How to Nurture Content Leads

Many organizations invest heavily in lead acquisition but fail to nurture the leads they acquire. What happens often is a prospect will download the content (say an eBook, white paper, infographic, etc.) and then never take an interest in your company or its solutions. They want the content, they get it, and they leave.

Developing buyer understand - marketing to sales process

But a lot of these leads may fit your ideal buyer persona and could easily become clients if nurtured correctly. Sales teams usually don’t follow up with content leads, because they don’t see them as viable prospects and don’t want to waste their time. (They also would rather spend time acquiring leads through prospecting rather than nurture leads the leads you have.) If the sales team does reach out, they are often too sales-y or pushy, not nurturing. This is a common mistake most organizations make, but one that can be corrected.


50% of leads are qualified but are not immediately ready to buy something from your company (Gleanster Research).


Content leads, typically in the awareness phase, have to be nurtured differently than consideration stage leads, and marketers should play a prominent role in helping push these prospects further down the sales funnel.

Quick nurturing tips:

  • Don’t push content leads immediately to a sales call
  • You need to make a transition from the topics in the content they downloaded to the methodologies, approaches, thought leadership of your company. This is a moment for differentiation.
  • Understand their pain points or aspirations
  • Help them. Consult. Assess. Don’t push, prod, or use generic appoint setting techniques.

Marketing and sales teams working together can be a challenge; 64% of companies find it a difficult to foster a sales and marketing alignment (Gleanster Research). Companies that strive to create a cohesive working relationship between these two teams, however, will find themselves with many more prospects moving down the sales funnel. Here are solutions for teams that are ready to nurture content leads.

Use Content Mapping to Organize the Funnel

Ironpaper content mapping system

Content mapping is a key strategy to nurturing content leads and relies on the idea of matching content to where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey. It organizes ‘who gets what content and when.’ Most likely the sales team already has the buyer’s journey arranged, so the marketing team can take a look and decide what content belongs where. Businesses should think about what logical steps a prospect would take along the sales funnel and what materials will be useful at each stage.

Sales and marketing teams should constantly ask themselves: What valuable content or tools can be used to push the prospect to take the next step? Additionally, what content or tools will be useful to the prospect? The content along the buyer’s journey must always add value to the prospect and not simply push sales, as that will turn the prospect off to the company. Businesses often find content in the middle-of-the-funnel or at the bottom-of-the-funnel most challenging, so read our guides on how to master each of these stages.

Guides on content marketing:

Content Should Both Provide and Show Value

As mentioned, content along the sales funnel should provide value to the prospect. Additionally, the content should indirectly demonstrate the value of the company or its thought leadership. An example could be sharing an article by the CEO or founder of the company that was placed in a third-party publication; this shows the piece’s authority and that the writer is an expert in the field. Other examples of this type of content could be webinars, podcasts, courses, eBooks, or guides specific to a certain industry.

Ironpaper content marketing example

Create Content Teasers

If you ask a prospect to perform too many steps before accessing content, they might just click off your website. Instead, create easy-to-access content teasers that offer solutions, demos, pain point understanding, or value propositions. If a prospect reads your blog post, instead of asking them to buy your product right away, offer a downloadable infographic of the content that they just read and only ask them for their email. You can also offer them research reports or to sign up for an email series that discusses similar topics. Lastly, video is a strong performer.

Pro tip: Record a video that acts as an authentic education piece related to the content they downloaded.

Focus on the Prospect’s Pain Points

Sellers pitch: not focusing on pain points

64% of companies find it a difficult to foster a sales and marketing alignment (Gleanster Research).

Buyer understanding: Map content to the buyer's journey.


Companies can often go wrong by putting too much of their content behind a gate (i.e., to access initial content, prospects must immediately put in their email). This may be good for lead acquisition, but this is not the way to move them down the sales funnel. Instead, create value-add, ungated sales nurturing content that speaks directly to a prospect’s pain points. What challenges does the prospect need to address? Think about that and write content that directly speaks to it. Then, allow the prospect to access the content easily.

Most valuable content marketing types for moving prospects through the sales funnel according to B2B marketers in the United States as of July 2017

Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20% (Kula Partners), so it’s important not to dismiss these prospects. If sales and marketing teams work together to map out what content works at which part of the sales funnel, more leads can be pushed down the funnel to become clients.


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Ironpaper is a results-driven digital marketing agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.