For the last 15 years I’ve worked in the B2B marketing industry driving leads for both small and large businesses. Over the last 6 years I have set up and deployed marketing automation solutions and managed demand generation teams to help generate pipeline for our sales teams. For me, marketing automation and lead nurturing helped me become a real partner to my sales organization. I track which leads turn into revenue from marketing our programmes, and streamline the lead qualification process to make sure that our marketing efforts are yielding the best possible results.
As a marketing professional, lead nurturing has been integral for both my team and for others. Working alongside eMedia, we ran a global survey of B2B marketers across the US and the UK, to see how they use lead nurturing in their businesses. This is what we found:
A number of the survey respondents identified the art of producing content as their top challenge. Running a successful nurturing programme hinges on content: just sending variations of the same email five times isn’t nurturing, its spamming! Before hitting send it’s important to have a store of relevant varied content that will move your prospect along a defined path. So how do you generate valuable, consistent content?
Don’t just create ad hoc content based on what you think might work. Here at Salesforce, we use careful planning and a deep understanding of our target audience to inform and help us generate great content on a quarterly cycle. Analyze your data to identify the types of messaging and content that resonates best with your customers. Always look for ways to add value and offer solutions in the content that you produce. You can create press articles, a series of blog posts, infographics, powerpoint Slides, videos and webinars.
This will ultimately help you build better customer relationships that can lead to customer evangelists, and if you are planning quarterly with your content that is backed up by data, it will stop you needing to start from scratch every time you need content for a nurturing campaign.
The B2B Marketers we surveyed cited ‘finding the time and resources for lead nurturing’ as their second biggest challenge, and this is where marketing automation comes in.
It’s the best way to take the pressure out of creating nurture campaigns and manually managing your leads. With lead scoring and grading you can tell at a glance which of your marketing qualified leads are ready to pass to sales, keeping your pipeline full of warm active buyers.
Another great feature of a marketing automation platform is dynamic content. We all know that the more your content is personalized, the higher the conversion rate will be. Dynamic content allows you to personalize what your customers see as they navigate your website. You can personalize it to show your customers the most relevant content based on characteristics like their location and industry.
But how does dynamic content help with nurturing? The answer is simple: you can create email templates where content is dynamically inserted based on the user’s journey. For example, if you know the customer has been reading finance industry related content on your website, why not automatically insert content about the finance industry into the emails you send them?
SALES and MARKETING ALIGNMENT
Marketers in our research also highlighted ‘not getting enough sales support’ with their lead nurturing strategies.
This topic is dear to my heart. The age old tensions between sales and marketing are a well known problem for marketers all over the world, so understanding the unique pain-points of each team are the first step towards bridging that gap. Marketing are frustrated when leads are not followed up on and sales are frustrated with the quality of the leads.The reality is that marketing’s goals are becoming more aligned with sales’, with revenue targets and lead generation, and sales team’s goals are becoming more aligned with marketing, acting as brand ambassadors and raising the profile of the company through social selling and thought leadership.
When you connect your CRM platform to a marketing automation platform, sales becomes accountable for working marketing qualified leads because they are easily tracked. Marketing then becomes responsible for sending the best possible leads to sales.
One of my favourite solutions to get sales teams excited about lead nurturing is Salesforce engage.
Salesforce Engage is the olive branch between marketing and sales. It gives sales teams access to their marketing approved campaigns, and alerts them when new leads are assigned. Salesforce Engage gives the power of lead nurturing to sales and that’s great for marketing. And it’s great for my sales team because they can see exactly when and how their leads are engaging with our content. With that sales intelligence, they’ll know exactly when to follow up to get a higher win rate.
The last challenge B2B marketers identified was insufficient data. You don’t necessarily need net new lead data with expensive lead generation programs to take advantage of lead nurturing. There are other ways you can use lead nurturing to generate revenue for your business. Too many companies focus on acquisition at the expense of retention. In fact, marketers generally spend twice as much on acquisition as they do on retention, even though current customers account for the lion-share of revenue. It costs on average seven times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep existing ones.
Nurturing your existing customers is a great way to improve your service and the customer experience. Start by scoring customers to identify which are satisfied and which may be in danger of attrition. Then, send customized content that helps remind buyers of your value proposition and drive engagement.
The goal is to continue building customer relationships even after you’ve closed the deal. The more engaged your customer, the more likely they are to renew with you, buy another solution or indeed recommend you to another company. Why not use your marketing automation tool to ensure your customers are adequately trained on all the services you offer? This could be as simple as a series of solution or industry information that keeps you top of mind with them. But we also know that the more a customer uses your solutions, the more likely they are to stay with you. At salesforce we train our customers by moving them into an on-boarding nurturing program when they sign up with us.
I hope this post has given you some great insight into some top tips to overcoming lead nurturing challenges.