Outside of a few rare cases, leads don't convert to sales on their own. B2B customers face a number of challenges when it comes to making their purchasing decisions, from risk-averse procurement protocols to informal research conducted on social media and reviews sites. Nurturing a lead through to a purchase requires the active employment of B2B marketing strategies, and may help your company get an edge over the competition.
Know Your Customers
In this, as in so many other aspects of your business, market research is key. In lead nurturing, your own analytics management may provide much of the information you need. When a lead initiates contact, through a web contact form or other approach, monitor their activity on your site to see what search terms they use, what pages they seem most interested in, and the frequency of their visits. All this information will help you tailor your nurturing strategies to their needs and processes.
Use A Customizable CRM With Lead Ranking
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program can help you make sense of your analytics data and organize it into patterns that make sense. Each of your potential customers can be given their own personal profile, which can tilt their case toward one of any number of different strategies. One customer, for example, may respond more positively and frequently to email follow-ups, while another may need phone contact and have a time zone which needs to be taken into account.
Lead ranking is an invaluable tool in B2B marketing strategies. The 80/20 rule is a truism at this point: the majority of your ROI will be concentrated in a minority of your leads, and so those leads should get the majority of your effort. That doesn't mean you need to neglect the other 80 percent, but it does mean you need an effective way to track which leads are likely to yield profitable conversions.
Use Social Media
Today more than ever, companies operate in an economy of reputation. A company's responsiveness and charisma on social media sites such as Twitter can have a huge impact on public perception, as well as willingness to do business. Being actively engaged in your brand presence on Twitter and other social media also gives you a chance to shape the narrative around your company and its product or service.
Monitor discussion about your company, and create a public-facing social media presence that's approachable, likable, and quick to respond to inquiry. This builds trust and rapport with potential customers long before the purchasing decision is made.
Get To The Human Element
Generic campaigns have a hard time raising emotions, and emotions underpin purchasing decisions. When people in charge of purchasing decisions see a personal emotional benefit in the decision, they can weigh that twice as seriously as the raw business case for the purchase. That means that emotional resonance is key, even in B2B marketing strategies.
You can make lead nurturing personal by getting to know the potential customer who's reached out to make contact. Address them by name in your emails. Allow for phone calls or instant messaging/online chat. Answer their questions – and ask if they have questions. Add value to their interaction by directing them toward resources they might find useful.
Always Add Value
Enriching B2B relationships don't just solve an immediate need: they go the extra step, and improve the lives of prospective customers beyond just the purchasing decision at hand.
One way to add value for a customer is by providing useful and engaging content on your site which addresses problems they might have, or offers new ways of thinking about things in their field. A blog, updated regularly with relevant content, can catch a prospective lead's attention and hold it on your site – and may inspire them to come back to the site more frequently so that they can learn more.
Even leads which have matured into clients need nurturing. Keeping clients happy and engaged pays dividends in word-of-mouth advertising, and positive sentiment about the company on social media. Your B2B marketing strategies can't stop after the first sale.
Remain in touch with your clients using the media they responded most favorably to. Keep the human contact alive. Work with them to resolve problems, and keep them in the loop when new products or services debut which might help their businesses.
Your B2B marketing strategies for nurturing leads rely on data and individuation of marketing tactics. But above all, remember that the work of marketing doesn't end at the moment the lead hits "submit" on a contact form. Nurturing a lead is a process which can take months, if not more.
Build the kind of company that your customers enjoy working with and coming back to, and your leads will mature.