B2B Lead Nurturing: The Ultimate Guide in (2023)
B2B lead nurturing is one of the foundational parts of a successful lead generation workflow. It turns your boring and long sales process into an effective way of connecting with your leads and turning them into life-long customers.
As we all know, the most challenging component of running a business is bringing in leads and eventually turning them into sales. To create good ROIs, you need to have a strategy that helps your prospects move down the sales funnel smoothly.
In this article, I have comprehensively explained everything you need to know about B2B lead nurturing. If you are new to the sales process or someone looking to reinvent their lead nurturing strategy, this guide is an excellent way to get started.
Table of Content:
I have divided this guide into three phases so that it accommodates all types of marketers whether new or experienced.
- What is B2B lead nurturing?
- Why is B2B lead nurturing important?
- Prerequisites of Lead Nurturing Every Marketer Should Know
- Top Challenges in B2B Lead Nurturing
- 5 Stages of B2B lead nurturing
- Best B2B lead nurturing strategies
- B2B Lead Nurturing Strategy KPIs to Follow
- How to Utilise B2B Marketing Automation for Lead Nurturing
- How to Utilise Lead Qualification for Lead Nurturing
- How to Utilise Intent-Based Marketing for Lead Nurturing
- How to Utilise Lead Nurturing to Capture Lost Leads
What is B2B Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of establishing relationships with your B2B clients at different levels of the sales funnel. It helps get more and more quality leads through the awareness and consideration stages.
According to a survey, only 27% of your leads are ready to buy when first generated. It means more than two-thirds of your leads need nurturing for making the final call.
It’s also crucial to note that these days prospects have become smart and are exploring all possible solutions to their problems online. It is the perfect opportunity to address your consumer pain points and offer a unique buyer’s experience with effective lead nurturing.
Lead generation and lead nurturing are both different marketing strategies that help in customer acquisition and must not get confused together. If you have any doubts regarding the difference between them, then I recommend checking out this blog:
Lead Generation Vs Lead Nurturing: Everything You Need To Know
B2B companies use lead nurturing programs widely to establish themselves as thought leaders in the targeted market. It allows brands to actively interact with leads through engaging content that addresses consumer problems and position their services as the best solution.
It helps get more and more quality leads through the awareness and consideration stage of the sales funnel. An article by Invespcro highlights that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
Let’s dive deeper into why lead nurturing is so significant in marketing.
Why is B2B Lead Nurturing Important?
A sales cycle is a long process. Even experienced marketers struggle with it sometimes, trying to get the right prospects to move down the funnel at the right time.
Lead nurturing is the process that helps in solving this problem. It acts as an effective marketing tool that bridges the communication gap between the brand and target prospects. It does so with rigorous lead profiling and delivering relevant content that caters to the audience pain points.
It’s also crucial to note that these days prospects have become smart and are exploring all possible solutions to their problems online. It is the perfect opportunity to address your consumer pain points and offers a unique buyer’s experience with effective lead nurturing.
Most nurturing strategies focus on developing a meaningful buyer’s journey through personalisation and timely engagement.
The B2B lead nurture process allows marketers to explore, interact, and analyse potential customers’ behaviours from all angles. It offers qualitative and quantitative data for optimising prospects‘ touchpoints. By understanding the purpose behind various B2B lead nurture strategies, brands can create hyper-personalised user journeys.
- Qualitative Nurturing: B2B lead nurture processes like robust marketing automation and lead segmentation help capture a lead journey in an organised manner. It becomes easier to examine the good and bad of a campaign.
- Quantitative Nurturing: Through processes like lead scoring, B2B lead nurture uses numbers to identify quality leads and pushes them towards the sales team.
Determining patterns and common consumer queries becomes easier with quantitative and qualitative nurturing. Brands should understand the purpose and type of data they can acquire from various lead nurturing tactics for better management, implementation, and alignment of marketing & sales teams.
Before setting a lead nurturing process, marketers must focus on setting goals regarding what they want to achieve through a lead nurturing campaign. Keeping the quantitative and qualitative approaches in mind, lead nurturing goals can be set.
A B2B lead-nurturing process has multiple stages that assist you in reducing the risk of losing the potential client at any point in the sales pipeline. Marketers use various channels and tactics to nurture leads. For example, they utilise tools that help in generating and tracking automated email campaigns or social media platforms.
Check out this blog to know more about lead nurturing benefits:
What Is A Lead Nurturing Program and What Are Its Benefits?
Prerequisites of Lead Nurturing Every Marketer Should Know
A winning lead nurturing plan is all about delivering the correct information to the client when they most need it. Marketers understand such consumer requirements by creating buyers’ personas, researching pain points specific to a sales stage, monitoring lead behaviour, etc.
Hence, starting a lead nurturing campaign requires some preparation. Let’s go through what you need for building an effective lead nurturing program.
1. Research and Segmenting
Research and segmentation should always be a part of your lead nurturing plan. It is so because both of these help in recognising what works best for your audience.
Extensive research revolves around understanding your buyer’s persona and available resources. For every marketer, it is vital to know how lead nurturing works for various sales funnel stages. The four stages require different types and amounts of lead nurturing which, if not executed correctly, can result in lead leakage.
Below is a simple chart from where you can understand about different sales funnel stages:
With the help of such information, you can repurpose your existing content and target prospects according to their sales potential.
If you want to know more about the most important prerequisites of lead nurturing:
lead segmentation and research, then check out this blog:
Things to do Before Setting Up a Lead Nurturing Plan
2. Planning and Strategising
Planning and strategising play a critical role in all marketing endeavours for getting great results. Likewise, lead nurturing also requires a set of goals and objectives to create workflows that bring quality leads.
- Planning and strategising helps you in answering questions like:
- What are the common consumer problems, and how can you solve them?
- What type of content do you need to create or repurpose to increase prospect engagement?
- What will be your nurturing program’s key performance indicators (KPIs)?
- When should you start using an automation tool?
Answers to such questions make it easier to create a suitable lead-nurturing strategy for your target audience. Try to involve your sales and marketing teams in setting up the nurturing plan. It helps in aligning both groups together and creating a steadier business model.
3. Setting up a Lead Management System
Lead management is the process of tracking and qualifying your leads according to their sales potential. B2B marketers use methods like lead scoring, lead segmentation, etc., for setting up lead management systems.
A nurturing model supported by a lead management system helps you filter out strong leads for your sales team. You need to decide parameters that qualify a lead for purchasing your services and leave the rest to the lead management system.
It saves your time and efforts, allowing you to focus on other crucial business work.
Top Challenges in B2B Lead Nurturing
Building and running a successful lead nurturing campaign can be full of challenges. If not taken care of in time, such roadblocks can result in a longer sales process and loss of strong leads.
Let’s discuss the top two challenges marketers face in B2B lead nurturing.
1. Determining What Passes as Relevant Content
The latest research about lead nurturing states that “41% marketers see creating content based on buyers’ interest as a significant problem.
“What to share?”
It is a constant dilemma most marketers go through. The solution to this lies in one word: personalisation. Lead nurturing can assist you in determining potential customer behavioural patterns through metrics like lead scoring.
Companies use this data to determine the target prospects’ common problems or recent actions and customise their sale strategy accordingly.
The best way to start curating personalised content is by focusing on your buyers’ personas. Focusing on your target segments in terms of demographics, firmographics, etc., will wheel your content strategy towards the right path.
2. Understanding How Often You Should Connect with Leads
Every marketing strategy aims to stay in constant touch with the prospects. But it can often lead to spamming complaints. While it is hard to understand what frequency you should use for a specific genre of the audience, we can follow a golden rule. The rule is to reduce the cadence of your emails as the buyer moves towards the last stage of sales.
For example, the lead is looking for educational content at the top of the funnel. Mailing frequency should be high at this stage to establish your brand as an expert in their field of interest.
As the prospect moves to the middle of the funnel stage, the frequency should reduce. Your content must aim to present your services as the solution to specific consumer problems.
Looking for what type of content you can share with your leads, then check out this blog:
When You Should Start Building an Effective Lead Nurturing Campaign
Lead Nurturing Content: The Right Way to Generate It
5 Stages Of B2B Lead Nurturing
After understanding the basics, let’s break down lead nurturing into various stages and learn about it in depth. I have divided it into five stages.
Stage 1: Spreading Awareness Through Content
Stage 1 is all about addressing your consumer pain points and making them connect with your brand through unique content. You can use Newsletters, Whitepapers, blogs, and other mediums to make the target audience more aware of your brand.
Landing pages are also a common way of capturing leads through targeted content. It helps present special offers and leads magnets to clients in an efficient manner.
Stage 2: Nurturing Top of The Funnel Prospects
In this stage, we give deeper insights to prospects about the brand and its expertise. It focuses on creating long-term nurture programs which offer resources like Ebooks, white papers, introductory webinars, etc.
This stage is essential as it caters to new leads and those that might have bounced back from the middle of the funnel. With the help of monitoring metrics, you can optimise the frequency of emails and gently move your prospects to the next stage.
Stage 3: Nurturing Middle of The Funnel Prospects
Stage 3 starts by offering potential clients conversion-focused content related to offered products and services. Marketers use different email nurture campaigns like booking sequences or demo sequences to set up a direct meeting with the prospect.
Such sequences include a clear CTA and sometimes a lead magnet to attract clients and urge them to click. To establish your credibility, you can also have client testimonials, other social proofs, and such content.
Stage 4: Converting Bottom of The Funnel Leads
Now the leads are warm enough to engage with direct sale CTAs. At the bottom of the funnel, you can offer free consultations and advanced webinars that can make the prospect more confident about services.
Stage 5: Nurturing Existing Customers For Retention
Lead nurturing campaigns do not end when the lead gets converted, but it is always ongoing. By communicating with your existing customers monthly or weekly, you can develop a healthy working relationship with them. Your nurturing sequences can include additional discounts, upgrade offers, etc.
A good customer retention score helps you gain more referrals, build a better brand reputation, and higher customer lifetime value. It also brings in the opportunity to upsell and cross-sell.
Best B2B Lead Nurturing Strategies
Marketers use some standard B2B lead nurturing strategies that have proven effective over time. Integrating such techniques with your nurturing process will surely help you secure high-sales potential leads and accomplish your marketing goals.
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing helps deliver relevant and engaging information to your target audience. It focuses on creating copies and visuals that entices the audience and make a positive impact. Every funnel stage has different content requirements. For example, the awareness stage includes content like blogs, whitepapers, e-books, checklists, etc.
With the help of such marketing efforts, you can create a string of content that is suitable for a specific audience.
2. Email Marketing
Recent research has shown that 31% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are the best way to nurture leads.
Lead nurturing employs email marketing by creating long and short emails sequences. These email nurturing sequences get shared with prospects over a period of time. It allows brands to develop long-term relationships with clients and boost their recall rate.
Such email sequences can be of many types like:
- Welcome series: It introduces leads to the company and shares educational content with them.
- Booking Series: It encourages leads to book a call with the brand’s representative to get an in-depth view of the company.
3. Lead Scoring
Lead scoring is a method that provides scores to your prospects based on their online behaviour and attributes. It helps formulate a precise qualified lead list and increases the overall efficiency of marketing and sales.
In a lead scoring system, marketers decide what points to award to what activity. For example, opening an email can result in +5 points. Booking a demo call can lead to +20 points. These scores help identify the prospects’ sales potential and set up a constant flow of quality leads.
Suggested Read: How to Create a Lead Scoring Model
4. Multi-Channel Marketing
Multi-channel marketing involves reaching out to prospects via various channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, SMS, SEO, etc.
The main objective of cross channel approach is to increase a brand’s presence on every suitable platform. It makes a brand look more accessible and easier for prospects to share their problems.
For example, one of the most used platforms other than emails in the B2B marketing industry is LinkedIn. According to research, 96% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for organic content distribution and 83% for paid social. It makes LinkedIn the most-used platform in both content distribution types.
B2B Lead Nurturing Strategy KPIs to Follow
Constantly monitoring your lead nurturing campaigns’ success is crucial to keep its relatability rate high. It helps you figure out specific consumer problems better and set measurable goals for you and your team.
Below are some primary key performance indicators (KPIs) to keep your eyes on to effectively measure your B2B lead nurturing strategy’s success.
1. Email Unsubscribe Rate
Unsubscribe rates help identify whether the frequency of emails and contents of the messages is appropriate for subscribers. You initiate positive changes in your email sequences by keeping track of this metric.
2. Tracking Your Leads
Comparing marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads is one of the most useful metrics to track. A sales-qualified lead is usually found at the bottom of the sales funnel, ready to make a purchase.
Whereas marketing qualified is the one that has shown interest in your services, mostly present at the middle of the funnel. Tracking leads in such a manner helps you efficiently understand your campaign’s conversion rate.
3. Email Click-Through-Rate
CTR allows you to better evaluate your prospects by revealing what works and what doesn’t in your lead nurturing workflow. A high CTR indicates that you’re targeting the right audience and using the proper persuasion techniques.
4. Sales Cycle Length
Sales cycle length indicates the time it took to convert a visitor into a sale. It helps to measure the efficiency of your nurturing strategy. For example, a shorter length means faster conversion. You set a standard value for your sales cycle length and accordingly calculate your progress.
5. Return on Investment (ROI)
High ROI signifies good profits and marks for a high-yielding lead nurturing strategy. It is the best way to measure the output of your lead-nurturing paid campaigns. It weighs in factor-like cost per lead, cost per acquisition, etc.
Check out this blog if you want to know the necessary KPIs for lead nurturing campaigns:
5 Lead Nurturing KPIs To Measure for Better User Experience
How to Utilise B2B Marketing Automation for Lead Nurturing
B2B lead nurturing is all about sharing personalised content with potential buyers. But research, segmentation, scoring, and other necessary nurturing methods can become repetitive. It can result in the passing of underqualified leads to the sales team.
Marketing automation solves this problem by automating all your required nurturing processes. It helps you personalise your buyers’ journey and develop sustainable consumer relationships faster.
Various lead nurturing processes that a B2B marketing tool can automate are:
- Email nurturing campaigns
- Lead tracking
- Progressive lead profiling
- Lead scoring
According to research, 80% of marketing professionals agree that having automation software is essential for improving lead nurturing performance. B2B marketing automation helps marketers develop lead-nurturing workflows that are growth-centric and consistently produce results.
Other benefits of using automation for your business are:
- Saves time and money
- Streamlines all nurturing processes
- Easier to update and maintain
- Enhances user experience
Merging your lead nurturing efforts with automation can help you build more innovative and personalised campaigns. It will cater to your marketing goals and assist you in achieving them faster.
For executing marketing automation efficiently, companies need reliable tools. There is a long list of marketing automation tools currently available in the market, so it can become hard to settle for one. Personally, I would recommend seven automation SaaS that are worth checking out: 7 SaaS Marketing Automation Tools Every Business Must Have
It is not just a single automation tool but the whole marketing package. Hubspot offers five types of SaaS that automate various marketing processes, which are crucial but tedious. Content marketing, CRM, lead nurturing, etc., marketers can simplify such complex tasks with the help of this tool. Though the tool has some setbacks, its free version is an excellent way for beginners to learn how marketing automation works.
For a detailed review, check out this blog:
Hubspot Review: Is It A Complete Inbound Marketing Tool?
It is an automation SaaS for anyone on a budget who needs a flexible CRM that empowers their marketing with creative workflows. ActiveCampaign automates sales pipelines and makes connecting with customers effortless. Its ease of usage makes it beginner-friendly and apt for big and small businesses.
Compared with other tools mentioned, Plezi is a new marketing automation tool that offers some promising features. Apart from automating lead nurturing and marketing experience, it provides progressive profiling in its smart campaigns, which is essential for hyper-personalisation. As it is still new in the market, it still has a long way to go, but small businesses and beginners should go for it.
Suggested Read: Introduction to Plezi: Marketing Automation Tool
Please remember, creating a perfect automated lead nurturing workflow in one go won’t be easy. The workflow should combine a brand’s marketing goals and consumer expectations.
Content mapping, lead segmentation, end goals, action triggers, etc., must all be well-thought-out before implementing a workflow. But after trying and testing brands can create workflows that resonate with their brand and consumers. All marketers have to do is put their best foot forward.
Below are some lead nurturing workflows that can help you get started:
1. Welcome Campaign
Such campaigns target leads who have just entered a sales funnel and are ready to explore the brand. The welcome campaign workflow focuses on introducing a brand to a new prospect and warming them up for future campaigns.
2. Educational Campaign
To establish a brand as an expert in an industry, it is crucial to showcase its knowledge to prospects. Through educational campaign workflows, companies can create content that provides leads with simple tips, checklists, guides, etc. By constantly engaging prospects with content that helps with their pain points, it becomes easier for companies to win prospects’ trust.
3. Engagement Campaigns
When the lead has reached the final stage of a funnel and is ready to make the buying decision, it is vital to save them from market noise. Engagement campaigns solidify a brand’s position and showcase it as the best choice for a prospect.
Answering questions like: Why are our services the best for you? How we are better than our competitors? is the main aim of engagement workflows. Here, brands can also offer limited-period discounts and trial offers to create urgency and push the lead toward conversion.
Suggested Read: 5 Steps for Creating an Automated Lead Nurturing Workflow
How to Utilise Lead Qualification for Lead Nurturing
A lead qualification framework helps determine leads with a high conversion potential through methods like BANT, MEDIC, or CHAMP. But implementing a lead qualification manually is tedious. Integrating lead qualification with a lead nurturing model helps identify quality leads easily. With lead scoring and marketing automation in place, it becomes easier to implement lead qualification.
Marketers can swiftly determine leads with a high buying intent with the help of a lead qualification framework combined with a lead nurturing model. The lead qualification process can differ from organisation to organisation, so all marketers need to build a personalised checklist to make their all-in-one lead nurturing model highly productive.
Suggested Read: 5 Steps to Build a B2B Lead Qualification Checklist
Lead Nurturing + Lead Qualification= Robust Account Based Marketing
Account-based marketing is an essential aspect of B2B sales. Its sole aim is to focus on prospects that fit best into the ideal customer persona of a company. With the lead qualification and lead nurturing model merged, account-based marketing becomes no sweat.
How To Utilise Intent-Based Marketing For Lead Nurturing
All B2B lead nurturing programs heavily depend on prospect’s behaviour data. It helps understand the sales potential and filter out strong leads. But sometimes, the behavioural data can be misleading.
For example, if a prospect downloads one of your lead magnets, it signifies the lead’s interest in your business according to traditional methods. But what if the prospect is doing market research for a project.
We can solve such lead nurturing problems with the help of intent marketing. It revolves around understanding the context behind why a lead is visiting your website.
Let’s take the example of a prospect downloading the lead magnet again. We can identify a prospect’s buying intent or research intent by examining information provided by the lead.
Job profile: By understanding the job profile of your lead, you can know whether they can take big decisions in their company.
Budget: You can’t pitch market services that your lead can’t buy at the moment. Such types of leads should be in your long-term email nurturing sequence.
The above-discussed information is first-party intent data that you can fetch by personal research. Likewise, we have third-party intent data, which comprises massive information collateral of different users on different platforms.
Companies outsource third-party data to create a framework that examines more significant trends in the targeted industry and advertises accordingly.
Some major benefits of intent-based marketing are:
- Makes lead scoring more efficient
- Optimises audience communication
- Uncover hidden marketing opportunities
- Delivers quality data
- Elevates user experience
Recent research by Ascend2 highlighted that only 28% of marketers said that they had an intent data strategy, and it was measurable. It shows that marketers are still unaware of the benefits of intent-based marketing.
In B2B lead nurturing, intent marketing is undoubtedly a strategy to get you quality leads. As the prospects’ needs change every minute, it helps you stay dynamic and build robust marketing systems.
How to Utilise Lead Nurturing to Capture Lost Leads
In a sales funnel, not all the leads turn into paying clients. While some get lost due to personal reasons, most leads never return due to marketing negligence. Lack of proper lead segmentation, a vague lead scoring model, irrelevant content delivery, etc., are some of the biggest causes of low lead-to-client conversion rates.
It is an issue that concerns many leading businesses, and the solution to it is: lead nurturing. The motto of lead nurturing is to establish customer acquisition by establishing a bond between the consumers and the brand. Strategies like lead scoring, email nurturing sequences, progressive profiling, and automation all work to reduce the lead leakage rate from a sales funnel.
By understanding why a lead left and studying their past interactions with the brand, a company can create lead-nurturing workflows that cater to bringing back lost leads.
Suggested Read: 5 Steps To Win Back Lost Leads With Lead Nurturing
B2B lead nurturing assists, marketers, in building the perfect roadmap to efficient lead generation and retention. It supports leads throughout their buyers’ journey and creates personalised experiences.
By tapping into leads at an early sales stage with the help of email and content marketing, nurturing allows you to develop fruitful relationships with clients. You can create reliable nurturing workflows with further support from strategies like lead scoring and lead segmentation.
Remember, your B2B lead nurturing core structure depends on your research. Add intent-based marketing and automation with it, and you will be all set to master the art of lead nurturing.
Don't miss this valuable PDF resource! Download it now to access a wide range of lead nurturing ideas. It is designed to help you optimize your lead nurturing efforts and achieve better results.
I hope you have learned a lot from this B2B lead nurturing ultimate guide and are ready to launch your own.