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When it comes to lead nurturing, one size does not fit all. As the research proves, strategically nurturing your leads using targeted content can significantly improve the results of your inbound marketing strategy.
Using targeted content for lead nurturing may seem obvious, but it’s something that marketers are struggling with. Last year Forrester Research reported that 33% of B2B marketers cite “targeted delivery of content” (i.e., delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time) as their biggest lead nurturing challenge.
There are a few prerequisites for using targeted content for lead nurturing. First of all, you need to understand each of your unique buyer personas. Of course, you then need to create an assortment of targeted content designed to nurture each of your personas based on their interests, goals, objectives, and marketing triggers. Lastly, you need to have a marketing automation platform in place to help you identify, segment and target your unique buyer personas as you scale your inbound marketing strategy.
Most lead nurturing strategies did involve setting up a simple email campaign that would send out generic emails to a list of prospects. Email-only lead nurturing strategies have a few inherent problems.
To start with, almost four out of five marketers say their email open rates don’t exceed 20% (Source: The State of B2B Lead Nurturing Survey, Oracle). On top of that, 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. A lack of effective lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance (Source: MarketingSherpa). Today, marketers are looking for new lead nurturing tactics and technologies that go beyond the limits of email. With the help of powerful marketing automation platforms, savvy marketers are now executing multi-channel lead nurturing strategies.
Effective multi-channel lead nurturing most commonly involve a combination of marketing automation, email marketing, social media, paid retargeting, dynamic website content and direct sales outreach. Because there are so many tactics involved, to execute this properly, you really need to ensure that your sales and marketing teams are well aligned and working cohesively.
While the buyers journey for every product and service can be quite different, research from the Marketing Lead Management Report indicates that on average, prospects receive ten marketing touches from the time they enter the top of funnel until they’re a closed won customers.
Interestingly, another research study from Demand Gen suggests that 49% of marketers include less than five touches in their lead nurturing programs (Source: 2015 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study). If you’re in this category, it might be time to revamp your lead nurturing efforts a bit.
As you can imagine, the most successful lead nurturing strategies deliver content that helps prospects progress through the buyer’s journey by addressing common questions and concerns. In addition to email tactics, consider how you can use a mix of content types like social media, blog posts, whitepapers, interactive calculators, or even direct mail, to nurture your prospects into customers.
The benefits of immediate follow up calls seem quite evident, but most organizations still aren’t acting very quickly. An article in Harvard Business Review highlighted the surprisingly slow response times of most companies. Below are a few benchmarks from the study:
Automated lead nurturing can help you reach large groups of prospects, but a timely followup email or a phone call is still quite often the best way to convert inbound leads into qualified sales opportunities. As several research studies have shown, the odds of converting a lead into a sales opportunity are exponentially higher when the lead is contacted immediately following a website conversion.
When you make a timely, well researched call to an inbound lead it’s far more effective than any volume of cold calling. You know exactly what the prospects is researching based their recent browsing behaviour and you also have enough information about the prospect to do some initial research about the organization they work for and their specific role within the company.
Several research studies indicate that email marketing continues to be the most effective tactic for lead nurturing. The research also consistently shows that personalized emails tend to produce significantly better results than generic email blasts. In fact, a recent study by Experian indicated that personalized emails can generate up to six times higher revenue per email than non-personalized campaigns do (Source: Experian Email Marketing Study).
There are all kinds of ways you can personalize your emails to improve your lead nurturing strategy. You can send triggered emails when someone downloads your gated content, clicks on links in your emails, visits certain pages on your website, or when they demonstrate a high level of engagement. When you combine the power of marketing personalization with behavioral triggered emails you can deliver the right marketing messages to the right people, at exactly the right times.
As the Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness Study revealed, 68% of successful marketers cite lead scoring based on content and engagement as the most effective tactic for improving revenue contribution from lead nurturing. With compelling research like that you’d think that everyone would be adopting lead scoring, but a study by MarketingSherpa indicates that only 21% of B2B marketers are using lead scoring.
Based on this research, it seems as though lead scoring is an effective lead nurturing tactic that most marketers simply aren’t taking advantage of yet.
According to a study by market research firm CSO Insights, when both sales and marketing share responsibility for lead nurturing, companies experience a significant increase in conversion rates. As the 2014 Sales Performance Optimization Study revealed, 89% of companies that aligned sales and marketing lead generation efforts reported measurable increases in the number of leads that turned to opportunities as a result of continuous nurturing (Source: Sales Performance Optimization Study).
In order for both sales and marketing to contribute to lead nurturing you’ll need to identity when prospects should be transitioned between teams as they progress through the funnel. In creating your lead nurturing strategy, think about how you can use triggers like lead scoring, pageviews, workflow enrollment, conversion events or sales contact to transition leads from automation to direct one-on-one outreach. The shared expectations, responsibilities and goals for this collaboration between sales and marketing should be outlined in a sales and marketing service level agreement (SLA). Creating a formal sales and marketing SLA will help the two teams hold each other accountable for converting leads and effectively nurturing them into paying customers.
Source: Hubspot Blog
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