5-Step Guide to Create an Effective Lead-Gen and Lead Nurturing Strategy
Effective lead generation and nurturing are essential for B2B organizations to build a strong sales pipeline and drive conversions. To achieve this, businesses must identify their ideal customer profile (ICP) and create buyer personas to understand and address the unique preferences of their target audience. This 5-step guide outlines how B2B marketers can streamline their lead generation and nurturing strategies, ensuring personalized and engaging experiences for prospects at every stage of the buyer's journey.
1. Identify your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
You must first define the criteria to identify the customer profile which best matches the products and services which your business provides. Below we highlight some key questions to ask yourself when defining your ICP:
- Is there a genuine need? – your product(s) or service(s) must be aligned to the needs of your ideal customer, solving their pain point(s), and provide clear benefits.
- Is it profitable? - Your ideal customer must generate enough revenue to be able to afford your products or services and see value in the investment.
- Is there long-term growth potential? Ideally, there will be opportunities for repeat, upselling, and cross-selling, to increase the average customer’s lifetime value (LTV).
- Is the company size and sector a good match? It’s important to be clear which company sizes and from which industries your products and solutions best fit. Of course, companies of different shapes and sizes from varying sectors have vastly different needs and requirements.
- Are you geographically aligned? Ensure that there is a good fit from a geographical sense. Can you effectively deliver your offering in these markets? Are there any barriers in terms of logistics, language support, or from a legal standpoint?
- Is integration straightforward? Are your products and services compatible with the operations of this prospect?
2. Define your buyer personas
Now we have a clearer picture of how to define an ICP, it’s time to identify buyer personas so we can understand and address the unique preferences and challenges of individual target segments. This combination works together, allowing for a more effective approach to engage and nurture your leads. So, here’s are the steps to define your buyer personas:
- Gather data – analyze the data stored within your CRM to find common traits such as the roles, responsibilities, motivations, and pain points of your customers. If this data does not exist, try reaching out to customers who you have a strong relationship with to populate this information.
- Segment customer base – create persona groups based on common characteristics including industry, company size, job role, seniority level, and reoccurring pain points.
- Interview customer facing teams – reach out to your colleagues within the sales, customer service, and customer success teams to collect additional insights. What are the common objections, complaints, and feedback that they hear each day?
- Create persona templates – using the data it’s time to map personas for each of the segmented groups. Include name, age, gender, company size, location, job title, responsibilities, background, objectives, pain points, preferred communication channels, interests, and preferences.
- Map the buyer journey – this is an extremely important exercise if we are to successfully nurture leads. We must understand how the persona advances through the buyer journey, how long is the typical cycle, and how many touchpoints on average do buyers interact with before making a purchase? This can differ significantly depending on the industry and the complexity of the product or service on offer. This will help establish how long your nurturing cycles should be.
- Identify content - conducting an audit of your existing content, tagging each piece based on which persona the content is of interest to, and at which stage of the funnel (awareness, interest, desire, action) it fits. Whilst the B2B buyer journey is non-linear we must still aim to create unified storytelling. Running this audit is also a fantastic way to find gaps within your content portfolio, helping you to create a plan for your next topics.
- Validate your personas – share your personas and gather any additional feedback from internal stakeholders before putting your work into action.
Remember, your buyer personas will change and evolve over time as your business grows and new market behaviors and trends appear. For this reason, you should revisit and update these personas regularly.
3. Capturing and segmenting leads
Now that we have identified our ICP and buyer personas, we are better equipped to begin capturing new leads to help build a strong sales pipeline.
Below are some of the most common lead-gen activities for B2B marketers:
- Content marketing – creating high value gated content such as eBooks and whitepapers, focusing on topics of interest for your target audience and promoting them within the channels where they are most active.
- Events and webinars – sponsoring, exhibiting at, or taking part in industry events is a fantastic way to meet prospects face-to-face and generate leads. Virtual events such as webinars or podcasts which require registration also help feed your sales funnel.
- Lead-gen forms – request a demo, talk to an expert, newsletter signups or more info CTAs can be strategically placed throughout a website to convert visitors into marketing leads. Promoting free trials or discounts can also be effective.
- Paid advertising – there are various options here including Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Facebook Ads that all offer advanced targeting options, allowing us to target our ideal buyer personas. These platforms allow us to specify criteria such as job title, company size, industry, and geographic location to ensure our ads are seen by only the most relevant prospects. These ads can direct prospects to relevant landing pages or content which nurtures them down the sales funnel, following a well-structured buyer journey.
Whilst generating a consistent flow of new leads is key, it’s also likely that your business has hundreds, if not thousands of existing leads sat within your CRM. Businesses should tag leads to explain why they have been discarded so that they can be placed into lead nurturing journeys. Perhaps the lead was lost to a competitor, or they didn’t have enough budget at the time, or maybe it wasn’t the right time.
Segmenting leads into groups based on the persona type, and the information stored within the CMS will help businesses to decipher which content, messaging, channels, and call to actions can help reengage these leads and nurture them down the funnel:
Lead > Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) > Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) > Opportunity > Sale
4. Automate lead nurturing campaigns with DXP technology
Before we can automate lead nurturing campaigns it’s important that we have the correct tools and technology in place. With a growing demand for personalized digital experiences from digital native buyers, a one size fits all experience is no longer adequate to engage convert prospects down the sales funnel.
Due to these changing behaviors and trends, B2B businesses are prioritizing digital transformation. This has seen the migration from traditional Content Management Systems (CMS) over to modern, composable Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs).
Integrating data from external sources is made easy, often with a simple drag-and-drop functionality meaning that data feeds can be set up from existing CRM systems or other sources where lead information is stored through an Application Programming Interface (API), removing the need for technical support.
Businesses can leverage this data and insights to personalize communications based on their interests, create omnichannel campaigns with a limitless number of touchpoints, and send messages at the right time for optimal engagement.
Workflows can be automated, triggered by specific actions based on lead behavior. For example, if a lead submits a form to download an eBook, an automation workflow can be triggered to send a follow-up email containing more relevant content three days later.
With a DXP, businesses can run A/B tests, and the progression of leads can be tracked through the nurturing campaigns, so you can analyze the performance of each campaign, and make data-driven adjustments to optimize results.
5. Lead scoring
Today’s buyers consume content from many sources so, just because a prospect has completed a form to download an eBook, it does not mean that they are likely to convert into a sale. For this reason, it’s important to design a lead scoring model which ranks prospects based on their buying intention so you can identify when they should be passed down the funnel.
This model is likely to differ depending on the complexity and length of a company’s average sales cycle. For B2B companies the sales cycle is long and complex by nature, and, as stated earlier, often involves multiple buyer personas and influencers.
Marketing and sales teams must be aligned on the criteria that define a qualified lead which is determined based on the following:
- Firmographics - company size, industry, location, turnover, customer base
- Demographics - job title, seniority, persona – decision maker/influencer, spending power
- Engagement metrics - web visits, page views, email and social interactions, content downloads, request a demo
Incorporating a robust lead scoring model is a critical step in navigating the intricate landscape of B2B nurturing campaigns. As modern buyers interact with a plethora of content, identifying true buying intention becomes paramount to ensuring that leads progress seamlessly through the funnel. By aligning marketing and sales teams on specific criteria such as firmographics, demographics, and engagement metrics, businesses can confidently prioritize and focus their efforts on the most qualified leads, ultimately driving more successful conversions and maximizing the potential of their B2B nurturing campaigns.
In the dynamic world of B2B marketing, the ability to generate and nurture leads efficiently is crucial for success. By first defining the ideal customer profile and creating detailed buyer personas, businesses gain valuable insights into their target audience, enabling personalized engagement and content delivery.
With the aid of Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs), lead nurturing campaigns can be automated, delivering relevant content through various channels and triggering actions based on lead behavior. Additionally, implementing lead scoring helps prioritize high-quality leads, aligning marketing and sales efforts for a more efficient conversion process.
By following this comprehensive 5-step guide, B2B organizations can lay the foundation for a successful lead generation and nurturing strategy, driving growth and building lasting customer relationships.