For years, tech marketers have been maniacally focused on generating new leads to feed the pipeline needs of their sales counterparts. Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of those new leads, like 5%, were ready to engage with sales, leading to much frustration and angst between marketing and sales.

So what happened to the 95% of those leads that weren’t sales ready? Usually, not much! An email or two every so often does not constitute a lead nurturing program that will deliver results. However, it appears that the wind of change is upon us in tech marketing. In a recent marketing investments survey that we conducted, we found that tech marketers are increasing their budget allocation for lead nurturing by 11%, and that is significant.

So how do you start to build a lead nurturing program that will deliver results? Here are three elements:

Definition: First, we need a definition for lead nurturing. I like this simple definition: Lead nurturing is a process by which leads are tracked and developed into sales-qualified leads. Meaning that they are ready and worthy of a salesperson’s time. Of course, it is critical that you jointly establish the definition of a sales-ready lead with the sales team.

Objective: Our objective is to lead our prospects on an educational journey that moves them down the qualification path and results in a prospect that is highly qualified and ready to enter the sales process.

Approach: Developing a lead nurturing strategy does not need to be a daunting task. A simple approach is best, one that is focused and meaningful to your buyers.

  • Focus on the prospect: The key to a successful lead nurturing program is to make the on-going communications with your prospects as relevant to them as possible. This is your opportunity to segment your prospect database and focus your messages on what matters most to them, hitting their specific hot buttons by industry, geography, role, etc. Remember, the more hard-hitting and relevant to their issues and pain points your message is, the more likely they will be to take notice, absorb the message, and respond.
  • Message consistency: Be consistent in your messaging. Shifting messages will only cause confusion, reduce message reinforcement, and create a poor perception of your company. As you create multiple educational vehicles, like white papers, case studies, videos, and webinars, be sure that the message is consistent. Leverage every communication.
  • Content: The key to lead nurturing success is in great content. It has to be educational in nature, promote thought leadership, and go deep. Great content gets responses and gets you invited into deeper conversations with prospects. Content development should be approached from the reader’s perspective.
  • Process: The first step in building a lead nurturing process is to have a clear understanding of the buyer’s buying cycle. This is critical. You need to be able to map out your typical buyer’s buying cycle. It is the basis of any good nurturing campaign, since you will building your nurturing campaign content and messages on each step of the buying cycle. One of the best sources of information about your buyers’ buying cycle is sales or inside sales. These are the folks who have led prospects through the educational process in the past. Learn from them and build the nurturing process with them.

The process of building an effective lead nurturing program is not as overwhelming as it seems. It just requires giving careful thought and consideration to the elements above.

How is your lead nurturing program working? What have you found to be effective in nurturing leads?