An effective lead nurturing strategy is a difference maker in the hyper-competitive B2B space. It builds confidence in your brand, turns prospects into customers and closes deals.
Accelerating change and hyper competition are the new norm in the B2B marketplace. In this environment, gaining a competitive advantage requires marketing and sales to work together to develop, build and maintain relationships with prospects across the sales funnel and at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Implementing an effective lead nurturing process can build on lead generation initiatives, focus your content marketing strategy to convert prospects into customers and drive sales. It’s a critical tool to deliver on business objectives while maximizing return on investment (ROI).
- Fifteen to 20 percent of not-ready-to-purchase leads that have been nurtured through their buying journey convert into sales.
- Nurtured leads make 47-percent larger purchases than leads who have not been nurtured.
- A key attribute of a lead nurturing process is timely follow-up – a critical differentiator as between 35 per cent and 50 per cent of sales go to the vendor that responds first.
- Nurtured leads have a 23 per cent shorter sales cycle than non-nurtured leads.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is a process that helps move prospects through each stage of the sales funnel, increasing their readiness to make a purchase with each touch point. At the core of an effective lead nurturing process is a focus on building trust and engagement by providing personalized, relevant information and guidance that addresses pain points, challenges and opportunities.
By collecting information about prospects throughout their buying journey, marketing and sales can use this data to provide the answers and support prospects need to say yes to a purchase. Delivering value across the sales funnel develops and strengthens relationships and helps convert prospects into customers.
Like lead generation, lead nurturing involves a multiple channel distribution approach starting with a brand’s website. It involves content, email, direct mail and social media marketing, retargeting, and personalized, timed ads targeted to specific buyer personas. An effective lead nurturing process also includes automation to streamline marketing initiatives across channels and drive sales.
According to a study by Forrester Research, companies with a strong lead nurturing process generate 50 per cent more sales-ready leads at 33 per cent lower cost.
Fast fact: Nearly 80 per cent of new leads never turn into sales. Why? A lack of nurturing.
While lead nurturing is designed to help convert prospects into customers, the primary goal of lead generation is to identify and fill the sales funnel with high-intent prospects. In doing so, an effective lead generation process will also increase brand awareness, collect useful customer data and set the stage to build brand loyalty.
Lead nurturing for B2B companies:
- Raises brand awareness and shortens the sales process. More than this, it will separate you from your competition and explain how your solution can help prospects address their challenges and achieve objectives.
- Drives results. It will help boost engagement rates and conversions and cut marketing costs, improving your ROI.
- Demonstrates your value. Prospects will gain insights into what they can expect if they choose to partner with you.
Here are Postmedia’s recommendations to enhance your B2B lead nurturing efforts in 2024.
Collect, integrate and leverage data
Start by having a clear understanding of your target leads and industry trends. This includes their demographic, firmographic and technographic attributes as well as their behaviours. Consider this information in the context of demand intelligence and what’s happening in their industry. Tap into insights from data you already collect via your client relationship management system and create new opportunities to learn more by collecting data from each touchpoint in your sales pipeline.
Use this dataset to test your understanding of what generates demand for your products and solutions. Pilot a trial marketing campaign across different channels targeted to your ideal customer profile (ICP) or specific buyer persona. Track performance (i.e., cost per lead, engagement, sales bookings, conversions and ROI) on a quarterly basis.
Leverage these insights to create a set of best practices to inform future marketing campaigns. For example, which messaging did leads engage with the most? At what point in the sales funnel did they lose interest and drop out?
Share this information with marketing, sales and customer satisfaction teams to gain further insights into your leads and how to best nurture them going forward. Customize lead nurturing flows for each of your ICPs and buyer personas. Develop touchpoints to engage leads based on their changing pain points. Pivot messaging to address specific lead demands. Apply user and customer experience best practices to ensure a seamless and positive customer experience.
Once you’ve left the piloting phase and your lead nurturing initiatives are active, make sure they are driving the results you want to see.
Create a set of comprehensive key performance indicators (KPIs) that track performance and hold marketing, sales and customer satisfaction teams accountable. These can include cost per lead, conversion rates at each touch point in the sales funnel, revenue from marketing efforts, sales bookings and client lifetime value.
Throughout the course of a campaign, regularly meet with your sales team for insights on the leads they are nurturing and the effectiveness of marketing materials they are sharing. Are these assets generating engagement? Influencing sales? If not, you may need to pivot your campaign and adjust your lead nurturing process.
Tip: Implement lead scoring and leverage the results. Lead scoring is an objective comparison of sales leads that will help marketing and sales determine the readiness of leads to make a purchase and prioritize where and how to best direct outreach.
Build resilience and adaptability into your lead nurturing process
This is really about staying on top of industry trends, buyer behaviour, and what is and isn’t working in your lead nurturing process.
Ensure your marketing, sales and customer experience teams are following what thought leaders in your industry are saying on LinkedIn and other social channels. Survey your customers to find out what they’re interested in and what’s keeping them up at night.
Tip: Tap into intent data insights to identify high-intent prospects and prioritize lead nurturing efforts.
Lead nurturing is an important tool to gain competitive advantage in the B2B space. An effective lead nurturing process will help you raise awareness, build credibility and convert prospects into customers. It will help you demonstrate your value and achieve business objectives.