Forward-thinking B2B businesses develop strategies for nurturing their prospects. But that doesn’t mean every company does it well. In fact, Jeff Coveney believes that what sounds like a simple process actually is very challenging for most organizations.
Sure, marketing automation allows for “batch and blast” email campaigns directed at large numbers of potential customers. “But that doesn’t build relevancy,” Coveney said. Too often nurturing also is focused only at the top of the sales funnel – ignoring the rest of the lead’s journey through the sales lifecycle. And businesses often have no idea if their efforts actually are driving pipeline.
It’s why Coveney, the president of RevEngine Marketing, joined with LeanData Chief Marketing Officer Adam New-Waterson for a recent webinar called “Smarter Lead Nurturing” about the practical steps businesses can take to better engage prospects. Coveney and New-Waterson, who both are Marketo champions, described how the best lead nurturing is a combination of technology and authentic human interaction.
“It’s about delivering the right content to the right people at the right time,” Coveney said. “It all comes down to the conversation being relevant.”
Just as the name implies, lead nurturing is about growing relationships at every stage of the buying cycle – even when potential customers don’t seem interested in purchasing your product or service. That ongoing conversation is a vital component to an Account-Based Marketing plan where the goal is penetrating a select group of target accounts. In deals that involve long sales cycles and have a large number of potential influencers inside a company, a steady stream of informative content needs to be shared to establish your credibility.
Also, studies that have shown customers can be about 70 percent through the sales process before ever engaging a sales rep, New-Waterson added. That’s precisely when lead nurturing can have a profound impact.
“We have identified our target accounts and we’re reaching out to them with information,” he said. “We want to become a trusted advisor so later, when they are ready to buy, our company is where they will turn.”
Forrester Research has determined that companies excelling at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent less cost, Coveney added.
“The message is if you’re doing lead nurturing, it’s a really good thing,” he said. “And the more efficient you are at doing it, the better off your organization will be in the long run.”
In the webinar, Coveney detailed an 11-step plan for creating a lead-nurturing blueprint. Some of the highlights of his presentation included:
Setting goals: It’s important to decide your objective. Is it to drive more Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)? Increase pipeline generated/influenced? Better customer retention? Revenue won? “Figure out what’s more important to your organization, and then tie your nurturing program to that success,” he explained.
Aligning sales and marketing: Getting those teams on the same page is a core tenet of ABM. Sales and marketing must work together to decide who should be part of a nurture campaign, what content they should receive and when it should be delivered. “Sometimes it’s just as important deciding who doesn’t get your content,” Coveney added. But both teams need to agree on the strategy.
Taking inventory of your content: Nurturing can mean sharing information like case studies, blog posts, eBooks, white papers, webinars, videos, infographics and media articles. “Chances are, you have more content than you think already existing on your website,” Coveney said. Leverage it by repurposing those assets in your nurturing streams.
Accurately measuring results: You must track metrics that demonstrate how your content is impacting the business. The goal is being able to show your CEO that nurturing is felt on the bottom line.
Coveney also drove home another important point. While it’s called lead nurturing, you constantly need to be aware of the bigger picture of accounts.
“You just can’t think about the lead,” he explained. “It’s not just about driving leads. It’s about the whole relationship – going from lead to customer to having a complete, account-based strategy.”
To hear more from Jeff Coveney and Adam New-Waterson, you can watch them here. The webinar includes a step-by-step plan to setting up nurturing campaigns as well as a lively question-and-answer session.