What is Lead Nurturing?

lead nurturing

Think back to the last time you were in the market for a car. At some point, odds are you probably mustered up enough courage to step foot on a dealership’s lot. Maybe you knew exactly what car you wanted to look at and were ready to buy right where you stood. But maybe you weren’t. Maybe you just wanted to test drive a few cars, see what’s out there, learn about options and financing, and then go home in the same car you came in. However, if stereotypes hold true, you were likely mobbed by a salesperson regardless of your buying intent.

This kind of anxiety felt by perusing car shoppers is exactly why lead nurturing exists. The goal of lead nurturing is to only sell to buyers who are ready to buy. According to Marketo, lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.

Before we get into what lead nurturing is, let’s look at the importance of using it.

  • On average, 50% of buyer are not yet ready to buy.
  • Nearly 80% of new leads never convert to sales.
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost.
  • Leads that are nurtured make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

The Stages of Lead Nurturing

The first step in lead nurturing is to map out the buyer’s journey, sometimes called a sales funnel. Each buyer’s journey will be different depending on the product or service being offered, but Hubspot’s three step process is a helpful framework to get started. The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. The three steps in the process are:

  • Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
  • Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it. 
  • Decision Stage: The buyer chooses a solution.
lead nurturing

only sell to buyers who are ready to buy

lead nurturing

Content Strategy

Once the journey has been defined and you have pinpointed the unique difficulties the buyer is experiencing in each stage, it’s time to create content. Whether it’s emails, infographics, or videos each piece of content should be the solution to whatever problem the buyer has. Remember that if a buyer has just recently discovered they have a problem, they aren’t ready to buy.

SPOILER: This means a lot of the content you make won’t be a sales pitch.

Lead Scoring

After ironing out the content assets and delivery strategy, a point value will be assigned to each action a buyer can take. The amount of points each action is given should reflect the likelihood of the buyer converting after they take that action. For instance, downloading an eBook should be allotted more points than opening an email. Assigning point values is a little art and a little science, so don’t be afraid to call in the marketing experts (like idk, Brookside Studios).

The final step in the nurturing process is to determine when a lead is sales ready. There’s not an industry standard that says leads need to score X% of available points before they are ready to buy (although we typically recommend ~30%), it all depends on the length and style of the campaign. It’s best to involve the sales and marketing team when deciding on the tipping point.

The Hard Part…Doing Nothing  

It might seem like the hard part is over. The funnel is defined, content is created, points are assigned, and the sales team knows when to pounce. However, it’s that final step that can be hard to manage. Telling the sales team to sit on their hands and do nothing while leads are accessing content and showing interest isn’t always easy. But it’s vital to wait until the leads are ready for that phone call, otherwise you’re no better than the car lot.

As buyers get savvier and competition grows, the need for lead nurturing gets bigger and bigger. The sobering reality is that if you’re not nurturing your leads, your competition probably is. If all this sounds interesting, or maybe just overwhelming, give us a call and we can help get the lead nurturing process started. 

lead nurturing
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The overall goal of user personas is to strike generic words like target audience or consumer from your vocabulary and replace them with specific names like Business-Owner Bob and South Tulsa Jessica.

User personas