How to Develop a Lead Nurturing Program

How to Develop a Lead Nurturing Program That Truly Drives Engagement

by Liam Moroney

5 minute read

Lead nurturing is a vital element of the marketing strategy, but for it to be truly effective it must be built on a foundation of great content that drives engagement.

Here at NewsCred, we took a close look at our own lead nurturing streams and came away with some valuable insights into how to effectively leverage your content marketing and bring leads farther down the funnel.

What is Lead Nurturing, anyway?

Just to take a step back, let’s look at exactly why you should be engaging in lead nurturing. There are effectively two main purposes:

1.   Building relationships with potential customers.

Buyers don’t become buyers overnight. More than ever prospects are choosing to self-educate, no matter how complex the offering, and you need to establish trust before they’re ready to sit down to a meeting with you.

lead generation


2.   Being there when they’re ready to talk. 

Your prospects may not be ready to buy from you today, but one day they will. A compelling and engaging lead nurturing program will ensure that you remain top-of-mind with your audience so that when the day comes and they’re ready to buy, you’ll be there to answer the call.

lead nurture strategy

Now that we’ve covered what lead nurturing does, we need to establish unique metrics for nurturing success.

How do you measure lead nurturing success?

One of the hardest parts of developing a lead nurturing stream is determining if it’s actually working. Ultimately the goal is to turn a lead into a customer, but there are a number of metrics that you can rely on to determine if it’s bringing them down the right path:

1.   Engagement Rate

It’s not going to surprise you that the open rate of an email is a strong factor in determining its success, but it’s not the most telling metric for lead nurturing. What we really want to know is what the engagement rate was, and we can measure this with the Click Through Rate (CTR).

Click through rate is a calculation of how many people who opened your email actually clicked on a link. A strong open rate may tell you that you nailed the subject line, but CTR determines whether the content you’re sharing was worth their time.

2.   More Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) in the pipeline

Depending on how you score your leads, you may have criteria in place to make sure leads don’t reach sales until they have displayed some key behavioral indicators. This is often based on activity, which is where your lead nurturing plays a critical role.

More engaging content means that your nurtured leads will increase their behavioral score and drive themselves to a point where they are qualified to talk to a salesperson quicker.

3.   More Form Fills. 

Form fills are a strong indicator of sales readiness, and your lead nurturing can play a crucial role in increasing these. By using unique UTM parameters on your URLs, you’ll be able to see how many form fills are driven directly by your lead nurturing efforts.

Ultimately though, your lead nurturing success will be measured by revenue, and the metrics above will help drive more leads down the funnel and into the sales pipeline.

Content + the commitment factor

Having great content is a key element to a successful lead nurturing campaign, but how you present that content is what will separate a good nurturing stream from a great one. When we looked at the metrics of our own lead nurturing program, we found a very important trend: the commitment level of your content can be a huge determining factor for engagement.

lead nurturing

What do I mean by commitment? Simply put, how much commitment is required by the reader to consume the content that you are sharing?

Many marketers will simply fill their nurturing stream with their best performing content but, while this is a great starting point, it doesn’t necessarily translate into high engagement. To understand why, think about how you would react in the same situation.

You have downloaded some interesting content, possibly a fascinating white paper you found through a sponsored email, and you suddenly start receiving emails from that company. Sometimes you open them at your desk, sometimes on the train, sometimes during a quick coffee break. The point is, you’re regularly in different mindsets for content consumption than you were when you downloaded that first white paper.

As a result, you may find that the subject matter in those nurturing emails is of interest, but the level of commitment required to consume it is too demanding. The solution?

Provide a variety of low-friction options

After looking at our own data, what we found was that the highest performing content pieces were those that could be consumed without high-commitment. As you’ll see from the graph below, easy consumables like PDFs, SlideShares, and Cheat Sheets performed much higher than high commitment pieces like guides and webinars.

lead nurturing

This isn’t to say that you should discard all your white papers and only focus on easy consumables, but you should make sure that your nurturing streams provide a variety of these options particularly for the early stages of the nurturing stream.

When you view it as a buyer journey, you’ll clearly see why. In the early stages, you’re vying for their interest along with a host of competitors so cutting through that noise is crucial. Once you’ve proved your worth with interesting content, you’ve opened the door for more in-depth pieces to showcase your knowledge and thought leadership.

Liam Moroney is Demand Generation Manager at NewsCred