Lead nurturing isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s been around for some time now.

Call it what you want: permission marketing, drip marketing, engagement marketing, lead nurturing… it essentially refers to the practice of providing digestible nuggets of information to prospects at different stages of their research and discovery cycle. This helps keep you front of mind until they’re ready to hear more about your sales message and act on it.

By now, you probably know that lead nurturing is important. Research shows the companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost. But, despite these stats, only 36% of marketers actively nurture their leads.

This means, if you fall into the 64% of marketers that don’t practice lead nurturing, you’re missing out on new customers and a decent chunk of revenue.

Here’s the catch: to see success with lead nurturing, you have to do it right.

Forcing a buy-now message on a prospect who is not ready to buy, but rather is in an earlier stage of the process, can do more harm than good. It can turn them away from your company even when they are ready to buy.

Remember: people want to be talked to and communicated in a way personalized to them, their needs, and their wants.

Lead nurturing when done right, does exactly that.

The person reads or watches something of interest to them, so you, in turn, send them something else that you think will be of interest and help push them through the sales funnel, providing more and more information about your products and services along the way.

Eventually, these people become well informed and will hopefully be ready to talk to you about becoming a customer.

How to Nurture Leads in the B2B World

So, all that said about the good side of lead nurturing, the truth is that lead nurturing does require patience and a longer-term commitment than more short-term lead generation activities.

In a “But, we-need-revenue-now” B2B sales climate, there may not be as much tolerance for the longer-term play. Sales reps are being asked, “What have you sold this quarter, this month, today?” and they want to know that Marketing is wholly supporting their short-term efforts.

The trick is finding the balance between the two.

Giving up lead nurturing altogether isn’t likely to be the best bet for your marketing efforts long term. And truthfully, the people you’re nurturing probably aren’t the best candidates for short-term revenue. Remember, we’re talking about people who aren’t ready to buy anyway, so a small amount of investment in them now sets you up better for longer-term results that make the small investment worth it.

So here are some ideas to keep nurturing when you have to meet more immediate revenue concerns and needs.

  1. Targeted Content

According to one report, leads that are nurtured through targeted content produce an increase in sales of more than 20% – that’s a difficult number to ignore. On top of that, research from Forrester revealed that 33% of B2B marketers claimed: “targeted delivery of content” (which basically means giving the right people the right content at the right time) was on the of the biggest lead nurturing challenges they face.

But it’s not as difficult as it sounds.

Before you do anything, you need to have a deep understanding of your different buyer personas. These are the different people that buy from you and the target customers you’re trying to attract. Some of these personas might be rattling around at the bottom of the funnel (which means they’re ready to buy), while others might not even know they need what you’re offering yet.

If you try and serve the same content to both these personas, you’re going to fall short of resonating with either of them. Instead, create content that’s specifically geared towards one or the other.

For example, you might share educational blog posts that reveal the benefits of your product with top-of-the-funnel prospects, while the other prospects might prefer product demos, case studies, and live walkthroughs.

  1. Multiple Touchpoints

Did you know that most consumers need around seven touchpoints with a business before they even think about parting with their money?

This means you need to increase the number of times you’re getting in front of your leads, whether that’s in their inboxes with emails, through social media, or by picking up the phone and giving them a call.

Considering the need for this many touchpoints, it boggles the mind that 49% of marketers include less than five touchpoints in their lead nurturing programs. If this is you, it’s time to change things.

Think about the different places you can reach your leads and what they need or are expecting from you in each of those places.

For example, you might serve an ad on Facebook that links up to your email list. Once they’ve signed up there, you might send an email with some links to a few past customer case studies. From there, you can ask them to book a product demo, and then you can give them a call. All of these interactions are touchpoints and, the more of them you incorporate into your nurturing program, the more likely you are to build a strong connection with potential buyers.  

  1. Automation

As a busy business owner, automation is your friend. Attempting to manually connect with every single prospect is absurd and incredibly time-consuming, which is why you might want to look into automating what you can.

Start by figuring out a workflow that covers the different steps and touchpoints you want to take your leads through. From there, you can start bulking it out with the different kinds of targeted content you want to send them and automate the sending of that content through behavioral triggers.

The majority of this automated process will be carried out by email and is often dubbed the onboarding process in the B2B world.

It gives your leads the chance to get to know your business and learn more about the benefits of your product. Not only do they become highly educated on what you’re offering but, by constantly showing up in their inbox, you’re cementing that relationship and making it harder and harder for them to jump ship to one of your competitors.

Clearly, what shouldn’t be given up is the intimacy with the person to whom you’re communicating … don’t sacrifice that trusted relationship for the short-term gain! If your efforts would jeopardize that trust, then it’s better to stop the nurturing altogether than disrupt it with a short-term “batch and blast” mentality aimed at the people you’ve carefully cultivated.

Good luck with your efforts! Let us know what you’re up to in this area – we’d love to hear about it.