In the last couple of years, we’ve seen marketing budgets drop to their lowest levels. The slowdown in the global economy has impacted how much firms are willing to spend on pursuing growth. As brands continue to recover from the pandemic and cope with inflation, the need for growth is paramount. However, taking a low-risk growth strategy can ultimately lead to marketing and sales teams being tasked to do more with less.
To address this, a plan must be put in place to get the maximum value out of every customer interaction whilst delivering engaging and inspiring experiences. Companies that are successful at nurturing leads generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. The days of speculative marketing are in the past – at least for now – and it’s about concentrating on those highly effective, low-cost tactics for growing sales.
Lead nurturing vs. Lead generation
Overall, lead generation and lead nurturing go hand in hand. But it’s important to make the distinction between the two.
Lead generation is the process of identifying and attracting potential customers or leads through various marketing channels and tactics, such as advertising, search engine optimization, content marketing and social media marketing. The goal of lead generation is to generate interest and capture contact information from potential customers, typically in the form of their email address or other contact details.
Lead nurturing is the process of building and maintaining relationships with potential customers or leads to guide them through the sales funnel and ultimately convert them into paying customers. This involves providing valuable information, resources and personalized communication at various stages of the buying process in order to keep them engaged and interested in your product or service. This can include a combination of automated and personalized communications, such as emails, social media interactions, and targeted content marketing.
By nurturing leads with relevant and helpful information, brands can establish trust and credibility, stay top-of-mind with potential customers, and increase the likelihood of converting and loyalty in the long run. The goal is to create a positive customer experience and build a relationship with leads that goes beyond only trying to make a sale.
The importance of B2B lead nurturing
While some leads might “come in from the cold” and make a purchase, most will require warming up. Consumers are leaning to make purchases with their head and not their heart – particularly when budgets are tight in the B2B world where the sales cycle is more complex.
The average B2B buyer’s journey involves consumption of 13 pieces of content. B2B purchases can involve multiple decision-makers and a lead nurturing practice allows marketers to develop & offer the most education and the right times. A potential buyer may not be ready to purchase when they first express interest in a product or service. Lead nurturing allows marketers to stay in touch with potential buyers and make sure they are top-of-mind when the buyer is ready. It’s a long but rewarding game. From understanding the problem, looking for vendors, shortlisting and making a final decision, buyers want to feel like they’re making a considered choice at every stage of their journey to purchase.
Best practices to consider
There are many different elements of a lead nurturing strategy that you need to get right in order to connect with prospects in a way that feels like they’re making an informed decision on a purchase, which ends with your product or service. It’s a bit of an art and a science. The best practices below will help you come up with a winning formula to ensure you’re passing leads over to the sales team at just the right moment:
- Understand your target audience: You need to tune into their pain points, behaviors, interests and needs so that you can engage with them in a way that feels hyper-personalized. Intent data has a big part to play here, which can provide key insights into where a lead is in the buyer’s journey and much more.
- Segment your leads: The more granular you can get with your lead nurturing, the greater chance you have of converting leads. Segmenting leads allows you to tailor your approach to each group’s specific needs and interests. Consider segmenting your campaign based on source, job function or industry, product interest, stage in the sales cycle
- Set clear goals and objectives: This provides focus, clarity and direction for your efforts. By setting clear targets and tracking your progress, you can improve your effectiveness and optimize your campaigns over time. This also supports alignment between marketing and sales teams around a shared vision and purpose to improve collaboration and communication. Developing a protocol for each team’s interactions with leads at specific touchpoints can prevent misunderstandings and ensure a cohesive brand experience for the lead.
- Develop personalized content: This is arguably the most important element of any lead nurturing campaign. Research shows that sales reps get roughly 5% of a customer’s time during their B2B buying journey – so your content has to do the majority of the work in positioning your unique value-add to help guide customers to decision confidence while minimizing uncertainty. The typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers, each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently. Content should be personalized for each group, guiding each decision maker to the same conclusion.
- Use a multichannel approach: B2B buying doesn’t play out in any kind of predictable, linear order and all of the looping and bouncing around isn’t desirable for buyers. Customers value vendors that make it easier for them to navigate the purchase process. A multi-channel approach increases visibility, maximizes reach, provides flexibility, increases engagement, and provides data insights. In other words, it can shorten the buyer’s journey by positioning your product or service as the obvious choice.
Measure and optimize your lead nurturing campaign
Tracking key metrics can help you assess the effectiveness of your campaign and make data-driven decisions to optimize your strategy. Example metrics can include conversion and engagement rates, lead velocity, cost per lead and email open and click-through rates. With the right metrics tracked you can develop plans for testing and refining your lead nurturing strategy based on the insights you gained from the data analysis. This might involve testing different content types, channels, or messaging – e.g. A/B testing – to see which ones are most effective at engaging leads and driving conversions.
Lastly, don’t feel like you have to figure out how to do this on your own. The latest reporting tools allow you to measure and optimize your lead nurturing campaigns almost in real time. It’s imperative that you learn and apply as you go – looking for patterns and trends in your data to understand which aspects of your campaign are working well and which ones need improvement.
Need help designing your ABM strategy? Hotwire can help! Take a look at our case study on DXC Technologies here.