Winning Business Through Nurture

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Justin Lugbill March 3, 2020

Yesterday I had the pleasure of helping pitch an amazing company in an industry with a growth curve that looks more vertical day after day. No question – if they play their cards right, they are on the verge of greatness. They’ve clearly got a crazy-intelligent team in place, and are looking for an agency to partner with. The presentation went well, and I have no doubt that our agency, with its track record of solving challenging problems in unique ways that enable cost-effective growth, would be a great fit.

In the midst of our presentation, their CMO asked some great questions. After showcasing some nurture strategy work we’d done for a past client, she asked, “In a nutshell, what’s your approach to nurture?” to which I responded something to the tune of, “I’m a big believer in nurturing prospects as soon as they cross an identifiable threshold that indicates they are truly interested in your product/service (eg. downloads a piece of content).”

“Net new leads is only a piece of the equation. Marketing isn’t just about leads. It is about winning business and staying top of mind and establishing/maintaining thought leadership throughout the entire buyer journey.”

After I got back to my hotel, my brain started down the path of rumination. While what I said is true, I left out some important elements to what I believe about nurturing. So, I’d like to formally expand upon my response.

Here’s a rundown of what I believe.

B2B Buying Cycles Are Complex

B2B buying cycles are complex and lengthy. You can throw the traditional funnel out the window. Today’s buyer journey looks a bit more like this:

Knowing that 7+ decision-makers are involved in B2B decisions, and each of those decision-makers has been conditioned to take a self-serve approach to research, it is essential that marketers change their tactics and develop an integrated, cross-channel playbook that addresses these realities head-on.

As you go upmarket, the need to incorporate ABM increases. This means leveraging targeting on platforms like LinkedIn and Terminus to ensure you’re not just getting in front of the initial responder. You should be digitally surrounding decision-makers within organizations once a predefined threshold is passed.

Leverage Channel Strengths

Each channel has its strengths, and strong marketers leverage said strengths in innovative ways. For example, by using a data enrichment tool like Clearbit, companies can identify what software/tools are in a website visitor’s tech stack. By integrating Clearbit with Google Analytics, audiences can be built out, then pushed to the platforms and leveraged across search, display, and video. From there, that information can be mapped to conquesting flow charts (example), where the pre-click and post-click experience is geared toward that specific audience.

What are some use cases? I’m glad you asked.

  • Competitor Conquesting – Serve up a pre/post-click experience that showcases your differentiators and speaks to the competing product’s weaknesses.
  • Complementary Technology – Integrations are ubiquitous in B2B SaaS and often a major consideration in what solutions are purchased. As a result, companies should be showcasing the value their product/service can provide in conjunction with said integration

Choose the Right KPI

KPIs are often a discussion when it comes to nurture, and for good reason, as demand gen marketers have been conditioned to measure success based on things like net new leads, MQLs, and LTV/CAC. However, nurture initiatives often require different measures of success. Example KPIs we use to measure the success and impact of post-lead nurture initiatives include (at the account, rather than contact level) pipeline touches, pipeline velocity, lead-to-close conversion rate, influenced opportunities, impressions and website engagement. For nurture, it all comes back to marketing 101 – serving the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

While staying top of mind is vitally important, marketers should also know when to call it quits. Signals should be analyzed and defined to determine when a previously warm lead has gone cold. Best case, this threshold is indicated by a quantifiable number, such as a lead score being piped in from Marketo. If that isn’t available, signals such as the number of impressions without engagement or time without engagement can be used.

Pro Tip: Think through your re-engagement strategy. Just because a lead has gone cold doesn’t mean you should never re-engage.

To wrap it up, post-lead nurture initiatives can be a powerful complement to lead generation. Through thoughtful analysis, creative strategic planning, tech stack integration, AI-assisted execution, and thoughtful reporting that connects the dots, there’s no question in my mind it has the power to be a multiplier for your business – especially with superior content and technology. Leveraged cleverly, nurture strategies can be a crushing blow to what your competitors are doing.

Some may even call it diabolical.