But first, how do you know something’s broken in the first place? Not closing deals is the most obvious sign, but it’s not the only one. Maybe your prospects are getting stuck at a certain stage of the funnel instead of progressing through? Or maybe they’re dropping off before they even get to “the good stuff”?
So, let’s find out where things went sideways.
You don’t even have a nurture program
Let’s start with the most basic and obvious way you can mess up nurture: you just don’t do it. If that’s you and you’re reading this, I like you even more. You’re one of those ignorance-is-bliss types who’s finally decided to shape up. Respect.
We get a lot of calls from companies frustrated that prospects aren’t biting on their ask — usually a demo or trial. They’re barely doing any digital advertising, so this big ask is the first and sometimes the only touchpoint their audience sees. This is never going to work because we know it takes 6-8 touchpoints to get a lead sales-ready.
Two things all modern B2B customers have in common is that their buyer journey is completely unique and almost none of them are going to exchange their email address for a demo the first time they’re exposed to your brand. You gotta buy them dinner first. What that means for marketers is nurturing leads by offering up a wide variety of content relevant to different stages of the buyer journey. For more on how to get started with nurture, head over to our Nurture 101 blog.
Your content is top (of funnel) heavy
People are more distracted than ever (is anyone even still reading?). Your B2B buyer is no different. So, make sure you strike the right balance between too much and too little information and get to the point before potential customers move on.
Don’t get me wrong, awareness-style content that tells the “why change” story is key to making opportunity and urgency clear. But, instead of using all your content that touches on this message, pick the stuff that communicates it loudest and clearest. Pick the 3rd party report or blog with the most industry clout. Pick the blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, or webinar recordings that’ll make that prospect immediately go, “YES. This is me. This is my problem. They get me.”
Additionally, you shouldn’t be afraid of including content that talks solution. Some marketers will tell you to lock that up until prospects are further down the funnel, but I’ve found it’s helpful at any stage to start connecting the dots between customer pain points and your solution.
Your program is too linear or rigid
Most nurture programs assume the prospect’s buyer journey is linear, but in reality, their journey is probably more scattered and random. A lot of nurture programs are set up so that prospects move forward as they hit certain milestones in a seemingly logical, funnel-following order. That’s great, but position in the funnel is just one of the many ways a lead can signal they’re heating up.
Frequency, proximity, and total number of interactions tell a story, too. What if you rolled up individual lead scores into one account score? These days, buying decisions often involve multiple people at an organization. Depending on their function or role in the buying decision, they might be looking for different information. Individually, those leads might seem cool, but all together, they could make a hot prospect.
I’m not trying to get too prescriptive on how to loosen things up. The point is to think deeply about your sales cycle and what meaningful interactions look like to you. It’s not all about the funnel.
You made too many assumptions (and they’re likely wrong)
Setting up a lead nurture program traditionally starts with content mapping. First, you audit what you’ve got, then, you map it according to buyer journey stage. By the time you’re finished, you’ve assumed:
- what content people want to see;
- what people want at each stage of their journey; and
- the specific path they need to take before they’re considered sales-ready.
That’s a lot of assumptions — we’re both asses now. A misstep here and there and you’ll likely find not enough leads are making their way to the bottom of your funnel.
Instead of making these assumptions, you should promote self-choice and correct the over-mapping of content. Instead of plotting a 6-stage path, try splitting content into just two buckets: top-middle and middle-bottom. By including a wider variety of content in each bucket, you allow for more non-linear movement as people (or a team of people!) navigate a complex decision. Serve it all and let them choose what they want to consume. Then, bump them to the next bucket of higher-commit items based on the smarter signals we talked about in the last section.
Now do it better
There are several ways to fuck up when it comes to lead nurture campaigns. The trick is to keep tinkering. Don’t focus solely on conversions or what you’ve understood as “best practices”. Look at all the analytics and behavioural stats throughout the funnel and don’t get caught making assumptions about your content, your offer, or your audience.