Lead nurturing is crucial to Inbound Marketing and Sales. Here’s what you should be doing to effectively nurture leads through their purchase journey.

The Value Offered By Effective Lead Nurture

For most Inbound campaigns the prime goal is strong, relevant lead generation and conversion of those leads into customers. Sounds straightforward. But without effective nurture, those good-fit leads can quickly stagnate.

A solid lead nurture strategy works to progress prospects through the Buyer’s Journey, and helps them decide upon the best-fit solution for them. In an Inbound sales process, this means that nurture activity always works with the buyer, considers the length of the sales cycle, and nurtures at a pace that suits prospects uniquely, rather than pushing to close.

Why? Because modern buyers, especially those purchasing high-cost services, won’t be ready to purchase after one ebook download, and a sales demo. That process no longer works. Buyers today are well informed; they have the whole internet to assist their journey. This means the job of marketers and salespeople is no longer to regurgitate a pitch to push a product to leads, but provide added value – that can’t be found online – through lead nurture.

Marketers see an average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads. – Forrester

A good nurture strategy will keep your brand in the buyer’s mind as a trusted expert, for the entirety of their purchasing journey. A lead nurture process should map to the buyer’s unique problems, address questions, and work to add value by exploring key considerations that prospect will want to know before purchasing. Research conducted by Forrester has shown that marketers see an average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads. However, a study by Marketing Sherpa indicates that only 36% of marketers actively nurture their sales leads (2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report).

Only 36% of marketers actively nurture their sales leads – Marketing Sherpa

A successful Inbound marketing strategy requires tactical nurture throughout the sales cycle. So how can marketers deliver better lead nurture approaches, and boost ROI?

5 Inbound Marketing Lead Nurturing Tactics To Boost ROI

1. Deliver the right content format at the right time

It is no good publishing irrelevant content that will not be of interest to your target persona. For content to resonate and support a nurture process, it must be based around buyer’s interests and pain points.

Timing is key in a nurture campaign. Each prospect will progress through their buying journey at a different rate. To keep them moving, you need to be able to identify the buying stage and challenges that each unique prospect is experiencing, and offer relevant content and advice to address that pain at the right time. For example:

To nurture prospects in the Awareness stage of the Buyer’s Journey, use content that addresses top level questions and concerns. Likely this will take the form of blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers and guides.

For prospects in the Consideration stage, who will be looking for more in depth information and detail, offer case studies, videos and guides.

When prospects reach the Decision stage, they will want specific information into why your solution is the best option for them. Free trials, demonstrations, and vendor comparisons are all good assets to nurture toward a final purchase decision.

From the consideration stage onward, it is important to note that interaction with sales teams should be occurring. Sales teams should be working to explore and advise on the prospect’s challenges, and establish a personal trusted link. To nurture effectively, their interactions; from social media, to emails and calls, must be helpful and add value. An intrusive or pushy approach will not work.

2. Make The Most Of Email Nurture

Automated email campaigns are a key part of nurture activity as they assist lead progression and save time. If you have an Inbound campaign running you should already be sending regular workflow emails to leads (e.g. the ‘thank you for downloading’, ‘would you like to arrange a consultation’ emails). However you might also choose to use automated RSS emails for additional nurture. For example, you may create an RSS email that sends to a persona-specific list of MQLs each time a new piece of content (on a relevant theme) is published to your blog. Delivering a steady stream of relevant, personalised information to the right prospects; this activity assists nurture by keeping you front of mind.

3. Align Marketing & Sales, and Prioritise Social Selling

Without a marketing automation platform in place, it can be easy for good prospects to slip the nurture net. However an intelligent closed-loop automation platform enables better alignment of sales and marketing teams. This ensures qualified leads are monitored and nurtured appropriately. It also enables sales staff to make the most of marketing’s historical lead data, and build better relationships with leads.

Social selling is a key part of sales’ nurture activity, and sees sales teams actively using social platforms to add value, share helpful content, and engage with prospects. A good social selling strategy will position sales staff as trusted advisors; again, nurturing through relevancy.

4. Follow Up In Good Time

According to HubSpot, the odds of a lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within five minutes versus 30 minutes after an inbound lead converts on your website.

Lead nurture begins as soon as an active good-fit lead appears; who is clearly considering their pain point and researching a solution. If the lead is a good fit for your business, this is an opportunity to make that initial contact, and begin the nurture journey. Several research studies have shown that the odds of converting a lead into a sales opportunity are exponentially higher when the lead is contacted immediately following a website conversion. So be sure to follow up in good time!

5. Implement a Lead Scoring System

A lead scoring system can be implemented in most marketing automation platforms and, when applied correctly, can be used to determine which leads are stuck in the funnel and require further nurture.

An Inbound Sales process always prioritises active, good-fit buyers over passive ones. Influenced by particular actions (such as site activity, or social engagement) a correctly applied lead scoring system will help to identify those priority prospects, and also indicate leads that need further nurture.

Nurturing Toward Effective Results

Including these tactics in an Inbound Marketing campaign will allow your marketing and sales teams to priorities leads more efficiently, build stronger relationships with good-fit prospects, reduce your sales cycle and conversion time and as a result, boost ROI.