What is lead nurturing and how does it work?

How to turn more of your prospects into clients

Understanding the lead nurturing process and how it builds engagement with prospective clients helps you develop effective and successful strategies that will boost prospects' propensity to convert, uplifting your sales.

What is lead nurturing?

To nurture something means to take of it, feed it and protect it so it can flourish – which is exactly what you want to do with any promising leads for your business.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with interested prospects and carefully guiding them along a journey towards becoming paying clients.

How does lead nurturing work?  

By developing a structured lead nurturing campaign, advisers can introduce themselves and their unique solutions to prospects – and differentiate themselves from the competition. This is important because when a potential client first becomes aware of you and the services you offer, they're not necessarily ready to enlist your help immediately. Lead nurturing allows you to stand out in your prospects' minds by reaching out via different touchpoints and providing them with relevant, targeted information right up to the point when they're ready to become a client.

As an IFA, a good way to start is by identifying key areas to develop a targeted approach. For example:

  • Customers at or near retirement who want to access pension pots and want advice on the best income strategies and products qualify as pension and retirement planning leads
  • Customers with defined benefit workplace pensions who want advice on transferring, including those with pension transfer values over £30,000 who by law need financial advice to transfer, qualify as pension transfer leads
  • Customers at any life stage who want general pension advice in order to maximise their options later on. These enquiries can be a good source of ongoing custom and can lead to further work as pension review leads
  • Then there are SIPP leads – self-employed and high net-worth individuals who want to set up a personal pension. These could also be investment leads and insurance and protection leads

Why is lead nurturing important?  

Nurturing relationships with prospects should be an essential part of any business, whether big or small. Without it, you'll lose out on sales – fact. According to marketing software company Marketo, on average, 50% of leads are not yet ready to buy. What's more, research institute MarketingSherpa reports that almost 80% of new leads never purchase at all. Imagine the difference to your bottom line if even half of those prospects completed the buyer journey and signed up with you?

Nurturing leads is critical to your business's success because it directly impacts a prospect's decision about whether they want to convert into a paying customer. Good lead nurturing answers questions and positions you and the services you offer as the ultimate solution to your prospective client's needs.

By creating a lead nurturing strategy, you'll be able to identify hot prospects worth spending time on while not wasting effort on those who aren't likely to convert from prospect to paying client. It can help to break your lead list down into five categories:

  1. Prospects who buy immediately without prompting
  2. Prospects who require some time to consider their options but will buy subsequently without prompting
  3. Prospects who will buy without prompting but can be persuaded to buy additional products and services
  4. Prospects who require nurturing before they will buy
  5. Prospects who will not buy regardless of how much you nurture them

The first two categories will make a purchase anyway, so there's no point in nurturing them. The last category won't make a purchase, so there's no point wasting your time on them. So, for your lead nurturing efforts to be productive, you'll only want to reach out to categories three and four.

What are the stages in the lead nurturing process?  

Having a plan of action is key to find the most effective way to reach out to prospects who may respond to nurturing.

  1. Start by taking a look at your existing customers to see what they have in common. For example, are they predominantly from a certain industry or background? Do they make a certain amount in annual revenue? Are they looking for the same sort of financial planning advice?
  2. Next, think about the leads who you've previously engaged with but failed to convert. Can you find anything that these leads have in common? Doing this will help you identify the attributes that indicate whether a lead is a good fit.
  3. Then see what you can find out about your prospects and their goals. Are they novices when it comes to financial planning and investing, or are they well educated and professional? Are they encountering a pivotal emotional moment in their life? You can find out useful intel by researching LinkedIn profiles and tracking visits to your website – finding out what are they looking at, what actions they’re performing, and how long they’re spending on different sections etc.
  4. Use this information to develop a lead scoring strategy to rank prospects based on what products and services they're looking for, the likelihood of them becoming customers and the revenue they'll potentially contribute to your company. The higher the lead score rating, the more time and effort it's worth spending on them.

How do you set up a lead nurturing campaign?  

The next step to generating and nurturing leads is to develop a range of content that's pertinent to prospects at different stages of their journey. Your content should help get your leads one step closer to deciding to work with you as their financial adviser.

Your content creation needs to successfully address your lead's wants and needs. Concentrate on what will best serve your prospects' needs as they move down the sales funnel. It can help to break it down into three stages:

1.  Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

Known as the 'awareness' stage, this is where people are looking for answers, opinions, resources, and anything that can help them along in their process. Engaging and useful resources you can supply include:

Webinars – These are a great way to engage your clients and showcase your services and products. When prospects register for your webinars, you're not only able to capture information from them, but you're also providing them with information about your business.

Whitepapers/eBooks – These are another good way to capture leads and also showcase your business. Generally speaking, a white paper is on a topic that provides information and aligns with your business while enticing someone to move forward with buying your products and services. For example, to access a free download of the ebook Your Essential Guide to Personal Finance, you simply have to enter a name and email. 

Blogs – Add these to your website to draw prospects in by providing content that will help them on their financial journey. Providing blogs is a great way to convey your personality and show your expertise. Make sure that you use strong keywords to communicate to top search engines what is on your website. For example, when a phrase is entered into the search box, search engines want to pull the most relevant and useful websites to populate the results page. To do so, they rely on the keywords you use in their algorithm to determine if your website fits the criteria. So, make sure that you are using keywords appropriately not only throughout your website but on your blogs.

2.  Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)

This is the 'evaluation' stage, where people are figuring out if you and your services are a fit for them. To tap into this, provide:

How-to written content – This can be anything such as blogs and articles on your website that teaches prospects something but will leave them wanting to find out more.

How-to videos – A great way to introduce yourself, your expertise, and the products and services you offer.

3.  Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

The 'purchase' stage is the final part, where prospects decide if they want to give you their business. They're ready – now you want to seal the deal. Try providing:

Case studies – These are great for telling a story. By taking a deeper dive into a specific case, you're painting a clearer picture of your services and allowing prospects a more in-depth look at what you can deliver. Try to provide a range of case studies so prospects can find ones they can relate to. That way, they'll be able to picture themselves in that particular situation, and you can show exactly how you can help them.

Follow-up emails – Once you have a prospects' contact information, always follow up with an email containing further information targeted directly at them, such as a blog post, eBook or newsletter.

Free consultation/planning meeting – Providing leads with a free consultation allows you to meet with your prospects before they take the plunge. When providing contact information on your website, providing a call to action, such as 'click here for your free consultation', is an easy way to move them even closer to becoming a client.

5 lead nurturing tactics that are essential to your strategy

1.  Lead scoring
Rank prospects on a scale representing the perceived value each lead may have to your business. You can do this by gathering information from LinkedIn or tracking visitor behaviour on your website. The higher the lead score rating, the more time and effort it's worth spending on them. To step this up a gear, lead scoring can be implemented in most marketing automation platforms by assigning numeric values to certain website browsing behaviours or social media interactions.

2.  Targeted content
Tailor intriguing, useful and entertaining content to prospects so you can identify the best leads. Start by working to understand each of your unique buyer personas. Then, create an assortment of targeted content designed to nurture each persona based on their characteristics, such as interests, goals, objectives, and marketing triggers.

3.  Multiple touchpoints
Create a mix of content types across different channels to increase your interactions and engagement among target audience members. While the buyers' journey for every product and service can be quite different, research has suggested that, on average, prospects receive ten marketing touches from the time they become aware of your company until the time they convert into customers.

4.  Timely follow-ups
Follow up with your leads swiftly to keep them engaged and to ensure you're front of mind. When you make a timely, well-planned follow-up to a lead, it's far more effective than any volume of cold calling.

5.  Personalised emails
Personalising your emails is a simple way to promote customer retention. Email marketing continues to be a highly effective tactic for lead nurturing, and, unsurprisingly, personalisation tends to produce better results. A study by Accenture found that 41% of consumers switched businesses due to a lack of personalisation. There are many ways to personalise emails to improve your lead nurturing strategy. You can send triggered emails when a visitor completes an action – such as downloading a piece of your content, clicks on a link in your emails, visits certain pages on your website, or demonstrates a high level of engagement. When you combine the power of marketing personalisation with behaviour triggered emails, you can deliver the right marketing messages to the right people at exactly the right time.

What tools can I use to improve my lead nurturing campaign?

Your website – It's a great place to capture new email addresses and to start and continue conversations. Ideally, the web experience can be dynamically personalised to reinforce and extend the dialogue started in emails. Inspire people to volunteer their email addresses by offering content such as: newsletters, helpful guides, interactive tools such as calculators or assessments and videos. Promote these 'lead magnets' with buttons, displays or pop-ups with forms designed to capture email addresses and additional information.

Social media – This is a critical part of cross-channel nurturing. When you connect your lead nurturing to your social efforts, they enhance one another.

Automated customer relationship management (CRM) systems – These can manage all your company's interactions with customers and potential customers -  ensuring that each lead receives the most relevant messages at the most opportune times. CRM systems best suited to small businesses include Monday, Pipedrive and Freshworks.

Lead generation and supporting services – More than 27,000 professionals use Unbiased to grow their business via its lead generation and supporting services. And over three million consumers visit the site every year seeking professional advice, information, and financial planning tools. With Unbiased, you can:

· Receive enquiries directly from those who view your profile on the Unbiased directory

· Receive further exclusive leads matched to you based on suitability

· Set your own criteria for your preferred types of clients

· Specify minimum business size or turnover

· Source leads from multiple locations nationwide

· Preview every lead and choose to accept or reject it

· Manage your active leads through to conversion and beyond from one simple dashboard

With an Unbiased plan, you can obtain leads in two ways:

· Directly from potential clients who view your profile on Unbiased

  • Via the Unbiased automated matching service

With auto-matching, a customer will enter a few details about the kind of advice they need, their financial circumstances, and their location. If these fall within your preferred criteria and you are a good fit for their needs, the enquiry may appear in your inbox.

Additional features to grow your business include:

  • Setting your criteria to receive the clients you want
  • Receiving enquiries pre-filtered to match your preferences
  • Increasing your brand exposure with a profile promoted in additional locations
  • Managing your entire client base with pipeline monitoring and conversion software
  • Advanced analytics and insights to track and improve sales performance
About the author
Nick Green
Nick Green
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.

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