Lead Nurturing - Why it Matters and How to Do it Right

Learn how to do impactful lead nurturing that will build strong relationships and turn prospects into customers.


Bill Arnold

12/8/20237 min read

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. Lead nurturing is critical to ANY marketing and sales program.

According to a Marketo study, 96% of your website visitors are not ready to buy on their first visit to your website. They simply want to learn who you are and why they should care. Often, the only reason they are visiting your site is to download a piece of compelling content that addresses one of their concerns or issues. This provides you with an opportunity to further educate them about how your solution can solve their issues.

It will take between six to eight touchpoints with your brand before a prospect is seriously ready to consider becoming a customer (Medium). That is why we recommend that every full-funnel nurturing program has eight interactions with the client.

It is critical that each of these touchpoints meet three criteria:

  • They provide information that is relevant to the prospect's stage in the buyers’ journey.

  • It provides true value to the prospect that is informative or entertaining and not a “buy now” message.

  • It contains unique and original content that they have not seen before by the prospect.

The nurturing process is designed to help transition prospects through the stages in the buyer’s journey.

buyer's Journey
buyer's Journey

While nurturing must take place through all five stages, we will focus on the first three in this article. To better understand why nurturing needs to happen at the customer and advocate stages, please proceed to our blog entitled: Customer Churn: The Struggle is Real.

Why Should You Nurture Your Leads

The goal of any marketing effort is to educate and bring leads to the point where they are interested in speaking to sales or actually making the purchase. While it is possible for a prospect to self-educate themselves to that juncture, the numbers show it is unlikely to have a positive result. Since numbers don’t lie, we thought it would be worthwhile to share a few.

1. Companies that nurture leads make 50% more sales at a cost of 33% less than non-nurtured leads (HubSpot).

2. The Demand Gen Report states that lead nurturing can increase a business’s sales opportunities by up to 20% when compared to non-nurtured leads (Demand Gen).

3. Nurtured leads have a 23% shorter sales cycle when compared to leads that have not been nurtured (Marketo).

4. Nurtured leads usually make 47% larger purchases (Annuitas Group).

How to Commence the Nurturing Process

Before you can begin the nurturing process, you must find a person who has a problem, or issue so pressing, that they are searching for answers. Typically, this takes the form of an internet search with a query that reflects either the problem or the benefit they are seeking. To be the recipient of this inquiry, you will need to have a robust content marketing program, as we described in Discover How to Create Great Content. This program will take the form of both blogs and premium content that will attract the interest of the person.

In order to initiate the nurturing process, you will need to acquire two things: 1) the name and contact information of the person and 2) permission to include them in a nurturing campaign.

Acquire the Contact – The most common way to acquire the contact is by preparing a high-value piece of premium contact that usually takes the form of an eBook. This premium contact must pass two tests. The first is having a title and graphics that will create enough interest that a person will exchange their name and email address to acquire.

Pro Tip – Avoid creating too much friction with the prospect. The difficulty in acquiring the eBook needs to be kept to a minimum. Too many companies ask for unnecessary information in their form, causing legitimate prospects to leave without filling out the form. We recommend that the initial information be limited to three elements: first name, last name, and business email. Armed with this knowledge, you can use LinkedIn or ZoomInfo to learn everything you can get by asking more questions. If you feel the need to acquire more, you can also use smart forms to obtain additional information in subsequent visits.

Obtain Permission – Just because a person provides their contact information to acquire your eBook does not mean they want additional information from you, nor have they given you permission to send it. Once they decide your content is worth the exchange of their contact information, it is the perfect time to seek that permission. Have a box that makes a compelling offer such as: “We are always updating our content with the most up-to-date and relevant information. Do we have your permission to send this to you?” If a person has a pain point and concern that is significant enough to download compelling content, the likelihood is small that they would not want additional and updated information about the subject. In the rare instance where they do not grant permission, they did you a favor. It is likely that any subsequent emails would at best be ignored or even worse be sent to spam. This could negatively impact all the emails you send to people who legitimately want your content.

Pro Tip - There is science behind why the perfect time to ask for permission is right after they fill out the form. The science is described in the book “Influence: The Power of Persuasion” by Dr. Robert Cialdini. Specifically, the Law of Commitment and Consistency states that once a person commits to a course of action, they are more inclined to follow it through to a conclusion. Many companies will pre-check the box to eliminate friction and ensure that it is simply not overlooked or ignored by the person. As long as it is clearly obvious, they are granting permission (use a separate color) it will serve the same effect as an active response.

How Do You Nurture a Lead?

Retargeting Leads – Once a person has downloaded a piece of content that addresses a pain point, you can be fairly certain that they will continue to search the internet for additional solutions. You want to be the company that is educating them about what alternatives might be available to them. One strategy we have employed, to regain the prospect's focus, is to use retargeting ads. For the 72 hours after they have downloaded a piece of premium content, we will retarget them with Google and social media ads that offer ADDITIONAL content or information that addresses the same problem they downloaded an eBook about.

To provide true value, and avoid the appearance of stalking them, it is critical to comport to the following rules of engagement:

Limited Duration - Only use retargeting for a limited duration (i.e. 72 hours after download of an eBook). It is during this period that they are most likely going to be conducting their research on the matter.

Stage Appropriate – Remember that this prospect is at the awareness stage and is not yet ready to see competitive comparisons, pricing, or other mid-to-bottom-of-the-funnel content. Your objective at this stage is to educate them and build trust. Be the company they rely upon to learn what their options are. When they are ready to proceed to the next stage, they will reengage with a consideration stage action. Offer them a different piece of awareness content in the retargeting ads.

Original Content – It is important that you offer original content in the retargeting campaign. While the content needs to address the same issue, it must provide either additional information, a different format, or a different take on the problem. It must be obvious on it's face that the offer contains new information.

Buyer Persona Specific – Different personas will be enticed by different information. Before you place a person in a retargeting campaign, understand their buyer persona and send content-specific information for that persona. A CEO of a company is not going to be motivated by the same content as someone in middle management. Take the time to send ads that will resonate with them.

Uniqueness – Do not send the same content offer in each promotional ad. Over the course of the 72-hour campaign, you should offer them five different pieces of content that present new information in a variety of formats (e.g., infographics, 2-4 page guide, one pager, videos, podcasts, etc.). Let them choose the format and the manner they prefer to digest content. Later, this will be the framework for the type of content you use for nurturing.

Social Targeting – Unlike retargeting ads, social targeting is a pay-for-play function. Often, when a person is looking for solutions, they are more active on social media platforms. Social targeting takes advantage of this reality and tries to engage the targeted individual in a non-intrusive manner. First, try and make a connection with the contact on social media channels. We believe in frequenting ALL social media platforms, but it is essential that you make a connection attempt on at least LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram.

LinkedIn Groups – Your targeted prospects may be using LinkedIn to gather information that addresses their issues or concerns. Post an article in the groups they frequent that speaks to those problems and possible solutions. Always have a link back to your site, where they can obtain additional content about the issue.

Social Posts – For 72 hours after the initial contact, post on each social platform a snippet from a new piece of content that will address their concerns. If you are lucky enough to have the prospect interact with your post by liking or sharing it, you can now tag them in additional posts that offer new insights or content. It is important to follow the same rules that we shared in the retargeting section above.

Email Nurturing Campaigns – It is the email nurturing campaign that is most often thought of and the one that is the most effective. We will defer our discussion on how to effectively implement an email nurturing campaign, best practices, and some tricks we learned until our next blog, because it is a conversation unto itself.