The sales funnel is one thing. Traditionally important for the ‘numbers game’ but rather heavy handed. Many marketers dream, instead, of being able to make the most of every contact in their database, they just don’t know how. Perhaps that’s because it sounds like cloud cuckoo land to suggest that you really can generate more sales out of your existing leads with just a little TLC. The good news, though, is that you can… It simply takes a nurturing approach.
What is lead nurturing?
In basic terms, it’s a process of developing a relationship with a prospect in a bid to hold their hand along each point of the sales funnel. It’s a matter of understanding their needs at each stage in their buyer’s journey and catering to those needs in order to connect with that person in an engaging way. Because, let’s face, most of the leads you hold aren’t ready to buy yet. And if you lose their attention, when they are ready to buy they may have been seduced elsewhere. So don’t let that happen. Hold onto them!
And if that hasn’t convinced you, it’s worth noting that a leading platform believes that businesses that are successful at lead nurturing actually generate 50% more sales ready leads… at a lower cost. And not only that, but each purchase is, on average, 47% larger. Now that’s worth taking seriously.
It starts with scoring…
Pinpointing where each prospect is in their buying journey is the backbone of a successful nurturing strategy. Get that bit right, and your communications and timing will tie in with each lead’s progress and keep them engaged. So how do you score? It’ll depend very much on your brand and offering, of course, but there are four main aspects to cover.
- How well does a lead match your criteria of ‘ideal prospect’ or ‘typical customer’? To assess this, you’ll be considering things like job and industry demographics, budgetary authority, how your product fits their needs etc.
- How engaged are they already? Are they communicating on social media with you? Are they emailing? Are they regularly on your website? It’s easier for B2B to assess this, in many ways. For example, if someone has attended a webinar or commented on a blog you’ve published, it’s a positive indicator of their engagement with your brand. If you have this information… use it.
- Where are they in their decision making process? Are they just grabbing information or actually asking questions now? If they’re downloading gated content, for example, and not just reading an article, that’s a good indicator of being a fair way down the track.
- What are the buying signals for your product/service? List those in order of progress along your sales funnel and attribute a position to each lead. If they’ve asked for a price list, that’s going to score far higher than simply opening an email.
Then content becomes king…
B2B buyers are cautious. They’re not easily swayed by scare-mongering ads, and this is partly because there is so much background information out there for them to research. So… be the provider of that background information. Grab their attention at the very beginning of their buying journey, and take them with you.
Great examples of useful content include:
- How to videos
- Top ten tip articles
- White papers
Content marketing tools in the lead nurturer’s arsenal
Email – With GDPR in operation now, you’ll always be working with a very targeted audience. But with marketing automation software, and a healthy CRM system, you really can pinpoint which email content needs to go to whom… and when. In this way you will ensure your contact with each person is relevant, strategic, and timely.
Website – Your website is often the chosen landing place, so it must provide the reader with the information they were lead to believe would be there… and then draw them in further. If your buyer isn’t ready yet, via a well-managed lead nurturing strategy you’ll know that and have worked out how to keep them interested in the meantime. This could be through downloads of useful information, interesting blog articles, or simply a reinforcement that you are the people to deal with when the time comes.
Social Media – Getting social media right for lead nurturing is about matching your target audience demographics, and tying in specific messages to key stages in your typical buyer’s journey. And to have got this far, you’ll know what they are. You have a rich mixture of media here to play with too, which makes it fun. Video, blog articles, white papers, eBooks etc. These are all things that can and will be shared amongst your B2B prospects if you pitch it right.
But authenticity matters…
All of this is great stuff, but it’s also where some marketers come unstuck. As your list of leads grows, it gets harder to keep on top of contact in a focused and meaningful way; and that’s where things can start to feel a bit impersonal if you’re not careful. However, there is help at hand. Marketing automation is likely to be your next step, for it’s a natural technological extension to any well-thought through lead nurturing strategy. You can maintain an authentic touch each time you make contact, and continue to hold their hand along their journey to making that sale… with you.
To find out more about how to nurture your leads, incorporate marketing automation into your strategy, and step ahead of your competitors, give us a ring. It’s one of our favourite topics!