The best way to nurture leads changes over time.
A method that was highly effective two years ago might not work at all today. Algorithms change. People get overwhelmed with messaging and learn to ignore certain channels.
So it’s important to stay up to date on what lead nurturing tactics are most effective right now. So, in this guide, we walk you through:
What is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing refers to the process of engaging, supporting, and building meaningful relationships with your prospective customers, by providing them with appropriate and relevant content and information at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
However, not all leads generated by your marketing team are sales-ready, and while they might be interested in your product or service, they would typically have some questions, and concerns they need to be answered in order to move from the awareness stage to the decision stage, which is where lead nurturing comes to play.
5 Reasons Why Lead Nurturing Is Important
Did you know that 65% of marketers don’t nurture their leads? That’s a lot of missed opportunities left untapped. If you are having second thoughts, here are the 5 most important benefits of lead nurturing:
- Generate higher-quality leads
- Increase average order value (AOV)
- Reduce CAC
- Create more loyal customers
- Establish authority in your industry
Furthermore, here are some lead nurturing statistics to back the above benefits of having a solid lead nurturing plan:
- Nurtured leads make 47% more purchases than non-nurtured leads
- Lead nurturing emails have 4-10 times better response rate than stand-alone blast emails
- Companies with successful lead generation programs generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost
- 51% of email marketers say email segmentation is the most effective way to deliver a personalized lead nurturing experience
Even qualified leads need nurturing. In fact, more than half of the respondents to our latest survey report that 40-70%+ of their qualified leads aren’t yet ready to buy.
6 Highly-Effective Lead Nurturing Strategies That Work in 2021
To find out what lead nurturing tactics are most effective in 2021, we asked 31 marketers to share the methods they’re currently using to nurture and reengage leads.
In total, they recommended six lead nurturing tactics. These are the methods they’re using right now to effectively nurture and re-engage leads. Including:
- Email Nurturing
- One-on-one interactions
- Content marketing
1. Email Nurturing
Nearly two-thirds of our respondents said that email nurturing was the best way to re-engage leads.
Growth Hackers’ Jonathan Aufray agrees too, saying “The most effective way to nurture leads is through emails. “Why? Because email marketing tools are very cost-effective compared to advertising. Also, you can completely automate your email marketing campaigns.”
Our respondents use a variety of tools for sending and automating marketing emails, though HubSpot, Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, and Drip received the most votes.
Aufray also recommends sending nurturing emails regularly: “I recommend sending one email per week with relevant content that leads might be interested in. Don’t make the mistake of sending too many emails; at max, send two emails per week.”
Nearly half (45.1%) of our respondents agree that one email per week is ideal:
In addition to weighing in on the right tools and frequency for email nurturing, our respondents also shared a variety of nurture email best practices and examples for executing them.
*Editor’s note: The best way to improve your email nurturing performance is by tracking how your current campaigns are performing. HubSpot users– download this HubSpot Email Marketing Overview Dashboard Template and instantly visualize your email engagement, including where any spikes or dropoffs occur.
Not a HubSpot user? No problem. You can download templates to track your email performance from ActiveCampaign, Campaign Monitor, Google Analytics, Klaviyo, MailChimp, Marketo, SendGrid, and Seventh Sense, too.
5 Email Nurturing Best Practices and Examples
Send Relevant Content
“The key to email nurturing is to provide super-relevant and super-practical content that delivers real value to your leads on a regular basis,” says Nathan Reiche of Content Chemistry.
“This keeps your business top-of-mind, keeps the lead warm, and gives you a natural opportunity to mention how your product/service can solve problems,” Reiche says.
Agence Nile’s Lydie Deborne recommends “sending leads content that helps them find solutions and progress through the buying journey. The content you send can be an ebook, blog post, or any other type of content you have available.”
“The goal is to provide appropriate content that helps your leads—and not just trying to sell them something,” Deborne says.
Combine Email and Video Marketing
“One of the most efficient and effective B2B lead nurturing strategies for 2021 is a combination of video and email marketing,” says First Five Eight’s Richard Owens.
“By combining email and video marketing, you can provide higher-quality video content—using tools like Wistia and Vidyard—that is easier for leads to digest.”
“Then, you can integrate with your marketing automation software and CRM to track how much time leads are spending watching your videos, and you can use that data to set up triggers that notify your sales teams of the most nurtured leads,” Owens says.
Segment Your Email List
“Lead nurturing is all about relationship-building, and you can’t build relationships without listening to others,” says RunRepeat’s Sadi Khan.
“You have to be relevant. This can be achieved by segmenting your email list based on leads’ interests and then sending personalized emails.”
“For example, we segment our lists based on the specific products or categories that leads were browsing when they signed up for our list. Someone who is interested in road-running shoes will get emails related to road-running shoes, trail runners receive messages related to trail-running shoes, and so on.”
“This leads to a better engagement rate, more clicks, and more conversions,” Khan says.
“As a marketer, you should track how leads interact with your emails to understand where they stand and adapt your messages to every different response,” says Teodora Pirciu of Impressa Solutions.
“Check how many leads open your emails. Then, see how many also click on the links you included. Finally, create different messages for each segment of contacts based on how they interact with your content,” Pirciu says.
Set Up Automated Email Sequences
“The best strategy for nurturing leads is to send drip emails using a marketing automation tool like Pardot,” says RKD’s Bryan Coles. “This works especially well in the SaaS space.”
“With a good drip marketing strategy and demographic segmentation, a company can use a custom Pardot integration to drive leads through the research phase and into the buying process automatically,” Coles says.
Srish Agrawal of A1 Future Technologies agrees: “Autoresponders continue to work best for us. The process starts with someone entering their email address on our site to get a free report. Then, we have a 90-day autoresponder that keeps them engaged with what we have to offer by delivering our best content.”
Accelity Marketing’s Cass Polzin recommends a similar process:
“With any new campaign, we build a workflow to drip relevant content offers onto prospects who download the new offer. This ensures they can continue consuming content that they’re interested in, and they will get points for viewing emails and clicking on links.”
“Additionally, we regularly create lists of contents that are at a certain lead score. We send those contacts personalized emails asking what their thoughts were on the offer they recently downloaded, offering recommendations for further reading, and eventually encouraging a demo call,” Polzin says.
“For us, email is still the primary and most effective channel to nurture leads,” says Automizy’s Mor Mester. “We use email automation with conditions checking whether or not leads took the actions we’d like them to.”
“About two months ago, we identified that there was an issue with our nurturing sequence. We thought maybe we were sending too many emails, so we decided to cut back on the number of emails we send.”
“After we made the change, we monitored our data and found that the new, shorter, and simpler automation works way better at converting people into sales-qualified leads. The lesson: data-driven is the name of the game, and less is more,” Mester says.
“Ultimately, data is what allows us to effectively nurture leads to close,” says Nili Zaharony of Penguin Strategies.
“Best practices for sending emails are constantly changing, and data takes the guesswork out of it. Tools such as Seventh Sense have given us visibility into the best times to reach a given database. For one customer, we saw email open rates and engagement jump 25%,” Zaharony says.
“Use tools such as Hubspot, Active Campaign, or Drift, and integrate them all with Databox to gather analytics and identify trends,” says Empathy First Media’s Daniel Lynch.
“I would say that the best way to nurture leads is through a combination of email marketing and retargeting across multiple platforms,” says Online Optimism’s Patrick Rafferty. “Email newsletters and retargeting combined ensure your company stays top-of-mind.”
“But it’s not enough to just set up a retargeting campaign,” says Oksana Chyketa of Albacross. “Your campaign must be properly planned.”
“For example, you shouldn’t repeat the information that your leads were already exposed to on your website. Instead, switch it up and make sure you’re conveying the value of your product. If a lead wasn’t impressed with your demo, a retargeting ad would be the perfect place to attract them with a free trial,” Chyketa says.
Aneesh Babu of Backlinkminds agrees: “Retargeting is the most effective way to convert leads into customers, but getting the conversion requires a perfect sales funnel.”
And here’s how to retarget your leads using social media and display ads:
Social Media Retargeting
The Slumber Yard’s Jeff Rizzo says that “we’ve found social media retargeting to be the single most effective way to stay in front of our leads. That said, the efficacy of our ads depends on our exact customer segment and the social media site.”
“For example, when we target individuals under the age of 34, we will not use Facebook or Twitter. We’ve found that Instagram and YouTube are the most engaging platforms for this segment. Plus, using video allows us to connect with them on a more personal level.”
“Our Instagram retargeting ads, on average, get 19% more clicks than the same ads run on Facebook or Twitter.”
“If we’re targeting a more mature audience with some of our health-related guides, we exclusively use Facebook and no other social site. And not only that, we’ve noticed that by including closed captioning on our videos, we get a major bump in clicks—about 25% more.”
“One interesting thing with the older demographic, however, is that they require more consistent nurturing to turn over. We are a lot more willing to retarget our older audience than we are the younger one,” Rizzo says.
“Display retargeting is one of the most effective ways to nurture leads,” says Invalshoek’s Andy Hoek. “We’ve connected HubSpot with AdRoll and created active lists for each stage of the buying journey.”
“Once leads start moving through the buying journey, they start seeing display ads relevant to the stage they’re in. Because of this, we can still nurture leads through display ads even if we don’t have an email address for that lead. And if we do have an email, it’s a good extra channel to reach leads on.”
“Also, display increases email opens because of more exposure to the brand. And by using display ads to nurture leads, they get less exposure to competitors’ ads because you’re using more of the available ad space,” Hoek says.
“The best way to nurture leads is to pay attention to what the customer wants and avoid sending generic, templated responses,” says BitMoto’s Matthew Finke.
In other words, your interactions with leads need to be personalized.
As ExpertSure’s Ollie Smith says: “When you personalize your interaction with a lead, you nurture that lead.”
If you’re wondering how to improve your lead nurturing efforts with personalization, here are 3 ways to do so:
“The goal of lead nurturing is to build a positive relationship with a client, and the most effective way to do that is to cultivate a personal rapport with them,” says Storage Vault’s Kraig Martin. “That means making all of your client-facing communications as personalized as possible.”
“At Storage Vault, we’ve recently begun focusing on email personalization in our sales funnel. All of the emails we send to customers have a focus on personal details.”
“When we’re planning a campaign, we come up with a basic series of email templates, and then we personalize these as much as possible, adding in any unique details we know about the customer—like their name or interests—to help build that all-important relationship”.
“Since implementing this approach, we’ve seen our open rates for emails increase by 46%, and we’ve seen a 30% increase in confirmed leads,” Martin says.
Related: Email Personalization: Tips, Tools, & The 6 Fundamentals For Success
PRO TIP: How Well Are Your Email Campaigns Performing?
To measure the effectiveness of your email marketing strategy, you can use HubSpot Marketing data to review individual email campaigns and which content is most popular, in order to attract more subscribers and qualified leads. Now you can quickly assess the performance of your email marketing strategy in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, such as:
- Email Open Rate. Track your overall email open rate with a daily line graph and identify any spikes or dips associated with specific campaigns.
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- New Subscribers. See how many daily email subscribers you’ve gained recently.
- Email Pipeline. What are your email response rates at different stages? Get a quick overview of the emails sent, delivered, opened, and clicked over the last week and/or month. You can use this funnel visualization to identify where subscribers may be dropping off.
Now you can benefit from the experience of our HubSpot Marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing the most important KPIs for tracking the overall performance and success of your email marketing strategy. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
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DDI Development’s Alexandra Zelenko says a great way to personalize content and landing pages is to use dynamic content. “Dynamic content allows you to display different versions of an email, web page, or landing page, depending on who is going to receive it.”
“Then, instead of setting up and configuring individual campaigns for each segment and trying to route leads into the best one, you can create just one campaign. This allows you to save time, track results more easily, and deliver a seamless and personalized experience,” Zelenko says.
Direct Outreach Personalization
“The most effective way to nurture leads comes down to two tactics: contact cadence and dynamic content,” says Scott Smith of Launch Leads.
“Contact cadence is a structured system for lead outreach that keeps your brand top-of-mind. Maintain a strong combination of phone calls, dynamic content, and other forms of outreach over a period of six to eight weeks to get the best results.”
“You want to reach out often enough that you are not being forgotten, but not so often that you seem overbearing or desperate.”
“Dynamic content means avoiding the use of templated scripts for email and phone outreach. Include relevant information about your leads that demonstrates that you’ve researched them and are working to earn their business.”
“For example, reaching out with ‘I see that you recently launched XYZ product. I would love to take some time to show how our services can further leverage your initiatives to promote XYZ product,’ will generate significantly more interest than uninformed outreach,” Smith says.
4. One-on-One Interactions
Of course, the most personalized interactions with leads are one-on-one conversations.
“People often forget how important a true one-on-one touchpoint can actually be as part of the automation process,” says Jeff Arnett of Arnett Credentials.
“Companies should try to include multiple personal touch points as part of the nurturing process. These personal interactions should be in between automatic processes, and they should be part of the funnel rather than outside of it,” Arnett says.
Not sure how to have one-on-one interactions, here are 3 ways to do so:
Meet with Leads In-Person
“I recommend disconnecting from technology on a regular basis to focus on cultivating human, face-to-face relationships,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls.
“Meeting for coffee or lunch can accomplish so much more than email exchanges, social media posts, etc., and it’s a great way to get to know people better.”
“I’ve found that building relationships is what drives my business, and technology supports those relationships once they’re solidified. Technology helps advance the conversation, but it will never replace those human interactions that build trust over time,” Arnof-Fenn says.
Connect with Leads on Social
Of course, it’s not always practical to meet with leads in person, so Mindster’s Hyfa Ahmad recommends connecting with leads on social:
“Social media should be your secret weapon. And I don’t mean LinkedIn; I mean Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you can connect with your leads there, you can add a personal element to your relationship that becomes extremely powerful during the sales process.”
“Set up Google Alerts for your most important leads and their companies. This way you’ll know about any big news related to them that could make for a good excuse to reach out.”
“For the really important leads, set up calendar reminders every two months to touch base. If you haven’t reached out in two months, find some excuse—any excuse—to connect. Even if it’s because you’re both fans of the same football team and they won a big game, be sure to send a message so you stay on their minds,” Ahmad says.
Leave Nurturing to Your Sales Development Reps (SDRs)
“For us, the best lead nurturing tactic is to let the SDR team handle it,” says demandDrive’s AJ Alonzo.
“We see a lot of companies employ a similar process: the SDR gets in touch with a prospect, the prospect isn’t ready to buy, the lead gets kicked to marketing and placed in a drip campaign, and… nothing happens.”
“In today’s world, personalization and relevancy win deals. Marketing can do its best at crafting relevant messaging, but it won’t be personal like the one-to-one communication an SDR can deliver (and this is coming from a marketer).”
“Handing the nurturing process over to the SDR team allows them to keep messaging relevant, personal, and up-to-date based on changes in the prospect’s online profile. This process is much more effective (for us at least) to take prospects out of the nurturing stage and into our opportunity stage,” Alonzo says.
5. Content Marketing
“Content marketing is the ultimate way to nurture leads these days,” says Rajat Chauhan of Techtic Solutions. “Focus on creating valuable content and promote it on the right channels, and your content becomes a lead magnet that braces your business.”
Catalyst Marketing Agency’s Ollie Roddy agrees: “In my opinion, content is still king. Sending relevant, useful content out to your prospects that genuinely helps them without boasting and bragging about your services and successes is the best way to nurture a lead.”
“Not only do you build trust and a quality reputation with someone, but content is also the best way to prove to prospects that you know your stuff.”
“In a sort of chicken-egg scenario, I actually use my conversations with prospects to fuel my ideas for content, which in turn brings in new prospects which, in turn, brings in more content ideas.”
“If you don’t have a dedicated marketing and business development manager, be sure to have those two separate functions working together on content; that’s the number-one way to use content to warm up leads,” Roddy says.
“We’ve found that surveys combined with website user behavior data (such as session recordings) are effective for pre-qualifying leads and customizing messaging,” says Survicate’s Anna Rubkiewicz.
“Still, the key to using surveys for lead nurturing is to make sure you aren’t pitching your product too early in the buyer’s journey. Your leads need to be approached with relevant, unobtrusive questions, and your actions need to strictly relate to their answers.”
“To identify the specific stage your leads are in, you should observe which pages they visit (ex: general blog posts versus pricing or product feature pages), ask them about their goals in a survey, and create separate lead nurturing journeys for each answer.”
“For example, if leads visit a page that compares your product/service to the competition and also declares in a survey that they’re browsing options on the market, it might be a good time to display a pop-up inviting them to a free product demo.”
“Respectively, if leads found your blog via organic search and answer that they visited your page ‘for educational purposes,’ you’ve likely encountered a lead who isn’t interested in a product yet.”
“In this scenario, you’re better off inviting those leads to subscribe to your newsletter so you can nurture them with content that combines educational and product promotion purposes.”
“This way, you will show your leads that the queries they’ve been searching for in Google actually relate to a problem your product is an answer to,” Rubkiewicz says.
“There is no one technique that works for all leads,” says Roberto Garvin of Mofluid. “Each lead is different. Each has different requirements and a different budget. Each evaluates differently using different behaviors.”
“This means you should expect different sets of questions every time,” Garvin says.
Additionally, different leads may also spend their time on different channels, which is why Your Brand Found’s Neil Sheth says you should “think omnichannel. Your customers need to see you on social, hear your advice on your brand’s blog, and get updates from you via email.”
“In essence, you need to be everywhere.”