Post originally published by Jason Compton from Direct Marketing News, available here.
B2B marketing can be tricky business. One of its biggest challenges is that prospects can go underground for months at a time without actually losing interest. In some cases, tight budgets can delay B2B purchases. Also, customers research products at their leisure, giving them an advantage when they open the buying discussion.
Done well, lead nurturing can help overcome these impediments, coax high quality leads through the purchase process, and equip an organization with a detailed understanding of its prospects’ needs before the first serious conversation takes place.
One way to gain that understanding is by tracking prospects’ website activity. Recruiting site TheLadders offers a free recruiting system called Passport, which allows employers to post jobs with some limitations. Activity analysis of Passport users gives TheLadders the ability to spot its best prospects: those who regularly bump into its freemium ceiling. TheLadders knows when a Passport user hits a landing page for a premium option, which produces a higher lead score in the sales database. Refining its lead scoring system has produced more than 500% growth in closing qualified leads, largely because TheLadders now has a better understanding of who its qualified leads are.
“Baking those ‘frustration points’ into the needs analysis helps us find the sweet spot,” says Thomas P. Murphy, TheLadders’ director of enterprise marketing and client relations.
In the flow
Another way to gain the data most relevant to the lead nurturing process is to ensure that it flows through integrated marketing and sales systems. For example, online investment portfolio analysis firm StatPro uses solutions from Marketo and Salesforce.com to segment webinar registrants by region, product type, and lead source. This enables StatPro to send targeted messages more quickly. “We’re also able to show sales more stats regarding leads: where they came from, what they did, and which webinars and programs they’ve signed up for,” says Ted Todorov, StatPro online marketing executive. “[Salespeople] find this valuable, as they’re more prepared when they contact a lead.”
It’s also valuable to clear the funnel of bad leads. This frees resources to focus on likely opportunities. Screening based on demonstrated purchases is a start. “If I know how much you’re buying in key categories, and how that’s changing over time, I get a more insightful view of whether or not you can buy my products,” says Jim Swift, CEO of Cortera, a provider of B2B information and data.
Another way to determine prospects’ interest, as well as to move the right ones through the funnel, is content. “Generating the proper kind of content is key in any marketing, and we want to be more relevant to our customers and prospects,” says Eric Butterwick, marketing communications manager at Arrow S3, which sells high-end enterprise telephony systems. To that end, Arrow S3 is considering a social advocacy hub so it can ask existing customers how to better communicate its message to prospects. “Receiving feedback from [customers] takes the prospect interaction to a new level.”
Arrow S3 also automated it prospect email outreach and activity analysis. As a result, the company doubled the size of its funnel.
Ultimately, lead nurturing processes need to fully vet customer contacts to ensure that they meet the profile of a qualified buyer. “If you don’t have cleansed, standardized data, you’re going to suffer,” says Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, VP of client acquisition at Quaero. “It’s these foundational elements that companies still struggle with.”