Internet devices, social networks and information that is available instantaneously have drastically changed the buying process.
Today, the buyer controls the buying cycle much more than the seller controls the selling cycle. The buyer holds all the cards at this table.
In B2B, the change is even bigger. For every piece of content that the seller’s marketing and sales teams can publish and deliver, a B2B buyer will find three pieces of content about the seller.
With an abundance of content available to buyers, building relationships becomes more important for sellers.
As it is, 50% of qualified leads are not immediately ready to buy. Those qualified leads might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to vendors.
So lead nurturing becomes part of the lead and revenue cycle.
Lead nurturing is a marketing term for building relationships with potential clients – even if they don’t want to buy your product or service immediately.
The goal of lead nurturing is to funnel qualified prospects toward the closing of sales by building relationships with them, regardless of their readiness or timing to buy.
Since 50% of your qualified leads will not be ready to buy immediately, this process is important for your business to gain those potential clients in the future.
Start by raising your company’s profile in the prospect’s eyes, making it more likely that your company’s product or service will be the one chosen when it is time to buy.
The simplest way to do this is to send occasional emails to potential customers letting them know about news and updates regarding your product or service.
Lead Nurturing Beyond Email
1. Content mapping
Content mapping is the process of deciding what content is most appropriate for a prospect at a given time. To use content mapping for lead nurturing, you need to understand the buying cycle. The simple buying cycle includes:
- Awareness: They have become aware of their need or your company/product.
- Evaluation: Is your product the best fit?
- Purchase: They are ready to make the purchase.
If prospects are seeing you for the first time, they will need different information and content than prospects who are ready to purchase something from you.
To utilize content mapping for lead nurturing, you will take that knowledge to map the most appropriate content for each stage of your buyer’s journey to a sale. This step is about having the right conversations with the right people at the right time.
While the buying cycle can be simplified as three points, content mapping is very specific to each business.
B2B marketers must nurture their prospects for months or years before the prospects turn into sales opportunities. With such a long sales cycle, it’s critical to know how you’re connecting with each buyer at each stage on their journey to closing the sale.
Today’s buyers demand more personalized attention, a demand that requires marketers to be more automated. Marketing automation captures buyer behavior – the greatest untapped asset for marketers.
With the data provided, and the knowledge it drives, marketers can provide targeted content and offers that increase conversion and buyer engagement.
TIP: Start by determining the logical pathway a lead would take when navigating through your sales funnel. Lay out several scenarios where your leads convert into customers and trace the actions they take from their first conversion to the close of the sale.
2. Multi-channel nurturing
Even with marketing automation, no matter how sophisticated the system, reaching leads via email is difficult. There is lower engagement across the board, which is where multi-channel nurturing can be helpful.
Multi-channel lead nurturing engages your leads with a series of targeted marketing messages delivered across multiple points, devices, and platforms. With multi-channel nurturing, you still want to target content to the buyer’s journey.
Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20%. Effective multi-channel lead nurturing hits the right leads at the right time with the right content, combining the channel and the content for maximum efficiency.
Multi-channel nurturing often utilizes:
- Marketing automation sending regular emails and newsletters
- Building social media communities with regular content publication and activity monitoring
- Paid remarketing/retargeting
- Website content
More complex lead nurturing campaigns have several purposes. They can educate potential customers on the advantages of your product or service, or show them how to use your product more efficiently and better.
A more complex campaign could also feature personalized communication to entice customers to buy your product sooner rather than later.
If done poorly, multi-channel nurturing can leave a spam impression. To avoid this, content and messages need to be informative and educational, adding real value for your potential customers.
Messages must also be delivered at the right time. Help your potential customers with their research process, because while most leads are not ready for a sale immediately, they will eventually be ready.
TIP: Give your leads helpful and relevant content. Be there when they are ready to make a buying decision.
Due to the changing nature of the buying cycle, marketers who are thinking of campaigns and not engaging customers will be left behind.
Marketers who continue to market to customers with campaigns or offers focused solely on products and features will be perceived as “tone deaf” to multi-channel customers and risk becoming irrelevant.
Marketers need to constantly and automatically evolve campaigns and programs based on buyer reactions to marketing messages.
Behavioral marketing is no longer an option, but table stakes in the game.