B2B Professionals Shaking Hands


13th May 2024

What Is Lead Nurturing?

While B2B lead generation is all about finding new and relevant people for your products and services, B2B lead nurturing is about warming them up.

Your ultimate goal is to nurture your leads to become ready to buy your product or services. But what are the steps you need to take to get there?

Before we cover how to create your lead nurturing strategy it's important to answer: What is the definition of lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of guiding new prospects and contacts through your marketing funnel.

A strong B2B lead nurturing program is hugely important for marketers to:

As G2 identifies, lead nurturing needs to be unique to your business and your audience in order to be effective. We can give you some great lead nurture email examples, but a copy-and-paste template isn't going to cut it.

But what does lead nurturing look like in reality for a busy B2B marketing department?

Lead nurturing follows lead generation like night follows day. Without it, you could have the most successful lead generation campaign in the world, but you'd struggle to convert any leads. 

How you nurture your leads can vary greatly; there are lots of different methods. But the key aims are to:

  • Raise your brand awareness
  • Provide value to your prospects
  • Guide relevant contacts toward a sale (and beyond). 

So let's explore exactly how you can nurture your marketing qualified leads into sales ready opportunities. This is your complete guide to creating your lead nurturing strategy: what lead nurturing is, how to nurture your B2B leads, and the best lead nurturing strategies to try.

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Why Is Lead Nurturing Important?

Without strong lead nurturing programs, you might find that your lead generation strategies don't convert into sales.  

Modern B2B lead nurturing best practices are more sophisticated than many marketers think.

It's not just about frequently emailing your leads; the lead nurturing process has specific steps you can take to actively move your leads along the marketing funnel.  

Interesting Lead Nurturing Stats:

Nurtured leads typically make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, according to Annuitas

In fact, businesses that have perfected their lead nurturing program typically generate around 45-50% more sales-ready leads, at a 33% lower cost

Lead Generation vs Lead Nurturing: What’s the Difference?

Lead generation and nurturing are part of the same journey, but they’re not the same thing. 

Lead generation usually refers to any prospect entering the marketing funnel. Normally that’s at the top of the funnel. However, it’s not uncommon for leads to have brand awareness and strong intent to buy when they become a named prospect, especially for better-known brands.

Lead nurturing is all about tempting leads down the marketing funnel once they are already in it. Typically we’re talking named individuals, who became leads because they’ve already shown interest in your content, product or service. 

So, lead nurturing vs lead generation: both typically use content marketing, and both benefit from intent data and personalized communications, just in different parts of the funnel.

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3 Key Benefits of Lead Nurturing 

The benefits of a good lead nurturing strategy are numerous, but they fit roughly into the following categories:  

1. With lead nurturing, your leads are ready to hear from you.

Most lead nurturing statistics will tell you that well below 20% of leads convert into sales, but it's at least 50% higher with a lead nurturing program, and at a lower cost. 

By staying in touch with your leads, educating them on your products, and familiarizing them with your brand, conversion to sales usually turns out much higher. 

2. Lead nurturing helps you can get more for your money.

B2B lead generation can be expensive, but a good lead nurturing strategy will maximize your ROI. According to Oracle, 80% of leads that aren't ready to buy now make a purchase within the next 24 months. You can nurture those leads over time, so in the end, more of your leads convert. 

3. Lead nurturing is a continuous way to boost your brand awareness.

Nurturing prospects is fantastic for your brand. It can give your future customers a good idea of what working with you will be like, so it's a great opportunity to show off your brand, your USPs, and the user experience. Through your lead nurturing funnel, you will be vying with other brands for your leads' attention, so make sure you stand out.  

How to Nurture B2B Leads 

Nurturing leads takes several different forms, but basically, any exposure of your brand to the lead counts.  

The classic example of nurturing is B2B email nurture. Think sophisticated email workflows over a longer period of time, introducing your lead to the brand and sharing your useful content. Email lead nurturing is very effective. Plus, you have lots of options for personalization, as well as lead nurturing marketing automation.  

Depending on how valuable the prospect is, you can take a 1-1 approach, such as inviting them to an event – a webinar, or a round table, for example. Or you can send them a relevant piece of content directly, such as an ungated asset. 

You can also incorporate a lead nurturing workflow into your 3rd party lead gen. As an example, a Nurture Track lead generation campaign with Headley Media lets you outsource some of your lead nurturing strategy to us, your specialist lead generation agency.  

Once a prospect is in your ecosystem, lead nurturing includes visits to your website and social media pages as well as reading your resources.

They are likely to be doing this over time and you can’t track every interaction. It's all part of how to nurture prospects, so make sure you’re showing up in as many places as possible and that your messaging is consistent across all platforms and channels. 

Freya's Top B2B Lead Nurturing Tips

Freya Ward, Headley Media's Global Sales Director

Below our Global Sales Director, Freya Ward, shares her top B2B lead nurturing tactics for technology marketers.

Freya has worked in marketing and sales roles for over a decade, and she now spends a lot of her time consulting with our technology clients to help them get the most out of their lead generation campaigns.

We've found that nurtured lead campaigns are becoming an increasingly popular lead generation service at Headley Media. Freya is highly experienced in advising B2B technology marketers in lead nurturing.

7 Steps to Creating a Lead Nurturing Strategy 

Once you've chosen your lead generation campaign, you need to plan how to nurture your leads once you've received them. Here is a breakdown of Freya's top lead nurturing tools and tips.

Step 1: Remember, speed is of the essence.

Speed is really important in lead nurturing: you have to keep the momentum going once you've got it. Otherwise, you end up with lead, or data decay, – prospects forgetting that they downloaded your content, or losing interest and not being receptive to your follow-up.  

Ensure you send a welcome email as soon you've got their details – whether it includes the piece of content they're downloading, or thanks them for subscribing.  

Step 2: Keep your comms frequent - but not too frequent. 

The frequency of communications can be tricky to get right: you want that momentum, but you don’t want to overload your new prospects or send them irrelevant content.  

How much you know about each lead should help you determine how much to send to them. In the early stages of the funnel, for example, you could send them your newsletter and an occasional ungated asset and then, based on their behavior, start to send them more relevant emails once you’ve got more intelligence on them.

Freya's top tip: remember to regularly check how many email nurture flows your prospects could potentially be in. There's nothing worse than a lead being in so many flows that they end up receiving multiple emails per day from your business. It's automated lead nurturing hell, and if you're anything like me, it's an instant unsubscribe!

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      Step 3: Make it about them (not you!)

      The more intelligence you have on your leads, the more personal you can make your communications. There are lots of lead nurturing ideas to enhance your lead generation campaigns this way.  

      Let's say you generated your new leads by distributing your content via a reputable B2B lead generation company and their in-house content syndication platforms.

      With this example you've already got some additional insight into your new prospects, because they've already downloaded at least one piece of your content, showing a clear topic area they are interested in.

      Looking at another example, a good lead generation company can also offer you further intent data targeting to help you better understand your prospects' behaviors.

      Another lead nurturing technique for finding out more about your audience is to ask them precise data-gathering questions, such as profiling or qualifying questions, on your content download form. 

      You might even start with an account-based marketing lead generation campaign, which targets a specific list of companies that you want to sell to. Personalization is the standard priority here, and personalization is fantastic for nurturing sales leads.  

      You can also try progressive profiling, which allows you to get more details out of existing leads. If your lead comes to you with just their name, job title, and company, for example, you can get richer data by gating content you send them further down the marketing funnel.  

      Ask “what's in it for them?” each time you're planning to send a message to your lead. Every communication should help to answer a business need of theirs; if it doesn't, you're not  providing them with value or moving them through the funnel. 

      Maddie Penfold Account Director @ Headley Media
      Headley Media team member speaking in a meeting

      Step 4: Develop your lead nurturing messaging.

      The most engaging content is that which is actively helping prospects, so make sure your lead nurturing content is education-led.  

      Focus on providing value – for example, with case studies and research – and don't give them any product or sales talk until they’re more warmed up and further down the funnel. You need to build awareness of your brand first, positioning yourself as an indispensable source of credible and trustworthy information (no pressure).

      Step 5: Set up lead scoring.

      Lead nurturing and lead scoring go hand in hand. Lead scoring allows you to sort your prospects according to how warmed up they are, based on their behavior.  

      You can assign points to each lead based on demographic information, on their answers to your audience intelligence questions, every time they open an email from you, every time they hit a certain page on your website, every time they engage with your social media... the list goes on. Then you can pass these leads over to your sales team once they’ve reached a certain score.  

      Work with your sales team to build your lead scoring strategy; they'll want to know how your leads are accruing those points, which will help them connect with them when they call.

      Step 6: Keep your database fresh.

      To keep growing your business and attracting new customers, you need to make sure you've got a steady supply of new leads. Regularly topping up your marketing funnel with fresh MQLs not only ensures your sales team always have plenty of prospects to contact, it's also great for brand awareness. 

      We recommend including both outbound lead generation and inbound marketing techniques within your over B2B marketing strategy to generate demand for your products and services.

      Step 7: Remember... The journey doesn't end there!

      Your lead nurturing activities won't stop after the lead has converted into a customer: they become aftercare and ongoing customer support. Keeping a customer is much cheaper than gaining a new one, so nurturing your existing customers pays off.  

      Therefore, your lead nurturing program should focus on customer retention and happiness, and truly reflect what it's like to work with your business. Working alongside your customer service team can help you make sure all your objectives are aligned, and your tactics are more effective.  

      Headley Media team member in a meeting

      B2B Lead Nurturing Examples 

      Now we've looked at why lead nurturing is so important and the steps to take to create your own lead nurturing strategy, let’s look at some examples of lead nurturing emails and strategies.

      Here are a few of our favorite lead nurturing strategies, and when you should use them. 

      Freya's Top Tip:

      The B2B lead nurturing strategies I recommend to my clients will always depend on their objectives and their capacity.

      It might not always be realistic to have a super sophisticated lead nurturing strategy in place. However, some of the fundamentals of B2B lead nurturing are non-negotiable, for example, following up in good time and not spamming your new contacts with too many comms.

      #1 - Welcome Campaign

      We mentioned this one earlier because it's so important: make sure you send a welcome to new leads. It can be the piece of content they're downloading, or it can be an email to thank them for subscribing, but it's crucial.  

      It cements you in their mind as a prospective brand, and it's a slam dunk in marketing terms: welcome emails have average open rates of 50%, according to DotDigital, much higher than normal. 

      #2 - Brand Awareness Campaign

      Early on in the marketing funnel, you want to make leads aware of who you are and what you do.

      Great branding comes into its own in this type of campaign. It's a good time to put your business name, imagery, and values in front of prospects, ensuring they know who you are, even if they're not overly familiar with you yet.    

      Work closely with your sales and customer care teams on your B2B lead nurturing strategies. This will ensure your messaging is in line with what your target audience wants and needs – and the effect of these three departments working together is huge for businesses. Hannah Lydford, Content Marketing Manager @ Headley Media

      #3 - Knowledge Campaign

      Content marketing is awesome at all stages of the funnel, but especially helpful early on.

      You can engage new leads by offering eBooks, white papers, research reports, and case studies to help them in their business, and they'll become aware of you as a thought leader and useful industry resource. 

      If you're looking for great examples of lead nurturing emails, we love the one below from Rock Content. In this example, Rock Content are sharing a genuinely useful asset (a content mapping spreadsheet), for free, with a clickable link so that they get more data from every lead who clicks it. Clever. 

      Content syndication also works really well here, both as a lead generation tool and a lead nurturing strategy. That's when your content is published by a 3rd party lead generation specialist in a content library designed to attract professionals in your sector.

      Freya's Top Tip:

      When deciding what content to share when nurturing your new leads, you may be tempted to send them gated content.

      Typically, we recommend to our clients to use ungated content within their lead nurturing strategy. The exception to this rule is when you either: 

      • Have something so super valuable and unique to share with your audience that it's worth them exchanging their contact details for (and you plan to do something with that information).

      • Or, you want to find out more about them e.g. by including a specific question on the gated content's form. However, we still only recommend sharing something gated that falls into our first point of being super valuable.

      #4 - Product Marketing Campaign

      Product marketing campaigns come further down the funnel, when the prospect is searching for information on your product specifically. If you're tracking your leads' intent data, you should be able to spot when they're ready for this type of campaign.  

      When someone is looking for information on their options and getting ready to buy new technology that's the time to give more detail on your specific products and solutions.  

      Headley Media colleagues chatting

      #5 - Competitive Campaign

      How does your lead know your product is better than your competitor's? Because you tell them so.  

      The best way to do this is to be matter-of-fact and as honest as possible. Use your product's USPs, highlight the way it's different from the competition, and think about the specific needs of your customers that your product best meets.  

      And also, if your competitor is renowned for a certain benefit, make sure you highlight that your product has the same benefit.  

      #6 - Promotional Campaign

      Now your leads are fully up to speed on what you can offer them, it's time to bust out the big guns and persuade them to spend.  

      One of the most effective methods is via discount on the product, but there are other ways: offering a free add-on, for example, or tempting them with a free trial. Work closely with your sales team on this one: time it carefully, and make sure the offer is personalized. As with all lead nurturing best practices, you should aim to answer a need within their business.  

      Before any lead nurturing takes place you need to generate high quality leads. You should only work with a trustworthy lead generation specialist. There are quite a few shady players in the industry who will outsource your lead generation and lead nurturing to a 3rd party without telling you. The best B2B lead nurturing companies can host your syndicated content on their own websites, track your entire campaign digitally and show you every step of the reader journey Chloe Addis, Head of Marketing @ Headley Media

      #7 - Re-engagement Campaign

      Leads will go cold from time to time, either from lead decay as mentioned earlier, or because another brand gets to them first. But as long as they're in your database, you don't have to give up on them. You can still track their behaviors, and spot opportunities for further nurturing flow.  

      Content syndication is a winner again here, because you can make yourself useful to the lead by providing valuable content, raising their awareness of your brand without ‘selling’ to them.