This article offers an overview of three essential components found in successful lead nurturing programs. Many of the insights are from an excellent study released recently by Forrester. This article also shares some of the strategic questions and checklists we use when designing in-bound lead generation campaigns for our B2B clients.
Forrester defines lead nurturing having three central components:
Let’s walk through each of these points.
In Forrester’s Q1 2011 North American B2B Technology Marketing Tactics And Benchmarks Online Survey, they found that all of the top performers had a nurturing program. Nearly 10% of the worst performers reported that they did not nurture leads at all.
Top performers also reported a more committed approach to nurturing. While 82% of top performers reported that it took four or more nurturing interactions to mature a lead to sales qualified status, only 74% of the worst performers reported using four or more touches. Nearly one-third (32%) of the top performers reported seven or more touches versus 26% for worst performers.
Forrester also found that top performers realized improved performance at all stages of the L2RM cycle. Conversion ratios for top performers were at least 4 percentage points higher through the major stages of the L2RM process: lead origination, lead nurturing, and sales conversion.
A sustained relationship means that you are reaching buyers early in their research and shaping their perceptions and buying criteria over the course of the process.
Too many tech marketers believe that “nurturing” is the same as sending random content down the marketing automation pipe. Or reaching out to a pool of customers on a regular basis to “touch base.”
The goal should not be to simply to put your company in front of them, reach out a few times, and then either close or move on. Instead, your content production, keyword research, and social media activity should align with the long-term process of research, evaluation, and decision.
Does your lead nurturing program help the customer learn how to buy?
This means that you are targeting buyers across multiple stages of their research, shaping their decision criteria along the way.
Content marketing is about education. As Copyblogger often says, “education is selling,” which is to say education persuades and leads someone forward, earning their trust, permission, and respect. Once you have that framework in place, closing the sale is much easier.
One of the basic truths of marketing is that credibility sells. In B2C, credibility is important, but often flies under the radar. For example, a website selling iPads is piggybacking on the credibility of Apple and so, can get away with a sloppy website design and little market leadership (get away with it–not thrive).
In B2B, building trust is everything. Buyers need to believe you can fulfill the product promises you make. And this takes more than witty copy on the homepage. This is why compelling content is so essential. You are trading excellent content for the buyer coming to know, like, and trust you.
Thinking about the overall strategy will help you see the bigger principles behind the trend toward content and in-bound marketing. Blogging is not about just getting traffic to your website. It is about attracting the right type of customer and keeping them interested with the right type of content.
Tech marketers who want to build a lead-nurturing program should make sure that their efforts align with the following:
For more in-bound marketing advice, digital trends, and B2B lead generation research, follow us on Twitter (@Onenetmarketing).