Lead Nurturing Best Practices That Can Take Your Business to the Next Level

Each year, HubSpot releases its annual State of Inbound Marketing Report.  And, every year, lead generation is listed as the number one challenge facing marketers. Unfortunately, this has caused some marketers to spend too much time and effort generating new leads, and not nearly enough on nurturing their existing leads to make them more sales ready.

WHY IS LEAD NURTURING IMPORTANT?

A host of recent studies point to the critical importance of several lead nurturing best practices needed to achieve key marketing goals.  According to Small Biz Genius, for example, more than 95% of visitors to your website are not ready to make a purchase. This means even the best-performing websites may only have a visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 5%. But, if you can capture a prospects contact information with calls-to-action and content offers, you have the opportunity to nurture and eventually turn them into customers. The study also found companies that follow best practices for lead nurturing on average generate 50% more sales qualified leads(SQLs) for 33% less money. With the cost of digital advertising increasing year-over-year, lead nurturing is your chance to generate more SQLs at a lower cost!

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LEAD NURTURING BEST PRACTICES? 

Every business is different, of course, with different types of customers, different business goals and different marketing challenges. Here are our Lead Nurturing tips for B2B businesses:

1. CREATE REALISTIC, MEASURABLE GOALS

First, before you launch your lead nurturing campaign, you need to determine precisely what it is you’re trying to achieve.  For example, you might choose different approaches for leads in different stages of your sales funnel. A new Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) expects you to provide educational information about their business issues and your products and services. Leads nearer the bottom of the funnel (SQL), on the other hand, are close to making a purchasing decision and will benefit from more specific content on, say, customer case studies or pricing options.

Second, your lead nurturing goals need to be realistic, attainable, and measurable.  For example, a goal to “increase conversions” isn’t measurable—you need to specify the magnitude of the increase and the time period over which the goal will be achieved (such as increase SQLs by 50% over the next 6 months).

2. SEGMENT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

Let’s say you want to buy a new stove.  You’ve visited several appliance websites to see what kinds of stoves they sell, and for what price.  One of those companies sends you an email thanking you for your interest in their business with a link to their website home page with information about stoves, refrigerators, and all types of appliances.  Another sends you an email with a link to a cost-saving blog, “How to find the stove you need—without breaking the bank.” Which business are you likely to choose?  Obviously, the email from the second business is more effective.  It tells you the company knows who you are and what you want.  It also provides helpful guidance that could wind up saving you money.

There are many effective ways to segment (and personalize) your campaigns.  In the example above, the audience was segmented based on product interests, but you could also segment based on key demographic or behavioral data.  And, of course, one of the best ways to segment your customers is to create robust “buyer personas,” fictionalized representatives of key market segments.

3. SEND TARGETED CONTENT TO YOUR LEADS

There’s not much point to market segmentation if you wind up sending generic content to every lead.  You need to create content targeted at the needs and wants of each segment and a timeline for when each piece of content will be sent.

That’s admittedly a lot of content, but it’s important if you want to succeed that every piece of content you publish will move each segmented prospect one step closer to a sale.  As Forbes notes, more than 70% of consumers feel “frustrated” by impersonal content.  If your in-house team doesn’t have the time or ability to create the library of targeted content you need, it could be time to outsource some or all of your content creation to a professional inbound marketing agency.

4. LEVERAGE LEAD SCORING

If you’ve ever heard members of your sales team complain that the leads they get from marketing aren’t sales ready, you know how important it is to prioritize your leads.  There are many ways to determine which leads are most likely to convert, but one of the best is “lead scoring.”

Lead scoring assigns a numeric value to each lead based on their demographic and behavioral characteristics.  For example, if you find that 50% of leads who downloaded a particular piece of content eventually make a purchase, you could assign a high value to that piece of content.  With lead scoring in place, your sales team can quickly see the most promising leads, and prioritize who they contact first.

5. THINK MULTICHANNEL

Many marketers view “lead nurturing” and “email campaigns” interchangeably.  But an increasing number of marketing professionals are having success by embracing multiple channels to nurture their leads.  Depending on the specific goals you’ve established and the buyer personas you’re targeting, “multichannel” lead nurturing might include email, social media ads and dynamic website content.  For example, you can build an audience in LinkedIn and nurture those contacts with ads related to the topics they showed interest in.

6. DON’T OVER SEND

Think Goldilocks and the porridge.  She turned down the “too hot” and “too cold” options in favor of the porridge that was “just right.” Succeeding with lead nurturing is a lot like succeeding with conversation.  If you talk too much, you’ll turn your listener off.  If you don’t talk enough, they’ll think you’re not interested.  Take some time to hit on precisely the right cadence, sending relevant content at intervals that produce the best results.

7. MEASURE RESULTS—THEN MEASURE AGAIN

You won’t know how successful (or unsuccessful) your lead nurturing campaigns are if you don’t measure results.  But robust analytics and measurement are about more than knowing how well you did.  They’re also about the continual improvement of your strategy.  By measuring results, you can double down of tactics that are working and tweak or eliminate those that are underperforming.

THE TAKEAWAY

A solid lead nurturing strategy will better integrate your sales and marketing efforts and increase sales opportunities.  But it can potentially be both complicated and confusing, particularly if this is your first go at it.  That’s where we can help.

The lead nurturing experts at Brainstorm can help you refine your goals and give you specific inbound marketing recommendations to ensure your success.  As a HubSpot-certified agency partner, we know what works—and what doesn’t.  Equally important, we customize our lead nurturing recommendations to the needs of your business.  To learn more about the ways we can help you take your business to the next level, contact us today.

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