How to  Nurture Leads to Ensure Startup Sales Success

Jacqueline Gualtieri

As fledgling ventures strive to build their presence and drive sales, cultivating potential customers through the process of lead generation is essential. But lead generation is just one piece of the puzzle. According to HubSpot’s 2024 Sales Trends Report, the average sales close rate is 29%, demonstrating that the majority of leads often don’t convert.

How can you better ensure sales success as a startup when you have a high-quality lead? The answer may just be lead nurturing. 

Understanding lead nurturing

Nurturing a lead is the process of building a relationship with them throughout every stage of the sales funnel. Through marketing and communication efforts, you maintain a connection with the potential buyer, keeping you top of mind. During your tactful and purposeful engagement strategy, you ensure that your lead is well-informed about your product and excited about you, your brand, and what you offer.

Why nurture leads?

Research shows that 63% of people requesting information about your company and products will not make a purchase for at least three months, with 20% taking more than a year to decide to buy. If you generate a lead but never follow up, you could be missing out on potential conversion opportunities. 

Many companies make this mistake, with research showing that businesses only follow up with 20% of leads. When you establish a lead nurturing strategy, you can get ahead of your competition and stand out from the crowd. 

Lead nurturing can result in a higher ROI, not only because it can lead to more sales but also because it can cost less than having to constantly chase new leads. Marketo’s research found that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. It’s no wonder why DemandGen Report found that lead nurturing programs result in a 20% increase in sales opportunities. 

How to nurture leads as a startup

  1. Segment your audience.

Lead nurturing shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all strategy. When you’re selling to people, you want to take a people-first approach, and people today not only want but expect personalization. According to McKinsey’s research, 71% of consumers expect companies to offer personalized interactions, with 76% saying that they’ll get frustrated if such an interaction doesn’t happen.

But before you can personalize your approach, you need to segment your audience to deliver the interactions each type of potential buyer is after. Group your audience by specific demographics, including their personal characteristics, geographic location, and other information that may affect their likelihood of purchasing. From there, use the groups to create customer profiles that can inform how you interact with each potential buyer.

  1. Develop a lead scoring system.

There’s a common belief in the sales world called the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 principle. As it applies to sales, the principle states that 80% of a company’s revenue comes from 20% of its customers. Nurturing every lead might not be a possibility, especially as a startup with limited funds and staff. But according to the Pareto principle, you don’t have to.

When you develop a lead scoring system, you’ll be able to get a better idea of the leads you want to nurture—the leads most likely to contribute to that 80% of revenue. When implementing your lead scoring model, you’ll look at information like if their demographic data aligns with your customer profiles, if they’re showing signs of strong engagement, and if the information they’ve offered indicates that they may be spam.

  1. Personalize your email outreach.

Once you’ve segmented your audience and determined which leads are worth nurturing, you can begin creating those personalized interactions, with a great starting point being email marketing. According to researchers at Stanford University, personalized email campaigns result in higher open rates, more sales leads, and lower unsubscription rates. 

Email marketing has long been considered one of the most effective outbound lead generation and lead nurturing tactics. Provided you adhere to email rules and restrictions, like Gmail’s bulk sender guidelines, research shows that you can expect an average ROI of $36 for every $1 spent. Personalization can help you exceed the average and develop a competitive email marketing strategy. 

  1. Diversify touchpoints with content marketing.

Research suggests that it takes an average of eight touchpoints with a lead before they decide to make a purchase. But banking on just one type of touchpoint to make a sale can be a costly mistake. If you rely on just email marketing and they unsubscribe, you may lose contact. This issue can also arise if you’re focusing solely on social media marketing and they decide to unfollow you.

With content marketing, you can create a more diverse array of touchpoints with potential customers. Content marketing can include blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos, podcasts, and more, giving you a variety of opportunities to connect with your audience. 

Finding startup success with lead nurturing

In the startup phases, you need to be strategic with the way you connect with leads, doing what you can within your budget and limited time. Through audience segmentation and lead scoring, you can ensure that you’re spending your resources wisely and nurturing leads that are most likely to convert. 

From there, personalization is a critical way to show your leads why they should be interested in you, with email marketing being a perfect place to test your personalization strategy. And with the integration of content marketing, you can make your content work for you, nurturing leads through the creation of additional touchpoints. 

Lead nurturing is a practice that many companies too often ignore, but when you utilize it right, it just might be the key to startup success.

Bio: Jacqueline Gualtieri is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Insider, and The Slowdown. In addition to writing, she works as a digital media consultant and content marketer, driving online traffic for her clients. She’s always looking to advance her skillset and believes strongly in the early adoption of new technology.

Written by
May 16, 2024
Written by
Jacqueline Gualtieri
May 16, 2024