When it comes to lead management, attracting potential buyers is only the beginning. Remember that for a lead to be considered successful, it must ultimately turn into a sale. To get there, you’ll need to be proactive about nurturing each step in the sales conversion process.
Lead nurturing is the process of sending relevant content to your leads. As they continue through the process, they are driven down your sales funnel to the point where they’re ready to make a purchase decision. Through lead nurturing, you’re presented with the opportunity to convince a prospect of the value of your offering.
A good lead nurturing program has:
- A clear goal
- A clear audience
- The right, personalized content
- A timeline based on your sales cycle
- Multiple touches
- A method for measurement and improvement
- Sales and Marketing alignment
While it is necessary to develop a nurturing campaign to keep your business top-of-mind for your prospects, B2B companies are still making glaringly obvious nurturing mistakes. The worst part is, these mistakes are usually pretty easy to avoid.
Lead Nurturing Mistakes to Avoid
1. A Lack of Communication with Buyers
On average, it takes about ten touches—or points of contact—for leads to turn into sales, but that still depends on the type of your business and your sales cycle.
Aside from ensuring engagement with touchpoints, you can also structure contacts with the help of lead nurturing in stages. For example, starting new connections off with general educational information to attract, then move onto more detailed information about your products or services as you nurture them towards a purchase decision.
2. Generic Rather than Targeted
Every person is unique and undergoes different struggles, and leads are no different. You want to address each one’s unique challenges to let them know that you understand their situation and want to help them.
A study by Experian found that personalized emails generate six times the revenue compared to generic ones—boosting sales opportunities by 20%.
Personalization goes a long way when nurturing your leads. Your content should address their specific concerns, needs, or recent actions. For example, if someone downloads content on your website, send them an email reflecting what they did and suggest guidelines for their next steps.
To help with personalized and targeted content, start by creating unique buyer personas or fictionalized representations of your key market segments based on similar demographic and psychographic characteristics. Based on that buyer persona, you can create nurturing lists so that you can tailor your emails and content based on product interest, job title, location, etc.
VentureBeat adds that of the 61% percent of marketers who personalize their marketing through a marketing automation platform, about 49% customize on an individual level.
3. Content That’s “Good Enough” Isn’t Good
Nowadays, passable content is not going to cut it. As the cornerstone of lead nurturing, content should address your leads’ questions. So naturally, businesses are increasing their content creation efforts, as pointed out by Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Benchmark Report.
A “good enough” piece of content isn’t going to earn your leads’ trust and will most likely be second-rate (or worse) when compared to easily accessible alternatives.
4. Not Using Behavioral Targeting
The word dynamic refers to “constant change, activity, or progress,” and in lead nurturing, dynamically sending targeted content helps marketers adapt to the ever-changing B2B landscape.
Triggered emails are the most common example of behavioral targeting and are usually done via a marketing automation system in response to a lead’s behavior on your website or social channels.
This method pulls together the triad of email marketing: sending the right content to the right person at the right time. Unfortunately, only 20% of businesses are using this method, according to eConsultancy (which means 80% of us aren’t doing it right).
While it’s not complicated to write triggered emails, it is hard work to set up the triggers throughout your nurturing campaign. Consider first which set of actions should lead to a trigger email; for example, viewing specific articles.
5. Not Using Email Lists Wisely
When setting up your nurturing lists, make sure not to put one lead on multiple lists. Instead, find one that best fits their lead nurturing requirements. Think of it as grouping your leads’ content requirements together. If they require the same nurturing content, they can be on the same list.
Too many touches can land you in the Spam folder. So, if you have a longer sales cycle (3 months+), consider the timing and frequency of your drip email as well.
6. Overlooking Drip Email Marketing Testing
Email marketing needs to be tested first, and that includes drip email. A formal process like A/B testing allows you to experiment with the different elements of your email. You can also optimize your communications based on reports available after sending.
7. No Supplemental Content
If a lead visits your site and downloads an eBook, chances are they’re relevant to your target market. That means they’ll be able to extract value out of your other content as well (because we create content specifically for our target markets).
Don’t let the lead settle for a single content offer before forgetting about you. Include supplemental content based on what they’d consumed before. The more positive touchpoints you can bring to the table, the higher your chances of conversion.
8. Slow Response Time
When you respond to a new lead within 42 hours (the average response time according to a lead response study), you’re making a costly mistake because the odds of a lead turning into purchase are 21 times higher if the lead is contacted within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes. Imagine how many leads you might be losing after 42 hours!
The same study also showed that only 16% of companies respond within 24 hours. Even worse is if the prospects are the ones reaching out.
Lead nurturing must be a proactive approach to achieve top-of-funnel prospects. The faster you reply to new leads, the greater your chances of them turning into sales.
9. Not Letting Sales Sell
Marketing automation platforms can provide dynamic, relevant content to leads for nurturing, but it’s still the sales team’s job to seal the deal.
Every seller must have the knowledge, skills, and behavior needed to do just that, but they also need to be aligned with your company’s lead nurturing process. Without this sync, leads will continue to receive emails from the automation system when a sales rep should already be talking to them.
Nurture leads with excellent content, convince them to talk with your sales rep, and then let the sales rep do his/her work. This also entails sending some great content along with the personal email, too. Automation is great, but it should always support one-to-one conversations, not relieve the need for them.
10. Not Optimizing Lead Scoring with Conversion Metrics
Lead scoring is a way to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value of each opportunity. This is usually done by assigning numeric values to specific behaviors, conversion events, or social media interactions. The resulting score then determines which leads should be prioritized for follow up by a sales rep and which leads need to be nurtured further.
Lead scoring is a hypothesis, which means each point for an action is just an educated guess. Work with sales to adjust the scoring logic after you have developed a baseline and aim to continuously improve things to optimize your lead qualification process.
A basic equation that tracks conversions from Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to Customers can help come up with a baseline to know if your lead scoring is working. This reads as (# of MQLs sent to sales) / (# of customers closed from MQLs).
If the percentage is too low, readjust the way you score leads. Despite a respectable conversion rate, remember to look for any areas that you can improve.
Make Lead Nurturing Work for You
Nurturing a lead is just one of the many methods for your business to build your prospect’s trust and increase sales conversions—if done effectively.
Competition is fierce, and customers have individualized needs. Remember to stand out from the rest by optimizing your lead nurturing strategy to focus more on your best leads and less on your worst.
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