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Value is imperative in today’s B2B marketplace. Your product needs to address customers’ immediate—as well as their long-term needs. Current marketing practices take customer needs into consideration when producing content for lead generation programs. This same practice needs to be considered for lead nurturing strategies.
Finding success with B2B lead nurturing in today’s market means profiling customers to identify the decision-maker. As well as, targeting your content marketing to the right buyer, at the right time. This is especially important because most executives don’t usually reveal their contact details, even to potential business partners.
Aside from using a variety of profiling techniques, marketers should also be creative in engaging and retaining the attention of prospects. These numbers prove that the power of context, and a personalized strategy in lead nurturing are beneficial for your business.
Email marketing is still one of the most successful ways to nurture prospects. However, you should learn to stay away from—or at least improve—the practice of email blasts or sending single email campaigns without follow-ups. From the definition alone, it’s clearly unwise to use such impersonal methods when you’re trying to engage with potential leads.
Here are two far more effective alternatives to email blasts:
How your prospects’ respond to your marketing efforts offers valuable insights into how you can properly inject context in lead nurturing. Here are some ways to use behavioral data once its collected:
Without contacts, there are no leads to nurture. If you’re an e-commerce site, an action that you can take to collect emails (aside from the less aggressive tactics like a first-time site visit or completing a purchase) is when a customer adds a product to their cart for the first time. It’s a simple action that shows the lead is interested in your product, with a significant chance of purchase.
Here, you could drive conversions by using a popup window that asks them to provide their email address to get a discount code for their first-ever purchase.
This pertains to making elements on your website visible to only a select few, depending on their behavior or action. Amazon uses this to redirect traffic when it detects that a person accessing the site is from a particular location. Instead of going to the U.S. site, users get directed to a unique homepage depending on where the visitor currently is.
Another possible application is having a predetermined series of generic campaigns with specific rules that make content visible to only a few categories of customers. For instance, showing ads to a customer for a product that they has viewed repeatedly over the last few days.
Not all customers are of the same value to your business: someone who has bought a product every week should be more of a priority than those with a single purchase. The rule that might activate this email will depend on you for example; email discounts to a customer who has bought three times or more over the last three months.
Motivations for gamification in e-commerce are often based on extrinsic rewards like discounts. However, it can also appeal to other types of intent. For example, Victoria’s Secret’s Scavenger Hunt, which appeared on their website over the span of a few weeks, was promoted to increase engagement. It was also an opportunity for them to expose customers to more products on their website.
These techniques can improve your average order value. A classic up-selling strategy is showing similar products (often more expensive) when a customer views related product page. For buyers who tend to purchase several products in the same session, you can turn to cross-selling and show complementary products instead.
When a lead downloads content from your page, its best to email them in acknowledgment. This is a chance to offer other material that the leads may find useful, like a demo request or free trial. You can also ask them to share the content with friends or colleagues to increase campaign reach. Just make sure to include a CTA so the next action is clear.
Because the lead has shown interest in your content, you can also send them optimized drip emails that are equally educational to deliver value, build trust, and eventually convert. They become more aware of what solutions your organization can provide.
When it comes to webinars, you can record a thank you video to attendees a day after the webinar. If registrants failed to attend you can send an “on-demand” video to follow up. In addition, you can prompt a secondary conversion on the webinar to drive re-engagement.
The effectiveness of nurturing depends upon the quality and type of content, as well as the pace and delivery of the content. In traditional marketing, the direct interests of the prospect aren’t always considered. However, modern marketing is changing to the point where brands know more about the leads and the specific content they’re looking for.
Thanks to the progression in marketing technology, the digital and social footprints left by leads on public channels like your website can now provide valuable insights. Analyzing and measuring their actions against a behavioral and demographic framework and updating the existing information in your marketing systems are crucial in nurturing the right context.
Aside from providing the necessary information about your products and services to drive the purchasing decision, several email marketing best practices can also build engagement and rapport with your clients. But not one single email message can work; you have to understand first what your prospects are doing on your site to be able to provide a personalized experience.
This is where triggered email campaigns come in—messages that are designed to directly respond to consumers’ behavior on your website or action that shows their interest in your offerings.
Campaigns based on behavioral data can have high ROI, with triggered emails having a CTR 152% higher than traditional emails, and autoresponders having four times more open rate than generic emails at 73%. While it may be particularly useful for e-commerce because of abandoned cart campaigns, you can also adopt this strategy for your B2B business.
Behavioral triggers are offline interactions made with your company or online actions people take on your website. Analyzing these behaviors will help you understand the “why” behind your prospects’ actions. You will also be able to generate critical insights and optimize your campaigns for the full acquisition, conversion, and retention lifecycle.
These B2B data points typically include past purchases, browsing history on the website, help desk interactions, whitepaper or eBook downloads, webinar attendance, and some information from third parties like social media or other apps.
You can also use offline interactions as behavioral triggers, such as when you gather names and email addresses during trade shows or conferences. After the event, you can encode the information into your CRM database, so as not to waste the leads you acquired offline.
Triggered email campaigns based on behavioral data are activated once your leads meet the predetermined criteria you set beforehand. You will have to find out which consumer behavior or combination of actions will trigger any of these types of emails:
Typically, a welcome email is sent to new leads that provided their email address for the first time or subscribed to your newsletter. Other user behavior that may trigger the welcome email may include software or eBook download, event registration, form filling, or account activation.
A welcome email series can be sent over a few days after the action to invite the user back to the site while they’re still interested. Welcome emails usually come with free content or product to encourage visitors to take more actions and continue interacting with your company.
Don’t let your leads go to waste. Send them emails after they submit a form or do other activities that express their interest in doing business with you. Confirming a webinar attendance or following up after a sales meeting or trade show are some of the behaviors that may trigger this type of message.
Nurture your leads and find out more about your prospects. You can do this by sending emails with a link or button that leads them to a survey form. The additional data you gather will enable you to share the right kind of information, that they may need until you close the deal. You can then send them relevant whitepapers, reports, case studies, and eBooks that will help them realize their need for your service. These highly valuable content will also allow you to showcase your expertise in the industry.
Consumers usually provide you with their email address when confirming registration or order. You can use order-receipt emails to promote since most customers use this as a starting point for their next purchase. To make this more effective, you can personalize the receipt with recommended or related products, but keep the primary focus on the transaction made.
Post-purchase emails can also be sent over the next few days following the purchase, so people remain interested or encouraged to write a review.
This is another type of email to send a few days after the purchase or business deal. You can construct a series of emails where you first let the customer know how they can reach out to your client support team should they need assistance in using your product or service.
Give them ample time to become more familiar with your product and brand. After a week goes by without any word from your new customer, send them an email survey to determine how well they liked the products. Ask them for recommendations, so they know that your company is constantly finding ways to offer better products and services. Customer feedback will be invaluable to your company’s growth, so don’t hesitate to ask!
Send these emails to contacts who make orders in a recurring manner or those who regularly reorder. It can be submitted either in advance as a reminder, or after the supposed schedule of purchase if you believe they skipped it or forgot about it.
These emails can also be triggered by expiring contracts or subscriptions that need to be renewed. Make sure to show your customers that you appreciate their loyalty, so this email series is a good opportunity for you to reiterate your loyalty program, if any. You can also send discount coupons and encourage upsells.
Once you have your behavioral data and its corresponding triggers on hand, you’re all set to execute your campaign. Consider the offers you need to include with it, as well as the timing of when to send out the email.
Craft attention-grabbing subject lines and content that reflects your brand and overall marketing strategy. Don’t forget to optimize for mobile, as well, and to integrate your platform or website with a reliable email service provider.
Behavioral triggers are an integral part of your marketing strategy. The signals that your prospects and customers are giving, whether online or offline, will give you a better grasp of their intentions, how it impacts your business, and how to connect to them the right way.
Looking to increase the efficiency and ROI of your sales and marketing nurture programs? PureIntel is designed to support your lead nurture programs by tapping into the buyer-intent data of our technology buyer audiences. Helping you to identify prospect buying stages and the triggers needed to get buyers to convert.
Not all leads are sales-ready. They may be considered marketing qualified, but they’re not yet sales qualified. When marketing hands over leads to the sales department, it’s crucial that these leads are ready to purchase, so that the sales personnel don’t waste their time on leads that won’t convert.
When leads enter the funnel, they can be at any stage of the buyer journey. They may be aware that they have a problem but don’t know what the specific problem is, they may already know their problem and are looking for a solution, or they’re already seeking for the right company that can offer the best solution. But, do they meet the criteria your sales team has set for a lead to be considered sales-ready?
A sales qualified leads (SQL) is someone who openly expresses their keen interest in your products and services. They perfectly fit your buyer persona profiles and are confident to reach out to your sales representatives to discuss the next steps. In short, they cross out all the boxes in your sales teams’ criteria for the ideal customer.
How to spot a sales qualified lead:
A lot of businesses assume that when a lead responds to marketing materials, that makes them ready to go through the sales process. Au contraire.
Those who engage with your marketing messages (i.e., checking your website and liking your posts) are labeled as marketing qualified leads (MQLs). One of the significant differences between them and sales qualified leads is their readiness to buy. MQLs show interest in your company, but they’re not quite ready to convert yet. Meanwhile, SQLs display an intent to purchase in the near future (if not now) and they have the authority to make the decision.
Make sure your marketing and sales team share the same language and understanding when it comes to qualifying leads. SQLs go to you because they are aware of their problem, thought of your product as a solution, and are on the verge of purchasing it.
Here are three tips to help you nurture your leads and pin down your sales-ready leads.
Before getting marked as an SQL, most leads are labeled as MQLs first. A lead scoring system makes the job of converting leads easier since it lets you know which ones are most valuable and further along the sale funnel.
It works by nominating point values to various actions (e.g., clicking through lead nurturing emails or attending events) a lead performs in the sales funnel. They are then counted as a valuable lead when they reach a certain score based on the criteria set. This allows sales representatives to keep track and prioritize this group of valuable leads.
The system can factor in leads based on how they align with your brand’s criteria of an ideal customer—referring to your buyer personas, as well as leads extracted from behavior-based data (i.e., downloaded materials, page views, website activity, etc.).
Creating valuable content based on where your leads are in the sales cycle is vital in nurturing them to be more sales-ready.
Divide your funnel into three segments: top, middle, and bottom. Leads at the bottom are most likely ready to purchase. So use this guide to create more suitable and compelling content.
TOFU (Top-of-the-funnel). Here, your leads aren’t looking for a solution at the moment. There’s no sense of urgency on their side. This is where you can utilize educational content such as blog posts, infographics, videos, and white papers to inject their interest in your products and services.
MOFU (Middle-of-the-funnel). This is the stage where leads are halfway through the funnel—they’re looking for a solution but still weighing their options. They’re more likely to engage with webinars, competitor comparison sheets, case studies, and the works.
BOFU (Bottom-of-the-funnel). Finally, your leads are already decided about making their purchase. It’s just a matter of choosing which brand to work with. This is where sales people bring out the big guns—demos, presentations, and interviews to appeal to them.
One popular method brands use to find qualifying SQLs is the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) system.
Businesses use a combination of these or all to help set apart qualified and valuable leads, which the marketing team hands over to sales.
Lead generation is not an overnight process. It takes time to find leads and nurture them until they’re sales qualified. Sometimes, you’ll meet with leads who are further down the buyer’s journey and other times, there are those who just aren’t ready to seal the deal.
The marketing team should only pass a lead to sales when they’ve met the right criteria set of an SQL. Otherwise, you’d be pitching to leads who aren’t entirely ready to buy, losing them in the process. It’s all about finding the right timing.
It’s now common to see people deeply focused on the screens of their mobile phones everywhere we go. You can imagine a scene from The Crocodile Hunter, where the late Steve Irwin narrates the behavior of a small gathering of individuals who are seen with their noses buried in screens. In his thick Australian accent, he’d probably say something like, ‘Look at those beauts in their natural habitat.’
While mobile marketing channels have seen growth overall, B2B industries are still wrapping their heads around the growth of mobile adoption. Therefore, businesses need to turn to their own analytics to determine the importance of mobile channels specifically for their audiences. Apparently, mobile visits are relatively unimportant in some B2B markets, making it considerably challenging for some businesses to generate leads through this channel.
However, the Boston Consulting Group came up with an interesting report after in-depth research on B2B mobile use and found that 80% of B2B buyers are using their mobile devices at work and more than 60% reveal that mobile played a considerable role in a recent purchase. In addition, 70% of B2B buyers experienced a significant increase in their mobile usage over the past two to three years, and 60% are expected to continue this trend.
The growing number of mobile users have prompted businesses to tap into this wealth of opportunity. This has resulted in the discovery that many mobile users are consuming more than twice the minutes compared to desktop users. For this reason, many B2B marketers are now focused on developing more effective mobile marketing strategies.
And who can blame them?
The same BCG study also found that B2B online inquiries are moving rapidly from desktops and laptops to smartphones, with Google reporting around 50% of B2B queries being made through mobile devices. This is expected to grow to 70% by 2020. The one factor that drives this number up is the increasing amount of time spent on mobile devices at work. It is estimated that mobile usage per B2B individual will increase from two hours a day to three by 2020. This change is largely driven by the digital generation and the increasing use of smartphones by the more senior demographic.
These may appear to be impressive numbers, but they are still small as opposed to B2C. However, the good news is it’s growing steadily. According to Forrester research, the B2B e-commerce industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4%, reaching a value of $1.2 trillion by 2021. It’s worth noting that the majority of B2B purchases are already influenced by internet research, with an increasing percentage done on mobile.
Businesses are making headway in mobilizing websites and developing functional apps, but they need to understand that going mobile is just the beginning. Digital marketers must also understand that a customer’s preferences, expectations, and intent change, including how they interact with different platforms.
B2B buyers are using their mobile devices to conduct research on their needs and find other sources of information, potential vendors, and service providers. So, what should you be doing to effectively market B2B products and services on mobile and reach these modern buyers?
A mobile leader is data-driven and analytical, with having an in-depth understanding of their customers’ behavior beyond buyer personas. You should know the strategies to put into action within a specific budget. You should have the behavioral understanding of a marketer, with the technical know-how to be crafty on the product side, not to mention some expertise in mobile tech. There should also be an understanding of the process involved in funnel analysis and the importance of branding.
Beyond the skill sets, a mobile leader’s power lies in their ability to predict the future of mobile and its impact on the brand. This level of understanding and innovation is what will lead to success.
In the age of customer-first best practices, optimizing the user experience becomes one of the most important aspects of any marketing campaign. When it comes to mobile, this means optimizing the mobile experience so that the value provided to mobile buyers is maximized. This goes beyond simply creating a mobile-friendly version of your website and covers every aspect of the mobile buying experience.
Mobile devices are a reliable option for local searches since mobile searches are initiated later on in the sales funnel. On the other end, desktop search is mostly done by those who are more inclined to gather additional information.
Google is continuously working on local search to be a ranking factor, so optimizing for it will definitely be important in the near future. Expect to see many more B2B companies with increased mobile visibility where they target highly-focused queries to boost they click-through rates.
Most B2B buyers are actively using social media to conduct research and make their purchasing choices. Added to that, social media consumption is one of the leading activities that people conduct on their mobile devices. And with Facebook and YouTube becoming more popular in running social media searches on a daily basis, creating content that aims to be shared is what you should focus on.
The mobile adoption trend has forced traditional digital marketing strategies to evolve and focus more on the customer experience via handheld devices. As a marketer, adapting to these changes is a must, particularly now that people rely on their smartphones to facilitate almost everything, from buying and acquiring products and services to searching for pertinent information.
Optimizing your mobile channel is an important aspect of creating a sales funnel that drives revenue-building engagement, so optimizing for mobile is a must in planning and executing today’s marketing strategies. It’s time to focus on how to deliver a great experience on each comprehensive mobile customer journey every single time.
Lead nurturing is a vital part of B2B marketing because it‘s a key strategy in driving prospective customers towards a purchase decision. When done right, it can eventually turn prospects into loyal customers who can contribute to sustainable revenue for the long run.
While they might not be customers from the get-go, prospects turn into warm leads faster if you invest the time and effort to communicate regularly after their first contact.
Technology has allowed marketers to scale their lead nurturing campaigns with readily available automation tools and easy-to-use CRM software. These are effective instruments for delivering the right message at the right time to qualified leads, making it easier to drive leads through your sales funnel.
If your marketing team is not taking the time to come up with an effective B2B lead generation and lead nurturing strategy, you’re allowing a major sales opportunity to slip through your fingers. You’re also missing out on a chance to maximize revenue from warm leads who are more likely to buy compared to new prospects. But just like any marketing plan, you need to launch a targeted lead nurturing campaign for it to work to your advantage.
Using the wrong strategy can backfire and damage your brand, so it’s important to be aware of what to avoid when creating a nurture campaign. A good understanding of lead nurturing’s most common challenges will help you make good decisions when the time comes.
What is the right timeframe for launching your lead nurturing efforts? Continuing long after a lead has turned cold can be detrimental, but giving up too soon to raise interest may cut loose leads that simply needed a bit more time.
While there’s no cut and dried answer to determine a precise timeline, you can come up with the best answer by determining your average customer’s buying cycle. Find out how long it takes for your leads to become customers by monitoring their movement from the top of the sales funnel down to the time they convert into customers.
For example, if the buying cycle typically averages four months from lead to sale, then that’s the amount of time you should allot to your lead nurturing campaign. You need to adjust timing and messaging based on a prospect’s stage in the sales funnel.
How frequently should you send an email or call your leads? As a general rule of thumb, most businesses tend to make more frequent, educational offers to leads at the top of the sales funnel.
At this stage, the barriers to consumption are quite low, so emails are generally well received especially if the content you send successfully resonates with your target audience. New prospects will appreciate any valuable, engaging content, which helps to increase awareness and trust in your brand. But, don’t overdo it. Communication frequency should decrease as time goes on.
Once new prospects move to the middle of the sales funnel, the content you share will require more of their commitment, so it’s better to taper your offers to avoid overwhelming them. Instead, send more specific, highly-relevant offers like blog posts, webinars, or any other content that will accelerate their movement along the sales funnel.
According to Demand Gen Report’s “2015 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study,” up to 71% of marketers surveyed identified developing targeted content according to buyer stage or interest as the most challenging aspect of most lead nurturing campaigns.
A CMO Council study echoes this sentiment. Respondents stated that incorrect content sent was a top reason for “derailing lead flow success.” Needless to say, it’s important to find out what types of content help build awareness and trust and more importantly, drive sales conversions.
The type will vary depending on your audience, and one way to discover what works is to go back to your sales funnel and identify any gaps in your current content offers. For example, you might have too many top-of-the-funnel educational-type offers and not enough industry-specific webinars for marketing qualified leads. Adjust your content offers based on the results and update any stale content that fails to resonate with your target audience.
Going back to Demand Gen’s Benchmark Study, respondents said that the types of content that most leads respond favorably to are research-based, with 69% saying that whitepapers are effective offers that yield positive results. 61% also said that thought leadership articles and webinars also work well.
Let’s not forget about the most effective channels for sharing your content. Email remains the most popular (94% usage) and 43% use re-targeting and telemarketing as well.
After all the effort that goes into capturing and nurturing prospects, it’s tempting to simply keep launching new lead generation campaigns without combing through your old campaign’s overall results. While it’s not wrong to do so, it’s also a missed opportunity to learn from your mistakes or to learn first-hand what best practices to adopt for your next campaign.
You can use a simple Excel file for tracking or a full-fledged analytics software program for monitoring results in detail. Whatever tools you end up utilizing, use them to map out the buying journey, identify leads that dropped out, and monitor KPI’s such as click-through, conversion, and engagement rates. These are some of the elements you should track to determine the success of a campaign and inform your decisions for future lead nurturing efforts.
The most commonly used metrics for measuring lead nurturing success include lead volume in the sales pipeline at 61%, increased revenue at 67%, and email click-through rates at 68%. Start with these key performance indicators to help build your next lead nurturing campaign and to optimize your current lead generation strategy.
Monitoring these results will help you determine which emails need to be changed, which ones performed best, and which ones to get rid of completely. Past performance is also a good indicator to help you determine the frequency for sharing content, or what your timeframe should be for optimum results.
Lastly, benchmarking your campaign’s cost per customer can help you develop more efficient strategies in the future. Remember that the end goal is not just to generate leads and convert customers, but also to do it in the most efficient way possible.
Yes, it takes considerable time and effort to identify your target audience, but it will be worth it in the long run. Identifying your ideal customer means that you’re not working blindly. It helps you avoid mistakes and wasting valuable resources by trying to communicate to an audience that you don’t know or understand.
Avoid this common misstep by doing your due diligence through research. There are many tools and software that you can use to observe customer behavior, many of which are free. So, there’s no excuse for not knowing your audience like the back of your hand. Find out what their pain points are and figure out what you can do to solve their problems. Armed with this knowledge, your product offer can prove itself to be the best solution for their most pressing issues.
If you’ve researched your target audience and created a buyer persona, you should have enough insight to come up with an effective lead magnet. Use it to create an irresistible offer or valuable piece of content that they can’t help but accept.
Start by identifying and solving a pain point that your buyer persona is having. Share relevant content that solves their problems on a regular basis, and put them in highly visible places (which could be your website, landing pages, social media accounts, email network, or any other platforms your audience frequents). Don’t forget to conduct A/B tests on a regular basis and tweak your approaches accordingly.
As we mentioned earlier, email continues to be one of the most cost-effective lead nurturing tools available that generates promising results. Make sure that an email marketing campaign is included in any relationship-building strategies you’re implementing.
Aim to utilize the best emailing tools and share the right content based on your buyer personas and stages of the sales funnel. Scale your efforts by using automated software as much as possible. The bigger your email list is, the higher your chances are of building sales volume.
While we’ve mentioned the importance of emailing when conducting lead nurturing campaigns, make sure that you don’t overdo it. It can be tempting to send a barrage of emails; after all, it’s pretty easy and essentially free.
But this is one case where the adage “the more, the merrier” doesn’t apply. Go for quality instead of quantity. Be picky about the type of content you send and choose the most relevant pieces based on the buyer persona and which stage they belong to in the sales funnel.
Once you’ve segmented your leads and identified those who have expressed interest in your product, don’t leave them hanging. Initiate contact and reach out to them as soon as possible. Chances are, they might not be ready to buy right this instant, but circumstances might change in the future.
Follow up with them and remind them why they became interested in the first place. It’s a wasted sales opportunity not to do so, yet up to 50% of marketers fail to follow up with leads who expressed initial interest.
Responding fast is key; a Harvard Business Review study showed that following up with leads within an hour means that they are up to 7 times more likely to convert. Use notification alert software to remind you to follow up with and get in touch with specific leads. A few to try include FollowUp.cc, Suricate.com, and WhoIsVisiting.com.
If you’ve been religiously monitoring your campaigns and tracking results on a consistent basis, then all that effort will be wasted if you don’t analyze your results and use them to introduce improvements in future campaigns.
It can be tedious and time-consuming to conduct comprehensive analyses and even more so with A/B tests, but the effort you expend will pay off when you can optimize processes to improve conversion and response rates in your next campaign.
Many studies have proven the success of lead nurturing programs. Such programs are also useful when it comes to segmenting and identifying leads in the various stages of the sales funnel. So, if you haven’t implemented a lead nurturing campaign yet, now is the time to do so.
The ability to successfully convert leads into customers is largely determined by how well you know your prospects and what you do based on this knowledge. Monitoring and tracking progress can only be as effective as what you decide to do with the results. You need to be proactive and respond to what your KPIs are telling you by updating your approach, leveraging what works, and avoiding what doesn’t.
Keep in mind the challenges and mistakes we’ve outlined, and you’ll be well on your way to optimizing conversion rates and consequently, increasing your revenue stream.
Want to enhance your conversion rates and minimize cost per acquisition? Check out our FREE lead nurturing guide today!