B2B Lead Management: Taking It Beyond Prospect Marketing

Marketing is evolving. Gone are the days of marketing success built solely around traditional marketing tactics and measurements like traffic and conversion rates through single channels. Lead management today is more difficult and oftentimes more expensive than ever.

Perhaps that’s why B2B marketers are starting to heed the old maxim that it costs roughly five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. According to a recent survey conducted by the Demand Gen Report, an increasing number of B2B marketers view “identifying most loyal/valuable customers” (68%) and “capturing and integrating customer data” (49%) as top priorities.

This suggests a much-needed shift is underway in terms of moving beyond the single-minded focus on prospect marketing to engaging customers across the entire lifecycle. This post will explore the mix of people, processes, and technology needed to implement data-driven lifecycle marketing approaches that help B2B marketers unlock greater revenue and profits.

Complex Products Require Education Before and After the Sale

B2B Lead Management: Taking It Beyond Prospect Marketing image Lead ManagementB2B Lead Management: Taking It beyond Prospect Marketing

SiriusDecisions estimates that the buyer’s journey is 70% complete by the time a sales person is contacted. This is one of the many factors that have contributed to increased adoption of lead management/marketing automation technology. More and more B2B marketers are using these tools to send targeted nurture or drip campaigns that educate and engage prospects throughout the buying cycle. But which tactics lead after the deal is signed?

New Customer Welcome

In order to ensure successful implementation and adoption, complex products require as much, if not more, education post sale. For this reason, use of lead management/marketing automation technology shouldn’t end at the bottom of the funnel; and it shouldn’t be used simply to push the same messages to both prospects and customers. Instead, these tools should be leveraged to execute targeted welcome and educational campaigns that help ramp up new customers. Messages could point out key features in the product they bought; walk them through resource centers and product documentation; provide an overview of the customer support process; and more.

Renewal/Retention

As noted above, there is greater emphasis today on customer retention within B2B circles. This is especially true for brands selling SaaS or subscription-based products. In these instances, lead management/marketing automation technology can support renewal campaigns leading up to the renewal date. A series of messages could educate customers on new or upcoming features; offer incentives to renew early; and with the renewal date looming, perhaps even point out what they would be losing by cancelling their subscription.

Cross-Sell/Up-sell

By integrating customer data from multiple channels and sources, B2B marketers can better identify and target customers for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. On its own, a single web visit to a product page might not be a strong indication of interest; but combined with previous web visits, email clicks, form completions, call center interactions, etc. a clearer picture becomes available. Lead management/marketing automation technology should be used to interpret and action on this data, delivering targeted messages that help move customers into a new buying cycle, starting the process all over.

Managing All Interactions Through a Single Interface

Marketers are always looking for the ability to plan, target, execute, and measure communications with prospects and customers. In order to drive true lifecycle marketing, lead management software should enable marketers to address these often complex needs, while providing the ability to manage all interactions from within a single interface. Beyond the core capabilities of scoring, nurturing, and routing, any solution must provide:

  • Single Marketing View – In light of B2B marketers’ priority to capture and integrate customer data, any solution must provide a single marketing view of customers and prospects that spans multiple channels and sources. With greater insight into customer behavior and interests, marketers can in turn better target and personalize their communications.
  • Cross-channel execution – Marketers that rely on email alone to interact with prospects and customers aren’t optimizing their communications or revenue potential. Look for a solution that seamlessly integrates all essential channels, including email, web, direct mail, call center, SMS, mobile app, and social media. This will allow you to more easily orchestrate messages by channel preference, behavior, past responses, etc.
  • Real-time decisioning – Real-time interaction management capabilities can extend 1:1 communications to all channels, including inbound channels such as the Web and call center. Rather than present a static offer on your website, these capabilities would allow you to dynamically propose the next best action to visitors based on who they are, what they’ve consumed previously, where they are in the customer lifecycle, etc.

Louis Columbus writes in a recent Forbes article, “In 2013, its clear B2B prospects are already much more selective with their time. They expect much more than just a data sheet or a series of choreographed PDFs to each of the stages of the buying process. They want to know a company is in their corner and gets their problems – not at a simple level – but at the very heart of who the company is.”

Marketers looking to achieve success in today’s B2B space need to keep in mind (when targeting both new prospects and existing customers) that a strategy needs to be in place to deliver targeted messages and ultimately engage in 1:1 dialogues across the customer lifecycle, and not only during the prospect phase. Data collection/analysis and cross-channel execution are vital to this process and marketers need to integrate efforts targeting both prospects and existing customers to realize lead management success.

©iStockphoto.com/Tuomas Kujansuu

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