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According to HubSpot’s 2014 State of Inbound Marketing report, lead generation tops the list of marketing priorities.

But would you like to know what comes in a close second?

Converting those leads into customers!

Gleanster tells us that 50% of our marketing leads are qualified, but not ready to buy. They need to be educated further and moved along the buyer’s journey with appropriate content delivered to them at the right time. This is achieved by putting a strategic lead nurturing programme in place. By effectively nurturing leads, you are able to deliver more warm leads to sales, ready to engage in sales conversations.

Let’s take a look at some statistics that outline the importance of why you need a lead nurturing programme, how to roll one out and what results you can expect if executed well.

Why You Need a Lead Nurturing Programme

  • Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. (Source: Gleanster)
  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the most common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Buyers can be as much as 90% of the way through the buying process before they reach out to a salesperson. This change to the buyer’s journey has made nurturing even more important. (Source: VentureBeat)
  • On average, a lead requires 10 marketing-driven “touches” to convert from the top of the funnel into a paying customer. (Source: Aberdeen Group)
  • 80% of sales are made on the 5th-12th contact. (Source: Sellingly)

With the buyer’s journey more complex than ever before, and buyers taking it upon themselves to determine potential solutions with extensive online research, lead nurturing becomes critical in delivering information that will help them towards a buying decision.

How to Roll Out an Effective Lead Nurturing Programme

  • 34% of B2B organisationstouch leads with lead nurturing on a monthly basis. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • 22% of B2B organisations touch leads with lead nurturing on a weekly basis. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%. (Source: Aberdeen Group)
  • Lead nurturing emails get between 4 and 10 times the response rate of email blasts. (Source: DemandGen Report)
  • Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. (Source: Juniper Research)
  • 82% of prospects agree that content for lead nurturing, targeted to their specific industry, is more valuable. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects see a 451% increase in qualified leads. (Source: Annuitas)

Marketing automation software enables marketers to effectively nurture leads by sending scheduled email campaigns to their leads, based on certain criteria. As you gather deeper lead intelligence you can streamline your offers to provide the right information for their specific needs, industry and stage in the buyer’s journey. This targeted and personalised approach ensures that your lead nurturing efforts translate into sales-ready leads who have built a relationship with your business over the course of their buyer’s journey, developing trust in your solutions and therefore far more likely to equate into revenue for the business.

What Results You Can Expect from Lead Nurturing

  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • 46% of marketers with mature lead management processes have sales teams that follow up on more than 75% of marketing-generated leads. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • After lead nurturing, on average, 15% to 20% of the “not yet ready to purchase” leads converted into revenue producing sales. (Source: Gleanster)
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source: Annuitas)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing have 9% more sales reps making quota. (Source: CSO Insights)

So while your primary focus may be on filling up the top of your marketing funnel, don't forget to look after those folks who have already converted as leads and need nurturing along the buyer's journey. After all, as we've seen from the stats above, there are definite and tangible benefits in doing so. Sales follow up more regularly and achieve quotas, while lead costs come down and generate more revenue.

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Featured image is altered. Photo credit: reynermedia via photopin cc

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