How To Nurture Your B2B Sales Leads With Effective Content Marketing

 

Unless they’re shopping for the low-risk basics or making repeat purchases, B2B buyers don’t want to just be “sold to.” If they’re considering a new investment in a higher-ticket item, such as business software or a new insurance product, they’re looking at a longer sales cycle with more at stake. That means they need information and guidance—not a hard sales push—as you nurture them from “lead” to “customer.”

In 3 Types of Marketing Content that Drives B2B Sales Leads, we looked at how content can support your lead generation efforts. But once you get some leads, what’s next? We suggest taking a lead nurturing approach that provides more marketing content to inspire your customers’ winding journey through the sales funnel. In other words, following a content marketing strategy.

Keep reading for insights into providing your B2B sales leads with a remarkable, content-rich lead-to-buyer experience.

Content Marketing and the Customer Journey
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Bingo!

But not so fast: in order to successfully nurture sale leads with compelling content, you need to understand your customers—not only their goals and pain points but also their behaviors and communication preferences as they move toward the buying decision. This enables you to support their customer journey.

We like the way SurveyMonkey defines the customer journey, as “the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.”

You can look at the customer journey as traversing in, around, through, and even beyond the traditional sales funnel. Marketing and sales people might look at the sales funnel as a linear, point A to B to C process; but from the customer’s point of view, the buying decision comes as a result of a more free-form, non-linear set of events that keep going after the sale.

Source: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-differences-between-a-customer-journey-and-a-sales-funnel

It’s our challenge to “walk in their shoes” so we can make their passage across the sales funnel as interesting and enjoyable (and profitable) as possible.

A Lead Nurturing Campaign, the Content Marketing Way
It’s for this reason that while nurturing leads—seeking to build and strengthen relationships with them—it’s important to be deliberate with our use of marketing content so we can address their particular needs and help them move forward with valuable resources. This is the opposite of assaulting them with unwelcome sales calls or hard-pitches.

Case in point: some marketers “nurture” leads by sending a series of sales-oriented emails that go something like this:

  • Sales email 1: Hello, hot lead! Buy now!
  • Sales email 2: Really, buy today.
  • Sales email 3: Seriously, now’s the time to buy.

And so on. Again, this strategy might work really well for initiating repeat purchases for products like paper towels and laser paper, but not so much for more complex products and services.

For these, consider a lead nurturing campaign that takes a softer, resource-oriented content marketing approach, like this:

  • Nurturing email 1: Thanks for your interest in our solution. Here’s some industry research to help you understand your options for solving your business challenge.
  • Nurturing email 2: Download our free e-book outlining key considerations for companies who want to achieve results with solutions similar to ours.
  • Nurturing email 3: Join us for a webinar to learn how another company in your vertical used our solution to meet their goals.

By providing a more indirect—but arguably more effective—route to the sale, content marketing leads potential buyers through the sales funnel on the customer’s terms: with information they want and need, using communication channels (e.g. email), content types (e.g. unbiased market reports and interactive ebooks) and formats (e.g. downloadables and webinars) they enjoy and that keep them engaged in the campaign experience.

Getting Them To The Sale
It’s really your understanding of and appreciation for the customer’s journey that enables you to effectively nurture leads to the end of the sales funnel—and beyond. In other words, content is a means to an end. Or, you could say, to new beginnings?

Hopefully, at each touch-point, you’re feeding leads a little more of what they need to take a big bite—to make a purchase, of course! Measuring the bottom-line effectiveness of digital content marketing can be challenging because of tricky attribution modeling issues, but Content Marketing Institute’s

2018 B2B Content Marketing Trends report reveals 51% of content marketers are able to show that their content marketing has increased sales.

Explore The 3 Proven Techniques for a Thriving Lead Nurturing Campaign for more insights into keeping your potential customers engaged throughout the sales process. To learn more, contact us.