Close More Sales: Buyer Journeys and Lead Nurturing

By Kurt Buttress - November 20, 2017

Nearly 80% of marketing generated leads don't end up closing as sales. (Source: MarketingSherpa) It's shocking, but true. All your marketing efforts that went into generating those leads have a good chance of amounting to nothing. Why? Simply put, a lack of proper lead nurturing. 

Without good, solid nurturing your leads are left feeling less than convinced about your product or service, and not ready to make the commitment to buy. Which naturally is one of the main purposes why marketers exist in the first place. Fortunately, it's never too late to make the change to better lead nurturing, and to see those sales numbers rise. Before addressing how to nurture leads, let's first break down what exactly lead nurturing is. 

What is Lead Nurturing Anyway?  

Nurturing leads means guiding your leads along their respective buyer's journeys, closer to a point where they're willing to 'sign that dotted line' to purchase. Each buyer's journey is unique, and as marketers our job is to provide our leads with relevant content that educates, informs and guides them as they search for solutions to meet their specific needs.  

Depending on how far they are in buyer's journey, leads need different content. The goal is to make sure they receive the right content, at the right time. One of the best ways to do so is via email marketing. 

Lead Nurturing Starts with Great Content 

Email marketing is a powerful tool, in your arsenal of lead nurturing tools. It is great for moving leads along the sales funnel, but in order to succeed, it must be based on great content. It's these valuable content offers that draw a lead to volunteer their information in return for your content after all.  

Each lead you attempt to nurture will fall into one of three buyer stages at any given time during the nurturing process. Nurturing a lead in one stage requires different content to one in another stage, so it's important to tailor your nurturing to each stage of the buyer's journey. With that said, nothing can ever really start without a solid foundation, plan or map. So how do you go about setting up a content map to design your lead nurturing around?


As individuals, we're all unique - we have our own quirks and preferences that define us. This makes creating one-size fits all content a terrible idea (at least if you're hoping to keep generating and nurturing solid leads). Your content needs to reflect the diversity of your buyer persona profiles, and their buyer journeys - but achieving this can be tricky if you don't have a guide to keep you from missing the mark.

There's a common misconception that creative and brilliant content occurs like a thunderbolt from the blue - you're just sitting down at your desk when suddenly creativity and genius zaps you and you create phenomenal content. Well, it doesn't work this way. The best content creators know and understand the value of planning, planning and then some more planning. Which is where content mapping comes in.

A content map outlines your plan of action for your content creation based on the lifecycle of your specific buyer persona. In other words, you're going to want to map out your content for each persona based on the lifecycle stages of awareness, consideration and decision for this lead nurturing campaign.


Can you honestly say you've been delivering the right content, to the right person at precisely the right time in your content marketing? Chances are fairly good that like most of us, you've got room for improvement in this area. So take the time to give your current content a once over. Assess whether or not it can continue being used, be repurposed, or needs to head for the stale heap.


The next step is taking your content and mapping it to the stages of awareness, consideration and decision for each of your buyer personas - essentially into ToFU, MoFu and BoFu offers and content. You'll find gaps in your map initially, which lets you know the areas you'll need to focus on creating content for first.

Remember that each persona is unique, so you may notice a wealth of content that meets the needs of one, but realise you've got very little in the way of content that addresses another. The whole purpose of content mapping is to see these imbalances corrected and to help you plan and launch effective campaigns going forward.


As mentioned above, once you've completed your content map, you'll start to spot both gaps and opportunities in your content marketing strategy - lead nurturing campaigns you can get out the gate pronto, and others which may need some work before you can see fruit from them.

Create a scheduling and prioritisation system for lining up these efforts in the order they need to take place, and start launching your campaigns, optimising your pages and creating content that speaks to your individual buyer personas in message and format.

By breaking down your content strategy into a clearly defined map, you're highlighting areas where you can nurture leads with greater efficiency and efficacy. So take the time to create your very own content map, and then start boosting your campaigns with exceptional lead nurturing emails.

Wait, wait, wait ... it seems I jumped the gun again, almost forgetting to mention an important process in lead nurturing best practices, structuring your campaign around the buyer's journey. This helps to inform every piece of content you create and personalise your approach to lead nurturing based on where each individual is in their journey. 

Using the Buyer's Journey to Build a Strong Lead Nurturing Campaign

The buyer's journey has three stages, each defining the position of the lead and their immediate concerns and needs.  

Awareness Stage 

In the awareness stage, your leads have expressed and realised the existence of a potential opportunity or problem in their situations. These guys aren't looking for a sales pitch, but rather information that will help them come to grips with their problem or opportunity. Emails that offer educational content such as eBooks, guides or whitepapers work well to give your them a deeper understanding of their challenge or opportunity.  

Consideration Stage 

When leads move to the consideration stage, they've acknowledged their problem or opportunity, feel comfortable that they understand enough about it to start researching possible approaches or methods for dealing with their situation. In terms of your lead nurturing campaign, now would be the time to offer them comparison whitepapers, expert guides, podcasts or videos revealing how they can solve their issue or harness the opportunity.  

Decision Stage 

By the time they reach this stage, leads will have defined their solution or strategy, and they're looking for information or research to help them make a final decision. They're sure of the solution they want, and they're entering the final stages before deciding who to buy from. This is the time that you can get meaty in terms of your product or solution. Emails offering case studies, product literature, demos or a free trial are used to convince your lead that you're the best choice they can make.  

HubSpot makes lead nurturing a breeze with workflows. You're able to pre-plan the sequence for content delivery based on an initial action, and state the time delay between each. A workflow may look something like this:  

  • Lead downloads eBook A and is added to my workflow  
  • 3 days later they receive an email offer for guide B and they download it  
  • 3 days on they receive an email offer for comparative whitepaper C and they download it  
  • 2 days later they get an email for case study D and they download it  
  • 2 days on they receive an email with an offer for a demonstration and they accept  

Considering the fact that my lead has moved through each stage of the buyers journey (as indicated by the fact he has downloaded or accepted my offers in sequence) I am now able to hand this lead over to sales to 'seal the deal'. I am confident that he has exhibited sufficient buyer intent to be considered a good quality lead by sales.  

With lead nurturing best practices covered off, let's take a look at what lead nurturing workflows look like in the handy HubSpot portal.  



A lead nurturing workflow comprises a number of emails that are automated to go out sequentially. Before you can add these to your workflow you need to create the emails. Consider the offers that you will be presenting, draft some compelling copy, pop an image in your body and make sure your subject line is awesome.

Once your emails are bedded down, be sure to select ‘send email with automated workflows’ in the sending tab. This will allow us to add this email to our workflow.


Hop on over to the Workflows tool (which can be found under Contacts on the top navigation bar).

Click on the ‘create new workflow’ button.

Give your workflow a name.


Select your workflow type. There are three to choose from:

  • Standard – Triggered by contact’s time of enrollment, such as joining a smart list or completing a particular form.
  • Fixed Date - Select this option to have tasks execute based on an actual calendar date, like a webinar or a conference.
  • Property-based - You can automate tasks to execute around a particular date property, like a customer's birthday or a trial expiration date.

For our lead nurturing purposes, ‘standard’ is the best option as we are sending to leads that have completed a form.


A starting condition is the action that a user takes in order to be enrolled in the workflow and start receiving your lead nurturing emails. You can choose between a smart list or a form submission.


Select the smart list option (provided you have set up a smart list to keep track of all leads completing a certain action). You also have an option to enroll the list’s existing contacts if needs be. It’s as simple as checking the box.

Another optional setting is the ability to unenroll contacts when they meet a certain goal and are added to that goal list. This is helpful to unenroll leads that are closed as customers.

You are able to select multiple starting conditions for a workflow. Use the little green plus sign on the right to add another starting condition if you would like.


The first workflow step will already be there, so simply key in how much time you want to pass between the starting condition (in our case enrolled in our smart list) and when they receive the first email. For auto-responder emails, you would leave this to 0 days etc. as it would be an immediate send, but for our lead nurturing campaign we are going to set it at 2 days. That gives our leads sufficient time to digest the initial content. The point is to be top of mind so we don’t want to wait too long either.

Now we click on ‘add one now’ to add our action.

There are lots of options here but we’re going to be sending an email so go ahead and select ‘send an email’ and then choose the applicable email from the automaton workflow emails drop down list. (Note: You can also use the Create Email option here where it will open a new blank email for you to edit.)

As our workflow is specifically for lead nurturing, a single email may not be sufficient to move your leads along that buying cycle. An effective lead nurturing workflow will have at least 3 steps.

Go on and add your additional emails by adding a step with the plus button.


The panel on the left hand side will update showing you a summary of your workflow.


Almost there. Click on ‘save workflow’.


Click on ‘workflow settings’ to adjust the settings. This panel contains quite a few options.


Workflow settings look at:

  • Can the same contact enroll in this workflow more than once? If you’d like your leads to only receive this set of emails once, leave it set to No.
  • Execute steps on business days only? Some emails may not be ideal for weekends. Selecting Yes will make sure that the lead only receives emails on work days.
  • Execute steps only within a certain time range? This makes sense for time-sensitive offers such as holiday deal.

Suppressions and Priorities deals with:

  • When contacts enroll in this workflow, remove them from all, none or specific workflows.
  • When a contact leaves the starting list you have a choice to either unenroll them from the workflow or leave them to receive mailings.
  • Suppression lists will override any of the starting options and ensure that people on other are not enrolled in this workflow.


  1. Ready to rock ‘n roll! Click ‘edit workflow’ to return to the main screen.
  2. Now click on the ‘workflow is not live’ dropdown and select ‘activate workflow’.
  3. Awesome job – your workflow is now live and your selected leads will start receiving your emails in due course.

The Value of Good lead nurturing

The importance of a great lead nurturing strategy cannot be overstated. It will add significant value to both your leads, in terms of receiving information in a timely manner, and your business in generating 'warmer' leads for the sales team. The leads are naturally more likely to close as a customer, and result in good revenue and the possibility of a high quality referral.

If you find you're generating a fair amount of leads but most of those land up stale, perhaps it's time to look into lead nurturing to ramp up those numbers. Follow all the steps above when working within HubSpot to easily get your lead nurturing set up. Learn more about how to transform your sales and marketing team, and boost your numbers in our handy eBook on Getting to Grips with Marketing and Sales. 

Getting to Grips With Marketing and Sales - Digital Transformation