You have leads in your CRM. Now how do you nurture and keep them interested in your product if they are not ready to buy yet?
Lead nurturing is crucial to your business because only a small percentage of leads that come in are ready to purchase your product or services.
Surprisingly, only 37% of companies are using lead nurturing in their marketing efforts. For the companies not using nurturing, their leads are sitting in their CRM with no activity. Chances are, following up with old leads who have had no activity for a few months have already moved on to a competitor.
Lead nurturing techniques
Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with prospects throughout their buying cycle. Lead nurturing takes place at every stage of the sales funnel, from the moment that you first collect a prospect’s information, until the time that they buy your product. Even then, the process of relationship building doesn’t stop once they become a customer.
Lead nurturing strategies focus on learning more about and educating your prospects. You learn more about them through the information that they share. You learn more about them through the engagement data that you collect. Then, you use that data to deliver targeted messaging that educates, builds a relationship, and (over time) begins to subtly push prospects toward making a purchase.
Lead nurturing isn’t a strategy you hope to install – it’s a necessity. Most companies that are generating revenue are lead nurturing in some form (even if by hand) to secure those sales and ensure that your prospects develop trust with their company over time. With sales cycles lasting between 3-12 months for most B2B businesses, creating opportunities for constant interaction is required.
But designing a lead nurturing program can be difficult. You know you should be creating email sequences, content assets, and remarketing ads for prospects at specific points in your sales funnel. But how do you do that? What kind of content do you create? What kind of goals will each nurturing sequence have?
Once you have a foundation in place, you can start getting creative and designing nurturing sequences for specific customer segments. But until you have those foundational nurtures in place, you should place your focus on designing and testing those.
Foundational nurtures are designed to speak to prospects at specific points in the buying cycle. They can include email sequences that are delivered to cold leads with no prior interactions, educational materials to those in the middle of the funnel, sales materials to those reaching their buying decision, and more.
TIP: Use email marketing software to help you integrate content for your users in your emails and hopefully turn those readers into long-standing customers.
Goal: Make targeted prospects aware of your product/service and facilitate a positive interaction with your brand.
Recommended Cadence: 5-8 emails over 4 weeks
The cold prospecting nurture is the “prospecting” nurture. Typically, prospecting nurtures are sent to targeted lists of prospects. These lists may be built in-house, comprised of internal prospect data, or through purchased lists from third-party data vendors. Increasing lead generation is the most common goal for companies using marketing automation.
Using your lists, prospecting nurtures allow you to deliver carefully crafted messages to prospects that narrowly fall within your core personas parameters. But — slow down. It’s important to understand that prospecting nurtures aren’t SPAM. They aren’t messages thrown out blindly, en masse, to attract customers.
The goal of a prospecting nurture is not to convince your prospect to buy right now, but rather to make them aware of your company and show them the value that you offer. Then, if they so choose, they can explore your offering further on their own.
2. Middle-of-funnel (MOFU)
Goal: Engage prospects, collect more information, and educate them about your offering.
Recommended Cadence: 6-10 emails over 4-8 weeks
Middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) nurtures can take a wide range of shapes and sizes. Above, we recommend sending between six and ten emails over the course of four to eight weeks. The truth is that there is no right or wrong answer here as the appropriate length and time frame depends on your industry and offer. More expensive or more complicated products may require more education and trust-building from your prospects.
In the middle of the funnel, your focus shifts away from building awareness toward engaging prospects and collecting more information from them. The more you know, the more your sales teams can use to close deals at a later date. Additionally, your marketing teams will have more data to work with to personalize the communications that you send.
Each email is a middle-of-funnel nurturing sequence that should be delivered with a different goal in mind. Those goals might be to continue to build awareness of your product, educate them on vital features, or educate them on the value that your product could potentially provide to their organization.
Depending on the goal of each individual email in a sequence, there is a wealth of different educational materials that you can deliver to prospects at this point in the process.
These can include:
Educational blog posts
Product comparison guides
Exclusive and gated content
Webinar invites and recaps
Providing a wealth of educational content in the middle of the funnel can help you improve your company’s standing in the eyes of the prospect and further their understanding of the value that your product provides.
In these nurtures, you should be less focused on making the sale and more focused on ensuring that you are doing everything that you can to educate your prospects and further their understanding of your offering.
Related: Using content marketing to your advantage can help in nurturing leads with useful, informational content. Check out these 10 top-notch examples for inspiration.
3. Bottom-of-funnel (BOFU): sales closing
Goal: Close Sales
Recommended Cadence: 3-5 emails over 2-4 weeks
Once a prospect has received enough educational material about your product to understand it in full, it’s time to move them down the funnel and again shift the type of communications that you deliver. Often, nurturing sequences will shift toward the bottom of the funnel/sales content based on trigger actions that the customer takes.
These might be clicking on your product pages, asking a question, engaging with a sales rep, or simply asking for sales-specific information. Bottom of the funnel (aka BOFU) nurturing sequences are generally shorter. We recommend delivering 3-5 emails over the course of 2-4 weeks. Remember, you’re making “the ask” on the sale here and providing some last-minute need-to-know information to influence their final buying decision.
We don’t want to draw things out too much. They have the information that they need to make a decision. Our goal is to nudge them toward making that decision. End-of-funnel content can come in many different forms. You might offer your prospects a free assessment of your product. You might send them a link to a landing page that asks them to buy your product.
You might gift them with a free trial of your product. There is an unending number of ways to facilitate the sale, but ultimately the way that you make your final pitch will depend on your offer and the educational materials that you have delivered throughout the nurturing process. Use what you have taught them to position your product as the perfect solution to their problems
4. Long-term drip
Goal: Stay Top-of-mind
Recommended Cadence: 10+ emails over ~1 year
Once a prospect has gone through your full nurture program and declines to make a purchase, that doesn’t mean that your nurturing is done. Different customers reach their buying decisions at different speeds. Sometimes a prospect is receiving your closing nurture when in reality, they need months of more relationship building before they are ready to be.
Or perhaps they have an interest in your product but just aren’t in a position to buy currently. Your long-term drip nurture sequence should go out less-often than earlier sequences. They’ve already received a bulk of the information at this point.
Now, you want to make sure that you are sending them high-quality content that will further the understanding that they already have. The content delivered during a long-term drip should, in many ways, look similar to that of a middle of funnel nurture sequence. A heavier focus on product updates can also be helpful, and in some cases may be the final nudge that a prospect needs to decide to buy.
Goal: Upsell, Relationship building
Recommended Cadence: 1-2 emails per month
Tone: Educational, salesy
The nurturing process doesn’t end when the prospect makes a sale. The focus just shifts. You might have upsells, cross-sells, or other products that you may want to draw their attention toward. Those would require nurtures that are a bit more “salesy” in nature and focus on slowly working your way toward conversion.
Additionally, you could use a post-sale nurture sequence for more general relationship building or reducing churn. These nurtures would use more educational, middle-of-funnel-type content.
Lead nurturing is a vital component of any B2B marketing strategy. Knowing how to structure different nurturing sequences around specific stages of the funnel can help you to walk customers through the buying process while building awareness, educating them about your product, and ultimately making them a loyal brand advocate.
Want to learn how to use all types of marketing to help you nurture your leads? Read up on our over 50 useful resources in the marketing hub, all free, and all for you – only on G2.