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Nurture 101: The Do’s and Don’ts of Nurturing

By Betsy Utley-Marin

Locating potential buyers isn’t easy, but the real challenge is converting high-value accounts into real customers. Even if an account is displaying in-market behaviors or gave your content a click, they’re still not always ready to buy. The organization may need more education on a problem they’re facing, why they must address that problem now, and who is best suited to partner with in solving that problem. From the first interaction to the point of purchase, building relationships with buyers during each step of their journey helps you move accounts through the pipeline faster if you help them solve their problems. 

That’s why it’s important to have marketing nurture programs in place. A marketing nurture program is a strategy to stay top-of-mind with potential buyers and drive them through the buyer’s journey. This strategy results in higher awareness and education for an individual or “lead” across the entire buying committee within an account.  

If you are not yet convinced of the power of B2B account and lead nurturing, look at these demonstrative facts we have gathered from other experts. Look at these demonstrative facts we have gathered from other experts. 

  • 80% of new leads never translate into sales and companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost (Invespcro) 
  • Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads (DemandGen Report) 
  • Aligning content with a prospect’s stage in the buyer’s journey can boost conversion rates by 72% (Business2Community) 

Convinced to re-examine your nurturing initiatives? Good! Let’s look at some of the Do’s and Don’ts of an effective nurture program based on problems others have had with nurturing. 

Do: Adapt and repurpose existing content rather than creating new assets.  

When initiating your nurture program, it can be easy to focus on creating new targeted content and overlook existing marketing collateral like webinars, eBooks, and white papers. However, if you have a large repository of good content, you won’t need to do so much extra work. Repurposing your existing content ensures a more consistent and streamlined message is being delivered to your audience.  

Begin your nurturing campaign by developing a catalog that lists your existing content and think about how it meets the different segments you can nurture on, such as: 

  • Industry type 
  • Persona 
  • Title/role 
  • Company size 
  • Stage of the buying journey/funnel 

By understanding these segmentation opportunities and what each member of the buying committee needs to make an informed decision, your team can curate content to meet the needs of buyers based on the attributes above to help accelerate the account through the customer journey. Remember, the Marketing Rule of 7 states that buyers need to see a message at least seven times before they’ll be provoked to act and speak to a provider. Your goal is to provide the content with that message.  

It’s all about education and answering questions that buyers have. Identify any existing content that helps advance accounts within the buyer’s journey, especially if the content promotes your organizations’ credibility and you’ve seen great attention from it in the past. Buyers are looking for vendors they can trust, and if your content highlights your credibility, that can be a checkmark for your buyer. Fill any holes in your existing content with new content as needed.  

It’s much easier to adapt and repurpose content rather than create new ideas. This tip will help you spend time and deliver on content that benefits a buyer, reduces creation costs, and get the most out of your nurturing program. 

Don’t: Create and share content that is too salesy. 

As a consumer, don’t you find it annoying when everything you read is a not-so-thinly-veiled sales pitch for a product? B2B buyers aren’t crazy about that either.  

Nurture programs are designed to educate the audience and drive change from the status quo. Use content that aligns with the buyers’ needs, but don’t always assert yourself as the best brand. While content should stay true to your brand, it’s important not to force-feed your brand either. 

By leaving your brand sales pitch out, you can build trust and affirm that you care about the buyer’s problem and how to solve it, instead of saying “choose us for this.” Given many of your top accounts are not in market right now for your solution, B2B marketers should avoid talking about their products until prospects are ready and instead talk about the ideas behind them.  

Do: Leverage signals from multiple datasets for your nurturing programs.  

As engagement occurs across multiple channels, from email programs to paid advertising campaigns to in-market research and engagement away from your brand, it’s important to consider bringing in all these signals to inform the best nurture program for your prospect or customer. You should also use these signals to guide future campaigns with the most relevant content and advertising that helps the buying committee make an informed decision about your brand.  

Integrate your most valuable sales and marketing tools—including marketing automation platforms (MAPs) and customer relationship management platforms, and LinkedIn advertising—to streamline segmentation, nurture programs, and measurement through shared data.  

Here’s an example. Madison Logic’s ML Insights is a combined dataset that includes buyer research and engagement data from 1st and 3rd party sources. This data can be used within your MAP to segment specific accounts into different nurture sequences that reflect their history with your brand and their active solution interest. Through our bi-directional integration, this data can be combined with prior campaign engagement and pushed into your MAP to define target account lists in content and advertising for that nurture sequence. 

Another example is leveraging CRM (Customer Relationship Management) data to help sales close more deals. Through the ML Platform integration with Salesforce, your team can build a nurture program that overlays your sales opportunity pipeline that helps progress deals at every stage of the sales cycle. By leveraging a combined dataset that includes where an account is in the deal cycle and what the buying committee is actively researching, your nurture program can deliver relevant information that reduces sales stage duration and increases win rates because the buying committee is receiving the information needed to progress through the sales cycle faster.  

Finally, consider cross-channel engagement from your LinkedIn campaigns. By understanding the accounts engaging at a higher rate across multiple channels, your team can prioritize these accounts more efficiently with relevant content and advertising to increase conversion. In addition, with reporting from the impact of your multi-channel ABM strategy in one view, you can validate the pipeline and revenue influence and make informed optimization decisions across your integrated campaigns.  

Don’t: Rely solely on email to communicate your message. 

Nurture is more than just email. Your nurturing strategy should be multi-channel so you can meet buyers where they are as they research their problem or consider alternative solutions.  

For example, let’s say you’re a compliance advisor that evaluates infrastructure and security controls. First you distribute a display ad that forces a prospect to answer a question, “Are you SOC-2 compliant?” This ad works because it creates awareness of a problem, and the prospect may say, “SOC-2 Compliance, I’m not sure we are… or what is required for that?” Round it off with a CTA that shares how an organization has solved this problem before: “Learn how others have solved this problem.”  

Once the buyer is aware of the problem, they’ll need more information and research into how to solve the problem. You can present them with a gated piece of content like a whitepaper or a market report that illustrates the different ways to solve the problem and the merits of each solution. 

After learning how they can solve their problem, accounts will often move into the evaluation stage. Here, your team can use content like a webinar you hosted with a third-party expert to establish brand preference on what the SOC-2 compliance means for businesses and data security. 

Finally, when they’re thinking seriously about how you may fit their needs relative to your competitors, have your sales team give them a case study that shows how other customers benefited from your relationship. This can be further amplified via email, targeted advertising, and promoted via LinkedIn.  

Not only does a multi-channel approach show that you know your buyer’s behavior and where they look for information, it helps accelerate the buyer’s journey and keeps you top-of-mind as they progress. If they cannot find the information they need where they go on any channel, they can get stuck and spend more time searching rather than speaking with your sales team about purchasing your solution. 

Do: Celebrate the small wins. 

Monitor your program and measure success to keep track of what is and what isn’t working but remember that it takes time and effort to nurture leads into new customers (or customers that invest more with you via additional solutions). Many marketers drop lead nurturing after a few communication attempts because it’s not meeting the results they expect to see. Make sure to set expectations and never lose sight of the path a lead takes to conversion. 

This includes regular evaluation of account engagement and conversion to understand performance issues that may be required to optimize the experience for the buying committee.  

Don’t: View your nurture program as a one-off process 

Ideally, you should have nurture programs associated across the entire sales cycle. Even after you convert an opportunity to a closed deal, continue to nurture this new relationship to help the customer continue to achieve their goals through your solution through persistent education.  

After the initial deal, this is also a great time to nurture your new customer on the full availability of your offering if it aligns to their desired business outcome. Here, you may want to promote new customer stories that added to their solution portfolio, or new industry findings that another part of your solution can help them with. This will not only help reduce customer churn but also open possibilities of product expansions, cross-sells, and up-sells by showing that you’re still the best solution for their problem. 

Betsy Utley-Marin

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