We’ve taken a look at applying lead nurturing concepts broadly to an integrated marketing campaign in a previous blog post. Now, let’s narrow down our discussion to cover lead nurturing in the realm of B2B email marketing and see what we can do with our B2B contact lists, email messages/content, and other campaign considerations to improve the quality of our prospects.
We’ve also already seen in the above-mentioned blog post that there is evidence in the real world suggesting proper lead nurturing improves the efficiency of the marketing and sales process. Organizations that are really good at lead nurturing report marked improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales teams (50% better conversion rates, 33% lower marketing costs) plus higher potential for developing customer loyalty.
Yet, despite its clear advantages, other studies also indicate that lead nurturing is not on the radar screens of many B2B marketers at this time. A UK-based study shows that as much as 3 out of every 4 B2B marketers there have no lead nurturing strategy. In terms of email, around 42% of respondents in a separate study rated this channel as best suited for “quantity” of leads, not lead quality.
With recent and broader B2B marketing trends strongly showing a shift in focus toward lead quality (given top priority by 53% of B2B marketers), these imply the underlying need to follow and nurture prospects throughout the sales pipeline. That’s why every marketing channel including email campaigns should follow a lead nurturing strategy, and here are the steps to build one:
1. Segment your lists according to lead scores. The UK study mentioned above finds that 85% of B2B marketers there have no lead scoring program. This is a crucial mistake since lead scoring schemes allow you to identify which prospects need more follow-up and which ones are ready to face your sales staff. Recipients in your email contact list for businesses should be scored according to how interested and sales-ready they are, and segmented according to these ratings.
2. Determine content relevance. It’s not a good idea to send the same content for a prospect who’s about to buy and a recipient who had just signed up for your email newsletters. Clearly, they have different information needs, and your lead scoring methodology shows you this fact. Map your content materials to which segments in your B2B contact list they’re most relevant and useful.
3. Match design and content. Aside from matching your content according to relevance, the layout and design of your email messages should reflect the interest you want to generate from your readers. Again, this underlines the importance of segmenting your contact list for businesses by lead scoring.
4. Use clear calls to action. Just as any other email you send to recipients in your B2B contact lists, lead nurturing messages need to have clear calls to action that are easy to understand and locate. Of course, the actions you specify have to be appropriate for the lead score of your recipients.
5. Be consistent. Consistency is important in a successful lead nurturing program, especially if you have a long and complex sales cycle. You have to be consistent in your sending schedule & frequency, email content, level of interaction, and campaign activity.
6. Mind your manners. Courtesy and proper email manners are requirements in an effective lead nurturing process. Keep in mind that you’re goal here is to let your prospects take a sales journey and arrive at a buying decision. The last thing you want is to have them getting off the ride because of impoliteness from their guide.
Failing to follow up and neglecting to lead your prospects through the buying process can result in increased lost sales, elevated marketing/conversion costs, and prolonged sales cycles. Lead nurturing eliminates these inefficiencies.
How do you nurture leads in your email campaign or other marketing activities?