The Secret Sauce of Lead Nurturing for B2B Demand Generation

Here are the key ingredients for creating lead nurture programs that work—and a benchmark for conversion rates.

Nurture programs are essential for companies with complex solutions and a relatively long sales cycle. You could say they’re what sets B2B apart from B2C.

As you probably know by heart, nurture programs are designed to engage with prospects over time, increasing their propensity for your solution once they’re ready to buy.

What you may not know (or may not have fully embraced) is that content is the most critical ingredient for nurture success. You should put as much effort into your content calendars as you do in building your target lists.

When mapping out an editorial calendar for a nurture campaign, create or include content that is:

  • Intrinsically high-value. You want prospects to immediately perceive a professional benefit to receiving information, not a hard sell. This also helps you establish thought leadership with your prospects.
  • Topical, but not sales focused. In order to build a long-term relationship, begin by focusing on thought leadership topics and interesting case studies.
  • A good mix of early stage and late stage content. For example, an early-stage prospect might be interested in an “industry trends whitepaper,” while a late-stage prospect will be more likely to download an “implementation guide.”

Whenever possible, build passive profiling into your online lead nurturing program, i.e., identify potential sales opportunities by tracking which content your prospects download. Not only will this clue you into their interests, it also indicates which stage of the buying cycle they’re in, enabling you to serve them more relevant content in the future.

Pinpointing an ultimate conversion rate is always tricky: Average sales cycle, lead source and relevancy/frequency of content play a key role.

But in my experience (and in alignment with SiriusDecisions findings), average conversion rates from Inquiry to MQL (marketing qualified lead) are 5-10% overall.

For an overview of realistic goals for lead nurturing, I highly recommend Eloqua’s Lead Nurturing Best Practices Toolkit.

Do you consider content the engine of your nurture campaigns, or are you unconvinced? I’d love to hear your experiences and viewpoints in the comments.

4 Responses to The Secret Sauce of Lead Nurturing for B2B Demand Generation

  1. Sarah says:

    Great image for metaphor! Yes, indeed, I just put together a case study that shows exactly this – how content can really bring in leads and move them through the sales cycle. The nice thing is too – if you position yourself as a helpful resource to your leads, price becomes less of a central issue in the discussion. They already depend on you for good information to help them in their buying decision.

    Here’s the case study:

    http://blog.healthymarketingideas.com/2011/12/case-study-increased-lead-generation-from-a-b2b-nutrition-industry-website/

  2. Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
    Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark
    this site.

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