Trending Now

B2B marketers still struggle with lead nurturing

I thought it was widely understood by now that staying in touch with a prospect who has shown some interest in your product or service can triple, even quadruple, lead-to-sales conversion rates.  But a new study from Bizo and Oracle Marketing Cloud suggests that business marketers are still struggling to get the most value from lead nurturing programs. This is disappointing, since the value of lead nurturing was clearly demonstrated years ago, when James Obermayer coined the Rule of 45, which says 45% of business inquirers will eventually buy in that category, so if you don’t stay in touch, you’ll likely lose the sale to your competition.
Nurturing flow
The Bizo study reveals some intriguing issues for marketers today.  I was struck by the mere 35% of responders who say nurturing is essential to their business.  The majority (53%) said “it’s somewhat important; we have a few nurturing campaigns running.”  Granted, these words were put in their mouths by Bizo researchers, but it’s troubling that the power of lead nurturing still seems to be under appreciated.

Further, marketers seem to be using little other than email as their nurturing medium.  This is a mistake.  Worse, these emails are simply not getting through:  Nurturing email open rates are less than 20%, according to most (79%) of the 500 marketers surveyed.

So let me offer some success factors in lead nurturing, which I hope will help marketers up their nurturing game:

  • Set up a triggered sequence of nurturing messages using a variety of media channels, with the objective of keeping in touch with inquirers until they meet your qualification criteria, and are ready to be handed to your sales team.  See the attached chart for an example.  The point here is that a nurture program needs to be continuous, steady, and responsive.
  • Tailor the nurturing stream to key variables in the prospect’s profile, like buying role, job description, industry and company size.
  • The tone of the messaging needs to be informative and helpful, instead of sales-y.  Your objective is to deepen the relationship and move the prospect along his/her buying journey, not hit them over the head.
  • Use a wide variety of media and messaging types, to keep the recipient interested. Adding to the mix options like an event invitation, press release, tweets, infographic, podcast, a survey, questionnaire, video, a newsletter—the possibilities go on.  Bizo itself is offering a retargeting program that permits cookie-based nurturing of prospects whose email has not yet been collected.
  • Get creative, for example, with a peer-to-peer letter from a counterpart executive in your company, or a birthday card.
  • Ask for a response, to collect additional information and feedback, always moving toward that qualification stage.  Create dedicated landing pages, where you can pose profiling questions and continue the educational content.

It’s all about staying in touch with prospects, to deepen the relationship and increase the chance of converting them to customers.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for both consumer and business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City. Ruth is a guest blogger at AdAge, HBR.org, and Target Marketing Magazine. Her newest book is B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results. She is also the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, Trade Show and Event Marketing, and co-author of the white paper series “B-to-B Database Marketing.” Ruth is a sought-after speaker and trainer, and has presented to audiences and business schools in Asia, Australia, and Latin America. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM. She studied marketing management at Harvard Business School, and holds an MBA from Columbia University. Learn more at www.ruthstevens.com.

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top