Determining what stage in the buying cycle each lead is at and moving those deemed ready-to-buy to sales is lead scoring. But what happens after the scoring process, to all the leads that aren't ready to buy? How can you guide them along in the right direction?
Lead nurturing is the practice of maintaining ongoing contact with prospects not yet ready to make a purchase. Marketers gather information about where leads are in the buying cycle and work to move them along in that process while favorably influencing them toward the company and its products.
Lead nurturing is a critical component in a BtoB marketers' abilities to support revenue generation. According to industry research firm SiriusDecisions, only about 53-68 percent of leads that are qualified by marketing as sales-ready are accepted by sales. And, of those that are accepted, only about 50-57 percent are subsequently deemed as sales opportunities. Essentially this means that leads frequently fall out of the sales funnel after being handed off to sales. Yet many of those leads will eventually make a purchase. Possibly from your competitor. Ouch!
Lead nurturing consists of a series of automated, timed communications designed to keep your company top-of-mind until a prospect has received enough information and is ready to buy. Lead nurturing communications activities can include informative emails, direct mail or telephone calls, Webinars, white papers, studies, newsletters, product information, industry news and more.
In creating lead nurturing messages, it's important to answer the following questions:
- How can we build credibility with our prospects?
- How can we show that our products and services will help them achieve their goals?
- How can we differentiate ourselves from the competition?
As analysts at Aberdeen Group discovered, companies with the highest lead qualification rates and lead-to-sales conversion rates are twice as likely as less successful companies to leverage formalized lead metrics that manage the flow of leads from marketing to sales and back again when warranted. If your career and your company can afford to ignore a gold mine of not-quite-ready-to-buy leads, there is no need to implement lead nurturing. If you're serious about driving revenue, you will.