How to Build Nurture Campaigns Based on Buyer Intent

August 29, 2019 | Kirsten Lyons


Marketers are responsible for sourcing qualified leads for their sales team through their content, programs, and campaigns. But not every lead marketers encounter are ready be sent directly to sales for followup. That’s when marketers whip out their secret weapon: the nurture campaign. Nurture campaigns allow marketers to slowly feed a lead resources to help them understand the value their solution can provide, and prepare them for a productive conversation with sales down the line.

But when marketers don’t do their due diligence on which leads to nurture, they can end up wasting their (and their sales team’s) time chasing leads that won’t convert because they simply aren’t a good fit. 

The Problem with Old School Nurture Streams

Research shows that nurturing leads is an effective way to take top-of-the-funnel prospects from warm leads to customers. According to Forrester, marketers see an average 20 percent increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs. non-nurtured leads. But traditional nurture streams don’t allow marketers to accurately qualify their leads before they are pushed further down the funnel.

In an old-school nurture model, marketers rely on basic criteria like company size and revenue alone to determine if a lead might eventually convert to a customer. However, any good salesperson will tell you that what makes or breaks a sale is much deeper qualifying information like what that prospect is looking for in a new product, what their goals are, and what problems they are working to solve. As a result, marketers waste time and resources nurturing leads that don’t have any real intent to purchase.

How Buyer Intent Can Inform Nurture Streams

On average, half of the leads in any marketing automation system are not yet ready to buy, and nearly 80 percent of new leads never convert and become sales. In order to identify leads that can benefit from nurture (and disqualify leads that aren’t worth spending time on) marketers need insights into buyer intent. Understanding buyer intent allows marketers to determine where a prospect is in their buyer journey, and what they need in order to convert to the next stage. 

But understanding buyer intent requires a deeper level of engagement than traditional lead scoring allows. By adding qualifying questions aimed at uncovering buying intent to existing content and marketing campaigns, marketers can deliver better leads to sales. By asking questions that uncover critical information about prospects, like what their budget is and what they’re looking for in a new product. From there, marketers can place prospects into nurture streams specific to their place in the buyer journey, and provide content that meets their unique needs. Here’s how marketers can use buyer intent to build effective nurture campaigns that improve conversions.

1. Offer the Right Content at the Right Time

Nurture streams shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. The goal of a nurture stream is to help leads that aren’t initially sales-ready realize the value of your product or service, with the eventual goal of conversion. Leads at different stages of the funnel need different content to inform and guide their buyer journey. A prospect in the exploratory phase of the buyer journey display only minimal buying intent might benefit from attending a webinar to internalize your message. However, a prospect who has displayed buying intent signals that match up with your value prop would be better suited to receive a case study. When marketers set up their efforts to uncover buyer intent, they can nurture based on what a prospect actually needs, rather than what they assume will push them down the funnel. 

2. Put your prospects in the driver’s seat

Just because a lead downloads your white paper doesn’t mean they’re interested in reading every white paper in your resource center. Marketers shouldn’t assume they know what their prospects want next. Instead of guessing, marketers can use qualifying questions to ask their readers what they want, and offer multiple CTAs to put their prospects in the driver’s seat. When you get to know your prospects through their responses to qualifying questions, you can continue to personalize their buying experience through relevant content and tailored conversations with sales. 

3. Segment, segment, segment

In a typical nurture stream, a marketer might send a blanket email to all of their top-of-the-funnel leads with a new case study or webinar recording. But every lead is different, and that content won’t be relevant to everyone lumped into a single nurture stream. When marketers have insights into buyer intent and answers to qualifying questions, they can segment leads to only share the most relevant content and resources. Providing content that shows prospects exactly how they can benefit from your offering creates urgency, which gets them to the finish line faster.

Final Thoughts

Nurture campaigns are a proven and effective way to convert prospects into opportunities, and eventually, into customers. But to effectively prioritize the highest quality leads that will actually convert to customers, marketers need to nurture leads differently based on the buyer intent they demonstrate. By offering the right content at the right time, giving prospects choice in a personalized journey, and segmenting nurture efforts, marketers can deliver high quality leads that mean a real impact on their business’ bottom line. 

Learn how to uncover buyer intent by using qualifying questions in your marketing in our guide to conversational marketing


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