Despite the pandemic and the global economic downturn, B2B companies still consider lead generation a priority.
According to a HubSpot report, 78% of marketers will maintain or increase their demand generation budget in 2021 and into 2022.
But with teams under more pressure than ever before to operate under tighter budgets or to justify spend, the ROI is paramount. And when measuring ROI what matters is conversions.
Brands convert more leads when they advance down the sales funnel quickly with effective lead nurturing and scoring with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
Here’s how to do it.
Create a Lead Nurturing Track for Each Buyer Persona
Many marketers develop just one lead nurturing strategy for their entire audience, which means it will no doubt fail to address the unique pain points and challenges of each buyer persona.
Lead nurturing is relationship building. If businesses adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, then some leads will likely feel ignored, undervalued, or overlooked. Far better to concertedly engage with prospects at a level which ensures your brand stays relevant, and to create content that engages.
Use the ‘4-1-1 rule’ for lead nurturing
With this rule, popularised by the founder of Junta42 and the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, companies send four pieces of content to leads, together with one soft-sell, and one hard-sell piece.
The rule was originally envisioned for Twitter posts, but also applies to lead nurturing with emails and social media. It improves the conversion rate by providing value before pushing for a sale.
An example of the 4-1-1 rule nurturing track with email marketing might include a blog post, a webinar with infographics and an eBook, together with a soft-sell piece in the form of a case study, and a hard-sell piece in the form of a free demo.
The 4-1-1 rule can be applied at MOFU and BOFU stages, but not at the beginning of the sales funnel. For TOFU stage lead nurturing, businesses should instead focus on generating interest and awareness in the brand and informing those leads with whom contact has already been established.
Score Leads with CRM Software
With CRM software, marketers define a score threshold for each stage of the sales funnel and score leads effectively as they progress, or not, from one stage to the next.
Scoring leads essentially ranks them in terms of their value to your business. This makes quality leads more identifiable by sales teams, which in turn enables companies to prioritise commercial activities and deliver a better ROI.
1. Demographic data: Do clients typically come from a certain part of the country or are they from a specific age bracket? Knowing this could prove crucial to marketing and sales efforts. Award points to those leads that share characteristics with existing clients or the target audience.
2. Company data: Award points to leads that work in organisations of the ideal size, industry, and revenue to those identified by your brand.
3. Online behaviour: How a lead interacts with a brand can reveal a lot. Score engagement according to how much time the lead dedicates to a particular activity. Reading an eBook or watching a webinar award higher points than scrolling through a blog post, for example.
4. Email engagement: Knowing open and click-through rates is far more valuable than simply knowing who has signed up to a newsletter. High-value emails, such as those containing offers, should be scored differently.
5. Social engagement: Likes, shares, and comments reveal how engaged people are with your brand and generate points respectively. Some companies also score leads based on the size of their social media following.
6. Spam detection: Deduct points from leads with fake email addresses and uncapitalised names. For B2B marketing, leads with company emails earn more points than regular addresses, like those using @gmail.com.
Go Beyond the Traditional 3-Step Sales Funnel
Leads are traditionally assigned a TOFU, MOFU, or BOFU placement. However, using a three-step funnel model through which to visualise the consumer journey can oversimplify the process, from initial discovery through to a purchase.
Because of its simplicity, lead nurturing strategies within the 3-step model can typically overlook the complexity of the MOFU stage, where most nurturing takes place.
To combat this, marketers have adopted a more intricate 5-step sales funnel model which separates the MOFU stage into a further three steps, allowing for more detailed nurturing of leads at that stage.
The 5-step sales funnel model
Awareness, trust, and sales remain the three pillars upon which both models function. The main difference is that the 5-step funnel has two awareness-building steps (1 and 2), followed by two trust-building steps (3 and 4), and a final sales-ready step (5).
In this first step, the focus is to capture the lead’s attention with content that will inform, entertain, inspire or demonstrate. The aim is to generate awareness and familiarity with your brand. This is not the place to try for a sale, instead focus on acquiring contact information to continue engagement at later stages.
This is the step at which to begin building a slightly deeper relationship with the prospective client.
At this stage, marketers should know something about their leads and can use this knowledge to drive further interest with relevant information about the challenges leads face, and the solutions your brand can provide. Content includes lead magnets, email campaigns, blog posts, retargeting campaigns, and even chatbots on websites.
At this stage, leads are aware of your brand and what it can do for them but have not made a decision either way. The type of content which should be distributed at this step to drive positive actions include case studies, product comparisons, testimonials, pricing pages, and discount or promotional offers.
If the lead has consumed content from previous steps, then this can be a good time to try and actively involve them with your brand in the form of a micro-commitment. This small investment of time or money should be highly relevant and low risk. Alternatives are to arrange meetings with SDRs to iron out concerns. Examples of content at this stage include webinars, events, discounted offers, bundled packages, and ‘pay-for-postal’ demos.
Now is the time to seal the deal. Meet with the lead to address any final points and sign a contract. But remember, this is not the end. After a lead becomes a client, companies must continue to nurture them with relevant content and superb customer service. Content to leads which have already become clients include referral programs, upsell campaigns, and re-engagement email campaigns.
The key to progressing leads down the sales funnel quickly is in understanding them. Knowing the pain points, expectations, and limitations of your target audience will help your business to position itself in the market more effectively.
Familiarity with buyer personas helps brands establish better ways to engage, and ultimately drives increased awareness and relevance. Traffic directed to the company website, or content that can be shared or interacted with, can help businesses develop valuable metrics about those leads choosing to engage.
Qualifying and scoring leads with CRM software can assist both marketing and sales teams in delivering a better ROI via more precise campaigns, or as part of a larger targeted content strategy.
And in using a 5-step sales funnel, instead of the more classical 3-step model, marketers can provide for a more nuanced and detailed examination of leads at the MOFU stage, helping to ensure content stays relevant from one step to the next.
The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Intent-driven Marketing
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