How To Start Lead Nurturing With Marketing Automation

lead nurturing

Even if your most recent marketing campaign has generated interest among your target consumers, this is not what really matters. Sales matter. 

You might see a huge spike in web traffic, mailing list subscribers, and your social media following. But nothing else.

The question is: Are your contacts going with the flow, or are they just sitting idly in your marketing database?

If you don’t have any automated email workflows set up, you’re missing out on some major opportunities to turn your lead into customers.

That’s where lead nurturing comes in.

Remember,  just because a lead downloaded something from your website or subscribed to your newsletter doesn’t mean they’re ready to make a purchase decision. In fact, most of your leads lie in the top or middle of the sales funnel. Nurturing is how you can stay connected to the leads you collect and build up trust until they are ready to buy. 

Using automated lead nurture ensures all leads get quick responses and are sent the right content for them, at the right time. The best part is that they operate on their own, while you focus on higher-value work. 

Email automation can not only help you convert leads into customers, but it can also help you retain your existing customers. It encourages activities like greater product adoption, upsells, loyalty, and repeat purchases.

This is how you get more out of your contacts database.

Here are some facts as to why lead nurturing is important:

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: HubSpot)
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than those who buy immediately. (Source: eCommerce)
  • B2B marketers who implement marketing automation increase their sales pipeline contribution by an average of 10%. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

How Lead Nurturing Helps

Lead nurturing refers to the various efforts of a marketer to successfully convert a lead to become a buyer and then ambassador.

It’s your job to guide that lead through each stage of the buying journey. To the point where the lead becomes a marketing qualified lead and is ready for a sale, and beyond.

Lead nurturing can be divided into three basic stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. Only when a lead reaches the latter stage, you can start pitching your products and services.

Until then, all you do is build a relationship. Listen to your audience’s demands, complaints, and needs. In return, provide the information they need at each stage of their buyer journey. This build trust and keeps leads engaged with your brand.Through this communication, your prospective leads slowly become your customers.

When implemented, an effective lead nurturing campaign improves lead to customer conversion rates and lowers the cost of customer acquisition. Other positive results include shorter sales cycles and lower cost per customer acquisition, which means increased ROI.

Moreover, through building out a lead nurturing campaign, marketers can learn to better identify customer needs, understand leads and build stronger relationships.

The key is to use marketing automation to make sure you’re strategically setting up your lead nurturing workflows.

Email workflows: What are they, and why are they important?

Email marketing automation is the process of setting up automated emails and email drip campaigns to be sent to your customers, triggered by specific actions on your website.

When developing messages for your outreach campaigns, you need to take into consideration a couple of vital things. Who your potential customers are and what they’re looking to get out of doing business with your company. Otherwise, the messages you send out will most likely not resonate with a particular individual.

In essence, email workflows are all about providing a series of targeted, timely, and personalized email messages to specific customers based on a set of criteria as defined by your marketing and sales teams. 

It ensures that every lead is nurtured into a paying customer. This is done by providing relevant, engaging, and valuable content to these leads. You can also set up email workflows based on any information you have about them in your marketing database.

Such as:

  • page views,
  • email or social media clicks,
  • content downloads, contact properties,
  • other actions besides email, such as setting or clearing a contact property value, updating a contact’s lifecycle stage, adding/removing a contact from a list.

Meanwhile, you can spend your time doing other important things for your business.

As you can already tell, nurture is not easy. To nurture a lead properly, you will need information about that lead. The average buyer’s journey is complex. Of course the content that helps move them through the sales funnel needs to be extremely personalized and perfectly timed.

This is followed by segmentation, email campaigns, educational content and social media interactions. Before you start nurturing your leads, it is important to create your buyer’s persona.

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Looking at their browsing pattern, you can assume what the pain points are and provide a solution.

Steps in creating a workflow:

1. Identify the goal of the workflow

Usually, the goal of any workflow is based around the marketing lifecycle. What you want to do is move contacts to the next stage of the lifecycle.

For example, a goal can be downloading your ebook, or requesting a demo. The purpose of this type of email is to build trust and relevancy.

Whatever you send, make sure it’s something your contact will find useful. If you’re doing it right, you’ll motivate your audience to open future emails. 

2. Identify contacts that should be enrolled in your workflow

When designing your workflows, make sure to enroll the correct personas. Make sure to exclude any current customers or contacts were a specific product or service is not relevant.

Sometimes, a contact will do something unexpected and bypass the entire workflow. Be prepared to tweak it and modify it accordingly.

3. Select the number and type of emails to send

Although you goal is to sell, to reach this goal you must first build trust. You want to begin to draw a connection between the topic of your workflow and your product. Let your audience use your resources and decide their value. 

Gradually, your contacts that are engaged will start seeing that you indeed have the solution for their problem. You’ve probably seen them on your website a few more times. These are signals of a qualified lead.

At this point, they should be interested in talking to you. Position your goal, be it an intermediate goal like requesting a demo, as part of the contact’s discovery process. Focus on delivering more detail on how you can specifically help them and make it the next logical step for the contact to take. 

4. Don’t forget about timing

Timing is always important when it comes to nurturing your leads. You can annoy people by emailing them too much or they’ll forget about you if you don’t email them enough. A fail proof recipe doesn’t exist, so you’ll have to experiment.

Types of workflows:

1. Welcome Series for Subscribers:

This is the most basic of all automated emails. It could be triggered by signing up for an account or subscribing to your newsletter.

A welcome email is the first of your automation series and it gives you the opportunity to engage them and start their journey along the road to becoming a customer. This email is the first impression of your brand.

You can send a series of welcome emails, not just one. But the first email needs to be sent immediately after the subscriber signs up/subscribes.

If the sales cycle for your business is long, you should provide something that will give them more confidence to make a purchase. Such as more product information, related content, case studies, or an eBook. On the other hand, if your sales cycle is short, show them new products, promotions, or exciting content in order to quickly turn them into paying customers.

2. Lead Nurturing Workflow:

Creating customized workflows can be a great way to nurture potentials customers through your sales funnel and increase sales.

Automated emails can be triggered to customers who have read 3 or more blog posts concerning a specific subject. You can trigger this by their visits to specific URLs. Simply by knowing that they want to learn more on the topic you can send them related content and products. 

Develop a workflow designed to nurture leads and use automation to drop newly generated leads into the beginning of the campaign, so they receive the entire series of nurture emails.

3. Sales Notification for Marketing Qualified Leads:

When marketing qualifies a lead, that is the best time for sales to reach out.

If a newly qualified lead is not contacted shortly, they may lose interest or find another provider. Use automation to send a triggered email to your sales team when someone becomes qualified.

Also, you can use system tags to populate your email with useful information so your sales team has all the insight they need in order to convert the lead.

4. Cart Abandonment:

A lot of revenue is lost in abandoned shopping carts. You can avoid this by sending well designed cart abandonment emails. As a matter of fact, cart abandonment emails are one of the most revenue-boosting and effective emails of your email automation cycle.

Your customers tend to leave products unpurchased due to several reasons such as high pricing, shipping costs, technical issues, maybe not enough payment options or a very difficult checkout process.

First, you need to understand the reason for abandonment. Consider setting up an email that gets triggered when someone leaves their cart full but does not purchase anything. Don’t be pushy, just let them know that they still have items in their cart. Moreover, offer discounts to make their purchase completion smooth. 

In many instances, people get distracted and forget to follow through. Other times, they may be on the fence about their purchase. In those instances, a cart abandonment email might be just what they need in order to complete their purchase.

5. Order Follow-up Emails

It’s essential sending follow up emails after a customer finishes a purchase.

This can be done by:

  • sending an invoice of the recent,
  • giving them a discount for the next purchase,
  • asking them to connect with your brand on other channels
  • recommending them products,
  • or simply saying thank you for making the purchase. 

Either way, they must be included in the lead nurture email automation process. These emails help in maintaining the relationship with the subscriber/customer.

6. Free Trial Sign-up:

If someone signs up for a free trial for your software or service you should have an automated email sent to thank them and to help them onto the next steps.

The first email of your onboarding process should focus mostly on providing resources that will help subscribers utilize your product. Video demos, links to helpful resources — anything that will make their experience with your product as simple and pleasant as possible.

If they can’t find value in your product or service, they will likely let their trial expire. The easier the transition is for the user, the greater the satisfaction they’ll have with the product.

7. Subscription Renewal:

If your business is subscription-based, you can create a workflow to increase renewals. This workflow is triggered by the customer’s renewal date.

It’s very important to use such a workflow because it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. 

As the renewal date approaches, the automation system sends the first email. It can be sent a week or ten days prior to their expiration date as a friendly reminder. With two-three days left, send another email. This time, alerting them that the date is nearing with more urgency.

Also, you should build in a renewal buffer. When their subscription expires, you can send an email the next day informing them of that you have given them a few extra days to renew, so they can enjoy uninterrupted access.

8. Upsell Past Purchases

Upselling is a great way to leverage the data you’re receiving from your customers and to tailor their experiences to their preferences. Based on previous purchases, emails containing related products can be sent to your past customers. 

These emails are a great strategy for eCommerce companies to continue their relationships with their customers.

9. Re-engagement Workflow:

Email automation can help you reconnect with your less engaged customers. It also aids in maintaining a clean email list. You can ask your subscribers to set preferences to get more personalized emails or give them a chance to unsubscribe from your list.

A re-engagement email lets you bring back your less engaged or lost customers and win back some business. Set up a campaign for those inactive subscribers and if they do not open your emails even after you try to re-engage, remove them from your list.

You can trigger this based on:

  • the time elapsed since a customer’s last purchase,
  • if a lead has signed up for a free trial of your software but hasn’t been back to explore the program,
  • or if they have created an account or registered their email with your website.


Lead nurturing is a long process, even more complicated than generating leads and awareness. It requires heavy coordination between all your teams, strategy and technology.

It’s nonetheless essential. That’s because in most cases only a relatively small percentage of your leads will be ready to make an immediate purchase, leaving upwards of 90% of your leads on the table.

In an ideal world, your leads will smoothly go down the marketing funnel, without your assistance. But that’s not how things work. They need help to go from visitors to leads, buyers, and lastly, promoters. 

Start Your Free Premium Trial