On average, 50% of the leads in any system are not yet ready to buy. As B2B Marketers, we are responsible for nurturing these leads through the customer journey, to ultimately drive conversion.
Lead nurturing campaigns are key to building client relationships during the long, complex B2B sales cycle. This type of campaign gives B2B marketers the ability to move leads through the buyer journey from their first interaction with the business through to the final purchasing decision. Lead nurturing can also continue to be used throughout the entire customer lifecycle after purchase to create customer loyalty, advocacy and even generate referrals. It is the most effective way to ensure you are making the most of your marketing lists and are not losing valuable leads, sales opportunities or customers due to a lack of communication.
As sales funnels are getting longer and buyers are becoming more independent, effective lead nurturing is becoming more and more important. However, more digital marketers are becoming aware of the strategy, so if your brand isn’t currently nurturing prospects, your competitors probably are. If you’re not currently using lead nurturing in your b2b marketing campaigns, it’s time to consider it.
What Exactly is Lead Nurturing?
According to Marketo, a leading provider of automated marketing services, 50% of leads are not yet ready to buy. In addition, a study by MarketingSherpa found that around 80% of new leads don’t convert to sales. Lead nurturing is the most effective way to combat these statistics.
As mentioned above, lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with prospects at every stage of the sales funnel to move them through the sales journey. It focuses marketing efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing them with the information and answers that they need at different stages of their buyer journey. As relevance and efficiency are improved with lead nurturing, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost.
How Lead Scoring Impacts Lead Nurturing
Lead scoring is a vital element of any lead nurturing campaign. In fact, there’s not much point in running a lead nurturing campaign without it.
The importance of lead scoring should not be underestimated. Without it, you don’t know which prospects are most engaged and it’s more difficult to identify where they are in their buyer journey. However, despite the overwhelming reasons to implement lead scoring, currently, only 21% of B2B marketers are using it.
If you are not familiar with lead scoring, it is a process that is used to rank prospects based on the perceived value of the lead to the company. Most marketing automation platforms offer a lead scoring functionality that can be implemented by assigning numeric values to certain actions such as clicks, events, or even social media interactions. The score is then used by digital marketers to determine which leads are sales qualified and should be followed up by the sales team, and which leads need more nurturing to move them further through the sales funnel to purchase.
In order to effectively develop a lead nurturing strategy, digital marketers have to implement a strategic lead scoring system. To do this effectively, it is vital to get input from both the marketing and sales teams. Consider the following questions:
- What is the lead scoring threshold where a lead becomes sales qualified?
- What actions are most valuable to your company and as such, hold a higher weight for lead scoring?
- Should certain actions result in negative scoring?
Once the scoring system is in place, you can start to develop your lead nurturing tactics.
The Most Effective Lead Nurturing Tactics
The key to effective lead nurturing is to identify which targets are interested in your offering and when to connect with them. It’s about a marketing conversation: communicating with your customers and prospects regularly with content from your company so you leave an imprint on their mind until they need you. The following are some of the best ways to do this.
1. Create Targeted Content
Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20%. By strategically targeting your leads with content that is relevant to them, you can accelerate their buyer journey.
However, many B2B marketers struggle with this. A Forrester Research report stated that 33% of B2B marketers said “targeted delivery of content” was their biggest challenge to lead nurturing. In order to effectively get the right content to the right people at the right time, you need to first understand your target audience. Once you have identified this audience, you need to create a range of content that engages the audience based on their interests, goals, objectives, and motivations. The content should also line up with their specific point in the buyer journey.
2. Follow Up On-Time
If you follow up with a lead within five minutes of them entering the sales process, they are 21 times more likely to become a qualified lead than if you contact them after 30 minutes. The benefits of acting quickly are obvious. However, this does take a bit of manual effort and a human touch.
While automated lead nurturing can help you reach large groups of prospects quickly and efficiently, a follow-up phone call or personal email is the most effective way to convert leads into sales qualified leads. In addition, a timely, well-researched call to a warm lead is much more effective than spending your time on outbound telemarketing. In order to really make the most of the sales opportunity, make sure you know exactly what the prospects is interested in and how they have interacted with your business online. Before you call them it can also be helpful to do a quick Google search of their company so that you know exactly what they do before calling them.
3. Don’t Restrict Lead Nurturing to Email
59% of B2B marketers say email is their most effective channel in terms of revenue generation. While the channel is undeniably effective for B2B marketers, it’s important to ensure that your campaign incorporates more than just email. Many lead nurturing strategies consist of setting up an email drip campaign that regularly sends emails to prospects. However, with so many digital options now available and programs that can help streamline campaigns across them all, there’s no excuse to stick solely to email. In fact, your campaign will be more effective with the addition of more channels.
The most effective lead nurturing tactics span channels, with a combination of marketing automation, email marketing, social media, remarketing and sales outreach. This will obviously require a bit more effort in terms of set up and ongoing maintenance of the campaign. Your sales and marketing teams will also have to have to work together to execute it effectively. However, when done right, your business’ bottom line will reap the rewards of multi-channel lead nurturing.
4. Use Multiple Touchpoints
Prospects have to receive, on average, twelve marketing touches from the time they are introduced to the top of funnel until they convert. As such, any lead nurturing campaign should really have 12 or more touchpoints. Ideally, you should be communicating with your prospects through a range of different types of content such as email, social media posts, blog articles, whitepapers, interactive surveys and even direct mail, to nurture your prospects into customers. The content that you send should be aligned to their point in the buyer journey, addressing common questions and concerns at that specific stage.
5. Align Sales & Marketing
When sales and marketing teams share the responsibility of lead nurturing, businesses see a significant increase in conversion rates. The most important thing to make sure sales and marketing are on the same page with, is the identification of a ‘sales qualified lead’. Sales and marketing should agree on the point where a prospect should transition from being ‘marketing qualified’ to being ‘sales qualified’. This comes down to lead scoring. Both parties should work together to agree how valuable certain actions are in the lead nurturing process, for example opening an email or interacting with a social post, and assign a score to each. By ensuring both teams work together in this way, you can create more defined roles and shared expectations for the campaign.
Personalisation is key to an effective lead nurturing program. It’s also not too difficult to implement, particularly in the email component of the campaign. Personalised emails can generate up to six times higher revenue per email than non-personalised emails. Emails can be personalised in a number of ways, for example, you can set up triggers to send emails when a visitor clicks a link in your email, visits a certain page on your site, or downloads a piece of gated content. It can also be useful to send a personalised email when a prospect is highly engaged with your brand.
At the Lead Agency, we’ve worked on a number of successful lead nurturing campaigns. Get in touch with our experts today for more information.
Want to proactively plan for future success? Start developing your business’ strategy for next year with our blog on B2B marketing 2020 trends.