Lead Nurturing 101: How to Nurture Leads

November 29, 2021
Written by
SendGrid Team
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

Lead Nurturing 101: How to Nurture Leads

Most customers need a warming-up phase to get to know a brand. Seldom does a “love at first sight” happen in the marketing world. The company builds a relationship over time by providing the right information at the right time. A prospect rewards the company with their business, and the company continues to acknowledge the relationship and strengthen it over time. 

Companies that understand how to nurture leads receive 4–10x the email response rate, 45% greater return on investment, 47% larger purchases from prospects, and 50% more sales-ready leads than less-savvy competitors. Without lead nurturing, the 79% of leads that convert to purchases will never do so. So if you’re not satisfied with the results you’ve been getting, it’s time to shift your focus from lead generation to lead nurturing to stay relevant and profitable. 

This guide takes you from the basics (what is the definition of lead nurturing?) to how to develop a lead nurturing strategy. We also provide examples of lead nurture campaigns and platforms to automate this type of marketing work. 

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is a process of engaging a prospective customer with tidbits of information, promotional offers, targeted ads, and connections over time. Nurture campaigns are similar to drip marketing campaigns that send relevant, targeted messages to prospects on a set schedule. 

But nurturing campaigns are much more personal—informed by analytics and behavioral data. The prospect may open a particular email, click on a pricing page, or make a purchase to set the campaign in motion. Depending on which stage of the buyer’s journey the prospect is in, the content will assure, persuade, inform, or assist. 

To nurture leads, you need to have the basics: a website tracking system, a marketing list, a lead scoring process, customer relationship management software, and tools to create, share, and track content across platforms. While it can be complex, without lead nurturing tactics, prospects fall between the cracks because they don’t know what to do next or make a one-off purchase and never return. It’s well worth the time and effort to cultivate real relationships with prospects, as you’ll inevitably improve your product or service offerings in the process. 

Lead nurturing strategies

Think of a lead nurturing strategy as the set of overall goals you wish to achieve and the plan for how you’ll achieve them. Early strategies involve determining the best way to filter out leads and engage with the right people in the right way. You may take one or more of the following approaches. 

Pursue quantitative goals 

Lead nurturing can boost conversion rates and accelerate the sales cycle, turning browsers into buyers faster. It can increase the percentage of repeat customers, drive more purchases, and boost the average lifetime value of each customer. Or it can increase the rate of upsells and cross-sells to drive a trial and consideration of new offerings. These goals can be measured, with metrics tracked over time.

Target qualitative goals 

Today’s numbers aren’t the whole story. What about the big picture and bettering the company to compete well into the future of your industry? Lead nurturing can help you collect information to improve your product and service lines. It can help you expand to new markets and new demographics. Better relationships with customers mean elevated trust, rapport, and brand image in the public eye. While it’s more difficult to precisely measure shifts in consumer awareness and attitude, closer attention to lead nurturing can certainly help get you there. 

Segment based on buyer personas 

Assessing demographics will reveal commonalities in age, location, job title, salary, marital status, and other details to help you market smarter. Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of an ideal customer based on demographics and consumer surveys. Writing up these profiles will dive deeper into the needs, pain points, objections, goals, and behaviors of various buyer subsets. You can divide prospects among these profiles and marketed-to based on where they fall.  

Discover audiences based on buyer’s journey 

Buyers generally move along a journey from awareness, to consideration, to purchase. In the awareness phase, where customers become aware of a problem, lead nurturing might include publishing blogs, ads, or social media posts based on a particular problem. Prospects will discover these organically through search and discovery. 

During the consideration phase, where customers actively look for ways to solve the identified problem, lead nurturing involves genuinely helpful content with lead magnets like a detailed case study, whitepaper, or webinar, offering exclusive insider industry expertise. Or, it could be a short-but-helpful checklist, cheat sheet, resource kit, template, or swipe file. 

In the decision phase, where warmed-up customers will need just a little bit more to choose a company to do business with, lead nurturing involves testimonials and reviews, as well as trials and discounts to encourage interested parties to take the plunge. You might entice prospects with VIP access to premium tools, upgrades, or entry to win giveaways.

Retarget customers who have bought or gone away 

The buyer’s journey doesn’t always follow a linear path. Sometimes the buying cycle gets disrupted—a customer leaves an item in a shopping cart, clicks an ad to navigate to the website but doesn’t buy, or reads a blog but leaves the site to surf a competitor’s page. Effective lead nurturing can send gentle reminders to bring lost business back again. Retargeting can also turn a one-time customer into a loyal lifelong fan. Automation based on behavior is the most timely, powerful way to set up an automated lead nurturing and retargeting sequence. 

Prioritize your campaigns with lead scoring 

It can be difficult to decide where to focus your energy initially, but lead scoring software can help. Start by reaching out to groups or individual customers with the largest number of points (the best overall fit) to make lead nurturing more effective immediately. Then cycle campaigns focused on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-highest categories to cast your net further.   

Lead nurturing campaign examples

If you’re wondering exactly how to nurture leads, consider the following exemplary campaigns.


Groove provides customer-support help-desk software for small businesses. Here’s its welcoming email: 

Source: SalesPanel

Groove nurtures leads with a friendly, personalized hello and by asking for feedback to ensure it’s delivering what the customer wants. It prepares leads for the correspondence that will follow and shares a helpful beginner demo video orienting newcomers to basic software functions and features. 

Thistle Farms

Thistle Farms is a nonprofit organization that helps women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, trafficking, child abuse, and addiction. Its website sells candles, body products, home textiles, apparel, jewelry, and gifts, with the proceeds going toward the mission. Here’s a sequence of emails it sends out to donors and buyers:

Source: Emma


Thistle Farms’ headlines welcome buyers and make them feel important, while each message reminds shoppers of the company’s noble mission. VIP invitations, free shipping, and discount offers maintain interest and encourage repeat purchases.

If you’re interested in running similar inbox campaigns that nurture leads over time, check out our Email Marketing Getting Started Guide and our nurture email best practices and examples.  


Airbnb is a network of independent property owners offering vacation rentals around the world. It has an excellent example of a retargeting campaign that nurtures leads that may have gone cold:

Source: HubSpot

The idea of Airbnb’s “1-year anniversary” lead nurturing campaign is to excite, inspire, remind, and encourage. It reengages leads with popular content, motivating suggestions, and a rewarding invitation that’s mutually beneficial. 


Sleeknote’s website pop-up builder enables marketers without coding experience to design contact forms. It used this compelling sponsored ad on Facebook to nurture prospects:

Source: Sleeknote 

This social ad works due to its cheeky reference to pop culture, which is platform-relevant. It’s visual with a clear reward (“free ebook”) and easy action (“Download” button). For the right prospect, this ad promises insightful information—14 strategies to achieve explosive growth—that has worked for Casper mattresses. 

Spoonful of Comfort

Spoonful of Comfort sells baskets of soup, rolls, cookies, and other gifts delivered to the recipient’s doorstep. After a customer places an order or browses the site, Spoonful of Comfort sends out a lead nurturing text: 

This timely message corresponds with the changing weather and an uptick in the desire for comfort food. While shoppers may have previously purchased a gift for a loved one, they may now consider treating themselves to “a taste of fall.” The visual certainly adds to the allure.

Lead nurturing platforms

A modern lead nurturing strategy typically involves marketing automation, which is where a lead nurturing platform comes in handy. Lead nurture campaign oversight can be almost effortless when you have all the tools necessary to market on autopilot. The following user-friendly platforms can get you started. 

Twilio SendGrid Email Delivery Service

Companies like Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, Instacart, and Yelp have all relied on Twilio SendGrid Email API to scale email marketing campaigns. Through cloud-based architecture, developers and marketers can collaborate seamlessly to create and securely send targeted messages to leads. Dynamic email templates, customizable reports, A/B testing, fully automated scheduling and tracking, email validation, and 24/7 technical support take email lead nurturing to the next level. 

Twilio SendGrid Marketing Campaigns 

With Twilio SendGrid Marketing Campaigns, you can quickly build email marketing campaigns that nurture leads at scale. Segment large audiences, tailor your message with dynamic content, design pixel-perfect emails, and optimize email performance for better engagement over time. Twilio SendGrid Marketing Campaigns is free for up to 2,000 contacts and 6,000 emails per month, so why not give it a try?  

Nurture leads with Twilio SendGrid

Twilio SendGrid provides a number of tools you can use to nurture leads, whether you’re developing welcome, promotional, and onboarding campaigns through email or looking to drive conversions through SMS marketing. Contact us to learn how you can unify your customer data to segment based on buyer personas or their journey, create campaigns in a few clicks with our drag & drop visual editor, automate email blasts to 10 or 10 million, personalize your lead nurturing content, and conduct A/B testing to optimize results.  

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