What is Lead Nurturing?


Imagine this: You land on a website that promises a solution to a long-standing problem you've been facing. Intrigued, you explore further and soon, exchange your email address for a free guide. Voila! That simple action was the gateway to the world of lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing helps businesses like yours match the interest level of potential customers, build a rapport, and gradually foster a strong relationship with them - one where you get the right to ask for more. And today’s marketers are equipped with the tools, technology, and data needed to cultivate enduring customer relationships. According to the 8th edition of the Salesforce State of Marketing report, 87% of marketers feel that their efforts now deliver significantly greater value compared to the past year.

So where does an effective lead nurturing strategy come in? Lead nurturing is the process of offering valuable resources and incentives that guide prospects through the sales journey until they’re ready to make a purchase. Sales and marketing professionals attract leads by offering useful information, showcase how their product or service effectively addresses the customer’s pain points, establish genuine connections and transform website visitors and social media followers into loyal customers.

Grasping the Concept of Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing demands time, dedication, and a personal touch, but the payoff is significant. Here are some key advantages:

  • Understand what potential customers want: By delving into their pain points and preferences, lead nurturing lets you offer tailored value and truly understand prospects.

  • Cultivate long-term relationships: By consistently addressing customer issues, you can foster trust and authentic connections that extend beyond a single transaction, opening doors for future business.

  • Enhance efficiency by identifying prime prospects: Not all leads are valuable. Recognising the most engaged and viable leads during the nurturing process allows you to focus efforts on those most likely to convert, improving sales performance.

While lead nurturing tactics might seem similar to lead generation, they serve distinct purposes. Lead generation revolves around strategies like content creation, SEO, or social media to attract leads. On the other hand, lead nurturing works with already identified leads, aiming to convert them into customers by understanding their specific needs and desires. It's about moving beyond lead generation to guide potential customers through the journey towards making a purchase or taking action.

Fundamentals of Lead Nurturing

To build lasting relationships rooted in trust, you must have a strong understanding of your prospects. This allows you to deliver the most fitting content, messages, and resources. Here are some fundamentals to remember while tailoring nurturing strategies based on individual customer profiles.

Tailoring Your Approach

Before starting lead segmentation and nurturing, it’s important to have clear objectives and define the metrics that align with your goals. These metrics could include open rates, click-through rates, attendance rates, conversion rates, or net promoter scores. Once you’ve gathered and organised your data, you can make relevant segments based on these identified goals and metrics.

It’s common to have different personas among your leads, prompting the need for appropriate division within your segments. For instance, segmentation can be based on factors such as industry, role, company size, interests, demographics, pain points, or even the stage in the buying process. Dynamic segmentation, utilising real-time data and behavioural changes, further refines this process. 

Segmentation enables customisation of messaging by considering details like titles, roles, industries, or buying stages. When you deliver targeted content to each group, you heighten the relevance of your message, reduce the likelihood of ‘unsubscribes’, and improve conversion rates.

38% of marketers have targeted new customer segments since the pandemic.

Nurturing Relationships with Customers

Nurturing relationships is not limited to prospects alone. There’s ample opportunity to foster relationships with existing customers and drive greater product or service adoption. For example, each customer might play a different role within their organisation—some might act as the primary advocate or influencer (the "champion"), others might be deeply engaged users (the "power users"), while some might hold key decision-making positions (the "executive sponsor").

By segmenting customers based on these roles, you can design onboarding programs that cater to their specific needs and responsibilities. This ensures they find your product or service aligned with their role, ultimately driving adoption and maximising satisfaction.

Reciprocity in Action: Give-to-Get Strategy

In 1976, psychologist Phillip Kunz sent holiday cards to almost 600 strangers as part of a social experiment. Shortly after, he received almost 200 responses – all due to the rule of reciprocity. Kunz's gesture, sending thoughtful holiday notes, triggered a sense of obligation in recipients to reciprocate. His experiment highlighted a vital truth: offering value, even by strangers, often prompts people to respond in kind.

Let’s apply this in lead nurturing. Focusing on providing value to customers increases our chances of engaging with them and getting their attention. For instance, if we direct first-time website visitors to informative blogs instead of immediate sign-ups, we provide value through education. This builds value and trust. This is the premise of the 'Give to Get' strategy - using valuable offers to capture customer attention, nurture leads and build your brand’s credibility.

Centering on Customer Needs

73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.

CEOs, marketing managers, and VPs of sales all have distinct perspectives and challenges. This means they will also look for and engage with different content types. That’s why you need to craft tailored content that aligns with each contact’s journey, pain points and unique needs. Personalising content and interactions will enhance their engagement and foster a deeper connection with your brand. Offer role and industry-specific content where each piece addresses a specific customer question and contributes meaningfully to your lead nurturing strategy.

Gradual Profiling for Deeper Insights

The practice of requesting registration for an offer (called ‘gating’) is common in lead nurturing, but for contacts already in your database, it’s often unnecessary. Nonetheless, contact records tend to have gaps. However, users might not be comfortable sharing personal data during initial interactions, which can impact lead quality.

Enter progressive profiling. This method requests minimal information each time a prospect engages, but builds a comprehensive dataset over time. For example, you provide registration-free high-level content to a first-time website visitor, then request information for a case study, and finally direct prospects to a demo accessible only with registration. This way, you gradually collect valuable user information over time without causing friction. This process enhances lead quality and quantity by ensuring a smoother user experience when they first interact with a platform.

Achieving Success in Five Lead Nurturing Steps

Now that we’ve grasped the fundamentals, let’s look at crafting a robust and successful lead nurturing campaign. Each step, when meticulously planned and optimised, can help steer your strategy and ensure maximum return on your marketing investment from beginning to end.

Comprehend Your Target Buyer

Understanding your audience is paramount to creating an effective campaign. Start by developing detailed buyer personas that mirror your target audience. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional depiction of your ideal customer crafted from market research and real customer data. These personas include demographics, behaviour patterns, challenges, motivations, and goals.

These personas are crucial for tailoring content to each type of buyer, ranging from educational content for new leads to product details for those nearing a purchase decision. This detailed understanding fuels targeted content creation and engagement strategies.

Identifying Buyer Motivations Precisely

Understanding the stages prospects navigate is crucial. You must have answers to questions like what are your customers’ pain points? What do they need to solve those challenges? Why should they be interested in your product? When you have these answers, you can decide what messages are most suitable at each stage of the buying cycle and align your content marketing assets accordingly. Also, clarify responsibilities for communication delivery and ensure marketing and sales are in sync to maintain consistency in branding, voice, messaging, and experience.

You can also analyse past marketing campaigns to determine their impact. Apart from revenue, assess response rates, track leads through stages, and evaluate the messaging and content offered at each phase. This analysis reveals buyer motivations and highlights which messages resonated most effectively, providing valuable insights for future campaigns.

Mapping the Optimal User Experience

Creating a lead nurturing structure tailored to your buying process involves envisioning the final goal and crafting a blueprint around it. Personalisation is key. Leverage insights about the prospective buyer’s journey to customise the experience. Then modify communication flow based on their behaviour and content engagement.

However, putting this plan into practice might be somewhat challenging. Anticipating roadblocks, like managing diverse buyer behaviours or ensuring seamless transitions between communication stages, is essential. Keep revising and refining the process to address these challenges.

Once the plan is solidified, document it. Documenting decisions gives a clear understanding of the rationale behind each step, allowing for continuity and better alignment among team members.

Strategising Your Lead Nurturing Workflow

Planning a campaign involves setting clear goals, mapping message flows, deciding content offers, choosing communication channels, and establishing the overall cadence. This planning, which draws on lessons from past interactions, dictates the timing of your automated programs as well. However, be sure to consider all possible scenarios: What if the expected response isn’t received, even after all engagement efforts are completed within the stipulated timeline? How should prospects who expire from the nurture program be handled to maintain engagement? Who takes ownership of maintaining the relationship?

Streamlining Communication through Automation

When it comes to nurturing leads, using automation to streamline communication is key. Starting with an automated welcome campaign, you can greet new additions to your database and share educational content right away. In this welcome, focus on three main things: highlighting your unique value, offering access to valuable resources, and inviting them to engage with your brand. At the same time, it's crucial to gather info about these leads—understand their preferences, how they engage, and where they stand in their buying journey. This helps tailor future interactions for a more personalised approach that resonates better with each lead. Overall, automation not only saves time but also enhances the whole nurturing process, for better results.

90% of marketers are now turning to AI to automate customer interactions.

Effective Strategies for Lead Nurturing

Mastering an effective lead nurturing program involves a strategic blend of personalised communication, strategic progression, and continuous improvement. Here are some best practices that empower businesses to craft and optimise nurturing programs:

1. Start Simple, Iterate, and Personalise:

  • Begin with a focused segment and a clear call to action (CTA). Evaluate performance against goals and adjust.
  • Gradually expand by incorporating buyer personas or sales stages. Personalise content based on learned insights.
  • For new leads, a straightforward program introducing problem-solving information gradually can be effective. Keep initial communications generic due to limited contact knowledge.

2. Leverage Early Engagement for Information Gathering:

  • During the first 30 days, automate touchpoints and use progressive profiling to gather prospect information as contacts engage.
  • Adapt this strategy as contacts progress through the engagement path.

3. Progressive Messaging for Different Stages:

  • Move prospects from awareness to education to validation stages through tailored messaging.
  • Use warming-up programs for leads, educational nurturing for evaluation-ready prospects, and accelerator programs for engaged leads.
  • Implement re-engagement programs for inactive leads and develop strategies for exclusion during decision phases.

4. Simplicity Over Design:

  • Maintain effective communications—simple, text-based emails with relevant signatures often perform as well as elaborate HTML emails.

5. A/B Testing:

  • Experiment with different strategies, subject lines, content types, and timings to understand audience preferences and resonance.

6. Timely Follow-ups:

  • Respond promptly to lead inquiries or actions. Swift, relevant follow-ups significantly impact conversion rates.

7. Feedback and Optimisation:

  • Continuously analyse data, gather feedback, and optimise strategies based on insights.
  • Monitor program effectiveness by aligning goals with relevant metrics. Define purpose and track key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge success and improvement.

Fostering Customer Relationships

In the world of lead nurturing, go beyond conventional methods like emails and calls. Innovative approaches open doors to unique scenarios where companies can engage with their audience in different ways. Here are some distinct avenues where lead nurturing can revolutionise customer interactions beyond the ordinary routine.

Welcoming New Customers with Onboarding

Automating parts of the onboarding experience can be a game-changer. It helps maintain consistency and encourages more people to start using your product or service. By setting up automated processes during onboarding, you create a consistent yet personalised journey for new users. These automated steps guide users through the initial setup, offer helpful tutorials, and encourage engagement at important points. It's not just about saving time—it's about making sure new users feel comfortable and confident using what you offer.

Facilitating Product Adoption

Identifying a decrease in trackable activities like software logins can trigger the initiation of a low-usage nurture program for customers. This program typically involves sending targeted emails that inquire about potential changes within their organisation, whether key users have transitioned, or whether additional training might be needed. These questions help you understand the reasons behind reduced activity levels. Subsequently, by making customers aware of available resources and support, you can rekindle their engagement and encourage them to maintain their previous activity levels.

Ensuring Seamless Contract Renewals

Crafting a timeline for contract renewal communication can significantly warm up your customers and prepare them for the renewal process. 90 days before renewal, a gentle reminder email about the upcoming contract renewal with an invitation for questions sets the initial tone. At 60 days, providing the sales rep's contact details and renewal specifics further solidifies this process. Lastly, 30 days before renewal, an email informs the customer about a forthcoming call regarding their contract. This strategic program ensures customers are well-informed and not caught off guard when the sales rep reaches out, fostering smoother renewal discussions.

Advanced Approaches to Nurturing

Crafting an Integrated Campaign

Combine human touch with automation by creating tailored content and offering it to customers across different channels, depending on their preferences. Maximise engagement by using various tactics—email sequences, social media posts, follow-up calls, videos, and webinars—to reach customers across multiple platforms.

TV and over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms saw the largest growth rates (27%+) among channels used to reach prospects and customers.

As you test different channels, keep an eye on their impact. Monitor how each audience segment interacts and which channels drive the most engagement or sales. Over time, you'll pinpoint the most effective channels for your business, guiding your future marketing investments wisely.

Balancing Personalised and General Communications

When leads hit a stagnant phase in the sales cycle — no activity for an extended period without an active buying opportunity — it's crucial to maintain contact without overwhelming them. Sending periodic emails every two weeks, discussing services or relevant topics, keeps you on their radar. Alongside these, integrate automated emails that mimic a sales rep's personalised interaction. For example, “Ready to chat? We'd love to hear from you again because...” gently prompts interest. This mix of general yet informative content and personalised, sales-oriented messages strikes a balance. You can stay engaged with leads without being intrusive and nurture them until they're ready for further discussions.

Synergizing Email and Outbound Teleprospecting

Email use has increased year over year, accounting for 80% of all outbound messaging.

Combining email and outbound teleprospecting involves leveraging the strengths of both communication channels to enhance lead engagement. Emails serve as initial touchpoints, offering detailed information, while teleprospecting adds a personal touch, allowing for direct conversations and relationship-building. Integrating these approaches effectively ensures a comprehensive outreach strategy that maximises reach and fosters stronger connections with leads.

Rekindling Dormant Deals and Unmade Decisions

Automating periodic touch base communications with lost or disqualified leads can be invaluable. These messages aim to assess their current satisfaction with their chosen vendor or if there's an opportunity for re-engagement with your company. To add a personalised touch, send these emails on behalf of the sales representative who previously managed the relationship. This approach maintains a cordial connection, offering a chance to rekindle interest without being intrusive, potentially paving the way for future collaboration.

Strengthening Sales Representatives

Enable sales representatives to not only add names to the contact database but also to directly enrol them in nurturing programs. This empowerment ensures that as they build the contact list, they can simultaneously initiate the warming-up process for these contacts. This immediate action instils confidence in the sales reps, knowing that the newly added contacts are promptly engaged and nurtured, paving the way for more productive interactions.

Tools and Technologies for Lead Nurturing

Streamlining with Marketing Automation

Marketing automation amplifies the personalised touch of individual interactions on a larger scale. It enables you to initiate and manage simultaneous dialogues with different customers, with natural pauses and behavioural cues that mimic the intimacy of one-on-one conversations. Automation also helps you monitor prospect activities and trigger tailored responses based on that.

Explore how Marketing Cloud helps you understand customers better and build lasting relationships for business growth.

Leveraging Cloud Connectors

When nurturing prospects within a B2B environment, consider using marketing automation connectors. These tools allow seamless integration of diverse marketing applications—such as webinar management tools and social media monitoring systems—into your marketing automation platform. This integration enhances efficiency while gathering valuable insights about potential prospects interested in your offerings, fostering a comprehensive approach to understanding engagement across various channels.

Winning with CRM Software

90% of marketers are relying on a CRM system to capture and unify data.

Utilising high-quality, AI-enabled CRM software enables precise lead tracking and streamlined interaction management. It empowers you to monitor lead progression through the sales funnel, facilitating tailored and effective nurturing strategies based on their stage within the process.

Moving Forward with Lead Scoring

Developing a lead-scoring process is a strategic approach to launching effective lead nurturing campaigns. This process involves assigning grades or numerical values to each lead, indicating their likelihood to make a purchase. Factors considered for scoring include demographic data, interaction frequency with your business, and engagement across various channels.

Lead scoring is a valuable tool to prioritise resource allocation, focusing efforts on leads with higher potential for conversion. By collecting, organising, and tracking data, businesses gain insights to optimise communication methods and generate sales effectively. It aids in determining the most fruitful strategies to engage the audience and drive business growth.

Additional Resources for Lead Nurturing

In conclusion, mastering lead nurturing is pivotal in fostering meaningful connections and driving conversions. By understanding your audience, leveraging effective strategies, and harnessing the power of tools like Salesforce, you can craft personalised journeys that guide leads through the sales funnel. These resources offer valuable insights and advanced techniques for refining your lead nurturing efforts: 



Mastering Lead Management: The Ultimate Guide for Success


7 Sales Dashboards Every Team Needs


More resources



Research and Report



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