Lead Nurturing For B2Bs: Best Practices for the Digital World

Today, the B2B sales cycle is longer than ever.

The average B2B buyer researches, considers, and moves through
the sales funnels of a number of companies during the purchasing
process. So, as a lead wanders through your funnel, some
hand-holding is necessary in order to guide them to conversion.
(Especially because, if you don’t, your competition will.)

A well-executed lead nurturing campaign provides tailored,
timely information and can help speed up the process and increase
the likelihood of conversion. It’s doing your due diligence to
help your buyer in their journey.
And with that, lead nurturing helps maximize your lead generation
efforts.

In 2020, these are the 10 best practices for lead nurturing:

1. Build trust and establish relationships

Don’t view lead nurturing as a mechanical process by which you
convert sales by force of will.

Your leads are human. Treat them as such. Be nurturing—it’s
right in the name, after all.

Throughout the process, learn about your leads as you would new
friends—their interests, problems, desires, and the ways in which
you might be able to help in those regards. Then, build the
relationship by consistently providing value. Once you’ve
established a relationship, build trust through creating a human
connection.

2. Use lead-scoring to focus your efforts

Not all leads are equal, nor should they be treated the
same.

Lead-scoring assigns a rating to actions taken, which helps you
understand where a lead is in your funnel, and where to focus your
efforts. Does visiting your products page, or following your
Twitter account signal greater potential? The former, almost
surely, should award more lead-scoring points.

In most models, there are five primary lead
categorizations: 

  • Non-qualified
    • Undetermined conversion potential
    • Should be prompted to take actions via email, which will help
      gauge interest level
    • These are just getting familiarized — don’t overwhelm them
      and prompt unsubscription
  • Action-qualified
    • Categorized by action(s) taken (visited your website, responded
      to a lead-gen email, downloaded an ebook, filled out a form with
      their phone number) 
  • Marketing-qualified
    • These leads have shown promising conversion potential 
    • Have not provided timeline or budget
    • Should be further informed and qualified, prompted to take
      action 
  • Sales-qualified
    • Ready for engagement with sales team 
    • Actively seeking further information regarding your
      product/service 
  • Sales-accepted
    • Actively engaged by sales team in an ongoing conversation
    • Working on next steps

3. Use smart forms

On your landing pages, using forms to collect contact info is a
great call-to-action that helps build your email list and collect
other info.

But once you have their email, it’s unproductive and
bothersome to ask for it again. With smart forms, you can
successively ask for a series of contact and information pieces as
your lead returns. This way, you’re not asking for the same info
twice or too much all at once. And the info you gradually collect,
such as budget and timeline, helps paint a clearer picture of your
lead’s progression down the funnel.

4.  Use email automation

As you work to build accord with a lead, will be your primary
communication channel.  It can’t usually all be done manually,
though.

Send timely emails to leads triggered by a particular action
(viewing your website, downloading an ebook, etc.), launch a drip
campaign — a series of emails over a set period of time — or
use a combination of both. All emails, regardless of sequence,
should provide valuable information (a case study download, a
link to a webinar, etc.) that helps a prospect progress in their
decision-making process.

But never over-automate. Build in opportunities for human
touchpoints in your lead-nurturing campaign, especially further
along in the funnel.

5. Collect and implement feedback

This can be done via forms, or when you get a chance to connect
with a lead through email or on the phone.

Find out what type of content or engagement your leads are
looking for, and what you’ve shared that is and isn’t useful.
More specifically, determine what information will help your leads
make a decision. Are they looking for a product that integrates
across their techstack? Do they need more convincing data to earn
buy-in from decision-makers?

Beyond informing your leads, consistently ensure they feel
positively about any and all interactions with your company via
feedback requests.

6. Nurture beyond conversion (AKA implement

a flywheel model
)

Once a prospect becomes a customer, nurturing shouldn’t end
there. Rather, you’ve just earned the opportunity to upsell,
cross-sell, and earn referrals.

After all, pleased customers are powerful —
74%
of B2B buyers cite word-of-mouth as an influence in
purchasing decision-making. Follow-up campaigns should be created
to nurture, or strengthen relationships with, clients and
customers.

How?

Essentially, the same way you turned them into customers: by
continually providing value. This time around, though, your
marketing team will work with customer success rather than sales to
ensure needs and expectations are met. Only then can you upsell,
and will referrals flow in.

7. Ensure actionability

Ineffective lead-nurturing campaigns are most commonly plagued
by a lack of actionability.

When you message a lead, what do you expect them to do? How will
that email help move them through the funnel? Every time you
contact your lead, a next step should be both clear and easily
taken, whether it be booking a meeting with an account executive or
scheduling a product demo.

But don’t be pushy. The best way to avoid coming off this way
is to convey
empathy
: “We know you’re busy, but do you have 15 minutes
sometime this week to connect?”

8. Personalize content and messaging

Just as you don’t focus on each lead equally with
lead-scoring, you shouldn’t message every lead the same ways,
either. Using data, you can customize delivered content to the
individual interests and business problems of each lead.

Data can direct personalization of:

  • Relevant content types to send via email
  • When exactly (time + day) to send emails
  • Which specific features to spotlight in sales
    conversations
  • Tailored landing page content
  • Industry-specific case studies 
  • Language/messaging that resonates 

9. Deploy retargeting campaigns

The harsh truth is that 96% of
your website visitors aren’t ready to buy.

But that doesn’t mean 96% of your visitors will never buy.
That’s where retargeting — serving display ads to visitors
who’ve stopped by — comes in. Without retargeting, a lead could
visit your website once then forget about your company altogether.
With retargeting, your lead sees ads for your company all over the
internet, which keeps you on the radar. And once that prospect is
ready to buy, they’ll think to come back.

10. Re-evaluate consistently

Markets, technologies, and with them, best practices, are
constantly changing. Be flexible, experiment, but also re-evaluate
to ensure your experimentation is moving in the right
direction.

As you launch new lead nurturing campaigns, you’ll need to
make some assumptions. Some of them will be on point, while others
will miss the mark. Only re-evaluation will reveal the reality. So
create opportunities to review and revise your lead-nurturing
strategy. If necessary, break entirely to do so.

Some measurables to consider as you evaluate: 

  • Lead generation volume in relation to marketing efforts
  • Actions taken at different parts of the funnel, and for various
    lead types
  • How long you’re taking to respond to lead requests, messages,
    and actions
  • Success rates in relation to different personas and
    strategies
  • Where leads fall off (visitor identification tools help with
    this)

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Lead Nurturing For B2Bs: Best Practices for the Digital World

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Source: FS – _Marketing
Lead Nurturing For B2Bs: Best Practices for the Digital World