In an ideal world, all incoming leads would be ready to buy—unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

In fact, 73% of all B2B leads are not ready to purchase the first time they interact with your brand. Yet, up to 80% of those prospects will be ready to buy from you – or a competitor – within 24 months (source). The trick to bridging this gap is to prevent these leads from going cold. Enter, lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing meaningful relationships with potential customers throughout every stage of the buyer’s journey. Instead of forcing a sales pitch on someone who may not be ready, nurturing identifies the needs of the prospect and provides them with the answers they are searching for.

Lead nurturing has become a profitable marketing practice and is considered an integral part of many B2B marketing strategies. One recent study found companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads, at a 33% lower cost; while another study stated that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases (source).

While these statistics prove its worth, many B2B marketers are still hesitant to implement a formal lead nurturing strategy. Often, this is due to the complex nature of lead nurturing—but it doesn’t need to be complicated.

Keep reading for our comprehensive lead nurturing guide!

Establish a lead scoring system.

The foundation of any successful nurture campaign lies in lead scoring. Lead scoring assigns a numerical value to a lead that pinpoints how close the person is to being sales-ready. When executed successfully, lead scoring identifies when and how to address each buyer with the most timely and relevant communications.

Lead scoring will differ from company to company, but focus on these four main criteria to decide which leads are ready to buy and which aren’t:

  • Lead fit: how well a prospect matches your brand’s ideal buyer persona.
  • Lead interest: how attractive your brand is to a prospect.
  • Lead behavior: how a prospect interacts with the content you provide.
  • Buying stage & timing: where a buyer is within the sales model.

Once you have determined the characteristics of a qualified lead, work with your CRM or marketing automation provider to implement the actual scoring mechanism.

Segment your contacts.

After lead scoring, it’s time to segment your contacts. Segmentation not only keeps your contact data organized but also guarantees that the most relevant content reaches the right prospects. After all, content meant for a prospect at the top of the sales funnel will not resonate with a prospect close to making a purchase.

Here are a few different ways to segment your lists:

Lead source: Consider where the lead came from. Did they download a piece of content? Or, did they fill out a free trial form? These two leads are at very different stages of the buyer’s cycle and will likely respond differently to various offers.

Previous interactions: Someone who interacts with your brand multiple times is more likely to buy than someone who has only interacted with your brand once. In fact, 82% of buyers viewed at least 5 pieces of content before deciding to buy from a specific vendor (source). Consider this when segmenting your lists.

Product interest: If you can attribute abandoned cart items or visits to a specific product page to leads, you may want to segment your lists based on specific product interest.

Industry: Does your company serve several different industries? Industry-specific lists allow you to recommend products, speak to industry-specific pain points, and customize your communications.

Job function:  Depending on your particular products or services, it may make sense to segment your lists by job function. Do you have specific offerings that speak to sales reps, marketing managers, office administrators, etc?

Provide top-notch, personalized content.

Today, most B2B buyers will complete about two-thirds of the purchasing journey online before even contacting a vendor (source). The Internet has made it easier than ever for buyers to educate themselves about the products and services available to them. If a buyer doesn’t find your brand during this process, you will ultimately be excluded when it comes time for decision making. Content marketing fixes this by providing buyers with the information they’re looking for while effectively guiding them through the funnel.

Personalized content is even more valuable. When a buyer feels as though a brand has taken a vested, personalized interest in their needs, it creates an emotional connection built on trust. This positive correlation will keep your brand top-of-mind when it’s time for them to make a purchase.

Prioritize email marketing.

As we mentioned in a previous post, email marketing remains one of the top contenders amongst marketing tactics, producing a staggering 122% ROI (source). In fact, 74% of consumers prefer to receive commercial communications via email (source). Don’t put email marketing on the back-burner.

Collaborate with your sales team.

There is no greater asset to a marketer than the sales team. After all, who knows your prospects better? Sales professionals will be able to give you key insights into the minds of your buyers, including the goals, motivators and pain points they face. This input can be useful in a number of ways from lead scoring to content creation.

When implemented correctly, lead nurturing programs can be a powerful tool for B2B marketers looking to close the gap between “not-so-hot” and sales-ready leads. Keep these tips in mind when creating your next nurture campaign and start seeing an immediate increase in your marketing ROI.

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn how our B2B marketing solutions can improve and scale your lead nurturing strategy.

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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