Why Organizations Should Stop Focusing on Lead Nurturing Campaigns

The stats, guides and tips to effective lead nurturing abound in the B2B marketplace and yet with all of this information,  still only a fraction of B2B companies are using or effective in the use of lead nurturing according to MarketingSherpa. In fact, according to Sherpa’s 2012 Lead Generation Report, 64% of respondents say they are passing all responses from marketing campaigns directly to sales. Clearly, not best practice.

So while much is made of lead nurturing and the value of it, the truth is that very few organizations are nurturing their buyers and even fewer are doing it effectively.

Why?

Fact is that most organizations and even many consultants have viewed lead nurturing as a separate event (not part of an integrated Demand Generation Strategy) and in doing so, have made success elusive. To be clear, lead nurturing is not an isolated activity or a stand-alone “campaign” as so many in the industry have described it. Rather, nurturing is a key stage in the overall progression of a holistic Demand Generation Program

When lead nurturing is developed from a tactical “campaign” perspective i.e. a one-time event, it eliminates the ability to align the program content to the buyers purchase path. It also does not take into account the next action the buyer will take in their purchase path, leaving a gap – as seen below. This approach forces the Engagement stage as the only stage before the contact is sent onto sales as a lead. This is why fewer than 4% of marketing generated leads are ever converted into sales.

Figure 1:  Lack of Content Alignment to Buyers Purchase Pattern

Buying process 1Organizations that do succeed however, view nurturing as a strategic piece of their holistic Demand Generation Program that is aligned to the buyer and their purchase path.  This provides the ability to deliver relevant content to the buyers at every stage of their purchase journey, resulting in higher qualified leads that are sent to sales increasing the likelihood of sales converting them into a customer.  

This approach is much different than running a tactical “Lead Nurturing Campaign” as many organizations do. However, it takes an understanding of the buyers approach, who is involved in the purchase process and what content they are looking for throughout their process.

Figure 2: Nurturing as part of a Strategic Demand Generation Program

Buying process 2

Organizations need to rethink the approach they are taking to nurturing and stop treating nurturing as an isolated event.  The reality is that in not doing so, they are producing less than stellar results and it is costing them time and money in the long run.

In Forrester’s Balance People & Process to Fund L2RM study in December 2013, Laura Ramos states the following  “In earlier studies, Forrester found that at least half of B2B marketers surveyed did not have well defined L2RM processes or failed to follow the ones they did have in place for activities like lead scoring, nurturing, recycling, and management.4 The impact? Interviewees told us that they end up spending two to three times the initial startup cost — and between 12 and 18 additional months — designing and managing transition. Depending on the size of your company, initial and ongoing costs can range from $100,000 to upwards of $3 million.

This is quite a price to pay for not having a strategic process in place and ensuring your lead nurturing approach aligns to a buyer-centric demand strategy.

Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo is CEO and Principal, ANNUITAS.

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