B2B lead nurturing is not unlike courtship — the process is less about transactions and making the sale, and more about building long-term relationships.
Too often, businesses operate with the assumption that converting leads is a numbers game — that a steady percentage of leads will become clients even with minimum engagement. While generating leads is key to gaining new clients, it is only one part of your B2B marketing strategy. Just as important is your lead nurturing strategy — the series of engagements through which you build ongoing relationships with potential clients before they are ready to buy.
In a way, B2B lead nurturing is not unlike courtship. The process is less about transactions and making the sale, and more about building long-term relationships by developing an understanding of each other’s needs and capabilities. As with courtship, pursuing a limited number of quality leads is more likely to bring success than pursuing quantity alone.
According to research from Gleanster, 50 percent of qualified leads are not ready to buy. Instead of simply trying to attract new leads that likely won’t make a purchase, lead nurturing helps you guide your existing leads through the buyer’s journey — hopefully converting them into customers along the way.
Like courtship, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are a number of techniques and tools that can help you attract attention and build rapport. Remember, the most important thing is to remain receptive, flexible, and open to approaching individual relationships based on client responsiveness and new knowledge. Below, we’ve compiled a few lead nurturing best practices to keeping your prospective clients engaged:
1. Know your tools, but remember: it’s not just about the tools
Tools alone can’t generate results, but they can be an important part of the lead nurturing process. Here are some of the common tools for inbound lead generation:
- Content management systems such as WordPress and Squarespace are tools that enable you to edit, publish, and manage your content. CMSes store and display content in customizable templates and enable non-technical professionals to manage web layout and content with ease.
- Marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot and MailChimp can help you schedule email marketing campaigns and analyze the behavior of site visitors. Analyzing your site data will give you insight into prospective clients’ levels of interest and which leads may be worth pursuing. You can track the traffic your campaigns generate, and see which methods are more effective and which leads exhibit more interest.
- Analytical platforms such as Google Analytics can help you track and understand user engagement with your website and content. Which pages or elements encourage more engagement? How effective are your CTAs?
2. Follow the B2B buyer’s journey
As B2B buyers move through the customer journey – from awareness to consideration to final decision – they’ll expect to learn more and more about your business, products, and services. In fact, one study found that 77 percent of buyers want more information at each stage of the journey. It’s up to us as marketers to ensure we give potential customers the content and touchpoints they need to progress through the journey effectively.
Typically, the inbound marketing funnel begins with broad-reaching campaigns, gradually narrowing down to more personalized outreach over email, requests for a conversation, and eventually a sales presentation. As with relationships of any kind, moving too fast or too slow might put a lead off and create setbacks, so try to adjust your cadence accordingly. Moving at the right pace with the right lead can only boost your chances at making a sale.
3. Take a multi-channel, multi-touch approach
Signing a new client will likely require several touchpoints and regular interactions across different channels. However, most of those touchpoints probably won’t – and in fact, shouldn’t – directly relate to sales opportunities.
The goal with lead generation is to develop a natural relationship with every prospect over time, until and even after they become a customer. For instance, rather than charging in with sales emails advertising your product, offer high-quality curated content through timely, personalized email campaigns (with a few sales resources mixed in).
When it comes to the touchpoints you choose, quality trumps quantity every time. Intrusive or overly frequent communications are guaranteed to drive leads away. Using multiple, varied touches that prioritize the customer’s needs and experience are much more effective.
4. Showcase your industry expertise
Your outreach will be most convincing to potential customers if it’s helpful, informative, and relevant to your audience’s needs. Therefore, find different ways to demonstrate your industry expertise. You can do this by producing quality SME-driven content or when a collaboration seems appropriate, co-hosting an event. This doesn’t directly point the client toward a product, but it establishes your credibility, your capabilities, and your thought leadership in your industry.
5. Communicate your identity and your brand
Like courting, you can spark and build interest by communicating your identity and giving your leads time to become familiar with it. Your web design, signature content, sales collateral, and branding are all tools for conveying your brand and your values. Ensuring cohesion among elements such as color, messaging, and design aesthetic can reinforce your professionalism and boost credibility and trust. Likewise, using a consistent voice and tone across different channels makes the customer feel like they’re engaging with the same brand persona every time.
6. Have conversations and listen
This might seem obvious, but listening is one of the most important things you can do to build a business relationship. Listening to the particular pain points and needs of potential clients will help set your sales agenda. Listening can be straightforward — if your lead expresses an interest in a certain product, send along more information if you offer similar products. Alternatively, listening to their industry challenges — even if you can’t help right away — can uncover opportunities and keep channels of communication open.
Nurturing leads can be challenging, but it’s also a valuable opportunity to build relationships that are less outcomes-driven, whose payoffs may be down the road. When engaging with potential clients, tailor your strategy to respond to their needs. If you are interested in learning more about lead nurturing, don’t hesitate to reach out to the marketing team at Thunderfoot.