The importance of lead nurturing for your business

Instead of making the sales cycle shorter, access to information is causing prospects to take their time when it comes to purchasing a new solution. In most cases, when leads first express interest, they won’t be ready to buy for some time. In fact, the sales cycle in some B2B firms can last for years. Rather than just hoping prospects will eventually decide to buy your product, you need to proactively manage the sales cycle. Lead nurturing works to offer potential clients more information and guides them through each step of the revenue funnel.

Lead nurturing isn’t just good for building the relationship with prospects, it can help you increase your revenue growth. Bizo’s recent “State of B2B Lead Nurturing” study revealed that marketing teams make more direct contributions to the bottom line than ever before. Nearly 60 percent of B2B marketers said they were responsible for at least 20 percent of company revenue. An additional 25 percent reported delivering more than 40 percent of revenue. As marketing becomes more data-driven over time, it’s clear that there is a connection between this team and the bottom line of the business.

The results pointed out another important trend taking place in Internet lead generation: Many companies are changing up how they budget for marketing activities. Lead nurturing is getting more attention rather than just prospecting for new contacts. While you need to have a sustainable pipeline, focusing on existing prospects can help you more readily meet revenue goals. It costs money to generate new leads, and there’s no guarantee that they will ever convert to customers. Lead nurturing puts the odds in your favor because it can help you qualify and convert more people. This may have the effect of lowering marketing costs over time because this team will be delivering more concrete results.

The survey found that marketing automation is increasingly popular in B2B organizations, but many marketers only use it for email purposes, and they need to move beyond this. An integrated marketing platform has many other capabilities that can help companies further grow their revenue. Additionally, this same lesson should be applied to lead nurturing: Though email is a useful tool for this purpose, your campaigns need to take it a step farther.

How to get the most out of lead-nurturing campaigns

At its core, lead nurturing is simply building the relationship with prospects to encourage them to buy. Most B2B firms that utilize a marketing automation platform immediately employ email marketing because it’s easy to trigger automatic responses when leads take a specific action. While this can be effective during certain parts of the sales cycle, you need to consider other channels to get the best results from lead-nurturing campaigns. Marketers were also using paid search, display re-targeting and even social media to engage with leads, according to an article for Venture Beat written by John Koetsier.

Any of these channels can deliver results, but you need to have strong content marketing materials in place to make prospects want to keep interacting with you. The issue with email marketing is that many companies are facing declining open rates, the Bizo data suggested. In addition, 45 percent of the marketers surveyed said only 1 to 4 percent of their leads convert to marketing qualified prospects. This could be an indication that you need to take your lead-nurturing campaigns a step further to continue getting results.

With any B2B marketing content, you need to be cognizant of various buyer personas. Many companies target multiple customer segments, and a higher number of people within an organization are typically involved in purchasing decisions now. In the past, the responsibility largely fell on executives, but some companies may even let end users have a say in the process. These different stakeholders will be interested in varied types of content. You need to target each segment with the right types of content to maximize your marketing return on investment.

An integrated marketing environment can help you add more channels to your lead-nurturing efforts to better reach prospects and add to the relationship. Bizo discovered that the majority of marketers were interested in new technology that could help them nurture leads through other techniques besides email. An integrated platform can generate an initial lead score to give your sales employees a better idea of how to prioritize contacts, and this can also inform lead-nurturing campaigns. The buyer’s journey is less linear than ever before, which means that your sales employees may not be able to smoothly move prospect from one stage to the next. Lead nurturing can contribute to the success of both your sales and marketing team and allow you to grow revenue over time.