Is your lead nurturing strategy evolving to keep up with buyer behavior? According to the Oracle Marketing Cloud, 68% of B2B marketers say that increasing sales and conversion rates is the primary objective, yet only 20% consider their lead nurturing efforts highly successful. Like anything else in the world of inbound marketing, the tactics that produce success are constantly evolving. DemandGen Report's 2016 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Survey explores what successful B2B marketers are doing to increase sales and conversion rates.
Personalization is the key to inbound marketing success and many of the tactics identified in the Lead Nurturing Benchmark survey reflect that. Here are 3 innovative ways to improve lead nurturing results.
Personalize your lead nurturing by segmentation
Successful B2B marketers use marketing automation technology to segment their leads and provide personalized content that helps move them to a purchase. The DemandGen Report Survey found that the top areas for segmentation were as follows:
- Title/Role (40%)
- Industry (40%)
- Response/Area of Interest (40%)
- Buyer Personas (39%)
- Company Size (28%)
The first two are easy to understand - clearly a CEO from a technology company will have different needs than an HR executive from a manufacturing company.
With good marketing automation software, you can personalize lead nurturing even further by creating content based on the type of content that generated the lead in the first place. The more you align nurturing with the specific needs and demographics of the lead, the more effective you will be.
How do you get this information to segment? Demographic information comes from lead generation forms and behavioral segmentation comes from cues from your marketing automation software.
Re-evaluate your content gating strategy
The classic lead generation formula is to offer a piece of premium content like an eBook or a webinar registration in exchange for contact and demographic information from the potential lead. While you need to have some level of content gating to get a lead's email address, more B2B sellers are asking for less information in their lead generation processes.
The most common strategy for gating content in the Lead Nurturing Benchmark Survey was, "we gate selectively, based on our progressive profiling strategy", identified by 48% of respondents. Progressive profiling is the process of asking for minimal information on the initial lead generation form and asking for new information as the lead downloads successive lead nurturing content.
Here's how progressive profiling might work:
- In an initial content download, you ask the potential lead for their name, email address, company name and industry. Fields like industry should ALWAYS be offered as a dropdown menu to make it easy for the lead to complete the form.
- In the second content download, all of the initial fields go away. in this example, they could be replaced by a single question asking the lead's role in the company.
In the third content download, the last question goes away and the next question in the progressive profiling strategy replaces it.
You might even have a step in your lead nurturing strategy where you offer a completely ungated piece of content to establish trust with the lead. Clearly you need good marketing automation software like HubSpot to execute on this tactic.
Use buyer behavioral cues in your lead nurturing strategy
Rather than sending out a pre-defined sequence of emails and hoping for the best, the top-level B2B sellers use behavioral cues to shape their lead nurturing strategy. Here are a few ways that you can use behavioral cues in your lead nurturing strategy:
- Use cues like email opens and click-throughs to develop a lead nurturing strategy to based on "if-then" logic. For example, if a lead opens an email and clicks the link in it, they will get one email that follows that behavior logically. If another lead doesn't open the email, they will get an email that reflects that fact or they may get taken out of the lead nurturing cue.
- Use visits to specific pages to cue lead nurturing sequences. The best example of this approach is a visit to a pricing page. If a CEO of a company visits your pricing page and has had other interactions with your inbound marketing, this may cue an email that is more sales-related than nurturing-related. Or it may trigger a sales outreach from your team.
- Use behavioral-based lead scoring to trigger sales outreach. Lead scoring is the process of assigning points based on interactions with your marketing process. For example, if someone is a CEO, you assign 10 points; If they download an eBook, you assign 5 points; If they view your pricing page, you assign 10 points; and so on. Once a pre-determined number of points is accumulated, the lead is passed to sales for an outreach. Lead scoring is a constantly evolving process that is adjusted based on input from the sales team.
These are just a few examples of how you can use buyer behavior to formulate appropriate responses in your lead nurturing strategy.
The reality is that most people who come to your website and download a piece of content are not ready to buy - depending on the source, 75% to 90% of website visitors aren't ready to buy. Lead nurturing is a way to help these people educate themselves on how to solve their problems and position your company as a trusted advisor that can help them. By adapting your lead nurturing strategy to personalize the experience, you will increase conversion rates and shorten sales cycles.