personas based on your ideal customer, and gather as much information as possible on them.

Is your average customer a certain age? Perhaps they are all homeowners in need of a heating and cooling company. Think about what they each have in common and you’ll be better able to serve your leads as a whole. 

You must also figure out their pain points. Someone whose furnace just went out might need repair if they’re on a tight budget, while another type of buyer needs replacement or wants a newer, more energy-efficient unit. Getting to know your buyers and what they care about and where they are with finances is a big part of marketing to them once they become a lead.

5. Use Multi-Channel Techniques

At the heart of what is lead nurturing is the ability to reach potential clients on multiple levels. You must employ multi-channel lead nurturing if you want to stay at the forefront of the buyer’s mind. 

Their first interaction with your brand may be at a conference, via your website or on social media. Create a buyer funnel for each point of contact. If you met them at a conference, follow up with a quick email. If they landed on your website and then liked your social media page, welcome them to your page. Look for various ways to get your name in front of them and build brand recognition. 

An old marketing rule of thumb stated people had to see or hear your brand name seven times before they started to connect with your company. The number may very well be higher in the 2020s with so much advertising noise cluttering everything we do. From the moment a person opens their eyes, marketers bombard them with messages. They hear it on the radio, see it on billboards, come across adds on social media and have their inboxes flooded.

If you want to stand out, you have to get your name in front of them and do it in a straightforward but unique way. Pay attention to what competitors use and figure out how you can serve your potential buyers better.

6. Segment Your List

Spend time segmenting your leads list. You may even want to survey your contacts and find out what their top concerns are. Once you know, you can move them into groups and address those needs directly, personalizing your messages.

For example, if you sell golf tees, you might ask what their top concerns are with their current tees. You could then move them into groups of people who want tees that don’t break, those who want better tees for performance and players who care what their tees might do to the environment.

Once you have your customers segmented into groups, it’s easier to send them product updates, such as the new tee that just arrived made from recycled plastic and resistant to breakage.

7. Try Different Offers

If your first offer doesn’t seem to resonate, come at your marketing from a different angle. If the products you’ve highlighted fall flat, get something new in place or send out a special offer that’s out of the box.

Your leads might respond to a discount, a free bonus or reduced shipping. Figuring out what each of your customers needs to say yes to closing the sale takes time and trail and error.

8. Keep Reaching Out

An in-depth look at the power of follow-up reveals about 63% of those requesting information about your company won’t buy for the next three months and some will take a full year to make a purchase decision. If you only reach out a couple of times and then give up, you’re missing out on a number of potential customers. Many companies give up too soon.

Instead, come up with a strategy that isn’t pushy but reminds the user you’re still there and happy to answer any questions they might have. When they do need your services, your brand will be the first one that comes to mind. 

Tactics might include weekly emails with relevant content, a birthday greeting and a tag on social media with information you think they’d appreciate. Offering valuable information is also an excellent way to stay connected and keep your brand name in mind should they need the product or service you sell.

Perhaps you offer a free e-book on a topic because you want to gather leads. What if you kept sending out insight to those leads weekly for a year? How many more people would you convert to customers if they got to know you better and saw how much you care? If they could experience your passion for what you do, you’d likely be their first choice when buying.

Put Relationship Over Sale

In order to fully nurture leads, they must feel you care about them as individuals. If your entire goal is to make money, it will show. Instead, get to know people on a personal level. Ask about their family, their pets and their interests. 

Keep careful notes, so you can follow up by sending a congratulations when their daughter graduates high school or a sympathy card when their beloved family dog crosses the rainbow bridge. In order to gain the trust and loyalty of people, you must treat them as humans above all else. Emotions are a powerful force. Be sincere, but invest your time and energy into developing meaningful relationships.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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