Strategic Lead Development and Nurturing: Identify the Buying Continuum

Begin building a strategic lead development program by first identifying the buying continuum. Knowing your audience is key to a customer-centric approach.

This series is your comprehensive guide to developing your own strategic lead development and nurturing program. Learn more about the five major components of a strategic lead development and nurturing program that boosts sales and boasts success.


Identify the Buying Continuum

The buying continuum consists of the stages your leads go through on their path to purchase. The first step for a successful lead development and nurturing program is to identify each step of the buyer’s journey, find out where your leads are in that process, and determine what actions should be taken at each stage.

Five Stages of the Buyer’s Journey

We’ll dive deeper into strategies for creating targeted content later but first, start by thinking about what stages your leads are in and what it will take to move them through the funnel, down the path to purchase.

Since each stage has a different goal, as leads move down the path to purchase, you need to communicate with them differently.

For example, since there are more leads at the awareness stage, the content can be very broad, but as you move through, you want to get more personalized.


Know Your Target Audience

In order to continually add quality leads to the top of your sales funnel, you need to know and define your target audience. The people who are most likely to purchase your product have needs that your company can serve. How will your product or service solve their problem?

Knowing your target audience is critical for developing effective, targeted marketing communications. Start by gaining an understanding of their demographics, behaviors, and influences. When you have a deep understanding of who your ideal customer is and what needs you can meet for them, you can create messaging that resonates.

Develop Buyer Personas

Most likely, your product or service appeals to a variety of buyers with different needs. Because of this, the communications you might create based on basic demographics will not be focused enough.

A common pitfall for many marketers is treating everyone the same. Sending mass emails to your entire database, follow-ups that don’t take previous actions into account, and not providing tailored, personalized content are a few extremely common mistakes companies make in their lead nurturing process.

If your goal is to be customer-centric, which all consumers today demand, it is essential that you segment your target audience and develop buyer personas.

Persona development is a service that we frequently provide to our own clients.

Buyers should be segmented based on commonalities in purchase decision-making and buying behavior. This helps to identify challenges, opportunities, and trends among different groups of customers and guide you through creating an informed strategy that generates more sales.

3-5 personas tend to be ideal—keep in mind that you don’t want to have too few or too many. If certain groups of buyers are very similar to one another, you may consider grouping them within one persona. Remember, the main goal is to create guidelines for your communication strategy so that you’re sending the right messages to the right people at the right time.

So, where to begin?

  • Website and social media analytics – What content does your ideal customer view? What are some specific motivators that cause them to search for this content? Collect any other relevant data.
  • Market research – This shows you what your ideal customers look like so that you can better understand them.
  • Get feedback from sales and customer service teams – Who knows your customers better than the people who work with them every day?
  • Ask your customers what they want and need – Surveys, polls, and online reviews can provide you with this insight.

Now, back to that funnel…


The Sales Funnel

As we’ve discussed, you need to identify where each lead is in your sales funnel, and at what stage of the buying process they are in. Once you know this, you can send them communications that resonate and guide them to the next stage.

Top-of-funnel content and outreach should be approached from a lead generation perspective with the goal of driving leads from the awareness stage to the consideration stage.

Mid-funnel activity should be approached as business development; nurturing leads until they are sales ready (aka when they begin to display buying signals). Top and mid-funnel stages are where marketing needs to qualify, and nurture leads until they are sales ready.

Bottom-of-funnel activity (and this is where many fall short) needs to focus on leading the decision maker to conversion with a strong value proposition.

Many companies take their foot off the gas too soon, they think their work is complete at the first sign of buying signals. In fact, this is a critical time to identify where value proposition is needed to close the sale.

Your value proposition is the most important part of your marketing messaging. This is the value that you promise to deliver, and keeps the lead paying attention to what you have to say. Develop your value proposition early on as it will help your marketing and sales teams guide your leads down the path to purchase, making it easy for them.

Are you interested in optimizing your lead development and nurturing strategy to reach your marketing goals? Send an email to Jill Fecher to start a conversation.


Any company that wants to sell more (aka every company) needs a strategy for developing leads and nurturing them to conversion. This series is your comprehensive guide to developing your own strategic lead development and nurturing program.

Five Components for Successful Lead Development & Nurturing

  1. Identify the Buying Continuum
  2. Develop Relevant Content
  3. Generate a Database of Leads
  4. Nurture Your Leads to Conversion
  5. Tracking Results and Measuring Impact

Click through the rest of this blog series to learn more about the five major components of a strategic lead development and nurturing program that boosts sales and boasts success.


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