If you have been involved somehow in BtoB marketing in the past years, you’ve probably heard of lead nurturing. That makes sense: with such an impeccable track record, lead nurturing has quickly become a marketers’ favourite.
Lead generation is the number one priority for 2 out of 3 marketers. However, efficiently detecting prospects is no easy task: over a third of them are usually not interested in investing in your product, and the rest still need convincing. Only a very few are worth playing the long game with, but pinpointing them takes time and energy.
This is where a digital marketer usually comes in: when identifying potential customers, they implement various ways to get to know them better and get into contact with them. This phase of the process is how you nurture and can be confusing at first sight. No worries, we’ve got you covered! You’ll find in this article:
- a definition of lead nurturing with examples;
- what lead nurturing does to inbound marketing;
- tools and a step-by-step process to get started.
BtoB lead nurturing: our definition
Lead nurturing is a marketing technique which guides prospects through their buyers’ journey by educating them and building trust.
By establishing a dialogue with high-value content and advice, marketers capture a clear understanding of their target’s needs, challenges, identities and build on their prospect’s awareness of the brand in a natural way.
Equipped with a digital marketing automation tool or by themselves, a marketing team usually try to gather information by:
- offering premium content (webinars, white papers)
- tracking behaviour on your website to understand leads interests better
- maintaining a presence and dialogue with their targets on social networks
- alerting the sales team when it’s the best time to get on a call with them
This dialogue used to be the sole responsibility of the sales department, but the digitalisation of purchasing processes in BtoB made it easy for marketing to become a real aid to salespeople, creating a real link between sales and marketing.
With long sale cycles and a high number of key stakeholders involved in commercial deals, BtoB has become the perfect playground for these new techniques, with the best results: BtoB companies with a marketing automation solution report, after implementing lead nurturing and inbound marketing into their processes, an average rise in revenue of 417% (The Annuitas Group) and an average 30% decrease in sale cycle length.
Important note: It is important to not confuse nurturing and retention. The mechanisms may be similar but lead nurturing aims at turning a prospect into a customer whereas retention techniques are part of customer relationship management.
Inbound marketing and lead nurturing: two complementary techniques
One of the goals of inbound marketing strategy is to attract and retain as many prospects as possible through content. By creating content your target audience is interested in, your brand gains visibility and may increase sales.
The limit of this strategy is that, if it works well, it might not only attract potential customers. If your content is good, it will probably draw consultants, students and many other audiences that are not interested in purchasing anything.
This is where an efficient lead nurturing strategy is the best way to create a strong BtoB inbound approach. With these techniques, you may be able to sort through your leads and identify those that hold real value to your brand.
Lead nurturing: tools and techniques
Many tools and software can help expand your BtoB lead generation strategy. In order to replicate a salespersons process you will need the following:
- Content: this is the main reason you’ll be able to reach your prospects. White papers or studies are the most common ones, but you consider almost anything you create as a content. At Plezi, webinars are a favourite, but it can also be kits, infographics, guides.
- Emails: they are the core of your strategy and central to your marketing campaign and will probably consist of the majority of your dialogue with your prospects. You can either build your strategy with an emailing solution or go for a more complete marketing automation tool.
- Scoring techniques: scoring allows you to associate value to various data gathered on your prospects (job title, geographic area, needs, number of articles read…) throughout their journey on your website. With this method, you’ll be able to sort through contacts and identify the most interesting ones.
- A CRM software: this is not a must, but a CRM shared by the marketing and sales teams can very quickly become a very efficient tool for collaboration, in order to make the prospect’s buying journey as smooth as possible.
With a software automation tool such as Plezi, you can have a complete overview of all of the processes and tools needed for an inbound marketing strategy: social networks, emailing, scoring, user tracking, CRM bilateral connector…
Lead nurturing: where to start?
Lead nurturing can be seen as the next step in lead generation. So here is a step by step guide on how to get started and different advice for you to consult as you go further with your lead management:
- Identify your target audience: talk to your current customers and your salespeople to identify your targets. Once it’s done, combine all of that information into a buyer persona.
- Build your content marketing strategy: from the needs identified with your persona, start crafting articles and pieces of content you think will answer to their challenges and monitor their performances closely.
- Map your content with your acquisition funnel: make sure you have enough content to address all phases of your prospects’ buyer’s journey, by persona.
- Implement lead scoring on all of your content pieces and identify which demographics matter to your business to sort out high-profile prospects faster.
- Review your lead nurturing budget by calculating your ROI with this useful tool.
- Transition from emailing to marketing automation if you started building your strategy with an emailing software. Now is the time to have a real overview of all of your processes!
- Follow lead nurturing best practices: finally, there’s nothing like a good white paper summarizing everything you need to know when setting up a B2B lead nurturing strategy.
Lead nurturing is a key technique to implement a strong relationship with your prospects. Don’t know where to start? Contact us!