It drives me crazy to see companies spending thousands of dollars each month generating leads online, only to leave them by the wayside if they're not ready for sales right this second.
If you're targeting B2B buyers, what were you expecting? B2B buyers spend 70-80% of their time researching online before they ever reach out to a company. It's the reality of the new buyer mentality.
Your job as a marketer doesn't end with lead generation. In fact, I'd say it's just the beginning.
Lead Generation is Just the First Step
A lead is simply someone who has expressed interest in your company. For the purposes of this article, I'm going to focus on leads you have actively worked to generate through inbound marketing. Your lead generation strategy may include things like SEO, PPC ads, social media marketing, video marketing and content offers, which are all geared to attract visits to your website and convert them into leads.
It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to generate traffic and leads. Many perfectly qualified leads may still not be quite ready to be "sold" to, either.
So, what do you do with them? Continue to nurture them!
Missed Opportunity: 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
Build Credibility With Lead Nurturing
According to HubSpot, "Lead nurturing is the purposeful process of engaging a defined target group by providing relevant information at each stage of the buyer’s journey." The key point here is that you're providing relevant information to the prospect in an effort to continue to move him through the sales funnel.
B2B purchases are often expensive propositions that involve a lot of research before a decision is made. Lead nurturing allows you to continue to build credibility and trust throughout the Buyer's Journey, so you're top of mind when they are ready to buy.
Benefit: Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (Source: The Annuitas Group)
Generate More SQLs Without Spending More
I would argue that 95% or more of the leads that are generated through inbound marketing are not SQLs (sales qualified leads), i.e. they are not ready to be sold. Perhaps they were just looking for new ideas, opportunities, or trends, but are not in the market to make an immediate purchase.
Lead nurturing allows you to continue to reach out and stay connected with these prospects without spending more on marketing. There are a number of ways you can continue to nurture these type of leads, such as:
- Personalized emails that continue to provide useful information that is relevant to them
- Monthly email updates from your company that offer valuable info, advice and other offers
- Targeted content specific to their industry
The good news is that you can easily develop most of this content and then re-use it depending on the situation, such as the lead's industry, activity, or interests.
Benefit: Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost (Source: Marketo)
Lead generation really is just the first step in the process of closing new deals and generating revenue for your company.
It's crazy to spend all that effort to attract a lead and then abandon them. They've shown some level of interest in your company, so doesn't it make sense to continue to nurture the relationship? Plus, the alignment between marketing and sales will be enhanced.
Sales will appreciate the higher quality leads, and can spend their time on quality prospects that are a good fit for the solutions you're offering.