Driving interest in your brand to enable growth is a challenge – one that is becoming even more apparent, as budgets have become tighter and buyer scrutiny is at an all-time high.
In this competitive environment, companies have capitalized on trends and messaging to drive lead interest in their offerings, mostly through a memorable brand experience.
This is a positive approach for lead nurturing. However, executing this strategy is more complex than it seems.
In this article, I present what I and fellow demand strategists have leveraged to improve lead nurturing efforts for B2B – starting with the essential step of collecting demand intelligence to drive demand for your services.
Next, I share tips on perfecting and futureproofing your lead nurturing to ensure that your strategies will be as effective in the years to come as they are now.
Collect And Analyze Demand Intelligence
The foundation for lead nurturing is intelligence.
Intelligence in this context means data on your leads’ behavior, their demographic/firmographic/technographic attributes, and your industry to drive effective demand strategies.
Below, I detail the demand intelligence process we follow at INFUSE to engage Ideal Client Profile (ICP) leads – aligned with your buyer personas – and how to collect data to enable lead nurturing processes:
Collect And Integrate Data
Firstly, you must establish avenues for generating lead nurturing data while also compiling the data you already have. This means analyzing your current tech stack, starting with your client relationship management (CRM) system.
Gather data on the leads in your pipeline from a lead nurturing perspective (i.e., the touchpoints they engage with and the pain points/challenges they relate to).
This will help you form an overview of the evolving challenges of your leads across the sales cycle and what content engages them the most.
Once you have finalized this process, you can then proceed to the next step.
Keep in mind, however, that at this point, you only have a hypothesis of what generates demand for your organization, which must be tested to inform future lead nurturing strategies.
Launch A Test Campaign Based On Your First Demand Intelligence Dataset
With your first demand intelligence dataset ready, you must create a test campaign to evaluate if you have gleaned the correct insights on the evolving pain points of your leads (and the right ways to address them).
Therefore, develop a test campaign for a specific ICP (or buyer persona) and determine a timeline (preferably quarterly) to track engagement, conversions, and your return on investment (ROI).
This is when you can test different assets, messaging, and channels to measure performance to inform your next lead nurturing campaigns.
Glean Insights And Develop Best Practices For Future Campaigns
Once your trial campaign has been finalized, create a demand intelligence report, which details:
- The touchpoints leads engaged with the most – their themes, assets, and messaging.
- When prospective clients entered, got “stuck” in the sales funnel (disengaged with your brand), or dropped out of the funnel entirely (unsubscribed, shared their disinterest to a salesperson, etc.).
- KPIs to measure performance, particularly conversion rates, cost per lead (CPL), lead qualification (marketing or sales qualified – MQL/MQA, SQL/SQA), and sales bookings.
It is best at this phase to share this demand intelligence information with stakeholders across marketing, sales, and client success.
This alignment will help you glean further insights from each department at your organization for refining your demand intelligence and enabling better lead nurturing flows in the future.
Once you have gained a clear understanding of your leads and how to nurture them, you can then move to the next phase of establishing personalized nurturing flows for better engagement.
Establish Multiple, Personalized Lead Nurturing Flows Based On Demand Intelligence
With your demand intelligence from your first test, move forward with planning sophisticated and personalized nurturing flows for your ICPs.
How To Plan Your Lead Nurturing Flows
Most likely, you focused on engaging one ICP with your test campaign.
Now you can develop multiple personalized nurturing flows for other ICPs or fine-tune your nurturing for your primary buyer persona to create separate tracks per pain point or other market segmentation criteria (such as industry size or technographics).
Another option, if you are pursuing account-based marketing (ABM), is to adopt an account-based experience (ABX) approach, which enriches account-focused outreach and lead nurturing with user and client experience (UX and CX) best practices.
No matter which route you pursue, below are three steps to plan your lead nurturing flows for success:
- Map evolving pain points per ICP (or buyer persona) and develop multiple touchpoints to engage them.
- Determine who is accountable for tracking lead nurturing engagement and ensuring continuous brand interest (such as pivoting messaging if required to address different lead demands).
- Enrich lead nurturing with UX and CX best practices for a user-friendly and seamless brand experience (including, if beneficial, ABX).
How To Analyze Lead Nurturing Performance
With your lead nurturing flows in action, it becomes paramount to track performance to ensure you are truly engaging your prospective clients to drive the results you expect. After all, lead nurturing requires a substantial team effort and resources from your organization.
Below are three ways to measure the performance of your lead nurturing flows:
Establish Cross-departmental KPIs And Accountability
Determine a set of KPIs that are comprehensive enough to track engagement and ROI of your lead nurturing flows yet not cumbersome to the point of overcomplicating your reporting processes.
I recommend selecting five KPIs and finessing them as you pivot future lead nurturing campaigns as needed.
- Example KPIs: CPL, conversion rate (per touchpoint), marketing-influenced revenue, sales bookings, and client lifetime value (CLTV).
Collect Sales Feedback
Your salespeople are interacting with nurtured leads and can share valuable insight on the effectiveness of marketing materials in piquing their interest and driving sales conversations.
Meeting with sales midway through the campaign is beneficial for considering a pivot if needed or what to do for more success in the next campaign.
Implement Lead Scoring And Lead Qualification Processes
Scoring leads during lead nurturing flows is essential to determine if the process is generating qualified leads, as well as help sales and marketing teams prioritize prospects in their outreach.
This should be paired with qualification methods (such as determining criteria for leads to be marketing, MQL, or sales qualified, SQL) to help track the number of leads being nurtured into qualified prospects for the organization.
How To Optimize And Pivot Lead Nurturing Flows
Recognizing the optimal timeframe to adjust your lead nurturing processes is crucial for conserving both time and resources. This entails enhancing your nurturing approach to better cater to your target audience.
Ideally, it is best to wait for the end of a cycle (such as a quarter) to consider optimizations or lead nurturing campaign pivots.
However, if the budget is an issue, consider pivoting an ongoing program to ensure the best ROI and avoid wasting marketing dollars.
The key is to identify the signs of nurturing success/failure early on.
Since lead nurturing is a collaborative effort, all optimizations and pivots must be actioned across teams in the organization to ensure their implementation and effectiveness.
Signs that warrant optimizations or pivots include:
- Most touchpoints are ignored.
- Prospective clients mention different pain points than those explored in your nurturing flows.
- Leads disengage when contacted by a salesperson.
There are other potential signs – however, these are core indicators that your lead nurturing flows are most likely targeting the wrong leads, or require more aligned messaging with their demands.
In some cases, you can simply action a “quick fix” optimization to your nurture, such as updating the messaging of your touchpoints.
However, depending on the response from your leads, it is best to action a pivot for a brand-new lead nurturing strategy.
Five steps to pivot your lead nurturing:
- Prioritize a lead nurturing flow and pause it. Analyze engagement, then relaunch when all issues have been resolved. Continue until all underperforming nurtures have been addressed.
- Track performance closely for the initial three touchpoints to evaluate if engagement has improved.
- Continue if engagement has improved. If not, revisit your initial touchpoints and update their messaging and which pain points they address.
- Update remaining touchpoints accordingly if the performance of the initial three touches is satisfactory.
- Monitor your pivoted campaign and glean insights from sales of their conversations with leads to optimize future campaigns.
Futureproof Your Lead Nurturing
To ensure that your lead nurturing strategy is futureproofed, you must regularly collect demand intelligence, analyze campaign performance, and keep track of evolving trends in the market and changing buyer behavior.
Lead nurturing is about building relationships through relevance, and keeping an eye on changes in your industry is the best way to position your brand as timely and valuable.
Inspire Yourself With Thought Leadership To Anticipate Evolving Demands
Following key voices in your space can help you anticipate evolving demands from your buyers, as well as themes to explore in your lead nurturing assets and touchpoints.
In the B2B space, LinkedIn is a key channel for keeping up with thought leaders and conversations that might impact the future of your industry.
Leveraging social listening tools, tracking hashtags, as well as following notable C-Suite leaders at competitors and major enterprises in your niche is a way to discover key information for futureproofing your lead nurturing efforts.
If possible, make sure your marketing and sales team members also follow these online conversations.
Leverage Intent Data For Timely Insights On Lead Behavior
When utilized correctly (and contextually), intent data can track evolving buyer needs and their interest in resolving challenges (which can subsequently be related to your brand and its offerings).
That being said, sadly, intent data is often misinterpreted as “ready-to-buy” signals, which they are not.
Intent data signals interest, which means prospective buyers who demonstrate intent should be nurtured more closely with touchpoints that further increase their interest in your offerings.
If anything, consider intent data as a way to prioritize lead nurturing efforts on leads who, if engaged correctly, could move on quicker to a sales conversation compared to the rest.
Utilize Surveys And Deep Knowledge Of Your Buyers
Surveying your audience is a way to gain knowledge of future problems they will face as buyers and collect data on their current challenges.
Surveys are important to inform marketing and sales efforts.
When it comes to relevance to lead nurturing, questions on media consumption preferences, future goals, and industry challenges can inform themes for touchpoints as well as the vocabulary to use in your messaging.
When crafting your lead nurturing strategy, keep these takeaways in mind to ensure you are on the right path:
Collect And Leverage Demand Intelligence
Make sure that your lead nurturing strategy is supported by comprehensive demand intelligence, as well as insights from intent data and sales outreach that will enable successful campaigns in the future.
Personalize At Scale With Unique Nurturing Flows Per ICP
Leverage user experience best practices (such as UX, CX, and ABX) to enrich lead nurturing flows per ICP (or buyer persona). Engage your buyers with touchpoints that stand out and encourage active engagement.
Futureproof Your Lead Nurturing With Methods That Will Inform Your Demand Intelligence
Follow thought leaders in your space and leverage social listening to track the evolving needs of your leads to inform future lead nurturing efforts.
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