Did you know?
- 60% to 70% of B2B content is never used, mainly because it is irrelevant (Content Marketing Institute)
- 50% of leads provided by marketing to sales are ignored (101 marketing and sales tips)
- 50% of sales time is wasted on unnecessary prospecting (101 marketing and sales tips from the B2B Lead)
The figures speak for themselves: many companies are clearly wasting a lot of time and money. To avoid being one of them, your marketing and sales teams need to work together to get people’s attention and generate qualified leads (and therefore sales) through high-value, relevant content.
Admittedly, things can get tense between sales and marketing teams. Marketers generate leads and carefully craft the company's corporate image. Sales, on the other hand, processes those leads and (hopefully) grows the company's turnover. But this division of labour has led to two different views of what exactly a lead is. As a result, the marketing team often blames the sales team for not being sufficiently involved with the leads, and the sales team blames the marketers for the poor quality of the leads they send over. Given the complexity of business today, this type of operation is only a hindrance to success.
B2B decision-makers are turning their backs on overly aggressive prospecting strategies, such as telephone canvassing or advertising. Since home Internet is now standard in almost every household, people are more autonomous. Everything has become easier, faster and more accessible, and consumers no longer rely on salespeople to initiate the buying process. That means that sales teams face an enormous challenge: they must be able to accompany B2B decision-makers along each stage of the buying process. But more importantly, they must provide them with useful, consistent and targeted information during their research and reflection phase.
The two departments must therefore be aligned to generate truly targeted and qualified leads. Their integration is what we call Smarketing.
Content strategy: strategic alignment
In an inbound marketing approach, the alignment of the sales and marketing teams is essential. Indeed, the very essence of this methodology is based on capturing people’s attention in order to generate qualified leads.
Sales and marketing must thus be aligned at all structural levels, creating fruitful fusion across the board, both in terms of acquiring future customers and in terms of cohesion between the two departments.
Remember that the goal of content marketing is to offer useful and relevant information to readers (and therefore to potential customers and prospects) through the creation of high-quality content. As such, the company should develop its content strategy according to its current and target positioning (its goal), then adapt it to the needs of its target audience. It then decides on the different content segments according to medium (blog article, interview, case study, white paper, video, etc.).
Lead nurturing: a key element of any marketing strategy
Once your content marketing strategy has been developed, it’s time to deploy it. That’s where lead nurturing comes into play.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is an approach that consists of nurturing and maintaining leads generated by the company—especially those deemed to be the most promising. This approach is focused on the management of the life cycle of prospects in order to move them along the conversion tunnel.
To do so, you need to offer them quality content on a regular basis, adapted to their level of maturity and focused on their expectations and needs. In this way, your company is present throughout the decision-making cycle.
- Discovery: the lead is looking for information and starts to make inquiries to learn more
- Evaluation: the lead wants to find solutions to his problem
- Decision: the lead is ready and is about to make a purchase
The benefits of lead nurturing
Lead nurturing is a practice designed to create authentic and personalised relationships with leads in order to improve the likelihood that they become customers.
For the company, lead nurturing offers multiple benefits:
- It increases brand visibility and awareness
- It provides the sales team with commercial opportunities
- It creates a less intrusive commercial relationship
- It lets you address qualified prospects
- It ensures that resources are allocated to priority leads
- It improves the conversion rate of marketing actions
- It offers lower costs than other levers
With the boundaries between the sales and marketing departments dissolved, marketers can put themselves in the shoes of sales people and vice versa. The sales team can better integrate marketing and content delivery into their daily actions, and the marketing team can think of content creation as a step in a larger sales process.
But beware, this strategy only works if the content provides real answers to real questions that prospects are asking. The messages must be personalised according to the type of buyers that have been defined beforehand.
The quality and targeting of the content, its regularity and the proper timing of its distribution then ensure conversion.
How to improve your lead nurturing: essential steps
Implementing a lead nurturing strategy generally relies on controlled segmentation, relevant content and a good dose of automation!
Segmentation: getting the right messages across
Segmentation—the definition of lead categories according to the range of the offer, the target consumer or the progress of a lead in the conversion funnel—is essential to the structure of any marketing strategy. The purpose of segmentation is to be able to deliver the right message to the right person, at the right time, and on the right device. It is an indispensable foundation for any lead nurturing strategy.
If you choose to segment your targets according to their position in the funnel, you will not communicate with each of them in the same way. For example, a visitor to your site who has just signed up for your newsletter will be marketed to quite differently than a mature qualified lead.
If you are new to the process, start by creating a persona. Once your strategy has been launched, you can then replicate what you have done with this first persona, applying it to others.
Content for personalised interactions
To be strategic in terms of your marketing, you need to offer quality content that is adapted to the maturity level of each lead. Your prospects seek useful information focused on the questions they have. Autonomous B2B decision-makers often take the time to do their research, but ultimately only consider a few options when it comes to making a decision. Hence the importance of maintaining the presence of your brand and activating the right levers.
And, as we mentioned earlier, this is precisely the role of lead nurturing, as it allows you to be present throughout the decision cycle. That way you can keep in touch, build relationships and strengthen the trust of leads through content that meets their needs.
Furthermore, by mapping the customer journey, you can optimise your resources to work more efficiently. You know what they want, when they want it, and how to deliver it. At a time when hyper-personalisation has become the norm, mastering the customer journey enables you to activate the right marketing, organisational and commercial levers, particularly through the proper use of data.
Keep in mind that the aim of your content is not to sell, but to pass on advice, knowledge and best practices on sectors related to your business. It doesn't matter what the content is (blog post, infographic, newsletter, etc.), what matters is that it is personalised according to your initial segmentation for an optimal experience.
Of course, all content should be in line with the three stages of the lead's decision path (information, selection and purchase decision). As the lead progresses through the conversion tunnel, you must offer him more targeted content that is increasingly appropriate to his level of maturity.
Automation: better, faster lead nurturing
Lead nurturing takes time, especially if your database consists of thousands or tens of thousands of prospects. Automation is a real paradigm shift for marketers, and in our opinion, lead nurturing should be automated. To do so, you need the right tool to aggregate data and customer interactions, process them and optimise the processes in place. That tool is a well-designed CRM platform: your closest ally in organising and automating the entire lead nurturing process.