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What is lead nurturing and how can you do it?

March 31, 2020

What is lead nurturing? 

It’s the B2B lead generation process of building up relationships with potential customers, with the goal of moving them down the sales funnel until they’re ready to buy.

It’s very rare for a buyer to arrive on a company website with the express intention of purchasing a product or service. Most times, prospects want to find out more about the company and compare them to the competition. They will have a myriad of questions in their mind and will be constantly checking to see if your product or service has what it takes to solve their pain points.

This is what good lead nurturing must do - it must answer questions and position your product as the ultimate solution to your prospective customers’ challenges.

Christelle Fraysse is the Chief Marketing Officer at Workbooks.com, the affordable, feature-rich CRM solution for mid-market companies. She is a passionate and results-driven marketing leader with 20 years of experience in B2B technology - the ideal person to ask about all things lead nurturing!

We asked Christelle for her thoughts on lead nurturing and how to manage it effectively. Her insights will assist any B2B/SaaS marketer with their lead nurturing efforts. Over to Christelle!

Why do you want to do lead nurturing? What are you trying to achieve? 

Usually, businesses are looking to improve the quality of the B2B leads that are being handed over to sales (taking leads to a “sales-ready” stage - that usually goes hand-in-hand with lead scoring - ranking your leads on a readiness scale until they reach a certain threshold).

In order to start nurturing, you need to dig into your buyer’s journey. Ask yourself the following key questions:

  • How did they find your products/service?
  • Where do they look online for information?
  • How do they evaluate which products are right for their business?
  • What steps do they take through their discovery journey?
  • What content are they engaging with?

The more you know, the better your nurturing programme will be!

One of the ways to get this information is to speak to those customers who have just gone through your sales cycle. This can be done by setting up online surveys or virtual meetings. Review the journey with them - what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what added value to the process for them.

When is the right time to start nurturing? 

This is an important question! Should you start straight away (i.e. as soon as the prospect engages)? Or when the prospect reaches a certain threshold (if you are lead scoring)?

If you start nurturing too early, you risk annoying the prospect and having them switch off. If you start nurturing too late, chances are you’ll miss the opportunity.

What type of nurturing should you be doing? How often, how many times, what content do you want to engage with and through which channel(s)?

Successful nurture is about three things: timeliness, relevance and personalisation. In order to manage these three elements, you need to leverage the following:

Demographic data

In B2B, consider these factors:

  • What the prospect’s role is, their seniority and decision-making status.
  • The type of company the person works at - look for any specific trends or drivers in that industry that match your offering
  • The size of the business - are they enterprise or SMB?

Behavioural data

The questions you need to ask are:

  • What did the prospect do to enter the nurturing programme? 
  • Did they purchase anything in the past? If so - what and when? 
  • How have they engaged with you before? 
  • What are their preferences? 

Personalisation

All demographic and behavioural B2B data could be a source of personalisation, ensuring that your nurture programme is relevant and timely to each prospect. 

However without the right technology and infrastructure to support execution, personalisation can quickly become very complex.

For example, if we personalise our marketing based on demographics, behavioural data and the lead score, multiple paths of nurture are possible: 

  • If the prospect is a marketer in a manufacturing business, then the nurture path is A.
  • If the prospect is a salesperson in the same manufacturing business, then the nurture path is B.

You can see how it can very easily become complex! My advice is not to try it using Excel - it will soon become a logistical nightmare! So make sure you have the technology to support you in execution, such as a CRM with a proper email nurture tool. 

Consider leveraging dynamic marketing content within your emails to simplify your workflow design. Once you have built your workflows in the tool (incorporating different channels), the nurture will run automatically, saving you time.

Data capture

Think about the details of your nurture programme. A vital component is data capture: finding out more about your prospect to make your lead nurture even more targeted.

If you already have their data in your CRM (from, say, a form fill), then there’s no need to request this again during your nurture campaign. This is the perfect opportunity to offer un-gated or “free” content, different from what you’ve used at the top of the B2B marketing funnel. Offer your prospects something exclusive, making it easy and frictionless for your prospects to engage with you.

Top tip: capture this engagement using UTMs or PURLs and use webpage scoring to measure engagement. Try using simple surveys rather than standard emails to boost prospect engagement.

Timings

How often should you nurture? The length of time to leave between each nurture engagement will vary. It could be anything from every day, every five days, or every two weeks.

Channels

Other essential questions are: what channel(s) to use and how best to combine them? It could be a mix of blogs, videos and social media promotions. You’ll know which channels to use after your initial research into your customer journey and your buyers’ preferences.

How closely should marketing work with sales on lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is about getting a lead to a point where they are sales-ready. So, sales and marketing alignment is crucial. Start by discussing with your sales team what a “sales-ready” lead looks like. This will help you understand how much nurture you’ll need to do (this will depend on the type of business you’re in). 

Introduce a lead scoring system (if one doesn’t exist at your company already). You need to regularly monitor the impact your lead nurturing is having on pipeline. Is it working? Is it too long? Too short? Are people dropping off? Is the B2B sales pipeline drying up or does low-lead quality remain the issue? 

Depending on the answers to these questions, you can increase or decrease scoring or refine the nurturing programme.

What’s best practice for refining a lead nurture programme?

Once your programme is in place, monitor it and start the next phase, which is: refinement! Start doing A/B testing. Try different channels, try different content, try different subject lines.

Defining the nurture path is the first step but by no means the last one; data driven marketing is about iteration and constant small improvements. Be careful, though - don’t try and test too many things at once! Otherwise, you won’t know which of your changes really impacted the outcome.

Instead, perform A/B testing on one particular part of the workflow. Once you’ve tested for long enough, and your data shows that Option B performs better, then implement that option across the whole nurture programme. 

As the programme is running, continue doing iterations. Give yourself enough time to run your A/B testing so that you know your testing sample is significant enough.

You may be surprised - small improvements could have a big impact! At Workbooks.com, due to rigorous A/B testing and refining, we’ve moved from a lead to pipeline conversion of less than 10% to a current conversion at 25%, which is a substantial shift in performance.

Final thoughts

We’d like to thank Christelle for taking the time to share her knowledge with us! We hope you found it just as useful as we did. You’ll find similar practical advice for improving business performance over on the Workbooks blog.

If you’re looking for more B2B marketing advice, why not download our eBook Demand Generation: How to create demand that drives growth?

It’s the ultimate playbook for scaling SaaS marketing, including top growth hacking and content marketing advice! The book was put together by Cognism, the world’s best B2B prospecting solution, in collaboration with several other top SaaS firms, including G2, Vidyard and SaaStock!

Click below to get your free copy!

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