In our last post, we shared our perspectives about the importance of a B2B lead nurturing strategy. Today, we’re outlining the components commonly found in an effective nurturing program.
1. Alignment with sales. A lead nurture program is ultimately a structured plan for marketing and sales to work together to increase engagement and sell faster by reaching the right customers at the right time. No matter the business model or sales process, marketing and sales must develop the strategy together to ensure that quality leads are consistently identified and nurtured.
- Sales and marketing should work to:
- Define the nurturing process for each product line and target market,
- Identify what constitutes a qualified lead,
- Define which department nurtures which phases of the buyer’s journey, and
- Determine when sales takes over the nurturing process from marketing.
2. Develop a clear service level agreement (SLA) related to nurturing between sales and marketing. Here, sales and marketing document the shared expectations and responsibilities in moving a prospect through the buyer’s journey. Creating an SLA will help the two teams hold each other accountable for following a consistent process for each lead. We all know that customers move forward (or back) in their journey at their own pace. It’s easy to lose track of individual leads that need more time. The nurturing SLA clearly defines who owns the lead, including how and when sales can return a prospect to marketing for additional nurturing until they’re ready to talk to a salesperson.
3. Define Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs). Marketing and sales collaborate to clearly define an ideal customer for each product line and target market. This concise description should then be communicated throughout the company, so everyone knows how to recognize a great lead.
4. Build and segment a marketing database. A marketing database is the cornerstone of successful marketing campaigns. It includes all the customers and prospects your company could reach to promote your products and services. This database should be built with your ICP in mind so you can accurately segment and score each prospect.
As you engage and interact with customers and prospects, you can include explicit data, such as geography, revenue and job titles, and implicit data points, which can include observations and insights from sales and marketing interactions. This information should be freely shared between sales and marketing to ensure customers are appropriately nurtured.
5. Develop personas for decision-makers and influencers. Based on your ICPs, develop a persona for each target audience. This should include the interests, priorities and concerns of the people who influence purchase decisions for your product or service.
6. Design a buying experience for each ICP. Identify how your prospects make purchase decisions and align their behavior with the buyer’s journey. Understanding your ICPs’ buying habits can help you create marketing and educational materials that will provide the right kinds of content at the right time to steer them toward your product or solution.
7. Identify indicators as prospects move through the buyer’s journey. It’s important to track your prospects’ progress through the journey, not only understanding how they’re engaging with your content (such as downloading an eBook), but also understanding what types of content they’re consuming. This will help you determine what, if any, additional content will nurture them along the pipeline.
8. Develop a content plan that speaks to the needs of decision-makers at each stage of the buyer's journey. Now that you’ve identified the type of information that prospects need, you can create targeted content that appeals to them at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
9. Version content to different target markets. Once you’ve identified what content is needed for each stage of the buyer’s journey, you can version that content to appeal to different target markets. This ensures you’ll speak the same language as your prospects, assuring them that you understand their industry and have experience working with similar companies.
10. Test communication channels to reach your ICPs. Communicating with your prospects in the right channel at the right time is critical to developing relationships with potential buyers. Testing different channels – say, LinkedIn to build awareness and email to nurture – helps maximize opportunities for your ICPs to engage with you. This requires regular measuring and testing to evaluate if one channel is more effective than another at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
11. Define a lead scoring model. Lead scoring assigns a value to each lead, which helps sales and marketing teams prioritize leads, respond to them appropriately, and increase the rate at which those leads become customers. You can score your leads based on multiple attributes, including the professional information they've submitted to you and how they've engaged with your website and brand across the internet. Marketing can help to boost a prospect’s score by continually reaching out to them with targeted content that will appeal to them at their stage in the buyer’s journey. Marketing can nurture the lead until it scores a certain value, at which point sales can receive the highly qualified lead.
12. Monitor and optimize your content plan. A nurture program is a dynamic and ever-evolving process. As you learn which content results in engagement with the right prospects, you can optimize content to appeal to those ICPs during every stage of the buyer’s journey.
If that sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. Is it worth it?
According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales leads at 33% lower cost per lead.
Want to learn more? Contact us about developing a lead nurturing strategy.