7 Lead Nurturing Strategies for Modern Marketers

I remember reading Zig Ziglar on a couch in my sister’s house when I was 22 years old. The book opened my eyes to a new way of thinking and a new way of understanding relationships between people.

Ziglar, a sales trainer, was talking about how to use different techniques to close deals, based on the scenarios you were presented with. This concept made so much sense to me because it allowed me to know exactly what to do in any situation I was in. Since then, I’ve wanted to apply this same idea to lead nurturing by creating a chart that you can use in the same way. The chart will help you understand which type of nurturing program to use in any given scenario, and help you get the most out of any lead nurturing campaign.

The chart is broken down into two columns. The “Problem/Goal” is on the left. This column will help you identify the correct type of drip program, or a combination of the correct types of programs, to meet your goal. I’ll define the types of lead nurturing programs as well.

**This chart is based off many research studies, and other articles I’ve written. I’ve linked to each article and research study later in the column to make it easier for you to fully understand these concepts.**

Problem/Goal Type of Drip Program 
Cold Database  3-2-1 
Automate Lead Nurturing  Stage-Specific Drip 
Event Pre- and Post-Follow-Ups Event-Specific Drip 
Cold Marketing Lead Drip  3-2-1 
Cold Sales Lead Drip  Straight Drip 
Competitive Drip Straight Drip 
Lost Deal Drip  Straight Drip

The chart explained:

A cold database is a very specific scenario because of the type and amount of data you may have. Generally, when you have a cold database, you either have not marketed to it in a long time, have just acquired the list from a tradeshow, or are doing targeted list buys. When you get one of these lists, you usually only have demographic data, which makes it very hard to nurture a person based on “Stage-Based Lead Nurturing Theory,” since you do not know which stage they are in. Therefore, the first thing you’ll want to do when you have a cold set of data is to determine the stage of each person in your database. This is why I suggest the 3-2-1 lead nurturing strategy (read the full article on this strategy here). This will help you determine which stage a lead is in so that you can then move them into the correct stage-based nurturing campaign.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that one nurturing campaign is all they need to automate their lead generation efforts. They could not be more wrong. People want different content at each stage (you can read the research that proves this here), and they also want different messaging at each stage of their buying cycle. If you are talking to everyone with the same message using a single nurturing campaign, your efforts are far from advanced, or optimized. To get more value out of your efforts, you need to use a stage-based lead nurturing campaign. The stage-based nurturing theory is based off of research performed by salesforce.com, which concluded that there are three stages a buyer goes through while in marketing’s control before they are ready to talk to sales. Using the 3-2-1 technique will help you determine the stage they are in, and a stage-specific nurturing campaign will help you move them from stage to stage quicker and more efficiently than any other lead nurturing technique.

Events are a very special use case for lead nurturing. They are mainly set up to help take work off a marketer’s plate before and after an event. Usually, the nurturing campaigns are used to drive attendance and follow up with registrants once the event is over. This means the nurturing campaign will have a very specific set of emails to help drive people to the event, then a short window of follow up where your emails will still be relevant after the event. The pre-event emails should use many branches and automations to make sure you are following up correctly with the correct people. For example, you should make sure you market to those who have looked at an email more so than those who never have looked at an email. The post-event emails should be sent to anyone who registered, with only one or two emails following afterward. I suggest a max of three emails after an event, explicitly mentioning the event. You’ll be better off understanding the engagement from the event, then placing each lead on the correct stage-based nurturing program or moving everyone to a 3-2-1 campaign to determine their correct stage.

Cold marketing leads are another great use of lead nurturing campaigns. I suggest always having a nurturing campaign to deal with the leads you pass over to sales that go cold. Even though they have a high score, and may be sales-ready by your criteria, sometimes they just change their mind or end up being hard to get a hold of. The cold lead drip is a special scenario because the lead has already been passed over to sales, and depending on how your company deals with leads, may need to stay with this rep. You will notice these campaigns are executed via a straight-lined drip program. This means nothing fancy. The idea is to have emails appear as if they come directly from a sales rep. The main goal is to drive action so that sales has an excuse to reach back out. That is it!

The last three lead nurturing strategies are all for sales lead nurturing (read up more on these here). They are focused on specific scenarios where the leads have a rapport with a sales person and there is a need to stay in front of them over a longer period of time. The reason we are going to use nurturing in these cases is because even though we need to stay in front of them, the sales person still has a quota to carry, and needs to stay focused on the most sales-ready leads. Once again, this is why you see a straight-line nurturing program, because once a lead is in the sales person’s control, the majority of the effort should just be to help sales know when a personal touch is warranted. This is easiest for a sales person when they have context to talk about. The interaction with a piece of nurturing content from a nurturing campaign is just the excuse they need to reach back out.

By combining these techniques, you can take things to the next level. As I mentioned, some of these techniques can be combined for maximum value, such as the 3-2-1 technique and the stage-based nurturing program. These two often work together to help identify a person’s stage, and then nurture that person into a sales-ready state. This same lead may then be passed to sales and go cold, so it would then be in a cold-lead drip program, only to come back to life and go through a sales cycle. Then, if the lead failed to close, it could easily be put back on another drip to maintain the rapport that has been built over time. This is much more effective than a single drip program talking to everyone with the same message. If you are doing that, you are doing nothing more than automated spamming.

So if you want to take a few minutes to review your current nurturing programs, identify the problem you are trying to solve or the goal you are trying to accomplish, and then match it to this chart, you will easily see ways that you can improve your nurturing campaigns overnight.

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