Prospect to lead and finally to customer – this conversion is the basic mechanism of inbound marketing. The lead nurturing process combines all of a company’s measures that use valuable content to help win potential customers from a defined target group as actual customers at the end of the process. The lifecycle phases describe the individual stages that the lead goes through in its further qualification.
With lead nurturing, you send an automated sequence of emails to leads early in the sales cycle to qualify them for promotion to later stages.
That’s HubSpot’s definition of lead nurturing.
The marketing automation mentioned enables target group-specific communication on the one hand and orientation on the customer journey of the respective lead on the other. Through organized clustering into the following lifecycle phases, the generated leads are assigned to the workflows that suit you and thus receive a sequence of emails that are tailored to your personal interests and pain points.
Lifecycle 1 – Top of the Funnel
A prospect or visitor is an unknown potential new customer who, in most cases, came across your website via a search engine. There he usually researched solutions to his individual problems.
Your task at this stage is to anticipate the problems and so-called pain points of your potential customers and to create content that deals with the solution to exactly these problems. This is how you create a positive brand image because the customer gets to know you as a problem solver.
The prospect becomes a lead when your content has convinced them so much that they are willing to receive more of your content in exchange for their data. If a prospect fills out a form to download a content offer, their data goes into your system and the unknown visitor gets a face. You can then use the information to assign the lead to a workflow. A lead is ascribed a casual interest in your company, which you can respond to with a wide range of offers.
Lifecycle 2 – Middle of the Funnel
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
As soon as a lead signals greater interest than the usual leads, it can be classified as an MQL. This is especially the case if the leads have shown interest in your content or specific offers that demonstrate a willingness to buy. This can be, for example, free demos or purchase aids.
In addition to this interest, the so-called fit is the second decisive criterion . – In other words: does the lead even fit your company? Does he have the right decision-making authority? Does he have enough budget available? Etc. – You filter based on these criteria, which each company must define for itself.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
If marketing can be sure that the MQL is a fit and shows a concrete buying interest, it is time to pass this on to the sales team. If the sales department also classifies this fit as suitable for a sales follow-up or a personal contact, it is an SQL. It is particularly important here that marketing and sales go hand in hand: with optimized marketing and sales alignment .
Lifecycle 3 – Bottom of the Funnel
Opportunity can be translated as possibility and thus describes the stage at which a sales opportunity arises for the respective lead. This may have emerged from possible email contacts, sales talks or demos.
The most popular lifecycle phase for all marketers is that of the customer. Because once a lead has reached the last phase of the lead nurturing process, you have convinced them of your company and your services and they have become a paying customer. If you are still working on providing your customer with the best service, there is a good chance that they will subsequently become a promoter of your product or service. And this is how you generate new prospects right away, which you can then guide through your lead nurturing process.
Good to know: Not all phases of the customer journey have to be gone through.
In practice, it often happens that a prospect directly becomes an SQL, an opportunity or even a customer. This is usually the case when the potential customer is already very far advanced in his decision-making process, for example because he has been dealing with a specific problem or topic for some time. In such a case we speak of low hanging fruits .
Here it makes sense to hand over the lead directly to sales. Important: not every potential customer has to go through all phases of the lead nurturing process.
In connection with lead nurturing, also read:
With six lifecycle phases, the lead nurturing process may seem complex at first. But dealing with it and defining the individual stages within the company can maximize the success of your inbound marketing. Because the advantages of lead nurturing are obvious: As soon as you have optimized the process, it will be much easier for you to convert prospects into customers than before.