This is the final post in our Inbound Marketing 101 series intended to help B2B marketers boost brand visibility and generate better leads for their sales teams to convert into customers.
Ask a B2B marketer what keeps them up at night and you’re likely to hear one of two responses:
- Generating more leads
- Generating more qualified leads
Marketers across all industries exhaust their resources to bring traffic to their website, present compelling content and generate leads through carefully crafted landing pages.
But what these marketers fail to realize is that the end goal of lead generation is customers, not leads.
In order to get more customers, you need to create strong relationships. And to create strong relationships, your company needs to nurture your leads in a targeted, personalized manner.
What is lead nurturing?
Let’s get this out of the way first: lead nurturing is not just a marketing buzzword.
Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel and through every step of the buyer’s journey.
Lead nurturing campaigns deliver highly relevant, educational content to qualified sales leads and help build brand and product preference long before your prospects are ready to buy.
To build an effective B2B lead nurturing campaign, your marketing team must listen to the needs of your prospects, provide them with the information and answers they’re looking for and position your company as the best choice to help them achieve their objectives.
The challenge is pulling it off without coming across as too sales-y. Sales-driven messaging disrupts the relationship building process and potentially pushes qualified sales leads away.
Lead nurturing isn’t just email marketing.
The first thing that usually comes to mind when a marketer hears the phrase “lead nurturing” is an email campaign.
Unfortunately, many of these email campaigns take the shape of a standalone email blast that contains a one-size-fits-all message and is distributed to the company’s entire subscriber list.
These email blasts can be a big turn off for your subscribers, prompting them to form a negative opinion of your brand and unsubscribe from your list.
Don’t make the mistake of creating one general B2B lead nurturing campaign for all your leads.
Create different campaigns based on where your leads are in the sales funnel. Targeted lead nurturing emails get up to 10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts.
Leads that express initial interest in your company may require more education on their specific need, not your product or solution. Lead nurturing emails can contain targeted blog posts that are related to the pain points your leads are currently experiencing.
Other leads may have reached the middle of the funnel and are more interested in longer forms of content such as detailed marketing guides or whitepapers.
Here are some things that your company should consider before launching your first B2B lead nurturing campaign.
Who is involved in the purchasing decision?
B2B buyers are not impulse purchasers. Sales cycles continue to get longer and involve more decision makers.
You need to determine who the primary decision makers are, identify their interests and provide supporting content around those interests.
Which types of content are best for each buyer stage?
It can feel like the options are endless, but there are actually specific types of content that are more appropriate for certain stages in the buyer journey.
Based on our own experience, we’ve found that these individual content types are most effective at each stage in the B2B sales cycle.
How often should I be contacting leads?
Consider the length of your sales cycle. The longer your sales cycle, the longer you should wait in between emails; the shorter your sales cycle, the shorter your pause should be.
We recommend our clients allow a minimum of six days and a maximum of 45 days between emails.
What metrics should I use to measure success?
- Click-through rates: the proportion of the audience who clicked on one or more links contained in a lead nurturing email message
- Conversion rates: the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link within an email and completed a desired action
- Time-to-customer conversion: the length of time it takes for a lead to become a customer
- Cost per customer: the marketing cost of acquiring a new customer
Who is in charge of monitoring and updating your B2B lead nurturing campaigns?
Lead nurturing takes a bit of effort to get right. It’s critical that you have a dedicated resource to monitor the campaign to determine what’s working and, perhaps even more important, what might not be working.
This allows you to continuously test and learn what resonates most with your leads and which types of content are more likely to convert those leads into customers.
As companies adopt inbound marketing as a way to generate more leads, the importance of having an effective B2B lead nurturing strategy becomes crystal clear.
Lead nurturing is about understanding the nuances of your lead’s timing and needs.
When you get these details right, you set your company up for success: which means more customers, not more leads.
Other posts in the Inbound Marketing 101 series:
- B2B Inbound Marketing: Get “In” With Your Target Customers
- Persona Based Marketing: Get In Character So You Can Sell More Stuff
- B2B Inbound Marketing Strategy: 5 Steps To Get Started
- The B2B Buyer Journey Should Fuel Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
- 4 B2B Marketing Tactics to Attract More Visitors to Your Website
- How to Generate More Leads From Your Website