B2B Marketing Automation for the Inbound Challenged – Part 2: Lead Nurturing

Last week I explored the process of lead scoring, and today I’ll focus on the next step of the marketing automation process: lead nurturing. Once your lead has been appropriately scored and has permitted you to communicate with them, the nurturing process begins. Without a proper lead nurturing program, any lead scoring efforts will prove worthless. In Brian Carroll’s article Lead Nurturing – Ripening the Ripe Bananas, he says that up to 80% of marketing expenditures on lead generation are wasted due to lack of commitment and discipline. Try to put yourself in your leads’ shoes. What kind of attention and information would you want from a prospective vendor? Many buyers look for qualities like trust and credibility. Be sure to provide valuable information that will validate you as a credible source. Make it apparent that you are the best solution to their problem by giving them valuable, accurate information.

B2B Marketing Automation - Lead NurturingLeads don’t typically visit a website and decide to buy right away. Actually, longer-term leads represent 77% of potential sales, and are often ignored by salespeople. The average duration of today’s complex buying process is about nine months. During this process, leads need to be continuously nurtured, but not driven off. Be sure the messages you send your leads are focused on them and their needs, not about your company and what all you can offer.

Let your leads know you are paying attention to each move they make. If they take any missteps during the buying process (stepping back or jumping forward), it’s probably time to take a look at your campaigns and make sure your information is being presented correctly. Lead nurturing programs typically include emails, case studies, white papers and articles.

Ardath Albee suggests drip campaigns as a vital lead nurturing tool. Drip campaigns are automated campaigns that nurture your leads for you. Remember, one size does not fit all. It’s important to vary the content at each stage of the drip campaign. For more information on how to maximize your drip campaigning efforts, check out Ardath Albee’s Essential Marketing Automation Handbook. As with lead scoring, it’s important to constantly audit your efforts and tailor them to fit the needs of your leads. Be sure to nurture not only your leads, but your nurturing programs as well.

Next week, I will begin the first of two blogs focused on marketing automation vendors, and what they can offer you and your business.