By the Numbers – Nurturing Doesn’t Cure Poor Lead Quality

Have you ever reviewed a marketing program and seen terrible opportunity creation results and been told that the names just need to be nurtured?  Mathematically, this doesn’t work and I will explain why, but first a nuance.

Nurturing is critical to stay in front of prospects.  Nurturing is important to stay in front of the right prospects.  But nurturing the wrong prospects doesn’t work.  Far too often,  poor marketing program execution either by third party vendors or internal programs is covered by the excuse that the leads just need nurturing.  This doesn’t work.

Take 1,000 leads that come in from an event, trade show, pay per lead program or some other program where the leads are deemed ready to go direct to sales.  Pay per lead programs are a good example here since you are paying a vendor to give you leads that are sales ready.  A good lead to opportunity conversion rate is 10%.  If the leads are of good quality, assume the 1,000 names would provide 100 new opportunities.  Let’s be pessimistic and only assume 5% or 50 opportunities.  That is still not a bad yield.

Now, let’s assume a different scenario and that of the 1,000 leads, only 1% convert to opportunities or 10 total.  A low number? Yes.  Plausible? Absolutely.  Everyone has seen numbers like this from programs.  The program manager assures you that with just a little nurturing, everything will work out just fine.

Nurturing to the rescue (or not).

Since sales has already called these leads, let’s assume 30% are no longer prospects either due to bad data or just not the right fit.  One percent of these leads are opportunities.  This leaves 69% of the leads that were either marked to nurture or the sales team was unable to reach.

So 69% of 1,000 or 690.  There are now 690 leads to nurture. We will do a 4 week nurture program, once per week. The first week, we get a 3% click through rate to our offer, of which 20% of the 3% take action once they get to the website.  The second week, we get a 2% CTR, with the same 20% conversion on the website. Third week, the number drops to 1% where it stays for the fourth week.

Now these percentages are to create leads that still need to get passed to sales. We will assume these leads are uber qualified, highly nurtured, so assume 20% of these convert to opportunities. The net result?  You can see the math below:


The net of all the nurturing of the 690 leads is another 2 opportunities.  This is nowhere close enough to the original 5% or 50 opportunities generated with the “good leads”.

You can’t make bad leads turn good by nurturing.  This doesn’t mean nurturing isn’t important. It is critical to nurture the right prospects.  Next time someone or a vendor tries saying the results will get better with nurturing, let them show you how this will happen mathematically.

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