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Say you just planted a new flower in your garden – what would be some of the best practices to ensure it grows into a healthy, thriving plant?
You’d probably start by watering and fertilizing it, keeping it in a place where it gets enough sunlight, and protecting it from weeds and pests, right?
In other words, you’d have to nurture your plant.
Well, lead nurturing isn’t much different.
If you want leads to convert to paying customers, you need to build meaningful relationships with them and provide them with relevant content at each stage of their buying journey.
Somewhat similar to watering and fertilizing, huh? Put simply, you need a lead nurturing strategy in place.
But building and implementing a lead nurturing strategy is a bit harder than feeling up your flower can with water.
That’s why in this report, we’ll get into the trenches of lead nurturing and see exactly what it is, how it works, which channels are working today, and give you step-by-step instructions on how you can build your own.
Let’s dive in.
Lead nurturing refers to the process of building meaningful relationships with your prospective customers, by providing them with appropriate and relevant content at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Basically, the goal is to guide them through the sales funnel and move them closer to making a purchase decision.
We develop lead nurturing strategies because not all leads generated by your marketing team are sales-ready.
While they might be interested in your product or service, they typically have some questions and concerns that need to be answered to move from the awareness stage to the decision stage.
If you are having second thoughts, here are just some of the important benefits of lead nurturing:
Another important caveat to mention is that 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.
Before we start nurturing leads, we first need to attract them.
That’s why we asked 100+ industry experts about which marketing channels they’re seeing the most success with when it comes to lead generation.
More than 50% said organic search (SEO), with paid search, content marketing, email, and social media also ranking highly.
But these channels can serve for more than just lead generation – they can also be great for lead nurturing if used properly.
For starters, you need a robust organic search strategy for successful organic lead nurturing.
This includes crafting informative blog posts and engaging articles that appeal both to your target reader and Google.
But remember that organic search isn’t just about ranking high – it’s about building trust.
When your website consistently provides accurate, relevant information, you position yourself as an authoritative source.
And this trust is a critical factor as leads progress from awareness to consideration and, eventually, to making a purchase decision.
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One of the primary advantages of paid search is its ability to provide immediate visibility.
Unlike organic search where rankings evolve gradually, paid search ensures that your ads are immediately shown to users actively searching for products related to what your business offers.
This way, you can meet them in the consideration stage.
Content marketing is another highly effective lead nurturing channel because it allows you to provide valuable information to your audience at different stages and in different formats.
This channel goes hand in hand with SEO, but it’s not limited to it.
Whether it’s blogging, podcasts, social media posts, or some other format, you can deliver content that meets their needs, concerns, and interests.
A popular strategy is to leverage ebooks, whitepapers, and webinars to immediately capture the lead’s information and then continue nurturing them through other channels like email.
Expert Insight: Does YouTube play a big role in your content marketing strategy? If it does, you’ve probably witnessed first-hand just how unintuitive its main interface is when it comes to reporting and analytics. Here’s how you can simplify it – download our free YouTube Channel Performance Dashboard. You can track everything from new subscribers to watch time in a single dashboard.
One of the key strengths of email marketing is its ability to deliver personalized messages.
Within an ESP, you can segment your audience based on demographics, behaviors, or preferences, and then tailor the emails you send out to resonate with the specific needs of each lead.
You can build drip campaigns that are instrumental in gradually guiding leads through the sales funnel and nurture your leads in real time by setting up triggered emails.
Just keep in mind that email marketing isn’t all about promotional messages – you should have a balanced mix of promos and educational content.
Industry insights, how-to guides, exclusive access to resources… all of these are great for providing value and building more trust with prospects.
Are you leveraging the full power of your social presence and using it to showcase your brand’s personality?
The thing about social media is that you shouldn’t just share a piece of content and then forget about it – make sure you also respond to comments, participate in discussions, or even share some behind-the-scenes glimpses of your organization.
This way, you can humanize your brand and establish a more genuine connection with leads that goes beyond just transactions.
Plus, social media platforms offer a variety of content formats, from images and videos to polls and stories.
Expert Insight: If you’re using several social media platforms to nurture leads, it’s easy to get mixed up in all the numbers. But not if you use our free Social Media Dashboard. You can connect data from each of your social platforms (from Facebook to LinkedIn) and compile your most relevant metrics in one place, where you can track performance in real time.
Here’s something that’s been getting a lot of attention in the past few months – AI lead nurturing.
AI lead nurturing refers to the use of artificial intelligence technology to automate and optimize the nurturing process.
With AI algorithms and machine learning, there’s a lot of opportunity building up to better analyze and understand the behavior, preferences, and engagement patterns of leads.
Some of the popular applications right now include:
A lead nurturing campaign is the precise systematic process of building relationships with your potential customers throughout their buying journey.
Here are some of the main types of lead nurturing campaigns marketers use:
Like most marketers and marketing managers, you want to know how well your efforts are translating into results each month. Which sources generate the most traffic and leads? Creating a comprehensive report takes time and a lot of data combining, but with our free dashboard, you can have it ready in just a few clicks.
Our HubSpot Leads by Source Dashboard includes data from HubSpot Marketing with key performance metrics like:
New Contacts by Source – identify your most effective lead generation channels by digging into the number of new contacts acquired from various sources within a defined period of time with this plug-and-play free HubSpot Leads by Source Dashboard.
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your HubSpot account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create an effective lead nurturing strategy:
Begin by conducting thorough market research.
Identify the demographics, psychographics, and behavioral traits of your ideal customers. You should consider factors such as age, gender, location, interests, and pain points.
Without this step, all other efforts may be wasted as your nurturing campaigns won’t be focused and relevant.
Create a detailed map of the customer journey, starting from the awareness stage to conversion.
You need to understand the touchpoints where leads interact with your brand, both online and offline. And then, analyze potential challenges or bottlenecks in the customer journey that may hinder progression.
A well-mapped customer journey allows you to align your nurturing efforts with the specific needs and expectations of your leads at each stage.
A good idea here is to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) for your nurturing strategy.
For example, your goals could be to increase lead engagement by 20% within the next quarter or to convert a certain percentage of leads into customers.
Clearly defined goals provide a roadmap for your strategy and enable you to measure success effectively.
Then, it’s time to craft content that addresses the pain points your audience faces at each stage of the journey.
One good idea here is to create a content calendar to ensure a consistent flow of valuable information that you can turn back to.
Also, consider using a mix of formats, such as blog posts, infographics, videos, and whitepapers.
The goal is to position your brand as a valuable resource that provides solutions and insights when they need them the most.
Select communication channels based on where your audience is most active.
For example, LinkedIn might be a primary channel if your target audience is professionals. If visual content is crucial, platforms like Instagram or Pinterest may be suitable.
As a best practice, try to build a multichannel approach for maximum impact.
Lead scoring is a systematic method for assigning a numerical value to leads based on their interactions with your brand, helping you prioritize the leads that are most likely to convert into customers.
To do this, you first need to identify key criteria:
Develop a scoring system where each criterion is assigned a point value. For example, downloading a whitepaper might earn more points than simply opening an email.
Adjust the point values based on the perceived importance of each criterion to your sales process.
Then, define scoring tiers.
Establish scoring tiers that categorize leads into different segments based on their total score. Common segments include “Cold,” “Warm,” and “Hot.”
Lastly, determine the threshold for each segment, indicating when a lead transitions from one stage to another.
Regularly monitor KPIs to assess the effectiveness of your lead nurturing campaigns.
Track metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and the time it takes for leads to progress through the funnel.
This should give you enough data that you can analyze to identify trends, successes, and areas for improvement.
Then, conduct A/B testing on different elements of your campaigns, such as subject lines, CTAs, and content types, and use the results to refine your approach.
Expert Insight: If you’re using HubSpot as one of your primary tools for lead nurturing, how often do you get confused by all the different reports available in the tool? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Luckily, there’s a way you can streamline the way you monitor your nurturing strategy efficiency – using our free HubSpot CRM Overview Dashboard. Instead of wasting precious time juggling through all the different HubSpot reports, simply connect your most relevant data onto one dashboard.
To find out what lead nurturing tactics are most effective, we asked 30+ marketers to share the methods they’re currently using to nurture and reengage leads.
These are the six methods they’re using right now to effectively nurture and re-engage leads and they include:
Email lead nurturing is the process of building a relationship with potential customers over time through a series of targeted and personalized emails.
The primary goal is to guide leads through the sales funnel, providing them with valuable information and relevant content to move them closer to making a purchase.
And for nearly two-thirds of our respondents, email nurturing is the best way to re-engage leads.
Growth Hackers’ Jonathan Aufray says that one big benefit of email lead nurturing is that it’s also “very cost-effective compared to paid advertising. Also, you can completely automate your email marketing campaigns.”
But what about cadence? How often should you send out emails?
Aufray recommends doing it 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 frequency for email nurturing, our respondents also shared a variety of nurture email best practices and examples for executing them.
When it comes to email nurturing, here are the top five best practices, along with some great insights from industry experts.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but so many businesses misinterpret how relevant their content is to the reader.
One of the main reasons for this can be a lack of research. Investigate what your audience wants to learn more about, see what pain points they experience, and run surveys to get their direct feedback on what they want.
This is the best way to make sure your content stays super-relevant and practical.
And you can do it in multiple formats, as long as it’s valuable. Agence Nile’s Lydia Deborne says that 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.
Video content tends to be more engaging than plain text, so why not add it to your campaign as well?
You can convey information more quickly and use it for demonstrations for some of your products that might need a bit more visual explanation.
Richard Owens of First Five Eight says that “by combining email and video marketing, you can provide higher-quality content that’s easier 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.
Segmenting your email list allows you to send targeted content to specific groups of subscribers.
This personalization increases engagement and conversion rates as you address the unique needs and interests of each segment.
For example, if you’re selling health and fitness products, you won’t send out the same email to a 20-year-old who wants to put on muscle and a 50-year-old who wants to lose weight, right?
Sadi Khan of RunRepeat says that “lead nurturing is all about relationship-building, and you have to be relevant and listen to others to build relationships. 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 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.”
Once you have your emails written and assembled, all that’s left to do is automate your sequence so it starts going out after specific triggers (e.g. downloading a free ebook).
Cass Polzin of Accelity Marketing shared her process for automation:
“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 content 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.”
Lastly, don’t forget to make your decisions based on data. If you’re optimizing your nurturing strategy based on instinct, you’re shooting darts with a blindfold on.
Mor Mester of Automizy shared a story from his businesses that showcase just how important it is to leverage data:
“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 sent.
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.”
Head of Growth at Automizy
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Expert Insight: Want to see how effective your lead nurturing efforts are in HubSpot? Then you need this free HubSpot Email Marketing Overview Dashboard. You can track everything from the open rate and click rate to the number of new subscribers on your list. With this free dashboard, tracking your email performance has never been easier. And if you’re not a HubSpot user, there are dozens of other ESP integrations you can connect instead.
If your email marketing game is on par, it’s time to introduce retargeting across multiple platforms in addition to it.
With both newsletters and retargeting campaigns, you make sure that your business stays top-of-mind for your prospects.
Oksana Chyketa of Albacross revealed how you should plan your retargeting campaign:
“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.
Let’s dive in a bit deeper here and see how you should retarget your leads using social media and display ads:
Social media retargeting involves showing targeted ads to users who have previously interacted with your website, app, or other online content.
This interaction could include visiting your website, viewing specific pages, or taking certain actions such as adding items to a shopping cart.
And for your lead nurturing efforts, it’s an invaluable strategy.
Jeff Rizzo of The Slumber Yard says that social media retargeting is the “single most effective way to stay in front of leads.”
But he also talks about the importance of matching your ad with the exact customer segment and social platform:
“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. Not only that, but 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.”
Display retargeting is about showing visual display ads to users across various websites. These display ads can take the form of banners, images, or other visual formats.
For Andy Hoek of Invalshoek, display retargeting is one of the “most effective ways to nurture leads.”
Here’s how he does it:
“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.”
Which advertising message would catch your attention better – something that’s personalized to exactly what you’re looking for or something that just vaguely covers your relevant subject?
This is why personalization is so crucial.
With so many generic ads and pitches everywhere around us these days, leads are only interested in what’s highly personalized for them.
If you can do it properly, it will make stand out even in the most crowded markets.
If you’re wondering how to improve your lead nurturing efforts with personalization, here are 3 ways to do so:
If you’re not sending personalized emails, you won’t see the results you want – no matter how good your content may be.
Some of the simple personalization tactics include using your lead’s name when talking to them and analyzing their previous purchases and behavior to see what kind of content they’re more likely to be interested in.
Kraig Martin of Storage Vault says that in his business, “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.”
You can’t personalize content like blog posts or YT videos as well as you can with emails, but you can still make it highly relevant to your leads.
How? By seeing what answers they’re looking for the most and then solving their pain points with your business’s expertise.
Here’s one interesting way you can personalize your content – creating dynamic content.
Alexandra Zelenko of DDI Development says that “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.”
Of course, the most personalized interactions you can have with leads are one-on-one conversations.
And with all this talk on automations, retargeting, campaigns… it can be hard to forget how important a one-on-one touchpoint can be.
If you’re not sure how to have one-on-one interactions, here are 3 ways to do so:
Meeting with leads in person is one of the best ways to build trust and rapport.
With face-to-face interactions, you can get a deeper connection and a better understanding of their needs. It humanizes the relationship by not having to interact only through advertising.
Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls talked about the importance of this nurturing strategy and said that “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.”
“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.”
Founder & CEO at Mavens & Moguls
Connecting with leads in person isn’t always doable, especially if your target audience can be found in numerous places around the globe.
In that case, the next best thing is one-on-one interactions on social media.
Hyfa Ahmad of Mindster says that social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram “should be your secret weapon.”
“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.
For starters, 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.”
SDRs are often specialized in lead generation and qualification – but you can also leverage them for your nurturing strategies.
They are trained to identify and engage with potential leads, making them well-suited for nurturing relationships in the early stages of the sales funnel.
What’s more, they’re skilled in initiating conversations, understanding prospect needs, and positioning the value of a product. And they excel in initial outreach, follow-ups, and building rapport, which are all key elements of effective lead nurturing.
AJ Alonzo of demandDrive says that for his business, “the best lead nurturing tactic is to let the SDR team handle it.”
“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.”
“The best lead nurturing tactic is to let the SDR team handle it.
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.
Director of Marketing at demandDrive
We’ve already touched upon how powerful content marketing can be in lead nurturing – it provides valuable information to potential customers at practically all stages of their buying journey.
Quality content, whether in the form of blog posts, ebooks, or videos, positions your brand as a helpful resource rather than a mere sales pitch.
Put simply, content marketing serves as the bridge between initial awareness and eventual conversion.
For Ollie Roddy of Catalyst Marketing Agency, “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.”
Expert Insight: LinkedIn is becoming more and more powerful as a content marketing channel – but its user interface simply isn’t intuitive, especially for beginners. If you’re nurturing your leads through your LinkedIn page, you should simplify the process of analysis and reporting by downloading our free LinkedIn Page Overview Dashboard. Check out exactly how many new followers you have, how they engage with your content, and which industry they come from (and more) in one place.
Surveys play a pivotal role in lead nurturing because they provide invaluable insights into the needs and preferences of your potential customers.
You can directly engage with leads through surveys and then align your communications and offers based on their feedback. It’s the closest thing we have to “reading the minds” of our customers.
Anna Rubkiewicz of Survicate says that “surveys combined with website user behavior data (such as session recordings) are effective for pre-qualifying leads and customizing messaging.”
However, she also mentions that the key to using surveys for 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 answered 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 relate to a problem your product is an answer to.”
In today’s competitive environment, having a lead nurturing strategy isn’t a matter of preference anymore… it’s a requirement for any business that wants to convert more clients.
But building a proper nurturing strategy is anything but easy.
It’s time-consuming, requires lots of research, you need to test a variety of elements, and you need to come up with campaigns for multiple channels.
And even when you have a strategy in place, tracking the results from it is another big headache.
That is, unless you use Databox…
For starters, we have dozens of free Sales Leads Dashboards that you can download and populate in a matter of minutes.
They come pre-built with sales metrics that businesses most commonly track and you can integrate any of our 100+ tools.
Here’s how easy it is to get started – all you need to do is pick a template, connect your data source, and choose which metrics you want to add to the dashboard. Then, you can turn the dry numbers into professional visuals in just a few clicks.
With our dashboards, you can easily measure the results of your lead nurturing campaigns and see in real-time where you’re standing performance-wise and if there’s anything you need to optimize ASAP.
Then, you can use Databox Reports to report the data you’re seeing to senior executives in a way that they’ll actually understand what’s going on.
And if you want to see how other businesses in your niche are performing? Well, we have Benchmark Groups just for that.
You can use Benchmark Groups to instantly see how you stack up against competition when it comes to lead nurturing (and use can use it for a variety of other areas). No need to rely on industry reports with vague data anymore.
So, if you’re ready to take your lead nurturing campaigns to the next level, sign up for a free trial and see how easily Databox can make that happen.
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