Lead Nurturing: The Power of a Drumbeat
When a suspect (an unqualified lead, in Sales Engine nomenclature) takes an action indicating interest in your company—such as by clicking on an email offer, downloading a piece of gated content from your website, or registering for a webinar—most companies would classify the suspect as a marketing-qualified lead (MQL). That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a viable sales prospect or ready to buy. They will still need to be evaluated by a salesperson, eventually.
In the meantime, you can supply newly-created MQLs with a series of emails that prime them with useful information and help keep your company top-of-mind. That way, when a salesperson does reach out, the MQL is ready to have a productive qualification conversation. With each successive email touch, the chance that the prospect will be ready to buy (from you) increases.
This strategy is called lead nurturing. And it works. Consider these research findings:
- Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. (Source: DemandGen Report)
- On average, organizations that nurture their leads experience a 45 percent lift in lead generation ROI over those organizations that do not. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
Mapping the Nurture Offers to the Sales Funnel
A nurture campaign should progressively nudge an MQL down the three broad phases of the sales funnel: awareness (top of funnel), consideration/evaluation (mid-funnel), and decision/purchase (bottom of funnel). The nature of the content you send, and the sequence of that content, should align with those phases. Here’s how we do it for our clients.
Our first nurture offer—sent later on the same day an email click enrolls the suspect in the nurture campaign—is for a white paper. This document is purely educational in tone. It is intended to begin to position each of our clients as a trusted expert in their field. At this stage, the goal is awareness, not decision. An aggressive sales pitch early in the nurturing cycle could result in a high abandonment rate.
The second offer is for an infographic, sent three days later. Our infographics begin to cross the threshold into the consideration phase. They typically contain facts, statistics, charts and graphs of information designed to be helpful to buyers. These help make the case to the prospect that they need the kind of product or service our client offers. The infographics also help arm the recipient with information they can use to build a business case internally for the purchase.
Sent four days after that, our third offer reinforces this point. We are not formulaic about what this offer is. Rather, we choose a piece of content that we feel is most compelling for the suspect we’re pursuing. This could be a different white paper, an article, a video, a piece of content produced by a third party, or even something our client has used in the past that proved successful.
The first three offers build a case in the prospect’s mind that they have a problem that can and should be solved, and the company behind these content offerings is the one to solve it. The fourth and final nurture, then, is to drive the decision. In marketing-speak, the goal here is to convert the MQL into a sales opportunity and hopefully a customer soon thereafter. For this fourth node, sent two weeks after the click that kicked-off the campaign, we offer a video in which someone at our client company (often the CEO) articulates a concise, persuasive case for why his or her company is the right company to solve the prospect’s problem.
The benefits of lead nurturing are clear, but it’s challenging to implement and manage. It requires you to have compelling content to offer in the first place. And it requires marketing automation software to execute nurture campaigns efficiently and track results. But B2B marketers worldwide have found that it’s worth making the investment.