Ever wondered why a typical B2B sales funnel is always wide at the top but tapers off at the bottom? When you focus solely on the top of your sales funnel, you’ll build a massive lead database but win significantly fewer conversions.
That said, if you want a surefire way to expand the bottom of your sales funnel and convert more prospects, lead nurturing is the short answer.
Lead nurturing is the process of building meaningful relationships with your prospects and winning their trust. Nurturing leads allows you to go beyond the sales talk and skip the marketing speak to create a strong rapport with your leads and nudge them toward a buying decision.
In this article, we’ll give you a start-to-finish guide for designing your own lead nurturing strategy. Read until the end to pick up proven tips you can implement immediately.
4 core principles of lead nurturing for B2B
83% of B2B marketers have seen a noticeable difference in sales opportunities between nurtured and non-nurtured leads. That’s the impact lead nurturing can create for your sales and marketing strategies.
But before we jump to our guidebook on B2B lead nurturing, let’s first clue you in on the five core principles to keep in mind:
- Focus on educating over selling: Lead nurturing = relationship building. Move past pushy sales tactics and aim to position yourself as a trusted resource for your buyers’ needs instead. Offering value-packed and solution-oriented content is one way to stay on top of your prospects’ minds. Collect their feedback to see what more you can do to match their intent and nudge them down the funnel.
- Use workflows to take consistent follow-ups: The magic of lead nurturing is in maintaining constant contact with your prospects. While this sounds easy on paper, it can easily become challenging when you have thousands of leads in the pipeline. You need airtight workflows to consistently follow up with these leads and keep them engaged. What’s more, you can also design processes to re-engage cold leads.
- Personalize your approach to specific pain points: At its core, lead nurturing is about personalizing the buying experience for your prospects. Make every lead feel heard and give them customized solutions for specific challenges with hyper-targeted messaging. This is where segmentation and buyer personas can make your job easier. The more accurately you segment and target leads, the wider your bottom-funnel will be.
- Prioritize relationship-building over sales spamming: Gone are the days of aggressive selling. Modern B2B buyers prefer people they trust. So, your lead nurturing campaign should strive to build a solid rapport with prospects instead of chasing short-sighted sales targets. Nurturing, in the literal sense of the term, is about showing prospects you care.
Put simply, lead nurturing comes down to how well you can cut through the noise to capture your prospects’ attention and win their trust. With these four principles, you’re all set to build your B2B lead nurturing strategy using our guidebook below.
How to Master B2B Lead Nurturing in 2023: A Complete Guidebook
Lead nurturing isn’t a new or emerging concept. B2B companies have known the importance of nurturing leads for years. But 47% of marketers still consider their lead nurturing programs average. Why?
Building a lead nurturing campaign that works can be tricky. We’ve created this framework of seven essential steps to get it right.
1. Collect leads from multiple channels
A multi-channel lead generation strategy is just what you need to nurture leads effectively. Before all else, define your ideal customer profile(s) and identify the channels where they’re most active. This gives you an idea of where to focus more heavily.
Once you’ve defined your ICP, use these channels to build a lead database:
Email marketing: Perform cold email outreach or distribute content via a newsletter to engage new leads. Write effective emails to stand out in your prospects’ cluttered inboxes and achieve higher open rates.
Landing pages: Capture inbound interest with persona-specific sales pages. Pair these pages with paid ads to give interested buyers a glimpse of what your company can offer. Add social proof to make a strong impression—think testimonials and case studies.
Social media: Tap into social media channels to strategically prospect inbound and outbound leads. You can use LinkedIn to find B2B prospects in specific roles, industries, regions, and companies.
SEO content: Gain visibility for your business with search-optimized content. The higher you rank, the more traffic and inbound leads you can generate.
Paid ads: Create an airtight paid advertising strategy to win leads from search engines and social media. Find high-intent keywords, write intriguing copy, and design on-brand visuals to resonate with your buyers. LinkedIn is a great place for B2B sales and offers multiple paid options to reach your audience.
Your multi-channel lead generation efforts go in tandem with your lead nurturing campaign. B2B marketers use several channels to nurture healthy relationships with prospects, with 46% using social media and 31% using event marketing as viable channels for lead nurturing.
2. Leverage lead scoring and qualification
If you ask B2B marketers what’s their biggest roadblock for nurturing leads, 41% of them would claim it’s the shortage of data on which leads to nurture. This is where lead scoring and qualification can come in handy.
Lead scoring is the technique of rating and ranking leads based on their behavior and actions. The lead score tells you which leads have high value to the company and which ones are low priority. Here’s how you can calculate lead scores using different parameters:
Here are a few parameters to score and nurture B2B leads:
- Demographic factors like region, age, and role
- Readiness to switch and consensus to buy from you
- Level of engagement with your content and sales teams
- Intent signals from review websites and sales conversations
- Frequency of site visits and content consumption, like webinars
Scoring leads is a great way to qualify and filter out the wrong prospects. This means your sales reps and marketers can focus more on prospects with high chances of conversion. Put simply, lead scoring and qualification make your nurturing campaign more efficient and ROI-driven.
3. Segment prospects and personalize your message
Personalization is more than a buzzword today. It’s an essential part of every B2B marketing strategy and plays a critical role in nurturing leads.
Marketers implement deep personalization for nurturing campaigns with lead segmentation. They break down a large database of varied prospects into smaller segments of leads sharing similar traits.
62% of marketers concluded that lead segmentation increased the response rates for their nurturing campaigns. If you want to replicate these results, follow this stepwise lead segmentation framework:
- Revisit your ICPs to understand your prospects’ needs, pain points, and jobs to be done
- Chalk out your sales funnel and establish your goals in every stage of the funnel
- Create relevant segments based on various characteristics, like the ones mentioned below
- Create automated workflows to capture and segment leads in real time and send targeted messages for nurturing
|Demographic (Who)||Psychographics (Why)||Behavioral (What)||Persona|
(Who, What, Why, Where)
|What is it?||Geographic segmentation divides customers into groups based on their location.||Demographic segmentation divides customers into groups based on census data||Psychographic segmentation divides customers into groups based on personal interests and motivations||Behavioural segmentation divides customers into what they do – online/offline||Persona segmentation divides customers into groups based on blended data as well as customer goals||Predictive segmentation uses historical behavioural patterns to predict and influence future customer behavious|
Urban, Suburban, Rural
Activities, Interests, Opinions, Attitudes
Actions taken e.g. online
|Jobs to be done|
|Why use it||Dynamic Pricing|
Ease of use
Licalized offers – stores
|Easy to use|
Good for store profiling
Ideal for life stages
Good to supplement with other data
|Uncovers motivations and reasons for product and brand purchases||Ideal for identifying patterns and triggers during buying process.|
Helps to tailor marketing to different stages.
|Provides a rich profile of a customer segment.|
Proves a foundation to test hypothesis and testing to optimize results
|Uncovers hidden buying clusters of customers. Helps with customer discovery|
Case in point: When you connect with leads on LinkedIn, you can segment them according to their region, role, company size, interests, buyer persona, pain points, and similar filters. The goal is to categorize all leads into these segments to personalize your communication.
Pro tip: Use LinkedIn Premium to collect comprehensive insights about every prospect and make your segmentation efforts more accurate.
4. Use marketing automation for high-impact nurture campaigns
Marketing automation can bridge the gap between capturing fresh leads and closing deals with them. You can automate emails to send prospects helpful information about your business or create trigger-based workflows to take them closer to conversion.
Here are a few tactics to embrace marketing automation for nurturing B2B leads:
- Drip campaigns: Create drip campaigns to welcome new leads who sign up for a free trial, fill out a lead capture form, or download a lead magnet. Send them a series of emails sharing what you have for them.
- In-app/site messages: Send contextual nudges to prospects when they’re on the app or your site. These can be helpful links informing them more about your business or persuasive CTAs to encourage a purchase.
- Product education: Send emails and notifications to educate prospects about your product’s capabilities. Give them tips and tricks to quickly realize its value and become active users.
- Social media actions: Automate social media touchpoints to reel more leads in. Automation will help you run retargeting ads for buyers who have interacted with your brand and target prospects falling in your target audience.
The possibilities of marketing automation are virtually endless. But the catch is most sales and marketing teams work with disconnected systems and siloed data. This restricts their potential for automating their lead nurturing programs.
The solution? Use Encharge.
Encharge is an email marketing automation platform designed to stitch all customer data together and create a failproof nurturing framework. Put the entire process on auto-pilot—from attracting and capturing leads to scoring, qualifying, and nurturing them.
5. Maximize lead engagement until they’re ready to buy
Most prospects interested in your company aren’t ready to buy right away. In fact, studies show that leads need eight touches on average to jump on the first sales call. So, what’s your alternative to building a good relationship with them?
Here are five ways to achieve this:
- Share value-packed content: 64% of companies use content marketing to nurture leads. Aim to educate potential buyers with relevant industry insights and explainer videos they’d value.
- Win trust with personalization: Use segmentation to your advantage and make your leads feel valued with personalized communication. Stress their pain points to position your brand as a viable solution.
- Promote yourself creatively: Instead of spamming buyers with generic and uninspired content, write convincing sales pitches to make an immediate impact. Done right, promotional messaging can level up your lead nurturing ROI.
Remember: 42% of B2B buyers feel overwhelmed when provided with more than five types of sales content. So, actively moderate your lead engagement content to avoid losing leads quickly.
Also, remember to give the customer the opportunity to get in touch with your contact center to clarify essential questions that are still holding them back from buying. Although many customers want to inform themselves, they often still seek personal contact with a human being before buying in order to secure themselves emotionally.
Make sure that human contact is always possible, and always communicate your inbound channels with every contact.
6. Follow up and close the deal with the final touches
The final step is strategically following up with your prospects to sign the deal. Map your customer journey and closely understand your target audience’s buying behavior. This will tell you the ideal time to schedule your follow-ups and send reminders when leads are most willing to buy.
You can design an automated follow-up schedule or run it manually with proper diligence. Once you share a proposal, ensure you include enough space between follow-ups to avoid looking spammy.
Here’s what a typical B2B buyer’s journey looks like:
As a best practice, add enough value for your leads in every follow-up message. This can be more proof of how you can solve their problems or links to helpful resources they might find interesting. Use follow-ups as opportunities for nurturing leads further rather than sending generic pitches.
When it comes to taking the final step toward a purchase, it is best to work with open-ended questions to build rapport. And always give the customer the opportunity to start an active dialogue with your brand.
If you’ve already gotten this far, it usually only takes a little nudge to get the customer to make the final purchase.
7. Analyze and optimize your nurturing strategy
Lead nurturing isn’t a one-and-done process. You have to constantly track performance and iterate your strategy for better results. Measuring your progress will give you a glimpse of the big picture and pinpoint the scope for improvement.
Track some of these popular lead nurturing metrics to see where you stand and what to improve:
- Conversion rate
- Lead form submission rate
- Email performance metrics
- Landing page click-through rate
- Social media clicks-to-conversion rate
Dedicate time to analyzing all these metrics and make decisions to optimize your strategy. Evaluate these metrics against your sales reps’ productivity to get a holistic idea of what’s working and what’s not.
If you are not sure how to set up a strategy and then measure it correctly, it is a good idea to ask an experienced coach for help. Especially when it comes to setting up an efficient lead generation strategy, everything stands and falls with data-based measurement and control.
Convert leads faster with effective lead nurturing
Think of your lead nurturing strategy as a way to create trust among potential buyers and convert them into long-term customers. With constantly evolving customer expectations, B2B teams need data-driven lead nurturing programs to achieve the desired outcomes.
Remember that your prospects increasingly prefer to perform self-research before buying anything. So, your nurturing campaigns should aim to organically shape their views about your business and nudge them toward a buying decision.