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The ultimate guide to
B2B lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is a critical component of any successful B2B marketing strategy. 

In today's competitive landscape, it's essential to have an effective lead nurturing program in place to ensure that your prospects are engaged and more likely to convert to customers. 

A high-converting lead nurturing program is usually driven by data and led by analytics and insight. It will use industry-leading software and intelligence data to filter the leads, select the best opportunities, and then work to find the best ways to convert them into sales.

Lead nurturing guides B2B customers through the buying journey, making that buyer's decision feel risk-free and the natural step forward. 

To help you get started, this guide will provide an overview of best practices for your B2B lead nurturing strategy. We'll discuss the importance of segmentation and personalization, when to use automation, how to nurture leads via email, and more. Let's dive in! 


Lead nurturing – the journey

Lead nurturing should begin as soon as a lead is identified, whether through a form submission on your website, email signup, or a sales conversation. This can be quick or take several weeks or months, as the journey for each lead is unique, and the success of lead nurturing relies on building relationships and trust. Once started, lead nurturing requires consistency and the commitment to instigate multiple touchpoints, only concluding when the lead is converted or closed.


Your work starts with segmentation

The most crucial step to a successful lead nurturing program is segmentation. Segmenting your leads into various buckets based on criteria such as stage of the buyer journey, need/problem, industry, etc., will help you target each customer with the right content at the right time. Once you've identified which buyers fit into which segments, you can create content tailored to their specific needs. 

When segmenting your leads, remember who they are and what they need. You should consider their job title, the industry they work in, and their preferences and buying behaviors. You can use analytics to monitor how your leads engage with your content so that you can tailor your messaging and content even further. Lead nurturing requires different conversations and engagements with prospects during various stages of their buying journey.


Phase 1: Awareness

Leads are experiencing a problem or issue and have decided they need to take action. During this phase, prospects will likely search for general information about their problem or need. Your goal is twofold: first, to capture attention and engage with those prospects; second, to educate them on the potential solutions available. 

Content during this phase should be easy to understand, helpful, and informative. Consider:

  • Industry-specific blogs
  • Free whitepapers
  • Discovery calls
  • Free guides and tip sheets


Phase 2: Consideration

Leads have defined their needs and are actively researching solutions. Interactions will become more focused and value-driven at this stage. Leads want specific content and messaging that speaks directly to their needs, and they're looking for proof and evidence.

Content during this phase should be more in-depth and include the following:

  • Case studies
  • Product demos and specification sheets
  • Competitor comparisons
  • Technical articles
  • Webinars


Phase 3: Decision 

Leads have identified potential solutions and are now weighing up their options. Their list of options becomes shorter and shorter as they eliminate those that don't offer the required solution. 

Content during this phase should focus on proving your product's or solution's viability. Consider:

  • Face-to-face meetings
  • Free trials and samples
  • Discounts and special offers
  • Product comparisons and reviews
  • ROI calculators


Lead scoring

Now that we've discussed the different stages of lead nurturing, let's talk about lead scoring. 

Lead scoring is integral to a successful B2B lead nurturing program since it allows you to prioritize leads and identify those most likely to convert into customers. Lead scoring helps you determine which prospects represent the highest value and should be focused on first. 

There are two categories of lead scoring:

  • Explicit lead scoring - This type of scoring is based on data points such as demographics, firmographics, job titles, and more.
  • Implicit lead scoring - This type of scoring is based on activities such as website visits, downloads, emails opened, and other engagements. 

The combination of explicit and implicit lead scoring will give you a holistic view of your leads, allowing you to target them better with the right content.

Start by putting each lead into a separate category.

  • Category A for warm/high-quality leads - the prospects that have been through a lead nurture journey and are highly interested in purchasing from you.
  • Category B for warm/medium quality leads - the prospects that have expressed an interest by following your social media account or subscribing to a weekly email newsletter.
  • Category C for cold/low-quality leads - these customers have not shown any interest in your products or services.

Then assign each lead a score between 0-100% depending on the following:

  • Buyer persona or information 
  • Response to messaging 
  • Ability to purchase; are they the decision maker? 
  • Readiness to buy
  • Interest in your product/services

Or use a point-based system. For example, opening email scores +5 points, and booking a demo scores +20 points.

Once you've scored or ranked each lead, you can see which leads are close to buying and which require more nurturing.

Send the highest-scoring leads straight to your sales teams to convert, and assign the lower scorers to a fresh lead nurturing or content campaign to increase their level of interest. In both cases, sales and marketing resources are directed to where they will impact lead nurturing most.

To read more about lead scoring, check out our lead scoring playbook here.


Lead nurturing content and distribution

Lead nurturing content is critical to any successful lead generation or conversion process. You can create relationships and trust with potential customers by providing quality content that speaks to each stage of the buyer's journey. This will help ensure that leads are more likely to move through the funnel faster and convert into paying customers. 

When it comes to content distribution, there are several channels you can use:

  • Email - Sending personalized emails to each lead is one of the most effective ways to nurture them. This could be in the form of newsletters, ebooks, or any other content that will educate and inform them about your product or service. 
  • Social media - Using social media to engage with leads, share content, and gain further insight into their interests and needs. 
  • Blog posts - Blogging is a great way to provide helpful information, showcase your expertise, and give leads an easy way to learn more about you. 
  • Webinars - Webinars are an excellent platform for lead nurturing since they provide a more interactive experience. 

As the sales cycle progresses, so must the detail of your content and messaging. During the early stages of the buyer journey, expose your leads to thought leadership content and industry-specific blogs to establish authority and expertise.

Then focus on guides and product service content that outline your solutions to specific B2B queries and pain points, followed by social proof content (case studies, reviews, testimonials) to nurture leads toward an easy purchasing decision.


Lead nurturing personalization

Personalization can be a differentiator for your marketing efforts. In most cases, it is also a minimum expectation for buyers these days. Here are some statistical impacts of personalization in email lead nurturing. 

  • 60% higher open rates 
  • 15% more clicks 
  • 50% more conversions 

Your goal should be understanding the buyer and customer journey and providing content tailored to their interests, needs, and requirements. 


What's an example of personalized communication?

One example of personalized communication could be an automated email with a tailored offer for your lead. For example, suppose you know that a potential customer is interested in learning more about a specific product feature. In that case, you could craft an email outlining the advantages of that feature and provide them with further information or resources to help them make their decision. 

Data and captured lead information are critical components for this to be successful. With the right data and understanding of your leads, you'll be able to write messages tailored to their individual needs and interests, helping them in their journey toward conversion. 


How do you collect the data?

The best way to collect data on your leads is through a variety of sources, such as web forms, surveys, or even website interaction. Collecting and analyzing this data allows you to gain insight into who your customers are and what they need to make an informed decision. 

This process can be supported and expedited by data from a data provider. A top data provider will offer insights into potential leads/customers, providing demographic data, job titles, company size, and even buyer intent data. 


Lead nurturing automation

Automation helps streamline the lead nurturing process, allowing you to reach more leads at scale, and enabling you to create personalized content for each lead in your funnel. Automation also allows you to create targeted campaigns based on the data collected from your leads, so that each email is tailored to their interests and requirements. To ensure your automation is successful, set up triggers for when emails should be sent out and when automated messages will be most effective. For example, if a lead downloads a specific piece of content, you could set up an email to be sent out with more relevant information on that topic. 

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of what to set up.


Step 1: Select your email triggers

Triggers activate automated email messaging campaigns. Potential triggers are when a prospect or lead:

  • Gets a tag
  • Is added to a list
  • Submits a form on your website
  • Clicks a link in an email or on a webpage

Use triggers to kick off...

  • Onboarding email sequences
  • Customer support follow-ups
  • Email autoresponders, etc.

Triggered emails increase open email rates because the emails and messages are appropriate to what the leads are expecting to receive.


Step 2: Set up your autoresponder emails

Autoresponder emails are automated messages sent to leads based on pre-defined criteria, such as when they're added to a list or take action. Autoresponders can be used for onboarding, customer support follow-up emails, product launch announcements, etc. Other autoresponders include:

  • Joining your contact list
  • Filling in a specific contact form
  • Opting in for a lead magnet
  • Buying a product

Here's an example email template for your autoresponder:


Hi {first name},

Thank you for joining our contact list. 

We are excited to send you sector and event information. We look forward to having you as part of our community. 

If you would like to get up to date with our latest content, our whitepaper on {topic} is a great place to start. 

Thanks again,

{Your name}


Step 3: Set up a drip campaign

Drip campaigns are automated sequences of emails that provide information to leads at different stages of their buyer journey. Drip campaigns can be used to nurture leads and drive conversion, build relationships with your customers, and offer helpful resources for new subscribers.

To set up a drip campaign, you'll need to create a sequence of emails that includes content relevant to each stage of the buyer's journey. For example, you may have an introductory email that welcomes new subscribers and then follow up with more detailed emails on topics such as product features, company updates, and customer success stories.

Once your drip campaign is set up, leads will receive the series of emails in the sequence, providing them with a more personalized journey which might look something like this:

  1. A new lead signs up for a newsletter; receives an instant welcome email.
  2. (Two-day pause)
  3. A follow-up email arrives with links to your best/latest content and blogs.
  4. (Five-day pause)
  5. A third email lands with more personalized content that really starts to nurture the lead toward a purchase. The email could contain references to recent actions taken, such as signing up for a webinar, downloading a case study, reading blog content, or an eBook. 


Step 4: Use accelerator campaigns

Accelerator campaigns are automated emails that accelerate the sales process, often sent to leads who have already expressed an interest in your product.

These emails typically contain links to more detailed resources, such as pricing pages and demos or call-to-action buttons for scheduling a discovery call or booking an appointment with a sales rep.

When setting up an accelerator campaign, it's essential to ensure you provide leads with resources that will help them make an informed decision. This could include videos, case studies, whitepapers, and webinars that give more insight into the product or service. Accelerator campaigns could also include sales promotions, discounts, or special offers that help move the lead further down the sales funnel.


Step 5: Utilize resend automation

Resend automation is a great way to ensure that any leads who may have missed your original email can still receive it. By setting up automated resends in your automation software, you can increase your emails' open and click-through rates by sending them out again to contacts who haven't opened them. This allows you to reach more prospects and increase conversions.

When setting up resend automation, ensure that you are sending the emails at the right time and with appropriate changes in subject lines or content so that prospects don't think they are receiving a duplicate email. Also, be sure to adjust the frequency of your resends depending on how engaged the contacts are. 


Step 6: Recycle and manage cold leads

Cold leads are contacts that have not responded or taken any action on your emails. To ensure you're still engaging with these contacts, consider setting up an automated campaign to recycle cold leads. This type of campaign can be used to re-engage leads who haven't interacted with your content in a while by sending out emails with new releases, resources, or special offers.

You can also use lead scoring to identify cold leads and segment them into lists so you can manage them more effectively. This will help you prioritize sales and marketing activity to focus your efforts on the contacts most likely to convert. 

Here's an example of an email to re-engage cold leads:


Hi {first name},

Our latest release is a gamechanger! That's right; we have released the most requested feature on our backlog. Read more about it here.

We know you haven't been in touch lately, so we wanted to remind you of the value our product can bring. Check out these recent customer success stories and see how we have helped our clients {impact}.

If there's anything I can help you with, let me know.

Thanks again,

{Your name}


Optimizing your lead nurturing campaign

The primary goal of a lead nurturing strategy is to convert as many target customers as possible, guiding them along the buyer's journey with the proper messaging. To make this happen, you need lead nurturing processes to be efficient and cost-effective.

Testing and adjusting your lead nurturing workflow strategies is essential to maximize campaigns for optimal success. Ongoing tracking, monitoring, and analysis will provide the data you need to know:

  • The right time to target leads at each stage of the sale process
  • What lead nurture workflow works best for your overall B2B marketing strategies 
  • What content, messages, outreach, and promotions work well, which need improving, and which need scrapping altogether

You'll need to track several significant lead nurturing KPIs, including:


Cost of customer acquisition (CAC)

This is a vital lead metric when measuring lead nurturing efficiency.

The goal is to get CAC to be as low as possible without impacting the quality of the leads.  

The formula to work out CAC is as follows: 

Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC) = marketing spend / number of new customers from that campaign.


Cost per lead (CPL)

CPL is a crucial lead generation KPI for paid advertising campaigns. Use the cost-per-lead metric to identify your best lead source channels and see how your search and social targeting are performing. Work out cost per lead by dividing marketing spend by the number of new leads.


Email marketing performance

Measuring your email marketing KPIs is essential to running an optimal lead nurturing campaign. There are several metrics to keep a close eye on:

  • Open rate; the number of times someone has opened your email
  • Click-through rate; how many leads clicked on links
  • The speed at which your subscriber list is growing or shrinking 
  • The number of times your email has been forwarded
  • Unsubscribe rates; how many leads you're losing

These lead nurturing KPIs are easily measured via analytics software or marketing automation tools. 


Conversion rate

The formula for working out conversion rate is as follows: 

Conversion rate = number of sales for a set period/leads generated over the same time period. 

Low conversion rates are giant red flags for B2B sales. 

Problems with conversion rate might stem from a broken link, targeting the wrong customers (i.e., non-decision makers,) or messages that don't match each stage of the sales funnel.


Customer retention

Determine your customer retention rate (CRR) by subtracting the number of new customers from the number of final customers divided by the number of initial customers. Then multiply by 100. 

That looks like this:



CRR = [(end customers - new customers) / initial customers] x 100.


Other retention metrics to measure are:

  • Churn rate
  • Average retention value
  • Net promoter score


How we can help

At Qualifi, we specialize in leads. Our Qualifi Precision platform comes with a content-centric lead generation program that delivers high-quality leads directly into your CRM. 

We also provide best practices, guidance, and support. Our team of in-house digital marketing experts not only deliver leads, but work with you to nurture them. 

If you'd like to learn more about how we can help with optimizing your pipeline, get in touch.