Lead Nurturing Explained: 3 Tips to Increase Qualified Leads

So, you’ve responded to the hype.  You’ve added a few compelling offers to your web site.  Leads are starting to come in.  Question is, are they qualified leads?  Or are they simply a waste of your sales team’s time?  The quickest way to diminish sales respect for marketing is to send them a ton of unqualified leads.  This article helps you determine which leads should be passed on to sales and which should be nurtured for a while.

This article was originally published by Andrew Pitre on the HubSpot Inbound Internet Marketing Blog.

“Lead Nurturing” sometimes goes by other names: marketing automation, drip marketing, auto-responders, etc. Simply put, lead nurturing is a system that allows you to send an automated series of emails to early-stage leads in order to pre-qualify them before handing them over to your sales team.

As a marketer, you definitely want to capture as much lead information for as many people on your site as you can, but not everyone is ready to talk to sales. Follow these three steps to create a lead nurturing campaign that will help send early-stage leads further down the funnel and give your sales team more qualified leads.

Step 1: Define What Makes Someone Sales-Ready

Getting leads is awesome – but not all leads are at the point where they can be considered sales-ready. Depending on whose research you read, only 5% – 25% of the traffic on your site is actually ready to do businesses with you at that moment, the rest are doing research.

Before you set the goal of your lead nurturing campaign, you should decide what actions make a lead sales-ready. For example, if someone downloads a white paper, they could just be doing research and may not be ready to speak with a sales rep.  In that case, send them another email (i.e. promoting a demo) as part of your lead nurturing campaign.  If that person comes back and requests a demo, that’s a much better indication that they are ready to buy.  Consider them a qualified lead, and send them to a sales rep.

Step 2: Create Relevant Introductory and Late-Stage Offers

Now that you’ve decided what makes a lead sales-ready, you can create multiple offers on your website and categorize them as as either introductory offers or late-stage offers.

An introductory offer is one that is widely applicable and has a high lead conversion rate, but probably doesn’t imply that someone is sales-ready.

A late-stage offer is one that will probably generate less interest, but indicates that someone is further down the sales funnel and ready to talk to sales.

In HubSpot’s case, our “Inbound Marketing Kit” is an outstanding early stage offer; it has great value for our visitors, it has a killer visit-to-lead conversion rate, and it indicates that a prospect is interested in what we have to offer. This is a great tool to convert early-stage leads but not a strong sales-readiness indicator.  HubSpot’s “Free Trial Offer”, however, is an ideal late-stage offer.  If a prospect takes the time to sign up for and test the software, they are definitely sales-ready.

Step 3: Use Lead Nurturing Emails with  Strong Call-to-Actions to Separate Early-Stage Leads from Sales-Ready Leads

Using a lead nurturing campaign, you can send a series of automated emails to leads who have responded to your introductory offer . Each of these emails will contain useful, related content that these leads can use and also includes calls to action that drive them to a later stage offer, like requesting a demo, or starting a free trial.

Once an introductory lead responds to a late-stage offer, like requesting a demo, you can send them to a sales team member knowing they are likely ready to speak with one.

Using lead nurturing effectively will allow your organization to spend more time with a smaller group of leads who have a significantly higher chance of converting to customers.

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