Do you find your leads seem to go as quiet as the grave? Does it sometimes take an eternity for them to respond? Are you frightened by the idea that many of them may never open your emails, answer your calls, or visit your website ever again?

We have some scary news for you – it’s not them, it’s you. Really. Buyers of all stripes are in charge of these days. So it’s up to you to know what they are looking for and provide it to them in the right context, at just the right time.

That means you need to time and deliver your carefully created content, clever posts, and viral-ready videos and images so the people you want to communicate with–your customers and prospects–consider your lead-nurturing communication more like treats than tricks.

Here’s how:

Know your buyers. This includes new prospects, as well as current customers. Of course this process never ends, but get started by developing buyer personas that take into account what information they are looking for, where they go to find it, and how they share it among themselves.

Segment your prospect database. Who wants to be tricked into viewing something that looks like it was planned for someone else? Consider whether your buyers have just begun searching for a solution or are already deep into their research. Other factors to consider include what role they play in the purchasing process, any specific product or solution interest, and what region they live in if you have different messaging for different geographies.

Match their level of interest to yours. Have they clicked through every page of your website and downloaded every single piece of content? (It happens.) Have they taken a look at your locations or clicked a contact form? Then by all means, pick up the phone and call. And send them unique emails – written expressly for them, not uniform emails “personalized” with their first name. They are ready to talk. Are you?

On the other hand, if someone has just viewed one video or opened an email, don’t scare them off with a barrage of phone calls. Be available to answer questions and show you’re paying attention (see the next tip), but be respectful.

Send them content based on what they’ve already shown interest in. What problem are they trying to solve, and how can you help them? If they show interest in a certain solution, then send them a case study about how it’s worked for someone else, a buying guide that anticipates how to evaluate different options, or a blog about how to solve this particular challenge. Offer up more resources along the same vein so they can choose their own adventure.

But don’t switch gears and send them information about a different solution or product. You’re having a conversation here. Don’t be like that guy at the party who never listens.

Be everywhere. For starters, don’t limit your lead-nurturing outreach to email. Connect via LinkedIn.  Follow them on Twitter. Friend them on Facebook. Learn all you can about them. But don’t stop there. Marketing automation makes it possible for you to remarket to your leads, even if they have yet to share their contact information with you via IP address. Keep your solution top of mind with display advertising, promoted Tweets, and on-domain promoted resources. Through personalized multichannel campaigns, you can improve your chances of making an impression that matters.

Intelligent lead nurturing, smart lead scoring, and persistent cross-channel marketing campaigns take time and effort, but they work. With some planning and practice, you too can have the kinds of conversations that turn prospects into real live customers.

Find out how to use your marketing automation system to move behind one-size-fits-all lead nurturing with The Marketing Automation Owners Manual now.