The Full-Time Funnel: Improving B2B Lead Nurturing with Marketing Automation

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Marketing automation for lead nurturing campaigns empowers you to build mutually beneficial relationships with high-quality clients.

As a B2B marketer, I spend a lot of time thinking about marketing funnels. The very idea of a marketing funnel, however, is a bit of a misnomer. When you pour liquid into the top of a funnel, it flows effortlessly to the bottom.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case for sales leads. Just because a lead is in the proverbial funnel doesn’t mean it will ultimately convert into a sale. As you and I both know, it’s never a good idea to bet on a sale. Just because you had a good sales meeting doesn’t mean you’ll be closing the deal anytime soon, or ever.

What if there was a way to remove some of this variability from the marketing funnel? Welcome to the world of automated lead management, where leads are nurtured by providing the right information to the right prospects at the right time, all without lifting a finger.

B2B companies already use CRM software to automate customer relation management with real-time responses to customer actions. If your customers are busy, that means your leads are busy, too. In a world of instant gratification, real-time response is the new normal. And we’re not just talking about dedicated Twitter feeds to address customer service complaints. Your business needs a real-time response system in place to address your future customers’ needs before you even make the first sale.

Related Article: 6 B2B Marketing Tips to Stay Ahead in 2015 

Marketing automation has seen the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the last five years, according to Focus Research.

And there’s a good reason for this. In this same time frame, the average sales cycle has increased by 22%. Companies require more information than ever before in order to close a deal. Consequently, a longer sales cycle demands real-time response to lead actions so your business can instantly provide this information at exactly the right moment.

Is your business automating its lead management program? If not, it should. Consider the following benefits of automated lead management:

Intuitively respond with action-based triggers

No one wants to be spammed. On the flip side, failing to stay in regular contact with leads means you may no longer be top of mind when they’re finally ready to make a purchase. And if you’re not touching base with your leads on a regular basis, then you won’t know what your leads need, making it nearly impossible to meet these needs when the time comes.

Effective marketing is all about delivering the right message at the right time. Action-based triggers, like downloading an eBook or signing up for a webinar, will generate a specific, intuitive response.

Related Article: How to Develop and Maintain Client Relationships

Automate repetitive tasks 

Is your sales team still wasting valuable time on data entry or ad-hoc marketing? Marketing automation uses intelligent, adaptive schedules to eliminate repetitive tasks.

For example, you can automate status-based follow-ups with leads or even schedule social media posts and emails campaigns weeks or months in advance. Automating these repetitive tasks frees your sales team up to focus on cultivating deeper relationships.

Take immediate action with real-time notifications

Lead nurturing needs to be timely and relevant. Depending on where a lead is in your sales funnel, they may need a reminder email about an upcoming webinar or an immediate phone call from your top-performing sales representative. Marketing automation with real-time notifications ensures that when your lead’s needs are met immediately.

Bottom line:

You can’t force a sale. The biggest sales usually come from the strongest relationships, and those are built slowly over time. Automated lead nurturing campaigns empower you to build mutually beneficial relationships with your leads. By automating the most common and repetitive tasks, you’ll save time save time and resources that free your sales team up to focus on the most qualified leads at exactly the right moment.

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