Business Bust? Lead Nurturing Efforts Coming Up Short

e-mail lead nurturing not effectiveWhen it comes to e-mail lead nurturing in the business world, it turns out there’s a whole lot of mediocrity — or worse — going on.

In discussions with my company’s clients, it seems that most of them are dissatisfied with what they consider, at best, only “middling” engagement levels that they’re achieving on their e-nurturing campaigns.

On top of that, many of them suspect that they’re underperforming their counterparts in the market.

I don’t think that’s the case.  Since we work with a variety of clients and thus hear about the results from a group of firms, not just one or two, we can see that most everyone is in the same boat.

Even so, it’s anecdotal evidence rather than statistically quantifiable data.

But now we have the results from a new B-to-B survey conducted by Bizo and Oracle Eloqua … and what they’ve found is that many companies are struggling like most everyone else when it comes to developing comprehensive lead nurturing programs that perform well.

This survey of ~500 B-to-B marketing executives revealed that nearly 95% of all companies have some form of lead nurturing program in place.   But having such a program in place doesn’t mean it’s all that effective.

How challenged are these marketers?  Consider these key findings from the research:

  • Nearly 80% of respondents report that their e-mail open rates don’t exceed 20% on average.
  • ~45% report that only 1% to 4% of known contacts develop into marketing-qualified leads.
  • Only ~5% of buyers on business websites are willing to provide detailed information on a “gated” contact offer form.

The implications of these findings are varied:

  • E-mail databases that are built from website visits tend to have significant omissions (and errors) regarding contact information.
  •  Only a smallish fraction of e-mail subscribers are reading the e-mails they receive … and by definition, no anonymous prospects are, either.
  • Because e-mail marketing relies on having access to prospects’ e-mail addresses, the e-marketing approach provides no opportunity to engage with a potentially much larger audience of customers who may be in the market for a company’s products and services at any given point in time.

The chances are likely, too, that those prospects are visiting relevant websites.  We know this because Forrester Research reports that the typical B-to-B buyer’s “journey” is nearly complete by the time he or she contacts a vendor’s sales department.

With so much useful information so available online, websites is where research can occur without have to deal with pesky sales personnel until “the time is right.”

It’s also why, despite the well-known negative aspects and limitations of web display advertising, nearly half of the respondents in the Bizo/Oracle Eloqua survey feel that online display advertising plays a role in attracting anonymous prospects and nurturing those leads through the sales funnel.

But marketers are also showing interest in multi-channel nurturing, and are receptive to adopting techniques that support the ability to nurture known and anonymous prospects without using e-mail.  Those tactics will probably the next new wave in lead nurturing practices going forward … provided people know where they can access the tools to make it happen.

More details on the Bizo/Oracle report can be found via this link.

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