Is your marketing goal really lead generation? Or, is your goal to get more customers? There is a difference, and without a lead nurturing strategy, you’re only going to be generating numbers.
Let me explain.
Lead nurturing is required to continue the marketing conversation while the prospective customer is going through their buying cycle. The biggest B2B marketing myth is that buyers will exhibit a buying behavior on their first visit to a website. According to an article in MarketingSherpa 79% of un-nurtured leads [source] will never convert into a customer.
The B2B buyer’s process is, as you know, a very long and complicated process. A 2020 study by Gartner [source] found that the rapid change in the buying dynamics partnered with the buyer’s online behavior is requiring businesses to completely re-think their marketing strategies.
Again, according to Gartner [source], B2B buyers go through six stages during their decision making process.
- Problem Identification
- Solution Exploration
- Requirements Building
- Supplier Selection
- Consensus Creation
To further complicate B2B marketing we’re now seeing buyers bouncing between buying stages as opposed to going through these stages in a linear progression. Gartner’s research showed that these b2b buyers will revisit almost every one of these six stages at least one additional time prior to making a decision.
Why Lead Nurturing Is Important
With this information, it becomes clear that having someone land on your website one time (the result of lead generation) is not going to generate a sales opportunity. It will require multiple visits by a B2B buyer who is obtaining a variety of information (the result of lead nurturing) to get a new customer from your marketing efforts.
Imagine a typical scenario of how a lead generation campaign works. You run marketing campaigns that have a targeted message to people that are in a position to make either a buying decision or to influence a buying decision. The goal of the marketing campaigns are to get some type of response to your marketing message. Most of the time the desired response is to visit a website or to contact your sales department.
Because of b2b buyer’s desire to self-serve for the vast majority of information gathering that they need for their buying decision, the chance that they are going to contact your sales department is extremely slim. That means the majority (if not all) of your marketing campaigns should be trying to drive people to specific areas of your website (don’t ever, ever, ever, send traffic to your website’s home page).
Without a lead nurturing strategy, your ability to stay in touch with and guide your buyers through their buying journey is eliminated. If you are not nurturing the leads that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate, they are simply going to just go away. It is imperative that you include lead nurturing in your marketing strategies.
How To Implement Lead Nurturing
The whole point to lead nurturing is to make sure the leads that your marketing efforts are generating are sales-ready before they are handed over to the sales people within your company. Getting leads to the point of being sales-ready requires some of the following tasks to be completed:
- Segmentation: To get your prospective customer to engage with your marketing messaging you have to give them messaging that is highly relevant. The first step to providing highly relevant messaging is to segment the people that are in your marketing and/or sales database by characteristics that make sense for your company. Typical segment categories are geographical location, industry, solutions that you provide, or possibly even by product.
- Content: Any B2B lead nurturing strategy is going to place a lot of dependency on content. You will need content for the various solutions or products that your company offers, content that is relevant for the different stages of the buy cycle, and content for the various “positions” or “titles” within your customer’s company that have a share of the decision making process.
- Website: Your website is going to play an integral role in your lead nurturing efforts so it’s going to have to be prepared to carry the weight. Make sure that there is the right content that people will be coming to read. Make sure that your navigation structure is setup properly so that they can easily find what they’re looking for. And, last buy not least, make sure that your site is working optimally for mobile devices.
Lead Nurturing Strategy
Lead nurturing is not something that starts providing results quickly. To establish a proper lead nurturing program, it has to be developed with the long game in mind. Below are some of the lead nurturing strategies and tactics that have demonstrated success.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Generally speaking this is a pretty big hurdle to cross for many organizations. However, once these two departments are in alignment the results for your company can be amazing. To get both teams on the same page, here are some tactics that can be used.
- Ideal Customer Profile: Get both sales and marketing teams together to completely detail out what your company’s Ideas Customer Profile (ICP) looks like. Identifiers such as company revenue, number of employees, industry, geography can all be identifiers for your ICP. The identifiers that will make sense for your company will be unique to your company. The important part to this is that your sales and marketing teams are in agreement as to the identifiers that you will use to rate potential leads.
- Customer Journey: Identify the journey that each of your ICP segments take as they travel through their buying cycle. During your ICP’s decision making process they generally go through similar stages. From the initial “Problem Identification” stage all the way through to the “Consensus Creation” stage. It’s important that you identify the stages that your ICP’s go through and what type of information they are looking for during those stages.
- Lead Scoring: Develop a way to score the behaviors of your leads. Maybe they’ll get 5 points if they visit a specific page on your website. Possibly they’ll get 20 points if they download a paper from your website or maybe they’ll get a whopping 25 points if they attend one of your webinars. The point to a lead score is that the more or higher interest behaviors increase their interest and subsequent desire to talk with one of your sales people.
Once you generate a lead, what are you going to do with it? If you’re like most companies, today, once you generate a lead, you immediately send it over to the sales team for them to “follow up” with the lead. With your new lead nurturing program you’ll only send over the leads that you can identify are at the final stages of their buying stage and are ready to speak with a sales representative.
The rest of your leads will be “managed” as they move back and forth within their buying process. As they move through their buying process you will have a management process that continues to provide highly relevant information to them.
Being able to use the information you’re capturing about the prospects behaviors (i.e. what type of content they are consuming on your website) will give you the ability to set up proactive marketing communications that will be highly relevant to the customer’s interests.
The two best marketing channels for this proactive communication are email and re-targeted advertising. Consider this scenario, one of your leads, Jimmy Dean, lands on one of your website pages that’s promoting your new product. Now that you are aware of Jimmy’s interest in your new product, you can further educate him with an email that goes into more detail on your new product and/or you can re-target online ads promoting the product that Jimmy is interested in, with display ads on other websites that Jimmy visits.
Lead Nurturing is far to important to today’s B2B marketing and sales process to just not do it. However, it takes a fair amount of planning, content, and website preparation to do it correctly. If you’re interested in learning more about this, just let us know and we can set up a call to discuss it and if it might be a good fit for your company.