You can seldom impress your customers on the first go. As sure as you are about your product, it is imperative to communicate the same with trust and faith to the customer, because customers are least interested in your product. Before starting your sales process, customers need to understand that their interests are taken note of. They need the assurance that you are reliable. In short, the leads need to be ‘nurtured’ all through a sales cycle before they reach a point to buy your product. And hence the word Lead Nurturing is coined in the industry.
According to Marketo, 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. It focuses marketing and communication, listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need. The purpose of nurturing leads is to introduce your company/ services/ product to them, build trust and make it more easy for the customer to chose you when the buying time comes.
Below are some of the facts which highlight the importance of lead nurturing in B2B scenario: B2B marketers say the #1 benefit of marketing automation is the ability to generate more and better leads.
- 67% of B2B marketers say they see at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more. (DemandGen Report, 2014)
- Gleanster reports that using lead nurturing showed that 15-20% of the “not yet ready to purchase” opportunities converted into sales.
- Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts. (DemandGen Report)
- According to Gartner Research, lead nurturing can potentially save 80% of your direct mail budget and bring a 10% or greater increase in revenue over 6-9 months
- By spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media. (Social Media Examiner, 2015)
Even before hunting for new leads, your sales and marketing teams need to understand how much data they have and start nurturing the existing leads and poke them through the sales pipeline. It’s manually very tough to take care of each lead, hence we have an automated lead nurturing. Through automated lead nurturing, one can send a series of emails through studying the customer’s behavior or time intervened intervals. B2B Lead nurturing is applicable to all the leads in the sales funnel, equally to the new leads as it is to the old ones.
Here are a few tips to nurture leads for B2B companies;
Before you target your content, the thumb rule you need to follow is to clean up your CRM. Update the information as soon as it occurs, remove the unsubscribes, remove the non-existing emails. Once this is done, you can focus on the targeted content. Freshen up old content i.e your emails, articles and sales presentations, and transform them into informational tools for use in campaigns.
Not all content is created equally. Not all leads have the same needs. Hence, you need to map your content based on where the customer is in the sales pipeline. Not every customer interacts with your campaign, only those who are interested try to have a look at your content, so your target is to drive these potential customers as close to sales as possible, by sending them the relevant information, at the right time.
Email marketing has dominated lead nurturing strategies. But in today’s scenario, with spam filters, it has become extremely difficult to end up in customer’s inbox. Even when the email makes its way, we cannot ensure if the customer has read your email. Even if he reads, there is no guarantee that it has impressed him.
So just to ensure that your point gets across the customer, it’s your responsibility to use all the channels that are available to you rather than depending on a single platform. Social media monitoring is one other way where even if prospects ignore emails, they cannot ignore their social media accounts. You need to make sure that you interact with them one-on-one, by liking or commenting or messaging.
Having an effective user-friendly website is not enough, it needs to be dynamic with content that intrigues the customer’s thought process, managing them to stay on your page as long as possible. Running retargeting ads on various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn is also one of the ways you reach your prospects.
More than 60% of all web traffic happens on mobile devices. Mobile strategies like location-based technology and text message marketing cannot be given low priority. According to a study of 32 million phone calls conducted by call intelligence company Invoca, sales calls that were made after leads interacted online had an average conversion rate of 30-50%.
According to a study from InsideSales, 30-50% of leads are closed by vendors who follow up with them first. The Harvard Business Review reiterates the importance of timely responses in following up web-generated leads. Companies who contact leads within an hour of receiving queries are 7 times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker than those who contact prospects an hour later.
As several research studies have shown, the odds of converting a lead into a sales opportunity are exponentially higher when the lead is contacted immediately following an online conversation, the following up concept works very well when done at a gap of specific intervals. You need to know when to draw a line, follow up doesn’t mean you bombard thousands of emails to your prospects, but do it succinctly.
The most efficient way to lose a promising customer is through bulk email. Even in the age of social media, people still send 100s of emails every day, where most of them end up in spam. Risk of losing your database through ‘unsubscribe’. People can smell if the email is a bulk one or personalized.
The whole point of nurturing leads is to personalize your interactions with them, so they know very well that you are having a one-on-one communication, and they are important to you. According to a study, Personalized emails generate up to 6 times higher revenue per email than non-personalized emails do. Personalized emails tend to produce significantly better results than generic email blasts.
How can you do that? Probably by sending triggered emails when you know a customer has downloaded some content or clicked on backlinks in your emails, visits your website.
In the B2B industry, lead scoring is a methodology used by sales and marketing departments to determine the importance of leads, or potential customers, by attaching values to them based on their behavior relating to their interest in products or services.
Companies assign point-based systems in qualifying leads or simply refer to them as “hot,” “warm” or “cold” based on the history of interactions.
To score a lead, information is gathered about the lead’s occupation and role in that industry in order to determine whether they’re appropriate to sell to. Information about a lead’s activities, demographics or areas of interest also come into play when figuring out whether that lead would be interested in a company’s products or services. 21% of B2B marketers are using lead scoring.
In a traditional system, – marketing would generate leads, pass it over to sales and hope they close the deal. Without a proper sales and marketing alignment strategy, the organization creates silos among key cross-functional teams, ultimately breeding failure.
According to an Aberdeen study, 74 percent of best-in-class organizations have “complete or strong” marketing-sales alignment. This shows that to stay competitive, CMOs will not only have to develop strategies to support marketing performance but that of sales, as well. Aberdeen Group notes that companies that optimize the sales and marketing relationship grow revenue 32 percent faster, as well as see higher growth in brand awareness, average deal size, sales acceptance of marketing-generated leads, attainment of team quota, and percent of sales-forecasted pipeline generated by marketing. The other benefits of alignment include better customer retention rates, higher sale win rates, easier deal closing, shorter buying cycles, less wasted leads.