Marketing Lexicon: Lead Nurturing

Today's B2B marketers are finding creative ways to deliver their marketing messaging to prospects as they progress along the long, complex B2B buying journey. Through full-funnel marketing, we deploy distinct strategies that help us find new audiences and build awareness of our products, and educate, engage, and convert them into new and returning customers. At the end of the day, marketers are looking for their investments to drive these audiences into their marketing automation systems -- allowing for targeted, programmatic communications to guide prospects closer to a sale. Here’s a quick look at what lead nurturing looks like today and other automation opportunities that are now emerging.

Lead nurturing today

Once anonymous visitors convert by submitting their personal contact information through your Web site or landing pages, the marketing automation system takes the helm and the lead nurturing process begins.



Lead nurturing is the process of systematically delivering your brand’s messaging and content offers to continue guiding prospects down the marketing funnel after they have converted and preparing them to buy.

Today’s now commonplace practice of segmenting contacts in the database based on demographics, Web site behavior, etc. means that marketers are able to make good bets on what kind of content to serve their contacts and when to serve it to them -- and help create a more relevant and engaging experience.

This process of lead nurturing today, however, has for the most part been siloed as a function of email marketing specifically, where lead nurturing = email nurturing. While a prospect’s submitting of contact information is certainly a milestone on the path to becoming a buyer, we lean heavily -- if not completely in some cases -- on email nurturing to do the rest of the heavy lifting and guide prospects toward the light at the end of the tunnel that is successful use of your product or service.

Seventy percent of people don’t open email (on a great day!), which tends to put a damper on one’s lead nurturing aspirations. But what if we could break away from our dependency on email as our sole nurturing vehicle?

Lead nurturing 2.0

A new crop of strategies have evolved that move beyond this dependency on email nurturing to drive known prospects that you’ve captured in your house database down the funnel. In the same way that marketers using marketing automation are able to set up an email nurture campaign with a timed sequence of messages and content, they can use targeted display and social media advertising to operate in sync with the delivery of email -- putting your nurture messaging in front of prospects wherever they are online. You can also create custom nurture paths for anonymous contacts using display and social media advertising, which later synchronize with the email nurture paths you have developed once the anonymous contact is driven to convert and becomes known.

The marriage of email, display, and social media advertising extends marketers’ nurturing capabilities beyond the inbox, and creates an “always on” nurture strategy that compounds the receptivity and effectiveness of your marketing messages. You spend way too much time, energy, and dollars driving the right audiences to your Web site and landing pages to confine your reach to only known prospects within their inboxes. We have now turned the page to a new chapter in lead nurturing, where the other programs in your marketing mix can join hands with email to jointly nurture prospects toward the sale.

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