Data: The Secret Ingredient for Powerful B2B Lead Nurturing

In the past 5 years the average sales cycle has increased 22%, and since B2B purchasing decisions require more buy-in from various parties than a B2C transaction, the B2B sales cycle has become even longer. According to a 2012 study by Marketing Sherpa, when a contact first gives a vendor their contact information 73% of them are not ready to take the next step to purchase. Because of these trends, marketers are always looking for ways to improve the prospect to customer conversion rate. As many of you are aware, one method that has seen great success is lead nurturing.

According to a 2014 B2B Enterprise Demand Generation Study conducted by ANNUITAS, 75% of respondents stated they are using lead nurturing, and the Oracle Demand Gen 2015 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study found that 42% of their respondents have used lead nurturing for more than 2 years. If you haven’t started using lead nurturing in your B2B sales it’s time to get started, because your competitor probably already has.

What is lead nurturing? 

Before we dive into what makes a lead nurturing campaign great, let’s get back to the basics for a moment. Simply put, lead nurturing campaigns involve small, timely nudges to your prospect to keep your company’s brand and product offer front of mind, without turning them off by being overbearing. They involve soft sell techniques such as content marketing, company updates, and personalized offers to build interest and trust in your brand in order to prime the prospect for a harder sell when the time is appropriate.

Lead nurturing has always been an integral tool in the seller and marketer’s tool kit, and since automated marketing technologies came on to the scene, the benefits of quality lead nurturing have been highly touted.  Here are just a few statistics boasted by lead nurturing:

  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Forrester Research)
  • On average, organizations that nurture their leads experience a 45% lift in lead generation ROI over those organizations that do not. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group)

When people consider a lead nurturing campaign, email is usually the first thing that comes to mind. While email is still the most popular channel, used by 94% of companies with lead nurturing campaigns, in order to cater to an omnichannel consumer lead nurturing has adapted to the social and web landscape as well. More than one-third (38%) of those surveyed by DemandGen reported that they are nurturing prospects by interacting with them on social media. In fact, statistics show that 50% of LinkedIn members are more likely to purchase from a company they engage with on LinkedIn. Forty-three percent of respondents also utilize the good old fashioned phone call, which is still cited as effective by 93% of businesses.

How are they doing it?

A lead nurturing campaign is more than just adding new leads into your e-newsletter database. In order to really skyrocket sales and get the most out of the campaign the secret ingredient is quality data. Integrating data insights into your campaign allows you to tailor messaging to individual prospects, and in the age of personalized marketing, B2B buyers are taking cues from their B2C buying experiences in that they expect content that is directly applicable to them. Developing targeted content is noted by 71% as the greatest challenge to pulling off a rock star lead nurturing strategy, but with developments in data analytics it’s getting easier to access the information needed to properly segment and target prospects.

How data can make an impact

A successful Lead Nurturing campaign goes beyond drip marketing. It must be segmented and targeted to not only provide information that the prospect finds valuable, but to also flag interactions so that you can continue to adjust until the campaign is tailored to certain consumer profiles. Lead nurturing is unique in that it’s only successful when you both input and extract data insights from it. It’s imperative to conduct your campaign based on accurate information, but if you neglect to adjust it after the prospect interacts with the campaign you’ll miss out on opportunities for better personalization and insight into consumer behavior. So, first let’s look at input.

Use Data Append to Improve Personalization & Segmenting

Data enhancement solutions develop a singular view of prospects to provide a comprehensive overview of demographic, psychographic, and geographic information. Now you can segment messaging that is proven to appeal to prospects with XYZ characteristics, and take your campaign beyond top level “Dear First Name” personalization.

Quality data enhancement and onboarding is also necessary when using social lead nurturing, as often only email addresses or contact information is at first given. This information is integrated with third party databases of social account information, which then allows the company to send targeted ads and cultivate the prospect via social media.

Lastly, in the case of telemarketing as a means of lead nurturing, data quality and append solutions can ensure that correct, updated phone numbers are assigned to prospects and that all information is compliant with TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act).

Extracting Data Insights from Prospect Behavior

57% of marketers actually cite the ability to segment prospects based on interest and behaviors collected from lead nurturing interaction as a top benefit. Assessing prospects’ interfaces with lead nurturing campaigns via opens, clicks, and social and personal interactions is a great way to tailor your next step of communication. If prospects are showing more interest in certain topics or types of content, you should respond accordingly by providing them with more content that has proven attractive to them.  Behavior and interest insights also give salespeople a better foundation for a pitch when advancing from email to personal communications.

Getting Started

Putting a lead nurturing campaign may be time consuming, but with quality data and some tweaking they’re proven to provide great ROI. To learn how to implement highly successful strategies used by today’s top data-driven marketers, download this free eBook.