“Make a customer, not a sale” is a tried-and-tested marketing mantra. So, what turns a lead into a loyal customer and a brand advocate, as opposed to just another sale? The answer lies in lead nurturing.
B2B sales cycles are long and complex. Acquiring new leads is expensive, and deal dormancy can cost you dearly. Before your lead makes a purchase decision, you need to instil a sense of trust in them, answer their questions, and nurture them by offering them value at every step. Only then can a lead stay engaged with you and eventually convert into a client.
In other words, lead generation isn’t enough. Lead nurturing is the stage “where the magic happens” for B2B sales.
Why Lead Nurturing Is Essential For B2B Brands
“B2B customers want to see a lot of value before buying more. That requires a company-wide effort.”
- Todd Berkowitz, Practice VP at Gartner
Once you acquire a lead, lead nurturing presents an opportunity. Here is your chance to project your product or service as the perfect option for their problem. And it is also the time when you can start building trust and convincing your lead that you will deliver on your claims. At this stage, you have the chance to answer their questions, educate them about how your product can benefit them, and stand out from your competitors.
When done well, lead nurturing produces excellent results.
- Companies who use a lead nurturing strategy generate 50% more leads than those who don’t and at 33% lower costs.
- Nurtured leads also make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
- Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.
The 6 Key Elements of a Successful Lead Nurturing Strategy
To reap the benefits of lead nurturing, include these six key elements
- A clear goal
- The right audience
- Valuable content personalised to your audience
- A timeline based on your sales cycle
- Sales and marketing alignment
#1 A Clear Goal
Every lead nurturing campaign strategy starts with a well-defined goal that you can track and measure.
Suppose you are a company that sells hybrid work management software, and your goal is to sell to small and medium-sized companies that want to adopt hybrid work. Now, you can chalk out a nurturing campaign to deliver ads, emails, and content that may interest those who have shown interest in you, i.e., your leads.
#2 The Right Audience (And Audience Segments)
The next step is to understand your target audience so that you can create content that is effective, relevant, and valuable.
One way to do this is by defining detailed buyer personas that specify:
- Demographics and firmographics
- Professional roles, job titles, and departments
- Challenges, needs, and pain points
- Buying behaviours
- Where they are in their buyers’ journey
You can create several buyer personas depending on your product’s use cases. But, with several buyer personas, there is a new challenge. People who fit different buyers’ personas may have different needs, and thus, the same marketing message may not appeal to them. So, you must segment your audience when you acquire them and as your relationship grows.
#3 Valuable Content Personalised to Your Audience
Now that you understand your goal, audience, and audience segments, you can start delivering personalised content. The more you tailor your content to them, the better the results!
Let us go back to the example of a hybrid work management company. You need a lead nurturing strategy for outbound leads newly procured by your SDRs. While these leads are clearly interested in you, they aren’t ready to buy yet – they are still at the top of the funnel. So, the ideal content for them is basic information about hybrid work, simple guides about managing mobile workplaces, and short blogs related to your product.
Meanwhile, if someone has expressed purchase intent and is towards the bottom of the funnel, you can target them with demos and webinars to bolster their confidence in your product.
#4 A Timeline Based On Your Sales Cycle
B2B sales cycles are long and complex. After you secure a lead, you will retarget them through their contact information and systematically promote content to pique their interest and make a case for your product. But you cannot just send these retargeting messages randomly; you need to plan your content delivery based on your sales cycle.
Suppose you have a product with a high price tag with a longer sales cycle than your other products. This product may likely require appropriations requests or ROI analyses. Your campaign must unfold in alignment with the purchase journey and take into account the time, number of decision-makers, rules, etc. Your campaign will also have a longer lifespan.
Understand that your buyers aren’t likely to purchase based on one interaction with you. While it is widely accepted that the average number of touchpoints is seven, this is not the case anymore.
The most accurate way to understand how your deals are closed is through marketing attribution. Market attribution means assigning a value to each engagement across all touchpoints. Depending on the complexity of your sales cycle and your channel mix, you can choose a marketing attribution model that accurately reflects your customers’ purchase behaviour.
#6 Sales Marketing Alignment
Did you know that misalignment between sales and marketing teams costs companies around a trillion USD yearly?
Your marketing team generates the leads, and the sales team makes the pitch, hoping to close a deal. Often, sales teams lament that the leads pushed forward by the marketing team aren’t good enough, and these leads go ignored in favour of existing leads that look more promising.
To stay on the same page, both teams must do what the other is doing and why. Sales marketing alignment is achieved when the following processes are synced: segmentation, targeting, content development, contact strategy, nurturing, engagement, closing, and customer support.
Finally: Automate, Track and Improve
B2B lead nurturing is a long and continuous process, and using marketing automation tools can make it easier to stay on top of things. Marketing automation for lead nurturing has more benefits than streamlining tasks and increasing efficiency. It also gives you a way to track your performance, measure your goals, identify gaps, and make improvements wherever needed.