Inbound marketing 101: lead nurturing explained

So your website is set up to start generating new leads; you have your call-to-actions in place, your blog posts scheduled and your landing pages are live. But what are you going to do with all of the leads that your digital marketing generates? According to HubSpot, 50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy. If your sales team were to engage with this 50% too soon in the marketing process, you could end up pushing customers away. This is where lead nurturing comes in to play. Read on to get the low down on how email marketing will help nurture your leads through the marketing funnel…

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Definition of lead nurturing

Techopedia gives this definition of lead nurturing:

“Lead nurturing is a marketing term for building relationships with potential clients even if they are not currently looking to buy a product or service. Lead nurturing is intended to raise a company’s profile in the potential client’s eyes, thus making it more likely that the client will go with the company’s product or service when it is time to buy. Lead nurturing is one part of the larger marketing process.”

So lead nurturing is a process that we go through during our inbound marketing campaigns. Lead nurturing allows businesses to educate leads about solutions to their problems while also reinforcing the message that they are the ideal providers to the prospect’s problems. You might also hear lead nurturing referred to as marketing automation, drip marketing or auto-responders.

This is what a basic lead nurturing campaign looks like:

basic lead nurturing campaign

What tools do I need for lead nurturing?

Before beginning your lead nurturing process you will have to consider how you will execute your campaign. Remember, lead nurturing is supposed to be automated, so trying to manually deliver a campaign through Outlook is out of the question.

You will need specialist email marketing software in order to deliver your lead nurturing emails. There are many software services capable of providing this but you should consider how the software sits within your wider inbound marketing campaigns. Do these services integrate easily with your blog, social media, website and landing pages? At Katapult we use HubSpot to power our lead nurturing campaigns.

I have the software: What next?

Step 1: Create a campaign objective

The starting point for any marketing campaign should be to define the campaign objectives. Doing this will help in the next steps as you identify who your audience is, what the campaign will look like and how you will measure campaign success. Objectives could include requesting a consultation, signing up for a free trial or booking a product demo.

Step 2: Choose your audience

Which of the buyer personas will you be targeting for this campaign? This is important because it will determine the messaging of the campaign. While the content you push out might be the same for each buyer persona, the way you pitch it to them would be different.

Step 3: Create the offers

The content contained within your lead nurturing emails should be compelling to the reader and add value to their day in some way. Remember, you are trying to educate the lead as well as trying to qualify them for your sales team, so you should be working out the best way to achieve both objectives.

Step 4: Plan the campaign delivery schedule

Consider the buyer behaviour when you create your lead nurturing campaigns. If your typical sales process takes 12 months, don’t be surprised if your lead nurturing campaign fails to deliver any sales if it is executed over the two weeks immediately after your leads convert in to prospects. Have patience and put realistic schedules in place. As HubSpot says, “Don’t be afraid to experiment with different times and see what resonates with your audience best. For example, if your typical cycle runs 30 days, you may want to set up a campaign for emails to be sent out on the 1st, 10th, and 20th days after a conversion.”

Step 5: Measure the success

Your campaign objectives should now be used as a measure of success. In the simplest of terms, has the lead nurturing managed to deliver the results you anticipated? You should also be analysing the performance of the campaigns against some standard measures, such as click-through rates, conversions and unsubscribe rates.

Key figures and statistics

  • Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should go to sales .
  • 50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy.
  • Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate of standalone email blasts.
  • 25-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.

Sources: Gleanster Research, SilverPop/DemandGen Report &

By Martin Broadhurst

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2 Responses to “Inbound marketing 101: lead nurturing explained”

  1. Joan D says:

    Thanks Martin, interesting article… you have covered the most important points about lead nurturing camapigns and what they can do for a business..I am going to B2B Marketing Summit in June where they will be speaking about good practices to follow with your own lead nurtuing campaigns (i went last year and it was great)…you might want to have look for yourself … let me know what you think? J

  2. Hi Joan,
    Thanks for the heads up regarding the conference; I may well stick that in my calendar.

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