What Are Warm Leads? 10 Ways To Keep Them From Going Cold


Oftentimes businesses rely on cold outreach, but does it make sense for your operations?

Contacting prospects who are unfamiliar with your offering can be inefficient. Cold calling, for example, has a conversion rate of 2%. That can make sense for some businesses that rely on those types of outreach methods, but the best way to produce higher conversion rates is to focus on warm leads instead.

Warm leads are prospects who have shown some type of genuine interest in your business — and the important thing is that these prospects are much more receptive to your offering, leading to better closing rates than cold leads.

In this article, we will cover everything warm leads: what they are, ways to generate and convert them, and how Smith.ai can assist your operations in lead conversion

What are warm leads?

Warm leads are prospects who have expressed interest in your business. They may have submitted their contact information, signed up for a newsletter, or interacted with your content. 

In the marketing ecosystem, warm leads inhabit the middle ground of lead criteria. They are much more receptive to your offering than cold leads, but they still need to be effectively nurtured to become a hot lead or paying customer.

At the end of the day, warm leads are important for your business because they aren’t strangers to your offering. They are further down the sales funnel and can be more easily guided toward a buying decision. 

This leads to less time needed to convert them, and makes the overall process of contacting, nurturing, and closing them much more effective than with cold leads.

What’s the difference between hot leads, warm leads, and cold leads?

In regards to prospects, there are typically three main classifications of leads: cold, warm, and hot.

  • Cold leads: These are the prospects who have little to no knowledge of your business. Converting them, or even moving them down the sales funnel, is typically difficult because they have not been qualified. These individuals may have no interest in your product or service, and will take the most time to convert, if at all. Depending on the industry, these leads convert at around 2%, according to Search Engine Journal.
  • Warm leads: These prospects have interacted with your business in some way, and show genuine interest in your offering. While these individuals are not yet ready to make a purchase, they have a good chance of converting if they are nurtured properly. Warm leads typically have a conversion rate of around 15%.
  • Hot leads: These prospects are ready to buy now. They have either been nurtured effectively or have done comprehensive research to determine that your business is right for their needs. At this point, your sales team just needs to help them cross the finish line. Top companies can close hot leads at a rate of around 30%.
Five Ways To Generate Warm Leads

5 ways to generate warm leads

Plain and simple, warm leads are better prospects to focus on than cold leads. They have already shown some type of interest in your company, leading to a better chance they will become customers.

Here are five methods you can use today to generate more warm leads. 

1. Personalization

Prospects are more receptive to brands that offer personalized content. In fact, a study by Epsilon found that 4 in 5 individuals are more likely to buy from a brand that personalizes its messaging. 

But before you start changing your social media ads and email subject lines en masse, you need to know your ideal customer profile (ICP) through and through. Who are they? What are their pain points? If B2B, how large is the company? What is their budget? Where are they located? Asking yourself these questions and more will ensure your messaging stays consistent and effective. 

Once you have all the necessary background information on your prospects, you can begin effective personalization. Wherever there’s outreach, there’s potential for personalization, but a few easy starting points include:

  • Emails: Personalizing emails is a great way to increase open rates and engagement. Experiment with different subject lines and body copy that may resonate better with your warm leads. 
  • Ads: Pay-per-click (PPC) and social media ads can speak to new prospects and warm leads with retargeting capabilities. Use the information you know about your ideal customers to your benefit with ad content that speaks to their pain points and interests. 
  • Website: Your website is ripe with opportunity for client communication. You can personalize headings, body copy, and even your entire layout to best speak to prospects and current customers. 

2. Lead magnets

A lead magnet is a marketing strategy that involves giving away a long-form piece of content in exchange for the prospect’s contact information. This can be an eBook, white paper, case study, template, calculator result, or anything else relevant to your industry. 

This type of content is particularly useful for a few key reasons:

  • Gathers prospect information: Through a reciprocal process, prospects give out their contact information in exchange for a piece of useful and actionable content. What you choose to gather is up to you, but their name and email address should be the bare minimum. 
  • Establishes authority: People buy from those they trust. If your business, for example, writes a comprehensive eBook on a pain point in the industry, prospects will start to see your business as a trusted voice. This builds trust among prospects, leading to more conversions down the road.
  • Starts an email dialogue: Downloadable content is typically sent to the email address the prospect provides. This is the start of an email dialogue, and your business can launch a drip email campaign after the initial deliverable is sent.

Exactly where you decide to house lead magnets is up to you, but a good starting point is a landing page — just over half of all landing page information submissions come from lead magnets. 

3. Quality content

Not only does creating quality content position your brand as an authority, but it’s also a key aspect of a demand generation strategy.

Demand generation is any type of marketing that introduces prospects to your company and gets them interested in your offering. This can include blog posts, eBooks, case studies, templates, and anything else related to content. 

Three in four marketers actively utilize content marketing strategies like this to generate new leads, and one reason is that it brings prospects to the top of your sales funnel. From there, businesses can nurture these leads until they become customers.

The key first step in creating content — which we outlined above — is to know your ICP in depth. From there, you can create content that resonates.

4. Social media 

In today’s world, virtually everyone is on social media in one form or another — it’s up to you to find where your ideal customers spend their time and create a presence there.

Beyond the advertising and personalization capabilities, social media can be a place where you create authentic dialogue with prospects. Posting regular, informative content will fill your follower base with warm leads, and the comment sections provide opportunities to answer FAQs.

Considering nearly 70% of marketers agree that social media marketing helps get more leads, a comprehensive social strategy should be at the forefront of every business’s lead generation efforts. 

5. Sense of urgency

When you set deadlines for a product sale or a piece of content, you create a “fear of missing out,” also known as FOMO, which makes prospects more likely to take action. 

Humans are naturally inclined to make a purchase or participate in something that has a set end date, and you can use this to your advantage in many different ways throughout your business. To generate sales, you can implement countdown timers or special pricing end dates. To acquire more warm leads, you can apply this same urgency principle to your lead magnets, webinars, and other pieces of informative content.

As proof of concept, software company LifterLMS generated nearly $25,000 in additional sales within a few months simply by using a countdown timer on its product page. 

Five Ways To Convert Warm Leads

5 ways to convert warm leads

Now that you’ve generated your warm leads, what’s the best way to move them down the sales funnel and convert them into paying customers? ‘

Here are five tips you can implement in your operations today. 

1. Perform effective outreach

Let’s face it: Converting leads can be difficult. Attracting prospects to your business is only the tip of the iceberg, as you need to have every stage of the sales funnel working flawlessly to convert those prospects into customers.

An easy way to solve this problem is by leaving the conversion process to virtual receptionists who specialize in outreach calls, like we offer at Smith.ai.

With our outreach campaign capabilities, we can serve as your dedicated SDR team, allowing you to engage with more leads and clients. Simply provide us with prospects, leads, or current partners, and we can make sure they are engaged, qualified, and converted. Not only that, but we can set appointments, track conversations, and follow up with emails and text messages. 

Through curated outreach campaigns, you’ll have the ability to revolutionize your outreach and conversion effectiveness. 

2. Align your sales and marketing teams

Converting warm leads into customers is even more difficult when your organization is misaligned.

Sales and marketing teams should be in perfect harmony throughout the lead nurturing process, but unfortunately, some organizations are more of a cacophony than a symphony. In fact, misalignment between sales and marketing departments costs businesses an estimated $1 trillion per year

There are plenty of opportunities for miscommunication throughout the lead nurturing process — for example, the marketing department passing warm leads to sales too early can result in mismanaged prospects at best and missed opportunities at worst. 

Make sure both departments are aligned in all touchpoints and outreach efforts throughout the sales funnel to ensure you’re communicating with warm leads at the right time and as effectively as possible. 

3. Establish a lead nurturing framework

It’s not enough to simply generate warm leads — you need to establish a comprehensive, repeatable framework that ensures prospects move down your sales funnel at any time – regardless of when they enter. It must be scalable.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but businesses often fail to interact with their prospects correctly. Four in five leads never convert to customers because they have not been properly nurtured. 

To avoid falling into the wrong side of that statistic, you need a framework for nurturing your leads. Here are a few things to consider when establishing your strategy:

  • Consistency: You want your lead nurturing process to be as consistent and repeatable as possible. When doing so, you can ensure every prospect gets the same quality of outreach, and you can evaluate touchpoints over time to determine which are most effective and vice versa. 
  • Content: Lead nurturing can be described as an ongoing conversation with prospects, and one of the best ways to maintain dialogue is with content. Make sure you have content for all stages of the sales funnel — top of the funnel (ToFu), middle of the funnel (MoFu), and bottom of the funnel (BoFu), based on buyer readiness.
  • Timing: Make sure you know not only how to contact prospects, but when to do it. How long is your sales process? For example, if it typically takes three months to make a sale, you may want to establish communication touchpoints with prospects every week during those three months. 

4. Follow up effectively with email

As we touched on briefly above, timing is a key component of a lead nurturing strategy. You need to plan how and when to follow up with warm leads to ensure they continue to move down the sales funnel.

First, establish what methods of communication you are planning to use. Depending on your industry and sales cycle, you may want to have a mix of outreach strategies, but one of the most effective is email campaigns. Nearly half of all marketers agree that email marketing is the most effective approach when nurturing leads. 

Be sure to personalize your email content with relevant insights that your ideal customer finds engaging. Experiment with subject lines and have a mix of body content that fits the buying stage of your prospects so you can deliver timely, relevant messaging when it matters most.

Finally, set up a contact schedule that will send specific content to every new warm lead. Depending on your industry, that may look something like this:

  • Day 1: Send a welcome email 
  • Day 10: Send a link to a MoFu piece of content
  • Day 15: Send an industry-specific white paper
  • Day 20: Send a link to a free webinar
  • Day 30: Send a personal email from a sales rep to set up a meeting

5. Offer free trials

If you’re able to issue free trials of your offering, it could result in much higher close rates. In fact, 60% of free trials end with paying customers. 

To establish a successful free trial campaign, you need to follow a few best practices, including:

  • Set the expectation: Your prospect needs to know exactly what they’re signing up for. Make sure to explicitly state the duration of the trial, the features they will have access to, how payment will work at the end of the trial, and any other information you deem relevant. 
  • Get payment information: When a prospect inputs their payment details, they are more likely to value the trial and put effort into experimenting with the product. Also, if they end up wanting to cancel, it affords an opportunity to ask for feedback on why they are leaving.
  • Track results: As with any outreach efforts, you need to track the results of your free trial. Document figures such as how many trials are successful, any changes in revenue, and customer feedback. 

Warm leads FAQ

Here are a few frequently asked questions about warm leads.

How do you get warm leads?

Generating warm leads can be achieved in a multitude of different ways, but five methods of doing so include personalization, lead magnets, quality content, social media efforts, and creating a sense of urgency.

How do you close warm leads?

Closing on warm leads can be a difficult process, but five methods of doing so include implementing outreach campaigns, aligning sales and marketing, establishing a lead nurturing system, following up effectively, and offering free trials. 

Why do leads go cold?

Leads can go cold for a variety of reasons. A business may not be contacting them effectively, waiting too long to reach out, not providing enough value, or maybe the prospect just isn’t a good fit. Overall, you can attempt to avoid this by establishing a solid lead nurturing framework. 

Smith.ai can help keep your warm leads from going cold

Generating and converting warm leads can be difficult. You need organizational alignment, quality content, and a host of other touchpoints to keep prospects moving down the sales funnel.

On the other hand, you could take lead management off your plate with help from Smith.ai. Our agents’ outreach capabilities follow custom AI-driven workflows to maximize your lead conversions. Simply provide us with your leads, and we do the rest.

Book a consultation today to learn how Smith.ai can revolutionize your cold and warm outreach efforts.

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Written by Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin is Smith.ai's SVP of Growth. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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