I am going to tackle the age-old question, “what is lead nurturing?”, but first, a story about what lead nurturing is not.

The other day I was on a discovery call with a potential customer. It was a cold and rainy day with overcast skies in Atlanta. Maybe it was the weathers’ fault that I was a little grumpy that morning. At any rate, on this call, I asked, “what is it that you are hoping to accomplish with marketing automation software?” The response, “Oh we want to be able to send emails, do lead scoring and most of all, it’s really important to be able to do lead nurturing.” I figured since “lead nurturing” was the most important thing, I would start there, so I said, “tell me what you mean by lead nurturing.” To which the response made me facepalm.

Face Palm

The answer I got was, “We want to take our existing emails and send them overtime to our entire database.” Remember, it’s a cold rainy day with overcast skies. I responded, “that’s not lead nurturing.” There was a short pause and then I hear on the other end of the line, “what would you call it?” I said, “spamming your entire database.” Another short pause and then I heard laughter on the other end of the line. Not exactly what I was expecting but, I was glad it was not a dial tone at this point. Once the laughter stopped my potential customer said, “I suppose you’re right. I know this lead nurturing thing is important but I don’t really understand everything that it encompasses, which is why I am talking to you.” The conversation went very well from there.

So now that we know what lead nurturing is not, actually, let me recap for emphasis. Lead nurturing is not:

  • Blasting your entire database over time.
  • Talking all about your companies products and services.
  • Calling leads over a set period of time just “to check in.”
  • Sending out a newsletter every week.

Right, so what is Lead nurturing? Lead nurturing, as defined by Marketo, is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects and providing the information and answers they need.