What Is B2B Lead Nurturing?
B2B lead nurturing is all about identifying when your marketing-qualified leads are ready to be passed over to your Sales team.
As Oracle states, successful B2B lead nurturing "anticipates the needs of the buyer based on who they are", and the aim of B2B lead nurturing is to 'warm up' your prospects through a variety of engagement tactics.
B2B lead nurturing tactics such as email marketing and content marketing will help you to better understand your prospects' needs based on their activity and engagement, helping you to identify how your technology solutions can help solve their business challenges.
However, B2B lead nurturing shouldn't just be reserved for your prospects, it should be an ongoing strategy for your existing clients too. Lead nurturing programs influence prospects and customers by establishing a relationship between your brand and your audience.
Encouraging interactions and sharing useful content through lead nurturing tactics keeps your contacts aware and engaged while helping them through their decision-making process toward conversion.
While this approach sounds ideal, as a B2B marketer, you'll know that clients and customers rarely follow a straightforward and linear buyer's journey.
Buyers will do their research first and contact brands when and where they choose, so it's important to continually engage with your leads to keep your organization front of mind.
What Are the Benefits of B2B Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is crucial for moving your MQLs through your marketing funnel before you can pass them onto your Sales team as sales-qualified leads (SQLs). Plus, nurturing your B2B leads and contacts is essential for keeping your current customers engaged and aware of your brand and services when they are in an active buying cycle.
Successful lead nurturing programs rely on providing the right information to your prospects at the right time. Effective lead nurturing allows you to regularly connect with your customers and potential customers by providing valuable and relevant information, so let's explore some of the key benefits.
The benefits of B2B lead nurturing include:
Increased brand awareness: Your prospects and existing customers are regularly exposed to your organization's brand through lead nurturing programs. Plus, Demand Gen Report found that only 29% of brands nurture their existing customers beyond the initial investment, which means you'll be in the minority, and a step ahead, if you do.
Increased sales: According to Marketo, businesses that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. Lead nurturing can increase your sales when done right, so it's essential to understand your prospects and how they interact with your brand.
Increased order value: Invespcro found that nurtured leads make 47% bigger purchases than non-nurtured leads, meaning that when your leads buy from you, they'll buy more.
So now you know some of the benefits of B2B lead nurturing, let's explore three key strategies you can implement in 2024 (and beyond!)
B2B Lead Nurturing Best Practices
Nurturing your B2B leads is a great way to increase your brand awareness, ready for when your prospects and existing customers are in an active buying cycle. By providing value upfront to your leads, such as sending them educational-led content over sales-led assets, you'll be increasing your brand awareness for when your prospects are ready to buy.
As a B2B marketer, you know that every B2B buyer's journey is unique, so it's essential to continually provide value to your leads. Lead nurturing done in this way will help you build your brand's reputation as a go-to source for research, information, and education, keeping your organization's product, service, or solutions front of mind.
#1 - The Power of Personalization
Firstly, let's look at personalization within lead nurturing and why it's so important.
'Personalization' has become one of those buzzwords within marketing for many years now, and for good reason.
As both consumers and marketers, we know it works. Is there anything better than getting a personalized offer on a product you were already considering? Or a blog article direct to your email inbox that you're genuinely interested in? With customized lead nurturing, you can do just that.
How your leads have entered your marketing CRM and what information you have on each lead will determine the levels of personalization you can deliver and help you discover what information you need to collect.
Gaining More Intelligence About Your Prospects
When creating personalized lead nurturing programs, audience intelligence is crucial.
One of the best ways to learn more about your prospects from the beginning is to use enhanced audience intelligence strategies when generating your leads, such as using profiling and qualifying questions to learn more about each prospect.
For example, we support our clients in creating the most effective profiling and qualifying questions based on their campaign objectives to help them understand more about their audience before they are delivered as leads.
Furthermore, learning more about your prospects before your lead nurturing campaign begins will help you create personalized communications for your leads based on the enhanced information you have about them.
Gaining a higher level of audience intelligence will help you create a relevant lead nurturing program that provides value to your prospects.
On the other hand, if your leads are already in your CRM without any intelligence, for example, you only have their name, email address, and company name; with lead nurturing, you can still create a program that helps you learn more about each of your prospects.
One fundamental way to learn more about your leads is by setting up a sequence of communications. Typically this is done by email to share a mixture of educational and informative content with your leads. Most commonly, B2B Marketers will set up a nurture flow of emails containing various gated and ungated content to learn more about their leads - analyzing what content they are interacting with and what subjects they are interested in.
Gated content is a great way to learn more about your prospects directly by asking them key questions or asking for more specific marketing permissions at the download point. However, gated content isn't always appropriate to share with leads already in your funnel, so it's important to choose content to share that is educational, unique, and exclusive, meaning your leads can't get the information anywhere else.
Using a gated form allows you to add additional questions to find out more about your contacts, helping you personalize your interactions and find out more about your contacts and their pain points.
Finally, based on your prospects' behavior, you can send them in different directions within your nurture flow to personalize their content and experience with your brand as you learn more about them.
#2 - Using Automated Nurture Flows
Once you've started learning more about your prospects, you can set up more personalized lead nurture flows. Typically, this is done using your CRM (such as HubSpot) and will be an automated series of communication touchpoints.
With nurture flows, you'll be able to start sending your leads more relevant and engaging content based on their activity and the intelligence you've gained about them.
For example, suppose they interact with a specific type of content – such as clicking through to an ungated eBook you have sent them. In that case, you'll then be able to share a follow-up email or a different piece of content relevant to their interaction.
Some of the benefits of sending automated nurture communications, based on your leads' activity and behavior, include:
- Gaining more information on each lead and learning what content resonates with them.
- Shaping your communications to suit their needs.
- Building a better picture of their interests as potential buyers.
- Helping build trust in your brand.
- Facilitating a warmer Sales conversation when the time is right.
#3 - Use Contact Scoring
Contact scoring, also known as B2B lead scoring, is the process of scoring and ranking your prospects based on their levels of engagement and suitability, in line with your nurture program.
You'll most likely set up a contact scoring system that assigns numerical points to each lead based on their activity. You'll then give a numerical value to your leads at different stages of the funnel. For example, 50 'points' may result in your MQLs being passed over to your Sales team.
HubSpot's lead scoring 101 is a great place to start if you're new to lead scoring. The guide shares six different lead scoring models to explore based on your prospects and the data you collect.
Contact scoring is an excellent strategic approach to lead nurturing and can help you optimize your lead nurturing activities for increased sales.
Questions to ask when setting up your contact scoring include:
- How were your leads generated? Where have your leads come from? How "warm" are they to your brand and your products, services, or solutions?
- How much information do you have about each lead? What additional information can you gain through your lead nurturing activities? What information does your Sales team need?
- How many pieces of content have your leads engaged with? And what forms and types of content are your leads engaging with the most?
- How often are you contacting your leads? And by what methods? (Such as email and phone).
- What does your leads' typical buying cycle look like? And what's your average 'closed-won' timeframe? For example, what's the average time a new lead goes from being a prospect to a new client or customer?
The above list will help you create a contact scoring system for your lead nurturing activities, moving your MQLs through the funnel. Additionally, implementing a contact scoring system will allow you to deliver SQLs to your sales team once your leads are fully nurtured.
Finally, it's essential to ensure your contact scoring system evolves. You should continue to monitor how your prospects move through your marketing funnel and the types of content that resonate with them the most.
Creating Your B2B Lead Nurturing Strategy
If you're providing value within your lead nurturing program, you can continue to nurture older leads and your existing customers, even if they aren't in an active buying cycle.
Creating your B2B lead nurturing strategy is all about sharing regular and relevant communications with your leads, to help facilitate warmer sales conversations once your MQLs are nurtured into SQLs.
As we've explored, there are several benefits to B2B lead nurturing, and many tactics you can employ to nurture your B2B leads. However, it's also important to remember that lead nurturing programs are only as good as the quality of your B2B leads.
High-quality lead-generation campaigns should always come first to generate the most relevant prospects.
If you work with a trusted and specialist B2B lead generation supplier, they will be able to guide you through your whole campaign, generating high-quality leads according to your campaign objectives.
When choosing a B2B lead generation agency to work with, they should be able to answer all the key questions within Headley Media's Quality Lead Generation Checklist.