When was the last time you purchased something on a whim? We all make impulse buys at the checkout line (“Do I need batteries? Better grab some just in case.”) However, when it comes to B2B purchases, buyers tend to be much slower to commit.
In fact, according to one source:
75% of B2B companies take one to six months to make a purchasing decision. ~ Pardot
This doesn’t spell gloom and doom for your B2B firm, however. If your prospects don’t buy on their first website visit, you’re in good company. That is the norm.
Let’s talk about:
- Various types of B2B Leads
- Setting goals for each type of lead
- How you can nurture each type of lead with low-pressure emails
Different Types of B2B Leads
Sales funnel. Buyer’s journey. Sales process. Marketing pipeline.
These are all terms used to refer to how you view your leads. I prefer “sales funnel.” To me, this conjures up the image of a literal funnel, where the top is very wide, and the bottom very narrow.
This mimics buying behavior; your audience may be large, but the number who commit to buying is relatively small.
That being said, we can’t say that there are only two stages (the top and the bottom) of the sales funnel. Let’s define this a little bit more.
Hubspot marketing manager, Pamela Vaughan has provided this graphic of the sales funnel:
These are the folks who enter your website. They may have found you through an organic search, social media, or another referral source.
We divide leads into categories depending on where they are in the buying process. People who download brief, free piece of content are likely in the beginning stages of the buyer’s journey. Whereas those that download a white paper or attend a webinar are typically further along in the buying process.
3. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), also known as MOFUs
Unlike those who have downloaded a piece of free content, these are leads that are engaging with your company. They follow you on social media channels, they frequent your site often, their brand fits with your brand, and they regularly interact with your company. Someone who raises his hand for a free demo is typically ready to be turned over to sales.
These are the leads that sales is working on. They are qualified and demonstrated interest.
They’ve signed on the dotted line and they’re now happy customers. This is the part of the sales funnel that everyone loves.
How to Set Goals for Each Type of B2B Lead
Logically, you can’t treat everyone that falls into your sales funnel in the same manner. Each one needs a personalized touch.
1. Goals for Visitors
Your goals to attract visitors should revolve around visibility and brand awareness. How to do so is a topic for a future post but for now here are two tactics to keep in mind. Social media is a good way to create visibility and awareness; keyword optimization is a way to stream people to your site.
2. Goals for Leads
In order to gain leads, you’ll need to create value for your visitors. You can do this by creating free content, such as infographics, eBooks, SlideShares, videos, and webinars.
I recommend gating this content, meaning that your visitor will have to give away some personal information in return for the content. You can usually ask for just a name and email address to start.
3. Goals for MQLs
Marketing qualified leads need to gain trust in your brand. This doesn’t happen overnight.
Rather, you’ll want to continue to provide them with valuable content that is tailored to their needs.
4. Goals for Customers
You don’t want to stop setting goals just because someone has reached the neck of the sales funnel.
Your goal at this point should be to turn happy customers into promoters of your business. You can do this by offering incentives through email and on social media.
How to Nurture Leads with Low-Pressure Emails
Whether prospects are at the top of the sales funnel, or at the bottom, none want to receive a high-pressure email. Let’s go through some best practices for nurturing those leads with an email workflow.
1. Best Practices for Emailing Leads
Imagine Joe Buyer downloads your eBook. He receives the content in his inbox. Later that afternoon, he receives an email from your company telling him that you hope he’s enjoying your eBook and that if he wants to sign up for your webinar (for a fee), to click on this link.
How likely is it that Joe Buyer will click on the link? Not at all likely.
However, let’s say three days after receiving his eBook, Joe receives an email from you personally, Jim Seller. You tell him that you really hope he’s enjoying the eBook he downloaded. In fact, if he’d like more free content, he can subscribe to your blog.
That’s a little better, isn’t it?
Here are a few tips to getting people to read your emails:
- Make the subject line direct and brief so that it appears, even on mobile. Don’t make someone guess why you’re emailing. Isn’t it annoying to get this type of email subject line –“I’ve found the best solution to your mobile marketing needs and I’ll reveal it to you here”? Make that a no-no.
- Don’t include too many images. They can take too long to load.
- Set a conversational tone. The email shouldn’t sound like a sales brochure. It should sound like a letter from someone with whom the reader has a mutual friend in common.
- Include a clear call to action
- Don’t send during busy hours or days. Studies have shown that Tuesday is the best day to send emails, followed by Thursday, then Wednesday.
- Don’t inundate them with emails. Wait at least several days before reaching out again.
“If your main call-to-action falls below the fold, then as many as 70% of recipients won’t see it.” ~Jamie Turner, The 60-Second Marketer
2. Best Practices for Emailing MQLs
Many of the same rules apply to sending emails to MQLs. However, now we’re going to talk about content and offers you should extend to MQLs.
Since MQLs are typically those with whom you’ve had some engagement on social media, and who have downloaded several offers, or visited your site repeatedly, you now want to start helping them to build trust in your brand.
At this point, you can email them with promotional offers like free trials, coupons, or introductory rates.
A word of caution, though. You still want to take a more conversational tone in your emails. You don’t want to come across as someone who is using them, being friendly at first only so you can land a sale.
3. Best Practices for Emailing Customers
Customers shouldn’t be ignored either. Although you won’t send them offers with a view to converting, you can still send them valuable content to show you appreciate their loyalty.
Your tone for emailing customers should always be gracious, showing them how appreciative you are for their patronage.
More Ways to Land Leads
Emailing marketing doesn’t have to be the used-car-salesman approach it once was. Remember, your goal is simply to be there for your audience and to provide them with valuable knowledge.
Since 80% of all B2B leads begin with LinkedIn, it makes sense to have an attractive LinkedIn Company Page. Not sure how to do that? Check out my latest guide, How to Create the Perfect LinkedIn Company Page.