What is B2B Lead Nurturing?
Does your B2B Lead Nurturing Strategy have what it truly takes to convert those leads to sales?
Lead nurturing for B2B companies is a comprehensive process of developing relationships with your leads, even if they are not currently looking to buy your product or service. Although, they could be an ideal customer in the future. The next step then involves nurturing them through the buying process.
The main goal of this process is to raise a company’s profile and increase awareness of their products, brand, and services and to build long-lasting trust. Adopting lead nurturing best practices makes it more likely that consumers will then choose your product when they are ready to make a purchase.
The process leading up to a purchase decision has changed significantly in the last few years. Consumers today, have access to a lot more information than ever before. This means that your B2B lead nurturing strategies might need an upgrade!
Google’s CEB Marketing Leadership Council Survey shows that nearly 73% of B2B Buyers consume between two to eight pieces of content before being ready to buy. During this process, they have moved 57% down the sales funnel before buyers are ready to talk to a sales rep!
Being a seasoned marketer yourself, you’ll of course, understand all this. You know that this is a lengthy and grueling process; you’ve been patiently implementing strategies like publishing relevant, timely, and good quality content. You’ve also ensured that your content is authoritative and addresses your buyer’s pain points.
Lastly, you have also managed to segment your prospects by Marketing Qualified Lead and Sales Qualified Lead. Let’s say you are already doing this, but you are still not generating any sales. It’s time to up your lead nurturing game to convert those qualified MQL leads to sales.
6 Best B2B Lead Nurturing Strategies to Implement:
1. Sales and Marketing Alignment is Important
Sales and marketing alignment is crucial in organizations in order to ensure good lead to conversion ratio and to ensure there is no leaky sales funnel.
The average sales cycle for a B2B enterprise lasts anywhere from six to nine months. With such a lengthy process, misalignment between sales and marketing teams gives rise to what is sometimes known as a ‘spray and pray’ approach – a strategy that could, unfortunately, prove to be very costly and unproductive.
Ensuring your marketing and sales teams meet on a regular basis (weekly/monthly) to discuss various bottlenecks and to effectively measure and analyze important metrics such as MQL’s, lead generation, and leads-to-customer conversion rate could be the key to plug in the leaky funnel.
One important point I would like to highlight that’s easy to forget: the sales team is an excellent source of information for content ideas. As the direct point of contact with your potential sales-ready customers, they have easy access to questions posed by buyers on a daily basis. Answering those questions (pain points) helps to create relevant content.
This brings us to the next step in improving your B2B lead nurturing, double-check your buyer persona!
2. Double Check Your Buyer Persona
Buyer persona though described as a semi-fictitious representation of your target customer.
You would remember my earlier point about improving communication with the sales team and how they can be a wealth of information about your prospects. Well, the other very important aspect they can help with is also to gauge further and understand how accurate your buyer persona is.
Talking to your prospects can help understand if your buyer persona is right on the mark. Buyer persona though described as a semi-fictitious representation of your target customer doesn’t have to be one. They start that way as we didn’t have enough data when we began to channel and adapt our marketing strategies.
However, if they continue to remain fictitious and unchanged without augmenting your current profile with additional data over time how would you then determine if you are targeting the right persona, understanding and adapting and changing your buyer persona with other data is always the right way to go.
Here is a statistic that will help prove the point I am trying to make here, a study by MarketingSherpa(2015) found that those B2B organizations that used a well-crafted buyer persona had,
- A 111% increase in email open rates
- 900% increase in the length of website visit
- 100% increase in the number of pages visited
- 171% increase in revenue generated by marketing!
3. Implement ABM (Account-Based Marketing)
ABM campaigns involve identifying a very particular set of target companies, crafting a highly specialized and personalized campaign to engage with them.
If you are a B2B business, chances are you’re no stranger to the concept of ABM. According to ITSMA study, 85% of B2B marketers report an increase in ROI after implementing it. If you need more convincing, here is another fact that is sure to convince you about the efficacy of implementing ABM, a Marketo study found that those organizations that performed ABM reported a 40% more likely to align with the sales team.
What is ABM?
ABM is a form of highly targeted marketing that focuses on attracting a particular set of accounts rather than casting a wider net. This form of campaign strategy solves the problem specific to inbound marketing which is to convert a ton of low-quality leads.
ABM campaigns involve identifying a very particular set of target companies, crafting a highly specialized and personalized campaign to engage with them and lastly create lasting relationships with them. Rather than ending up with your target customer, ABM strategy involves guns blazing after identifying the target opportunity and proactively pursuing them.
When creating a B2B lead nurturing outbound campaign for your business, here are the things to keep in mind:
- Segmented: The target market is already identified at this point and all communication and is highly personalized and account-based.
- Integrated: Marketers using this particular model also use a multi-channel integrated approach to create a cohesive marketing message across all channels.
- Content: Once you’ve decided on segmenting and channels, it is now straightforward to craft personalized content that speaks to the identified target customer without falling prey to the ‘spray and pray’ approach.
- Duration: ABM strategies are planned over a sufficient duration to ensure maximum and consistent nurturing over a period of time that aims at creating not only a successful leads conversion ratio but aims at also establishing lasting relationships with the customers in the future as well.
4. Implement Automation
Today, both marketing and email automation software are not just an investment but a necessity. It also requires a specific set of resources to be devoted to it as well. Marketing automation software for B2B companies is a great lead nurturing tool when put to good use.
An automation software requires goals to be clearly defined, an existing CRM database, good planning and implementation, a consistent repository of content and finally clearly defined KPI’s and means to measure success.
5. B2B Lead Nurture Workflow
Another important domain where automation could be used well is creating Lead Nurture Workflow. In order to further move the MQL down the funnel and ensuring they close as a customer, creating an automated email sequence. This step is quite important and necessary in order to educate your prospects more about your brand.
At this point, they are still looking for more information about your company and brand before they are comfortable making a decision. This personalized email could be something like this:
- Email 1 (ToFu): During the lead’s visit to your website they interacted and both shared and downloaded/consumed a particular piece of content that was interesting and relevant to them such as a blog post, a tip sheet or checklist or an infographic. At this point, they are in the awareness phase and are still looking for more information on your brand thus, providing other relevant offers and content that would be of interest to them is the main aim of this stage of the email sequence. This mail should be sent at a time delay of say 3 days after consuming the content/ interacting with your website. This is then followed naturally by the second email.
- Email 2 (MoFu): This next email is again set for a time delay of another 3-4 days. This is the phase where you promote your MoFu (Middle of the funnel) offer such as ebooks and whitepapers, case studies, videos and the like. By this time, the buyer is more knowledgeable and informed about your product/service and looking to get convinced. In this phase be specific and offer more content that is geared towards convincing the buyer why they much choose your product/service.
- Email 3 (BoFu): Set this last email at a time delay of another 3-4 days again. At this point, the buyer is set to purchase and requires that one last push to help close them as a successful sale. At this phase provide BoFu (Bottom of The Funnel) offers such as free consultation, a free trial of software or a demo of the product. This gives the buyer a sense of ownership of the product and would be the key to making the final sale.
6. Predictive B2B Lead Scoringlead scoring is done to discern the qualified lead from an unqualified one.
We always talk about segregating a qualified lead from those that are not quite sales ready or what we call a cold lead. But how can we truly identify them? What are the factors if any that help with this process?
Predictive B2B Lead Scoring is that factor. Predictive lead scoring is a tool that uses a machine learning algorithm based scoring pattern to discern the qualified lead from an unqualified one.
This algorithm analyses all your customers and industry to predicts how long each one of your open contacts would close as customers within a certain time frame say 90 days (Hubspot Predictive Lead Scoring Algorithm uses a time frame of 90 days).
The information that is taken into account include factors such as:
- Firmographics: Firm related information
- Demographics: other details obtain about the leads that are obtained
- Property information filled out by your leads on your contact forms
- Behaviour data and social information
Using all these the predictive algorithm then looks for patterns that are common to those leads that are looking to close and those that are not qualified and then comes with a formula that will then automatically segregate the qualified leads from the unqualified ones.
There are various such tools available in the market that can perform with rather amazing accuracy. Investing in one such tool could be the key to exponentially improving your B2B lead nurturing strategy.
Key Takeaways for Nurturing B2B Leads
As a B2B marketer, you are aware that the conversion time is a very lengthy one. Using lead generation best practices would give a winning chance of closing more leads into sales without losing any to a ‘leaky funnel.’ The ‘spray and pray’ approach to content marketing strategy no longer works.
Use these lead generation best practices to align your sales process and marketing team, ensuring the buyer personas are up to date using feedback from the sales team, create well-defined workflows and implementing predictive lead scoring.
Implement ABM when suitable to create a hyper-focused targeted approach rather than casting a wide net and closing only a few, increasing marketing ROI and establishing long-lasting relationships with your buyers.