A strong lead nurturing program is one of the key elements for long-term growth and success in a B2B organization. Often times, the weakest point of the conversion funnel is not at the top or bottom, where most people assume it would be.
Instead, the greatest falling off point is typically in the nurturing stage which is designed to turn a lead into a buyer and a repeat customer. But while the majority of B2B leaders would agree that lead nurturing is important, just 22% of these companies actually implement a structured lead nurturing program.
This could mean that much of your marketing team’s hard work generating potential leads is wasted, slowing down the sales cycle and slashing conversion rates in the process.
Establishing an effective and efficient lead nurturing strategy is one of the best ways to increase sales.
Whether your company already has some sort of system in place or you are starting from scratch, here are four key elements that can lay the foundation for successful lead nurturing.
Understand What Motivates Your Audience
In order to effectively nurture prospects, you first need to pinpoint the initial attraction that will capture your customer’s attention. Getting into the mind of the lead and understanding their needs, motivations and desires is the best way to nurture them into a paying customer — something that’s easier said than done.
Start by analyzing your target audience and see if you can truly answer questions like:
- What initially drew them in or attracted their interest?
- What motivates them to buy your product?
- How will it directly influence them, is it the most budget-friendly option or has the highest quality?
- What aspects of your business are going to keep them engaged?
To be able to answer these questions correctly, you will need to do a deep dive into your audience’s specific segments and possibly conduct market research as well. Obviously, the answers are not going to be the same across the board, especially if you service a wide array of customers.
Start by identifying the links that are driving in leads and analyze the context.
- Is it a specific ad that offers a promotional deal that drives in converting customers?
- Are they arriving through organic searches that lead them to content marketing articles?
To dive deeper, you may also want to reach out to past customers with a survey to get a better idea of their motivations. Ask them how they heard about your business, why they chose you over a competitor, and what services they like best about your company.
This will help you understand the motivations of future customers to create a better nurturing program.
Focus on Sales and Marketing Alignment
Typically, the marketing and sales funnel is split up into three main categories, with marketers taking care of the top of the funnel (lead generation) while sales teams work on the bottom to guide leads towards a conversion.
However, these teams need to be working together to define what makes the best kinds of leads and how both teams will be nurturing them. One of the best ways to do this is to create a lead scoring system that ranks prospects by the likelihood of their conversion.
The first step is to take a look at previous customers and identify the similarities that are related to conversion.
For example, if the majority of converting customers are coming from SMBs with under 100 employees, this would be a qualifying factor. These factors can be behavioral, too, such as leads driven from a specific website link or ones that take advantage of a certain promotional offer.
Using this type of system can help with sales and marketing alignment because it allows them to work together to optimize their strategies on all parts of the conversion funnel.
By driving in better leads, the chances of conversions are higher and the nurturing process will be much easier.
Develop an Automated System for Instant Nurturing
Depending on the type of services or products your company offers, the sales cycle can be quite lengthy.
On average, your sales team will need to contact a prospect three to five times before they convert into an opportunity, and 25% of businesses will need to interact more than six times before this occurs.
By automating some of these interactions, your sales team can free up time to focus on nurturing prospects closer to closing — instead of wasting their time talking on the phone or responding to emails.
It is important though that your automation practices are not a one-size-fits-all approach. B2B buyers’ content preferences can change depending on which stage of research they are in during the nurturing process. For example, early stage buyers prefer more informational content, while late stage customers want more in-depth content like reports and case studies.
To optimize your nurturing efforts with automation — but still keeping it personalized — it is best to use a CRM system that keeps close tabs on past interactions to track the lead’s position along the sales funnel. From here, it can automatically adjust marketing tactics to fit their preferences.
Really Focus on Email
Email is still far and away one of the most popular content marketing tools used by both B2B and B2C organizations — and for good reason. It is relatively cheap to create this content and is typically very effective.
In order to maximize your efforts, you need to include personalized details to capture the reader’s attention and get them engaged. There are two key components to this type of nurturing strategy:
- Trigger-based marketing systems
First off, you need to have a properly segmented audience to target them correctly. These segments will differ for each company/campaign, but you can start with generalized categories like business size, location, or lead score.
From there, you can use this segmentation to create a more personalized trigger-based marketing system. This adjusts the type of email content and frequency of interactions a lead receives based on their behavior.
For instance, say a lead downloads an e-book from your site. An automated follow-up email should be sent out 24 hours later asking if they have questions for the sales team.
By using this approach, you stand a far better chance of increasing click-through rates because the content will be far more relevant to the individual customer.
Lead nurturing is often one of the most neglected stages of the buyer’s journey. This is because it takes lots of time, patience and persistence to convert a lead into a paying customer.
However, when done correctly, a good lead nurturing strategy can have the greatest effect on the bottom line and boost conversions dramatically.