Lead nurturing is the process of tracking leads and building relationships with prospects by providing highly relevant content throughout the sales cycle. With so much chatter on this topic, it’s easy for B2Bs, distributors, manufacturers and VARs to develop analysis paralysis.
For B2Bs to nurture leads properly, they need to provide superb, informative content that helps build their brand’s authority while carefully cultivating relationships with prospects in order to turn them into loyal customers.
This may sound simple enough—but with all the information available about how to improve lead nurturing tactics—it is easy to become inundated and then fail to act. To help sort through the clutter, here are 6 best practices to keep in mind for your B2B lead nurturing process.
1. Automate, Yes – But Don’t Forget the Human Element!
These days, many B2Bs use some form of lead nurturing and/or customer relationship management (CRM) software, which combine the tracking of qualified leads with automated content delivery though various marketing funnels.
Marketing automation has led to huge gains in productivity and the ability to scale up. There are many such solutions on the market but a common theme with these software advances is the ease with which you can collaborate and streamline the processes between your sales and marketing departments. Together, they can monitor sales leads while nurturing them via multiple channels such as websites, e-mail, video and social media. Marketing automation also allows for the following:
Nevertheless, just because you’ve automated your marketing doesn’t mean you can forget the human side. Effective lead nurturing is a business process first and a technological solution second. Many tasks like choosing and optimizing the right content, answering specific questions and helping to manage customer risk are manual in nature and require human judgment. After all, software does not nurture. Humans do!
2. Be Relevant
B2B lead nurturing must be based on relevance. However, what is pertinent differs amongst prospects depending on what stage of interaction they’re at with your company. For example, those at the start of the purchasing cycle may be interested in a downloadable E-guide whereas those nearing the end may want a free trial or demo. Using marketing automation will help you get the timing right and nurture your prospects accordingly.
Relevancy also means creating your content and messaging based on the role of the individual contact (e.g. C-level person, technical decision maker, end user), their activity history, preferred style of communication and any other relevant metrics you’ve obtained through list segmentation. Again, being appropriate is the key here. For example, a CEO is less likely to attend a webinar and more likely to download a white paper to be read on a tablet while flying off to a business meeting.
Lastly, the most useful content is that which inspire trusts, builds brand loyalty and drives action.
3. Create Various CTA offers
Due to the different buyer stages and personas, you need to have various Calls-to-Action (CTAs) spread throughout your website. Remember: You have less than six seconds to grab your reader’s attention, so make your CTAs clear, concise and easy to follow.
4. Personalize E-mails
Research clearly shows that higher click through rates (CTR) occur when e-mail messages are personalized compared to generic mass e-mail campaigns. Use personalized content in e-mails, including first names in both the greeting and the closure. Implement this practice during all correspondence.
5. Tell it, Don’t Sell it
When a prospect enters one of your lead nurturing marketing funnels, they have voluntarily requested information. This is your opportunity to begin fostering a relationship by writing nurturing email copy that is conversational, informative, and supportive. Use plain English because most people scan ahead before they decide to keep reading or commit to further action. Resist overly “salesy” or promotional language.
6. Keep on Nurturing
While “hot” leads are exciting and require prompt action, the nurturing process should continue on the after-sales side too. Don’t let arbitrary boundaries between marketing and sales obscure the need to support prospects seamlessly throughout and beyond the buying cycle. This includes your existing customers who also need continued nurturing!
B2Bs who excel at lead nurturing stand to increase significantly their sales-ready leads, and at a low cost per lead. However, one of the challenges is that most B2B buyers will do ongoing research—reading reviews and obtaining information from others—before speaking with your sales people. In fact, 73 % of all B2B leads are not sales-ready, according to Marketing Sherpa.
For these reasons, it is vitally important to maintain long-term consistent contact with your leads. Studies show that ongoing, regular communication and tracking does in fact turn leads into customers, even it takes months or years. It is all about the “when”— that is to say, when the customer decides it is convenient for them to open that email and embark on the buying cycle.