Lead Nurturing Best PracticesYour Inbound Marketing efforts are starting to convert leads and even identify a few hot hand-raisers. Great!

Now what?

According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-qualified leads at nearly 1/3 lower cost per lead. But, nurturing requires patience. Not every lead that converts on your content will be immediately ready to commit to a purchase. In fact, SiriusDecisions reports that since 2008, companies have increased their buying consideration cycle on average 22% and have at least three decision makers involved in the process. SiriusDecisions goes on to say that 80% of discarded leads actually go on to make a purchase within 24 months.

So, how do you build a nurturing calendar that’s right for your organization – and more importantly, right for your prospects? Nurturing leads into loyal customers is as much art as science, but there are a few best practices that should guide your efforts.

Evaluate who’s converting and identify topic buckets – Look at the leads you’ve generated. What topics have they expressed interest in? Based on your review, structure the content flow and expanded topic content based on what leads are telling you.

Determine the right communication frequency – How quickly and how often should high-scoring leads be touched versus low-scoring leads that may not result in anything for a long time, if ever? Chances are, high-scoring leads want to keep the process moving and are hungry for information. Talk to your sales team – the feet on the street often have fantastic insights regarding what leads need to hear and when they’re likely to be most receptive.

Identify the appropriate number of touches – According to Marketing Sherpa, 85% of tech buyers said they need to be exposed to at least three pieces of content before engaging with a solution provider. The number of touches tends to increase as you climb the ladder – the C-Suite can require up to 11 touches before a deal closes. Again, your sales team can be a valuable asset in determining the flow.

Plan your funnel progression behavior – Plot the number of touches in each stage of the funnel based on lead behavior and identify areas where personal interaction is warranted. A prospect who’s simply visited your site but hasn’t converted on advanced content may be completely turned off by a direct call, but a lead who’s shown a high-level of interest in your content may be just waiting for contact and wonder what’s taking you so long!

Analyze results – Refine your nurturing based on your leads’ behaviors and customer acquisitions. Conversion rates and close ratios will give you clear indications where new content is necessary, when timing should be changed or when your outreach needs to be tweaked.

Resist the urge to purge – Remember that 80% number mentioned earlier? Don’t be in a rush to eliminate non-responders. Segment your lead lists by lead score and responsiveness. Maybe these slow-pokes need to hear from you in six months to get them back on track.

Our Essentials of Lead Nurturing Tipsheet has more ideas to help you craft a nurturing program to guide prospects down the funnel and turn them into loyal customers.