The term itself has been around for a good long while but it seems that recently the B2B marketing world has gone lead-nurturing-crazy. This is probably due to the increased availability of marketing automation systems, not to mention the increased amount spent on marketing these systems by the companies that sell them.

But before we write off lead nurturing as just another flavour-of-the-month marketing buzzword, let’s get a proper definition. Who knows, maybe your company (and profit margins) can benefit from a little sales lead TLC…

A Definition

Lead nurturing is the process of engaging leads who aren’t yet ready to buy with content and social media. This is done in the hope that at some later point they will provide a strong signal that they are now ready to buy, at which point your sales people can jump in and close the deal.

Obviously lead nurturing is more important to companies which sell products with long buying cycles – where buyers consider their purchases for long periods, say 6 months or more, before committing themselves.

During this period of time they might find their way into your leads funnel but, because they’re not ready to buy yet, be discarded by your sales team as a poor prospect.

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The object of lead nurturing is to hold onto those leads through continued engagement and look out for signals that they’re reaching the sales-ready stage of the cycle.

How does it work in practice?

Effective lead nurturing requires close alignment of your sales and marketing teams so that you can identify the different stages of the sales cycle and tailor your approach to customers at each stage.

A CRM system can prove invaluable here for tracking and scoring leads as well as diverting lead contact details into various databases according to which content you’d like to push to them (I’m using content here to mean anything from a general Tweet to a personalised email). It can help you sort out which channels produce the most sales-ready leads and which ones are good at sourcing buyers in the initial stages of a purchase. In short, it can help you gather and sort all the data you need for creating effective lead nurturing content as well as automate the process of getting that content in front of them (e.g. through automatic emails).

What content should I be producing?

Your company’s approach to content generation will depend heavily on what it is you’re selling and how your buyers go about researching and deciding on their purchases. Only by gathering data on which are the most effective forms of content and which channels are the most effective for promoting them can you take a scientific, results-orientated approach to content generation.

Often this is a process of trial and error but there are ways you can get a head start: look at the general trends in your industry at the moment. Is everyone else is producing Whitepapers for early-stage buyers or video content, Webinars or blog posts? How are they trying to bring in end-stage buyers? With case studies? Pricing data?

Once you’ve identified these trends you have two choices: try to replicate what everyone else is doing or try to stand out from a crowded field by bucking the trend.

Of course, you’ll need talented content authors, designers, writers and social media boffins in any case, so if you think you can do what everyone else is doing, just better, then go ahead. But if your industry is full of big players all marketing content like crazy then differentiating yourself can pay large dividends.

Are you dipping a toe in the lead nurturing waters? Are you adapting a current content marketing strategy to incorporate lead nurturing practices? Let us know the main challenges you’ve faced in the comments below…

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Get quotes for CRM systems which can help with your lead management and nurturing at approvedindex.co.uk


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