Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor with a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing.
Reading time:12 m
Have you mastered the art of generating B2B leads? If so, that’s great. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The real challenge lies in nurturing those leads until they’re ready to convert into loyal customers.
Databox says that 40-70% of qualified leads are not yet ready to buy. So, you’ve got to put together email marketing, retargeting, and cold email tactics to nudge potential clients to closure.
This guide will help you navigate this uneasy process and develop sound lead nurturing campaigns. The cherry on top: All tactics are backed by real-life examples from B2B along with our own experience of providing B2B sales development services for over 5 years.
4 core elements of a successful B2B lead nurturing strategy
1. Develop a plan
The first step in setting up a B2B lead nurturing campaign is to outline its core elements or a campaign plan, which includes:
Objectives: Get clear on what you aim to accomplish. For example, a certain number of leads or higher conversion rates.
Target audience: Who are you trying to reach specifically? Create buyer personas for each segment of your audience for a more tailored approach.
KPIs: Use the right metrics and know your numbers to gauge the success of your campaign. Open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates are a great place to start.
Timeline: Set up a timeline for your campaign and commit to it, giving clear duration expectations for each stage.
Resources and budget: Think about resources and budgets you can allocate for each step of your campaign to execute with confidence.
You’re a software company with an upcoming product launch. You aim to get at least 500 leads within 3 months. You’re focusing on IT managers and CTOs in the medical biz who work for medium-sized companies.
To gauge your progress, you’ve set your sights on achieving a 25% open rate of your reactivation campaigns and a 5% conversion rate. You have around $5,000 for content creation, email marketing, and potentially paid ads.
2. Select your marketing channels
Once you’re done with your initial plan, it’s time to figure out marketing channels to hit those objectives.
Here are 5 effective ideas that lead to high-end clients like Ford and NASA:
Email marketing: Send out well-crafted emails with relevant content to keep your leads hooked.
Social media: Make sure you’re active on your socials by sharing insightful content and responding to comments. Build an employee advocacy program to reach a wider audience.
Webinars, events, and conferences: Host live and online seminars to educate and engage your audience.
Podcasts: Invite influencers and subject-matter experts to discuss hot industry topics and expose your brand to nurture leads.
Retargeting: Target first-time visitors via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google/Microsoft Ads. Customize your campaigns and messaging given the pages your audience has visited, their action items, and the current stage of the sales pipeline.
During these webinars, UXPressia contextually showcases its platform’s features without aggressive selling. Additionally, they invite well-known external guest speakers to increase trust and credibility with the audience.
Iryna mentioned that this strategy has helped them attract leads from prominent companies like Ford, H&M, NASA, Mercedes-Benz, CNH Industrial, and more. While not all of them have converted into clients yet, the company has built lasting relationships with these organizations.
At Belkins, we use a similar strategy to nurture our leads and as a part of the lead nurturing services we offer to our clients. Not only do we run webinars but also invite industry leaders and our customers to be guest speakers at Belkins Growth Podcast. This helps us to demonstrate the high level of our client relationships and expertise in B2B sales.
3. Create targeted content
Do you know what’s really important to nurture your leads? Making the right content for the right people. Quality and relevant content can boost your conversions at all steps in B2B sales process, as it highlights your expertise and serves as a reminder to your potential clients. Here’s how to create it:
Blog posts: Find out what works well within the copy and craft posts that match the needs and interests of your audience.
White papers, e-books: Put together white papers or e-books that show off your qualities and make you look like a leader in the field. Whether you’re a start-up like Timeular or a big-name company like Semrush, you can capitalize on both types of content to attract and nurture leads.
SEMrush e-book Library
Videos: Create videos that showcase your product or offer helpful insights.
Interactive content: Use surveys, polls, and quizzes to engage your audience and collect valuable data.
💡 Let’s practice:
Remember, you’re a software company that targets IT managers in the medical vertical. Put together a white paper on the “Top 5 Challenges Facing IT Managers in Healthcare.” Then, move on to create a video showing off the features of your product and embed it in the piece.
Before that, you can also survey IT managers about their biggest issues.
And what would you get from this? A peek into your customers’ needs and a chance to address them with your product as the perfect solution.
4. Implement marketing automation
Marketing automation has the potential to truly revolutionize your lead nurturing efforts. With Marketo, for example, you can slice and dice your audience and create hyper-personalized, multichannel lead nurturing campaigns to deliver your content to decision-makers.
It’s also much easier to customize your lead scoring and segmentation and, therefore, target your most promising leads. With marketing automation, you grow in conversions, customers, and, ultimately, revenue.
4 steps of B2B lead nurturing
Step 1: Organize your leads
Different leads require different levels of nurturing. Categorize them by the sales funnel stages or break them down into personas. Here’s how you can do it:
Nonqualified leads: little knowledge about potential; may only have email. Include them in emails nudging specific actions, but don’t overwhelm them.
Action qualified leads: Group leads by the action they took (e.g., visited website, downloaded e-book, demo request and no-show, etc.). Tailor your lead nurturing efforts based on their action.
Marketing qualified leads: show promise but need more work to convert. Provide detailed information about your product and customer stories, encourage free trials/book a call, etc.
Sales qualified leads: ready for direct sales engagement. Deliver more information and case studies to nudge leads to closure.
Lost deals: Group your lost leads according to their reasons for disengaging and tailor your marketing efforts, such as special deals or new feature releases, to bring them back.
Step 2: Implement lead scoring
Lead scoring is the process of assigning a “grade” to users who give you their contact info, meet your ICP and buyer personas, and exhibit interest in buying your product or service. For instance, you can give more points to someone who signs up for a product demo or spends time exploring your website.
Organize sales leads by grade and select those getting the lowest mark. Add disqualified leads to your B2B lead nurturing campaigns. This process will naturally guide these scored leads down the B2B lead funnel, ensuring optimal conversion into valuable customers later.
Step 3: Align content formats to the customer buying cycle
Each stage of the buyer’s journey requires different content to build awareness, establish trust, or drive sales. On top of that, you should balance between being useful and promotional. To achieve this, try implementing the 4-1-1 rule framework introduced by Joe Pulizzi, founder and CEO of the Content Marketing Institute.
The 4-1-1 rule suggests that for every 4 pieces of early-stage, light, and informative content you present, you can include 1 subtle sales pitch. For example, a third-party review from G2 and a CTA to book a demo.
Likewise, you can expose more salesy content to SQLs, like customer stories or direct ads highlighting the benefits of your product.
This rule enables you to maintain the fine line between being helpful and actively seeking business.
Step 4: Motivate your leads to take action
Don’t forget to keep your customers informed of any special offers or trends related to their interests. But remember — always keep it light. Let them know when the next opportunity to buy comes around, but don’t be pushy.
"1. Personalization: First, we learn what exactly the client is looking for (without asking them directly). Then, we write to them, mentioning the pain point and solution (how we help).
2. Quick reach out: Strike while the iron is hot. If the client is sending you a request today, they need to get an answer today.
3. Staying in touch: There are many people who don’t need our services at the moment. Still, we stay in touch with them, network, and ask occasional questions from time to time. Thanks to this, we got a big lead from a company that was never really a prospect."
3 B2B lead nurturing case studies
Looking for ideas on how to make your lead nurturing campaigns even better? We’ll show you 2 great case studies from top companies and our approach to lead nurturing at Belkins.
Groove, a company that provides customer support and help-desk software for small businesses, aimed to increase the conversion rate of trial users to paid customers while providing a smooth onboarding experience.
Groove developed an onboarding campaign that consisted of a series of emails sent to new trial users. The first email set expectations upfront, informing recipients that they would receive a series of emails. This approach helped customers to gain a full understanding of the campaign and how to maximize its potential.
Moreover, Groove tailored the emails to each user, addressing their unique needs and queries.
Oktopost, a social media management platform, aimed to align sales and marketing and automate lead nurturing.
Oktopost implemented a zero-touch strategy with Marketo Engage automation that included intelligent lead scoring and multichannel lead nurturing campaigns.
Oktopost has claimed a 15% increase in lead-to-conversion rates, accelerated campaign creation and execution, and increased win rates.
The Belkins approach to outbound B2B lead generation and nurturing
At Belkins, lead nurturing is a magic key to generating B2B sales leads. We develop highly personalized cold email outreach strategies that engage and inform prospects about our clients’ businesses.
Each email includes case studies, e-books, products, or data-driven research while inviting prospects to user interviews. Sales reps also follow up consistently with the leads that have had appointments with our clients’ sales teams.
Contact us to learn more about Belkins’ advanced lead generation services.
How to track and measure the success of your B2B lead nurturing campaign
Lastly, let’s break down a 4-step process of analyzing and optimizing lead nurturing campaigns.
1. Determine your KPIs
Decide on metrics you’ll use to measure your lead nurturing campaign performance. Some common KPIs are:
Conversion rates: the percentage of leads that become customers
Engagement rates: the percentage of leads who interact with your content
Lead-to-opportunity ratio: the number of leads that turn into sales opportunities
Time to close: the length of time it takes for a lead to become a customer
Revenue generated: the amount of revenue generated from your lead nurturing campaign
2. Analyze campaign data
Open up analytics and reporting in your marketing automation tools and analyze whether you meet your KPIs. Identify underperforming campaigns or certain steps with the highest drop-offs.
For example, you can spot that the third step of your email nurturing campaign within segment X brings about the most opt-outs.
Likewise, look for winning content and channels with the highest engagement and conversion rates.
3. Adjust content, channels, and messaging
Make changes to your lead nurturing campaign based on your analysis.
For example, you may want to create new content pieces that address specific pain points of your target audience or test different messaging to see which resonates best. Or consider investing more in a top-performing retargeting ad.
4. Continuously optimize the campaign
Keep testing and experimenting with your lead nurturing campaigns to continuously improve performance.
Also, go with A/B testing. Compare different versions of your content, test new channels, and experiment with messaging until you find out what works well in copy for your customers.
In short, analyze your data thoroughly and act on the findings to ensure optimal performance.
1. What is the best B2B lead nurturing software?
Here are some of the most popular B2B lead nurturing software options:
Marketo: a widely used marketing automation solution that provides robust lead nurturing, lead scoring, and email marketing features
HubSpot: a powerful marketing and sales software suite that includes lead nurturing, email marketing, and CRM tools
Pardot: a sophisticated B2B marketing automation platform that offers advanced lead nurturing, scoring, and ROI reporting capabilities
Act-On: a versatile marketing automation platform with lead nurturing, scoring, and email marketing features, as well as real-time website visitor tracking and social media management
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all option. The best B2B lead nurturing software mainly depends on your business needs and budget.
2. How can we make lead nurturing as personal as possible?
For a more personalized approach to lead nurturing, put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. Listen to their needs via discovery calls, feedback surveys, and marketing and sales analytics. Tailor your marketing efforts to better resonate with their unique pain points and aspirations.
Here are some helpful tips:
Use segmentation: Break down your leads into smaller chunks based on their interests, demographics, etc., and customize your messaging accordingly.
Use personalization: Always add a person’s name, mention the company, and include applicable information in the message for a personal touch.
Provide relevant content: Customize your content to align with the needs and challenges of your potential customers. Don’t send anything that may not be relevant to the person you are reaching out to.
Use a conversational tone: Write in a conversational and friendly tone. Avoid being too professional/formal unless your niche calls for it. This may sound cold and less engaging.
Follow up promptly: Respond to leads promptly and always provide personalized responses.
3. Is it important to nurture every lead that we collect?
No, you don’t always need to nurture every lead that lands in your CRM. Instead, prioritize leads based on their likelihood to convert into customers by implementing a B2B lead scoring model.
Focus on the leads with the best chance for a sale while still giving everyone a chance through less targeted welcome campaigns.
4. How would you calculate the ROI of lead nurturing?
To find out the ROI of lead nurturing, take into account just 2 amounts — all the costs of the campaign and the income it has generated. Here’s the formula:
ROI = (Revenue - Cost) / Cost x 100
Let’s assume you spent $20,000 on a lead nurturing campaign and you made $80,000 in sales. In this scenario, for every $1 you spent on a campaign, you generated $3 in revenue.
ROI = ($80,000 - $20,000) / $20,000 x 100 = 300%
By keeping a close eye on your return on investment (ROI), you can make informed decisions about how to earmark resources for lead nurturing campaigns.
Share the article:
Subscribe to our blog
Get the ultimate insights on the B2B trends and hands-on tips from sales professionals.
Michael is the Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor. With a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing, he has a passion for building world-class teams and implementing efficient processes to drive the success of his ventures and clients.