The Dos and Don'ts of Lead Nurturing


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An in-depth read or a snapshot – it's up to you.

Read in full, click on a section below to jump ahead or click on the link below for a one-page summary.

These pages provide context to our POV and set expectations for the read.

This page provides research stats to help you see how your efforts compare to the market.

Don't have a lot of time? Click here to view a one-page quick read of these best practices.

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Personalize. Adapt. Nurture. Repeat.

Buyers want to get to know solutions providers on a more intimate level before making a purchase. Lead Nurturing enables that level of exposure and engagement. That's why it's a critical piece of the acquisition marketing puzzle.

The more a buyer feels they know about you, the greater trust and confidence they will have in selecting you over others.

While personalizing your approach is necessary to breaking down the trust barrier, being able to adapt to a buyer’s behavior quickly is also critically important. Demonstrating a greater level of understanding of their needs will help you accomplish both.


provides best practice directives and learnings
to enhance your Lead Nurturing efforts.

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You've gotten their attention – keep it.

Your message has made it through the overabundance of information that is available to your audience on a daily basis. They've shown interest and now the courtship begins.

Trust is key. Show that you understand their world – the challenges they face and the difficulty of change.

That means being nimble and adapting to their behavior as they consume information. Be genuine and focus on your understanding of their challenges, delivering your buyer-centric message through channels they use most.

Exploration to Discovery

Continuous learning:

Buyer becomes more educated, their confidence
grows and their consideration set narrows

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1. Define Lead Nurturing.

Lead Nurturing is a simple concept. But, it can often be made unnecessarily complex. To eliminate confusion, we define Lead Nurturing as follows:

The process of developing relationships with leads at every step of the buyer's journey and every stage of the sales funnel, leading them to make an informed purchasing decision.

It's important to make sure everyone on your team understands the definition you’re working from so they know what they are working toward. And, equally as important, they'll know what to do, and what not to do.

Do: Think of Lead Nurture as part of your overall acquisition strategy, so you can better understand and communicate with your leads.
Don't: Push your message outside of the context of your audience. What is important to you may not be important to them.

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2. Know what you're working toward.

Your Lead Nurture program is an opportunity for you to answer the most common questions your leads have – and provide them with relevant information along the way.

Outline your marketing and communication objectives and share them with your team to make sure they know how they’ll be measured.

Knowing what you're working toward will help you better score and qualify your leads. Remember, 90% of your leads are not ready to make a purchase – but they want to learn more. Help them grow their knowledge by making your content available wherever they look for information along their journey.

Do: Devise a strategy that allows for the consumer to self-educate, with a little encouragement from you to move through the sales funnel.
Don't: Make this a high-pressure sales pitch – your audience isn't ready for one – they are in what is called the “kicking the tires” phase of their search for information.

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3. It's business. Make it personal.

Business is intensely personal. People do business with people they know and like. Share relevant content with your leads based on their roles and responsibilities. Consider their needs and where they are in their buying process and your sales funnel.

Above everything else, be personal and personable. These are potential customers who have shown an interest, so be relevant and engaging.

They are interested in learning more about your category and you as a provider. Educate them as you would want to be educated. Segment like groups, relate to them on their level and be a resource to them, not just a seller.

Do: Segment your leads based on their interest level, roles and responsibilities. Then personalize communications and content as much as your resources will allow.
Don't: Treat all of your leads the same with a one-size-fits-all approach. Offer relevant content to the appropriate audience and personalize in ways they can easily identify with.

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4. Be persistent. But not a pest.

There are two types of leads you'll be nurturing: 1) the active lead and 2) the passive lead. The active lead is looking for information anywhere they can find it. The passive lead is still interested in learning, but is less proactive in seeking information.

Your content needs to be readily available for both active and passive leads.

Offer your content wherever buyers are looking: .com, search, email, mail, social media and colleagues. Track behavior and prioritize the challenges you identify. Test gated vs. ungated content. Having a persistent, balanced approach to your content distribution strategy enables you to build trustworthy relationships with leads as a resource vs. creating a poor reputation as a pest.

Do: Be calculated in your approach. Consider both active and passive leads, monitor their consumption behavior and prioritize the release of new content assets accordingly.
Don't: Be a pest by overcommunicating or being too assumptive. Once you've turned off a lead, they're gone and so is your opportunity to close them.

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5. Track. Score. Qualify. Repeat.

You'll want a clear picture of the effectiveness of your campaign. Collaborate with Sales to determine what an MQL "looks like." Then, develop a scoring system that will help identify marketing qualified leads that are ready to be passed to Sales.

All of your leads may have come in via your Lead Gen efforts, but not all of them may have the same needs, interests, and knowledge about your offering.

Consider the tactics you’re using and the behaviors you want to track. Assign a score to each behavior (e.g., 5 points for an asset download, 10 points for a webinar sign-up, etc.) and determine the scoring threshold (e.g. 50 points) that qualifies them to move to Sales. Scoring will help Sales prioritize their follow-up strategy.

Do: Work with Sales to determine your lead scoring system and what an MQL "looks like." Assign scores to specific behavior and a threshold so you know when they’re ready for Sales.
Don't: Treat all leads the same or use someone else’s scoring system. Lead scoring should be crafted around your specific parameters for the program and your business objectives.

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6. Measure success (especially the small wins).

Success will be determined by the marketing and communication objectives you outlined at the beginning of your Lead Nurturing campaign development.

You can't convert sales without clicks and downloads. Small wins lead to big wins and build momentum.

Make sure your entire team understands this and use it to keep them motivated. Monitor campaign performance and look for ways to improve engagement. Replace content that doesn't resonate – and capitalize on assets that garner a lot of interest. And be sure to look for common characteristics of those leads you see becoming sales qualified. Create an open feedback loop with the sales force and instill a culture of continual improvement.

Do: Measure success large and small and keep a tally on what is and isn't performing. Keep the sales team engaged and encourage ongoing feedback to enhance the campaign.
Don't: Discount the small wins. Migrating quality leads takes time and a lot of effort. Set expectations and never lose sight of the path a lead takes to conversion.

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7. Have a post-nurture game plan in place.

Since your lead nurture program is designed to build relationships throughout a buyer's journey, what happens to a lead that hasn't made a purchase or been qualified by sales?

All leads are not created equally so don't invest time or budget into leads who aren't engaged.

Review the last several years of lead nurture and sales conversion information. Determine how long it took to close a qualified lead and the sales conversion rate during that period. Identify lost leads and either remove them from your efforts or rest them for a couple months before re-engaging. The risk of removing lost leads is minimal because your Lead Gen efforts drive a steady stream of leads into the pipeline.

Do: Use previous years lead nurture and sales conversion information to gauge the time it takes to close a qualified lead and plan accordingly.
Don't: Spend valuable resources on lost leads. Time and money are at a premium and every minute of the day and dollar of the budget should focus on migrating interested leads to a sale.

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Don't run your program in a silo.

Always know what is going on in the market – content marketing trends, buying behavior, Lead Nurturing strategies and tactics. Don't limit your exposure to the four walls in your office. Below, we've provided a handful of timely and relevant stats that, taken in the context of your business, can provide insights that lead to program-enhancing change.


of marketing leads never convert to sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance.1


Nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus other leads2


Businesses who nurture leads make 50% more sales at a cost of 33% less than non-nurtured prospects.3


of businesses say most of their leads require “long cycle” nurturing with many influencers.4


An estimated 65% of B2B marketers have not established a lead nurture program to assist in sales efforts.5

Sources: 1 MarketingSherpa, 2 DemandGen Report, 3 Forrester Research, 4 Ascend2, 5 MarketingSherpa

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