February 09, 2022
By Chantel Hall, Marketing Content Specialist, and Lauren Lyons, Senior Analyst and Research Writer
The crucial step between attracting a lead and closing a deal is often misunderstood or ignored altogether: lead nurturing. Educating and connecting with leads while they’re still in the research and consideration phases is becoming more important as the B2B sales cycle grows longer.
In this week’s installment of our “Why Do My Leads Suck?” series, you’ll learn the benefits of building a successful nurturing campaign, like higher return-on-investment (ROI), and how you can build an effective lead nurturing process.
The B2B sales cycle is changing -— specifically, it’s getting longer. According to a 2021 survey report by DemandGen, 55% of survey respondents said their purchase timeline had increased last year.1 While a longer sales cycle might seem like a bad thing (because who wants to wait longer to close a deal?), a longer research phase gives you more touchpoints and more opportunities to demonstrate value. And companies who invest in a lead nurturing process see returns on that investment: demand-generation strategy experts have reported that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.2
Lead nurturing also gives you the opportunity to develop relationships with unqualified leads who may become a better fit for your solution in the future. Using nurturing e-mails to provide not-quite-ready leads with personalized content, you can keep building and maintaining that relationship until they are ready to buy.
When done correctly, lead nurturing helps you build and maintain relationships with your leads and increases the likelihood that when the time comes for them to make a choice, they’ll choose you.3
A successful lead nurturing process is built primarily around content. The DemandGen survey asked people their top three criteria for evaluating a potential provider’s website, and the top three answers were:
To take full advantage of every touchpoint with your leads, a nurture campaign needs to deliver contextual content that speaks directly to your buyer’s challenges and where they are in the sales process. Depending on where leads are in the sales funnel, they will have different needs and knowledge levels.
For example, leads who are earlier in the process will need more educational content focused on their pain points. Further along in the process, thought leadership and content that differentiates you from your competitors will encourage leads to continue moving down the sales funnel. The closer to the bottom of the funnel a lead is, the more specific and personalized the content.
Rather than simply asking a prospect for an appointment or a demo, content mapping – or matching resources to where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey – can help you to build relationships with prospects that demonstrates value at each touchpoint. Content should be personalized to the lead’s interests, but the substance of each contact will vary based on how much they’ve engaged with your marketing.
As B2B buyers increasingly rely on digital resources, marketing automation software is a key tool for businesses’ lead nurturing process. For teams, the main benefits of marketing automation include time saved on repetitive tasks (49%), higher quality leads (39%), and more conversions (37%), according to participants in a 2021 study by the ZHAW School of Management and Law.4
With automated marketing technology, marketers can dig into their customers’ path-to-purchase to see what content customers looked at before moving onto the next step in the sales process and what ultimately led to conversion. Then, marketing and sales can work together to develop automated workflows that trigger when leads take a specific action.
If you are brand new to lead nurturing, automated marketing technology may seem like an advanced step, but its investment has enormous benefits that an experienced digital marketing partner like Ironaper can help you navigate to ultimately grow your business.
As the buyer’s journey continues to change, businesses that aren’t taking advantage of lead nurturing opportunities will continue to see viable leads who are simply a little further away from conversion as “bad” leads. Automated lead nurturing allows teams to stay in contact with more leads than they would be able to manually. A lead who may not seem like a good fit now can be dropped into a long-term lead nurturing program that continues to provide them with content and engagement opportunities until they’re ready to opt out or take the next step.
Today’s buyers want to do more research, understand their options, and choose a provider who truly understands their pain points and needs. The best way for your business to develop and maintain relationships with those prospects is through a strong lead nurturing process.
Read the next installment in our series here: Why Do My Leads Suck? 5 Benefits of an Agile Marketing Methodology
1DemandGen, 2021 B2B Buyer Behavior Study, June 2021
2Annuitas Group, Let’s Ease Into It
3Marketo, Lead Nurturing
4ZHAW School of Management and Law, Marketing Automation Report 2021: Lead Generation and Lead Qualification Through Data-Driven Marketing in B2B, February 2021
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