B2B Marketing Blog

Lead Nurturing: The What, Why and Some Lessons Learned

Sep 21, 2017 10:30:00 AM / by Lisa Shepherd

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Lead nurturing in B2B sales is the process of building a relationship with prospective buyers who are not ready to buy yet, developing relationships with them at every stage of the sales funnel and through every step of the buyer’s journey.  Lead nurturing is targeted to build a reputation of a helpful and customer-oriented brand.1

  

If you’re wondering if you should be nurturing leads, the answer is yes.  Include it in your marketing strategy and tactical plan.   Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months.2 If you have already made an investment in content marketing and other lead generation tactics and are collecting information from potential customers you need to be nurturing those leads.  50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy2 and lead nurturing allows you to stay top of mind as these potential customers work their way through their buying journey.  Remember that they want to learn about you and ensure you are credible BEFORE they talk to anyone at your company.  

If you’re already happy with your marketing foundation and website, you also need to produce quality content that your audience will engage with.  Make the content available and keep it gated for the duration of the campaign to collect information.  Do not pass these contacts to Sales after one interaction with your content.  I continue to be surprised to get a follow up email from a sales person after I download content.  That tells me their company is one of the 65% that have not established lead nurturing2.  Companies with mature lead generation and management practices have a 9.3% higher sales quota achievement rate.2

Establish your lead scoring.  Please consult with the sales team and ensure that your process matches the lessons learned via the experience and knowledge of your sales team.  They will understand how prospective customers work their way through the sales process and what information is needed at what stage of the buying process.   Use that information to build your content, establish your campaigns and monitor and adjust as needed.

Some lessons we’ve learned along the way:

  1. Ensure your marketing strategy is solid. You need to have a thorough understanding of your customer personas and their buying journey.  Make sure that you have several pieces of content that matches each stage in that journey so that you have options to deliver content over time to a lead that is stalled in a particular stage.
  2. Keep good lists of contact information. Segment your list and work with good software to keep the lists clean and up to date with the marketing qualified leads.  It’s hard to do and requires a lot of diligence.  We have written on this in our blog before.
  3. Know your metrics so you can understand and set realistic goals – including a stretch goal. How many contacts are necessary to lead to a qualified lead that can be passed to sales?  How many qualified leads convert to sales?  Over what time frame?  We see many SMB companies struggling to understand their sales metrics which are critical to establishing accountable goals for any revenue generation including a lead nurturing program.
  4. Commit to following applicable privacy legislation. You may have a thorough understanding of privacy and email regulation in your target market – although that would put you in the minority – but you will acquire contacts from outside that geography.  Ensure you know what to do with that information and how those prospective customers are expecting their information to be used.  You don’t have to receive a massive fine to hurt your brand through ignorance of legislation.
  5. Ensure the cadence of your communication is frequent enough to keep top of mind but not enough to be annoying and resulting in unsubscribes in your email list. You will learn this through experimentation but the rule of thumb for niche products is to reach out every 7 business days.  Experiment with more or less days and see how you do.  Remember that every unsubscribe is a hidden cost in your marketing.

Lead nurturing is a more advanced tactic and requires thoughtful considering to implement and run successfully.  Please connect with us if you would like assistance from the B2B Marketing experts.

 Sources: 

  1. What is Lead Nurturing?". marketo.com. 11 January 2016.
  2. 30 Thought-Provoking Lead Nurturing Stats You Can't Ignore. September 14, 2017.

Topics: B2B Marketing, B2B Marketing Strategy, B2B Marketing Planning, B2B marketing tactics, B2B sales, lead nurturing, lead management

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