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Lead nurturing: Why it matters and how it works

Lead nurturing: waiter talking on the phone and writing on a notebook

Key takeaways

  • Lead nurturing can boost your sales by steadily engaging with shoppers, building confidence, and nudging them toward a purchase 
  • Lead scoring helps you assess where your potential customer is in the buyer’s journey so you can provide the information they actually need
  • Leverage marketing automation like drip campaigns to send emails at regular intervals in your lead nurturing process

Landing a new lead doesn’t guarantee a sale. No matter what industry you’re in, prospects need time to learn about your company and fully consider your products or services before signing the dotted line. If you stop following up with your qualified leads after one or two attempts, you’re pulling out of the competition before it even starts.

Digital customer engagement has led to a 70% average revenue increase, so it’s no wonder businesses expect to nearly double their investments in this area by 2025. Engaging with customers offline is also key, along with reaching out frequently (with the right information) to win more sales. This process is called lead nurturing. Learn more about what lead nurturing entails and why it matters for your small business.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is building relationships with your potential customers by engaging them throughout the buyer’s journey. It involves providing the right information at the right times to gently move them toward a purchase.

Successful lead nurturing tactics look different at each stage of the sales funnel (the steps that shoppers take before they make a purchase). For example, new leads who have just become aware of your brand are still identifying their pain point and exploring potential solutions. On the other hand, sales-ready leads who are closer to buying often need more product- or service-specific information like pricing, case studies, and live demos to make a final decision.

The lead nurturing process starts with answering high-level questions, like “What are the benefits of yoga?” or “How long do home renovations take?” Then it requires regular communication over the course of weeks or months. 

Why lead nurturing matters

Lead generation isn’t enough to make a sale. In fact, 96% of website visitors aren’t ready to make a purchase.

Consider the car buying process, for instance. Odds are, you won’t be signing a contract the day you feel compelled to buy a new car. You’ll likely spend a few days or weeks researching vehicles online, test driving cars, and chatting with sales reps at dealerships. 

Before making a decision, you’ll probably interact with various dealerships a number of times offline and online (called touchpoints) to get info and build confidence about the vehicle you’re considering.

The same is true of your lead nurturing efforts that can guide your sales prospects toward a purchase. Rather than overwhelming them with details about your product or service upfront—or worse, not doing any follow-up at all—you can build trust, demonstrate the value of your product or service, and keep your brand top of mind.

Other benefits of nurturing leads and optimizing the flow of your sales cycle include:

  • You’re able to convince potential customers to continue along the sales funnel, instead of dropping out or getting stuck in the process
  • Having more leads doesn’t guarantee a set number of sales, so it reduces the stress of demand generation
  • It can improve your conversion rate—the percentage of leads who become customers
  • It can help encourage potential customers to make larger purchases, thereby decreasing your customer acquisition cost (CAC), which is the average amount of money you’re spending to win a single client

In the end, lead nurturing can directly help your business growth.

How does lead nurturing work?

Lead nurturing: couple talking to an advisor

Successful lead nurturing programs typically start with lead scoring, the process of assigning numeric scores to identify prospects most likely to make a purchase. When a lead fits certain criteria—for instance, if they match your target audience’s age range or industry—you’ll assign them a set number of points. This helps your sales team prioritize leads in a measurable way so they can focus on nurturing high-potential customers.

Many customer relationship management tools (CRMs), like Zoho CRM and Freshsales, offer automated lead scoring features to simplify this process. Once you select your scoring criteria, which can include demographics (like income or age) and survey completion rates, your CRM can instantly score your new leads, often between 0-100.

This score tells you where to begin your lead nurturing campaigns for any given lead. For example, if your lead’s score is under 50, you can ease them into your sales and marketing efforts by sending them helpful whitepapers, product videos, or blog posts about the value your products or services bring.

As your lead completes more activities—like registering for a webinar or tagging your brand on social media—and your CRM adds points to their score, they’ll move forward in your lead nurturing process. When prospects become high-quality leads, perhaps by reaching a score of 75, your nurturing efforts should become more personalized and include more one-on-one interactions, such as calling them on the phone and referencing them by name.

A solid lead nurturing program tells you when, where, and how to engage with potential customers, helping to improve your outreach and provide every prospect with relevant content.


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3 effective lead nurturing strategies

The best sales and marketing strategies for lead generation campaigns are those that allow you to regularly follow up with prospects and personalize each touchpoint. Here are three cost-effective lead nurturing ideas to consider implementing in your small business, even if you don’t have a marketing team.

1. Email marketing

Email marketing is simple yet effective, allowing you to regularly engage with leads without a lot of extra effort. Using an email marketing tool like Drip or Mailchimp, you can create a drip campaign, a series of emails that will be sent automatically at regular intervals over the course of your sales process

With every email, you can encourage your leads to take bigger actions—for example, you can first encourage them to visit a landing page, then later to sign up for a free trial or schedule a video call.

A nurture campaign is different from a drip campaign in that it requires a certain level of personalization. This means you’ll need to segment your email list based on lead behavior (or buyer personas) to ensure you’re sending the right messaging to the right leads. Email marketing tools, like Zoho CRM and Salesmate, allow you to divide up your email list based on leads’ shared characteristics so you can send only highly relevant content to each of your leads.

2. Retargeting

Woman using a laptop

Lead nurturing is all about engaging with potential customers over and over again until they convert. Social media and search engines don’t allow you to directly reach out to prospects, making retargeting a valuable tool.

Retargeting involves running digital ads specifically for people who have already visited your website or engaged with your past ads. When your audience consistently sees ads from your brand, they’re more likely to stay interested and learn more—or even make a purchase if you have an enticing offer to share.

You can use retargeting software to simplify the process of nurturing leads across platforms.


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3. Sales calls

There’s no better way to personalize an interaction than by adding a human touch. When you reach out to your leads through sales calls, you can answer their questions, learn about their needs, and assuage any objections to buying your product or service. 

In addition to unearthing information, these two-way conversations can build trust and put a name to what otherwise might be a faceless company.

Strengthen your customer relationships with lead nurturing

An integral part of your sales workflow, lead nurturing keeps potential customers interested in your brand and nudges them toward a purchase. At every touchpoint, you can provide information that demonstrates the value of your brand and its products or services. 

Kick off your lead nurturing efforts by setting up email campaigns and retargeted ads, then consider using these relationship-building tactics to market your business and attract new customers.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.