4 out of 5 Un-Worked Leads Ultimately Buy Something

According to the research firm Sirius Decisions, 4 out of 5 un-worked leads
ultimately buy something. Often, these leads are un-worked because they were
disqualified early in the process. There are multiple reasons for that, many of
them good. Maybe the project didn’t yet have approved budget, or their need
wasn’t yet acute or defined, or the project was postponed. But still, it would pain
most marketing and sales people to think that 4 out of 5 un-worked leads had
the potential to become customers — and didn’t.

Lead nurturing campaigns can eliminate that waste. Designed to help match
content and offers to each contact’s stage in the sales cycle, lead nurturing
campaigns are highly targeted. Think of a trolley tour, where tourists can get
off at any stop to explore and then get back on when they’re ready. The tour
guides have a script for each leg of the tour — they don’t start from the very
beginning at every single stop, forcing passengers to hear the same introduction
over and over.
Lead Nurturing Campaign Examples
Clearly lead nurturing tactics and timelines will vary greatly depending on the
type of solution being sold, because buying cycles vary greatly. But here is a
good example that will fit many B2B companies. We present a linear path here
for simplicity, but consider that with time- and event-triggered campaigns,
a contact may follow multiple paths.
 Day 1 Email invite to a third-party webinar
 Day 10 Time Trigger
 Reminder about webinar
 Upon Webinar registration Event Trigger
 Thank you for registering email
 Day of Webinar Event Trigger
 Thank you for attending email
 Webinar + 5 days Time Trigger
 Email relevant white paper, reference
 Webinar attendance in email
 Webinar + 6 days Time Trigger
 Follow-up phone call from inside sales
 Webinar + 14 days Time Trigger
 Email link to relevant customer case study
 Upon case study download Event Trigger
 Follow-up phone call from inside sales
 Case study download + 7 days Time Trigger
 Email relevant white paper, reference case
 study download
 White paper download + 1 day Event Trigger
 Follow-up phone call from inside sales
 Day 30 Time Trigger
 Send company newsletter with content personalized for each contact

Using campaign management or lead management software, all of this activity
can be programmed to occur automatically. New contacts are added to the campaign
flow, so marketers can concentrate on keeping content and campaigns
fresh, rather than wrestling with datamarts and email marketing tools.
Here are some general rules for lead nurturing programs:

• Don’t automatically email any one contact more than once a week. This
means you’ll need to build rules into campaigns that are designed to hit your
entire house list.
• Be sure to reach out to every contact via at least one channel at least once
per month, to keep the dialogue going.
• Any person doing telephone follow-up should be aware of all previous communication
with the contact, preferably up to the minute.
• If at any time a salesperson makes a significant phone or in-person connection,
he or she needs to be able to remove the contact from the automated
marketing campaign flow.

Again, all of these needs can be handled within your lead management system
if you have one.
Building the foundation for lead nurturing
So what does it take to implement a lead nurturing campaign? We’ll review
some key foundational elements. These capabilities are all covered to some
degree in today’s advanced lead management software platforms — so you may
already have them in place.
• A central customer datamart: A key tenet of lead nurturing is the ability to
match content and offers to each contact’s stage in the buying cycle. That
means you must have a central customer datamart that reflects communication
you’ve had with each contact across multiple channels — direct mail,
email, telephone, mobile, etc. Many companies have separate datamarts for
each channel. It’s crucial to centralize them so you have a 360-degree view
of each relationship.
• The ability to track activity: On a related note, you need to be able to track
activity such as campaign responses, web site activity and offer activations in
that central datamart. Every interaction helps you learn more about what
each contact needs, so you can better target the next communication. The
very best marketing automation platforms allow you to collect both explicit
and implicit profile data. Explicit data is expressed directly by a contact — for
instance, demographic or BANT information from a form they filled out.
Implicit data are conclusions you draw based on actions — for instance, concluding
that a prospect’s level of interest is high based on the number of
times she visited your web site during a five-day period.
• The ability to segment contact lists: In order to target by stage in the buying
cycle, you need to be able to segment your lists in that way. Other useful
segmentations are vertical (or SIC code) and geography.
• The ability to personalize campaigns: By personalization, we don’t mean
“Dear John” — that’s a given. We mean the ability to insert offers and content
that’s personalized to each contact’s profile. For instance, a contact from
the manufacturing vertical would receive an offer for a case study on manufacturing.
The best marketing automation platforms allow you to personalize
multiple facets of a campaign. The more relevant each campaign is, the better
the response rates.

• The ability to do time- and event-triggered campaigns: Time- and event-triggered
campaigns ease the lead nurturing process considerably by automating
much of the work. Marketers can pre-arrange for campaigns to drop when
certain triggers are met — for instance, 20 days after a white paper is downloaded,
a contact automatically receives a follow-up email offering a relevant
case study or webinar replay.
• Multiple pieces of content and offers: This is often the hardest part. Lead nurturing
campaigns require a lot of different content matched to different stages
in the buying cycle. Examples are white papers, customer case studies, analyst
research reports, flash demos, blog postings, magazine articles and webinars.
You’ll need to have at least one piece of content to offer for each buying
stage, preferably more if your sales cycles tend to be longer than four

Matching direct marketing content to buying stages

While B2B buying cycles differ based on the product and industry, most buyers
tend to follow a process similar to the one below.

Stage 1: Research — Buyers have identified a business challenge and are
exploring possible solutions. At this stage, content tends to be educational
in nature and not necessarily product specific. White papers, webinars, and
analyst research reports are all appropriate. The objective is to convince the
prospect that your approach to solving the problem is valid by showing
thought leadership. Remember that the current economic client has generally
lengthened sales cycles, leaving buyers with more time than ever to conduct
research. Make the most of it with concise, educational content.

Stage 2: Develop specific criteria for a solution — Buyers have identified several
possible avenues. Now they need to define specific criteria and narrow the
search. Here, content is still educational, but can be more specific to your solution
— to justify why your solution is a valid choice. Customer case studies are
particularly useful, as are benefits-oriented datasheets, white papers, webinars
and analyst research reports. Sample RFPs can also help ensure that the customer
uses your criteria to evaluate solutions — a tactic that should guarantee
your solution fits the criteria well.

Stage 3: Develop the short list — Buyers identify a select group of vendors or
service providers who meet its criteria for solving the problem. Content should
be focused on validating the worth and potential impact of your specific solution:
customer case studies, analyst research reports about your solution and
third-party reviews from relevant trade media are all very appropriate for this
stage, as are ROI models.

Stage 4: Selection — Buyers evaluate each option and ultimately select one
vendor to win the business. By this time, your company’s salespeople should
be driving the bus — but direct marketing can help create a “surround sound”
effect by continuing to serve up content that helps validate a prospect’s choice
of your company. The third-party endorsements used in Stage 3 can also be
used in Stage 4.
Keep in mind that you may have separate campaign flows for different types of
buyers. In Neolane’s case, we are often creating dialogues not just with the marketing
professionals who use our solutions, but also with finance and IT staff.
In fact, in today’s challenging economy, messaging to finance professionals is
more important than ever.
Each audience has different needs and drivers. Remember that as you design
campaign strategies, and remember that (relevant) content is king.

So what are you waiting for?

Experts agree that lead nurturing helps shorten sales cycles and convert more
prospects into buyers. What B2B marketer doesn’t want that? With lead management
software in place, lead nurturing campaigns are relatively easy to set up and,
once set up, run more or less automatically. Don’t be intimidated by the concept,
and don’t wait another minute to set up your own lead nurturing programs.


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