Now that you’ve captured leads from your awesome landing page, those leads now need extra care and attention to turn them into viable sales opportunities.

Enter lead nurturing.

The ability to create and maintain strong relationships is essential to any buyer-based business. Lead nurturing is a great conduit for building those solid connections through consistent and meaningful conversation with the right people, regardless of their timing to buy. The intent here is to raise your company’s chances that a prospect will choose your product or service, either in the short or long term.

A 2016 Forrester report showed that nurtured leads can result in a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities. But it takes time and effort to ensure maximum opportunities at every level of the sales process.

1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket—Invest in Multiple Channels

I’m sure my mother wasn’t the only parent to advise not to “put all your eggs in one basket.” When our parents offered this advice, they usually meant, “Don’t concentrate all your resources in one thing or place, or you might lose it all.” This same concept is important for your lead nurturing program.

It is critical to invest in multichannel lead nurturing and to create consistent customer experiences. Effective multichannel lead nurturing requires a mix of different tools—including email marketing, website content, social media, marketing automation and direct sales outreach.

Using multiple channels builds the best system of communication at every level of the sales process. This approach increases the chances that you’ll find the right marketing channel to reach your prospects.

2. Don’t send the same content to every single contact—Use Targeted Content

Businesses often use generic content for all leads and then wonder why they don’t see the results they want. Delivering the right content at the right time is key to a successful nurturing campaign. In fact, a study by Experian found that personalized emails produce six times the revenue compared with generic emails, which increases sales opportunities by 20 percent.

Choosing the right content generally depends on where the lead comes from. For example, a welcome for new subscribers may require multiplicity of content. They’re brand new to your marketing activities, so it’s your opportunity to shine with top-performing content. On the other hand, if the lead comes from a webinar, consider using the same or related content. Most likely, that’s where your lead’s interests lie.

Ensure that your content lines up. For example, are the calls to action aligned with where the prospect is at that stage in the process? In addition, make sure your effort to select the perfect piece of content is worth the time required to send and schedule it.

3. Don’t neglect your leads—Create Multiple Touchpoints

The most successful lead nurturing strategies deliver content that helps prospects progress through the buyer’s journey. Addressing common questions and concerns is a top priority. However, you cannot waste time on a one-and-done approach.

Studies show that a typical customer needs as many as 23 touchpoints before being ready to talk to your sales rep. You have to reach out to your leads on every platform they are using. Plus, there should be a system in place to connect all the interactions via those touchpoints to determine what closed the deal.

Additionally, creating more touchpoints means more points to collect data. With more information, you can measure success based on a better understanding of where and when promotions work.

4. Don’t overdo it—Know When and How Much

You know about the pregnant pause, right? People typically use it to make a point during a conversation. The pause allows the other party to consider what’s been said, let it resonate, reflect and prepare for the next point. Consider using this tactic in your lead nurturing.

You must think strategically about the timing and number of drip emails or other communication you send to prospects. For example, if you have a longer sales cycle, it probably doesn’t make sense to send a drip email three times a week.

Keep in mind the time investment required to repeatedly send out those touchpoints, whether automated or sales-rep driven. Be strategic. Don’t keep sending simply because one person out of 100 opened and clicked.

5. Don’t let it sit too long—Follow Up Immediately

Lead nurturing must be a proactive. Every one of your follow-up communications is an opportunity to ask questions, share information that may be valuable to your new lead, and showcase how you can help. But you have to do it quickly.

Research confirms that the chances of converting a lead into a sale are exponentially higher when the lead is contacted immediately following a conversion. Within five minutes, for example, you increase your chances to push the lead right into the sales progression by 21 times compared with making the contact within 30 minutes.

So if a difference of about 25 minutes can give you that much advantage, imagine how much you could be losing if you allow even more time before attempting to contact that converted lead.

The faster you reply to new leads, the greater your chances of turning them into sales.

6. Don’t be too generic—Personalize Content

The success of a lead nurturing program largely depends on the level of personalization and ability to highlight something of interest or relevance to the prospect. Personalized emails tend to produce considerably better results than generic email blasts. Tailor your emails based on job title, service interest, geographic location and more. I would even encourage use of plain text emails with a signature to create the most personalized experience.

7. Don’t go at it alone—Align Sales and Marketing Strategy

Because there are so many tactics involved, your sales and marketing teams must be well aligned and working cohesively. Here are four steps to ensure success with marketing and sales collaboration.

Working together to establish a lead nurturing system will better qualify lead opportunities, set appropriate expectations and avoid conflict between the two functions.

To promote participation by both sales and marketing in lead nurturing, you’ll need to determine when prospects should be transitioned between teams. In creating your lead nurturing strategy, consider how you can use triggers such as lead scoring, page views, workflow enrollment, conversion events or sales contacts to transition leads from automation to direct one-on-one outreach.