What is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the automated process of sending personalized and relevant content to prospects and customers at every stage of their buying journeys.

Lead Nurturing Overview

When an anonymous website visitor shares enough information about themselves to become a qualified lead, it’s because they’re interested in your brand. Lead nurturing campaigns help marketers build relationships with prospects, from their first interaction to the time they’ve become a frequent return customer.

Because lead nurturing campaigns are meant to communicate with each prospect and customer on an individual level, it’s essential for campaign content — emails, digital ads, direct mail, etc. — to be personalized. By sending content that directly answers your audiences’ questions and relates to their needs, you can help solve their problems and lay the groundwork to offer solutions that result in sales and long-term customer relationships.

Nurturing is rarely about immediate sales. Instead, it’s about inspiring real engagement and keeping your brand at the forefront of your audiences’ minds throughout successfully recurring customer lifecycles.

The Complete Guide to Lead Nurturing

How does lead nurturing work?

Lead nurturing works because it takes new prospects on a personalized tour of your brand and your solutions. It allows marketers to play the part of helpful tour guides, sharing their brands’ stories with leads and inviting them to be a part of it all. For established customers, nurturing campaigns are reminders that they’re a part of your brand’s continuing story— and new chapters with more solutions (and sales) may be right around the corner.

Nurturing is simple on the right platform.

Personalized nurturing campaigns require a lot of customer data, and it’s important for marketers to have a simple way to organize and act on all of that information.

When marketers are working through a streamlined visual hub, or ‘canvas,’ they can easily build custom content paths for each user based on who they are, what they're interested in, and what they've done — and then link directly to the most relevant existing marketing materials.

All of this can be seamlessly synced with your existing database and tools, which means lead nurturing can quickly become a natural part of your overall sales and marketing process.

Automation can adjust campaigns in real time.

Lead nurturing campaigns powered by automation can change track based on the ways your audiences interact with marketing content.

Email open rates, clicks, and other metrics are all collected in real time with action-based triggers, and they automatically influence the selection of future content sent to prospects and customers.

As a rule, you can use artificial intelligence to make real-time decisions about which content to send to which user. The technology can also deliver easy-to-digest reports with simple visual charts and graphs, giving you the detailed feedback you need to improve your nurturing efforts and connect better with your audiences.

7 Advanced Lead Nurturing Tips
Graphic: Website form > Send Email. If no enegagement, send re-engagement email. If there is engagement, send customized email.

What does lead nurturing actually do?

Lead nurturing allows marketers to build the relationships that their prospects and customers actually want. When a website visitor shares their information with you, they are purposefully opting to become a lead — they’re signing up for nurturing, and opening up a channel of communication with your brand.

With the right content mix, tailored to the right audience, sent at the right time, marketers can gradually inform prospects about their brands’ solutions, and eventually inspire them to become recurring customers.

It educates your audience.

A marketer with a proper lead nurturing mindset would never spam their audience with generic sales emails. That kind of communication doesn’t teach audiences anything, nor does it take them on any kind of journey.

Lead nurturing is about identifying specific audience needs, and then tailoring content to different audience segments (or even individual audience members, when needed).

Your lead nurturing campaign content should be designed to inform and entertain your audience in personalized and relevant ways. They should be excited to open and engage with each new message, and you should be excited to see where your nurturing journey takes them.

It sets the stage for sales.

Even the best marketing may be all for nothing if it doesn’t eventually result in sales. Good lead nurturing is about playing the sales long game. You’re not rushing anyone into purchase position — you’re building an informed and interested audience mix of new prospects and returning customers and engaging them in a dialogue that continues over time… perhaps indefinitely!

If you build a trusted relationship with your audiences, there’s a strong chance that they’ll turn to you when they’re ready to buy. If you bother them with overly sales-oriented marketing from the very beginning, they won’t want to build that relationship in the first place.

Learn How Lead Nuturing is Like Golf

Why use lead nurturing?

Prospects, customers, marketers, and salespeople all benefit from the relationships created through lead nurturing campaigns. When a new lead signs up for marketing communications, it’s your chance to show them what you’re all about and explain how your products can meet their needs. Every step in a nurturing campaign should be an invitation for audiences to engage more with your brand.

It’s good for your audience.

Lead nurturing gives your audiences — whether they’re new prospects or established customers — a virtual hand to hold as you guide them through all your brand has to offer. The clicks they make and actions they take paint a picture of their needs, giving marketers the information they need to strategically send personalized content and solutions that actually address pain points and solve problems.

It’s good for your brand.

Every nurturing campaign is an opportunity to show your brand’s audiences who you are and how you can help them. When marketers successfully deliver upon the promise of lead nurturing, they’re rewarded with steadily recurring sales and a growing roster of returning customers. After all, 62% of high-performing marketing teams use lead nurturing — compared to only 47% of moderate performers and 33% of underperformers.

Lead Nuturing is for Everyone

Lead nurturing for account-based marketing

Lead nurturing is an essential component of any account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. Because it helps you find high-quality prospects, retarget dormant accounts, and improve engagement, it’s a key strategy for marketing to high-value accounts.

What exactly is ABM?

Account-based marketing is a B2B marketing strategy that focuses on specific customers or accounts and targets each as a market of one with highly personalized, 1-to-1 experiences and content.

Here are a few things lead nurturing for can do for your ABM strategy:


Set your marketing team free with automaton. By automating parts of the customer journey, you can free your marketing team to focus on the in-person touchpoints and conversations that mean the most to your target account teams.


Maintain a healthy roster of leads. Lead nurturing keeps target account teams engaged over the course of long and complicated buying cycles, preventing lost revenue and lead abandonment.


Improve engagement. Drive higher engagement with high-quality targeting throughout the entire buying journey, and by coordinating your message across multiple channels.

The B2B Lead Nurturing Lifecycle

How to get started with your lead nurturing strategy

Your lead nurturing strategy should start with your current customers. After all, they were once leads themselves! Think back to when your top customers were new prospects. What marketing content did they engage with most? Was there anything you could have done to help them out more? What are the best ways to refresh the nurturing journey for future prospects?

Once you have a basic understanding of what your new lead nurturing strategy needs, you’ll need to take the following into account:

Campaign Types

There are many different kinds of lead nurturing campaigns. The right one to choose depends on what you’d like to accomplish. Do you want to generate sales leads? Revive inactive leads? Remind current clients that renewals are up soon? The answers to these questions will help you determine the right kind of campaigns to launch.

Campaign Content

You’ll need to tailor your content choices to the types of campaigns you’re creating. For example, if your campaign is intended to generate sales leads, you should identify and send content that you know prospects will be interested in. You’ll also need different kinds of content to send based on where your prospects are in the sales cycle. Think of each piece of content you send as a new chapter in a story you’re sharing with your audience.

Campaign Complexity

Your lead nurturing campaigns will consist of a number of different pathways for your audiences. You can make these tracks as simple or as complicated as you’d like — it all depends on what you’d like your audience to engage with, and when. Nurturing campaigns can have a linear structure, in which prospects progress straight through, or they can branch out to different paths that prospects follow based on their actions, interests, and personas.

Nurturing Different Audiences

Segmentation is what allows lead nurturing campaigns to be so highly targeted. If you want to nurture a specific audience group — from new prospects to established customers — you can sort them into the same list. You can also segment by audience location, product interest, and engagement level. Once you’ve filtered your audience according to the rules you want, new prospects will be added to the right groups and lists automatically!

Lead Nurturing for Small Business

Small businesses have some advantages when it comes to lead nurturing. Their relationships with customers tend to be more personal, and they’re often able to move faster than large businesses. Lead nurturing campaigns give small businesses the chance to introduce themselves and their unique solutions to prospects, and differentiate themselves from the competition. Most prospects may not be ready to do business yet, but lead nurturing gives small businesses the opportunity to stand out in their target audiences’ minds.

How Pardot can help

Pardot helps marketers and sales teams find and nurture leads, close more deals, maximize ROI, and more. Here's why we're the right choice to help power your lead nurturing strategy:

Lead nurturing.

Intelligent lead nurturing that adapts to your audience, built on Salesforce, the world’s #1 CRM.

Time to Value.

You can implement Pardot quickly to start generating more leads and revenue faster.

Marketing Analytics.

Use B2B Marketing Analytics to organize and analyze all of your data across sales and marketing to make data-driven decisions.

Sales Activation.

Automate sales processes and build marketing-approved campaigns so sales teams can focus on closing more deals.

Find out more about why you should try Pardot.

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