The nature versus nurture question has been with us since at least the 15th century. The debate focuses on the opposing ideas that human behavior is either a result of environment –learned behavior– or a genetic inheritance from one’s ancestors. If we apply this argument to B2B marketing, we must come firmly down on the side of nurture. There are no natural born customers in B2B, a lead must be nurtured before it converts.
It seems most B2B marketers agree with this statement. Demand Gen Report’s 2017 Lead Nurturing & acceleration Survey revealed that only 2% of marketers said they were not currently nurturing their leads. For those marketers that are running nurture campaigns, the strategy appears to be baked into their practice with 94% of them saying they have been developing their nurture campaigns for more than a year.
At the same time, few marketers (11%) consider their nurturing “excellent,” while 56% say that it is “poor” or “needs improvement.”
What’s Wrong with Lead Nurturing
What might be going wrong with these marketer’s nurturing programs? According to research by Aberdeen Group, the best nurture campaigns will have at least 10 marketing-driven touches to convert from the top of the funnel into a paying customer. The DGR report shows that most nurture campaigns are coming up short. More than half (57%) said their campaigns have two to four touches, and 34% put it between five and 10.
The report also shows that B2B marketers may be clinging to legacy metrics. Email-click rates dominate the criteria for measuring lead nurturing success with 70% citing it as a number they use to understand how their campaigns are performing.
The best thing about email click throughs is that they’re clear and easy to track. The drawback is that an email click is an isolated action. More interesting is how an entire account interacts with your content. Is more than one person at a company reading your blog, downloading other content, visiting your website? The more an account follows through after your initial touches, the more they are ready to move to sales. All this should be tracked.
The Buying Committee
One major hurdle for B2B marketers is the buying committee. A 2017 report by Marketing Profs confirms that, in large enterprises (5001+), more than six people are involved in the buying decision. These individuals can come from a wide variety of functional areas spread across the organization: IT, Marketing, Finance, Legal, and HR…just to name a few.
All these individuals require unique information, essentially a nurture track of their own. However, most marketers (67%) continue to make the mistake of running a single nurturing campaign regardless of title, company, and even industry.
The Good News: Account Based Nurturing
Skeptics, take heart! When asked what new tactics they’ve taken with their nurture campaigns, the B2B marketers in the DGR survey ranked account based marketing (ABM) as a priority (21%), followed by enhanced personalization strategies (17%).
These are good numbers considering the rocky ones that came before. ABM is ideal for identifying and targeting the buying committee both to nurture a prospect before they self-identify and after. Madison Logic’s partner, Marketo has a robust ABM suite, allowing B2B marketers to customize nurture tracks for each account that interacts with your content. Madison Logic can begin the process even earlier when accounts are still in the research phase.
Account Based Measurement
Earlier in this post, I discussed email clicks as a prime legacy metric. According to the DGR report, this too could be changing. Marketers are embracing revenue (62%) and pipeline as key metrics. Both are core to an account based approach. Listen to what Tom O’Regan, Madison Logic’s CEO, wrote in Advertising Age in his article Take These to Your CEO: Marketing Metrics That Matter:
“When you can see what an account is doing, when you see an account move toward conversion, you can see how a metric like CTR is a tactic in an overall strategy. The throughput of always-on ABM makes it possible to understand what these tactics are actually accomplishing, which is the most holistic view of the impact of your marketing programs down to each account that your sales team should care about.”
Moving towards ABM
The trend towards account based marketing is occurring across marketing tactics and strategies, from the top of the funnel to the bottom, from lead generation to lead nurturing and all the way to customer retention. According to 21% of the B2B marketers in the DGR survey, account based nurturing is one of the newest tactics they’re applying to their nurture programs. Indeed, the savviest B2B marketers have already moved there. Demand Gen Report’s survey indicates that more will soon join them.
Download our How to Capture Your ABM Audience white paper to learn more about how ABM can nurture your audience before you know them.