Many enterprise-level and medium-size B2B organisations have implemented content-led nurture programs on marketing automation platforms such as Pardot, Marketo and Oracle.

In fact, best-in-class marketers will spend 50% more of their budget on marketing automation (12% of total budget compared to just 8% of the rest of respondents).

This shift is driven not by a widely proven ROMI, but by the more informed buyer who, thanks to online content, contacts a vendor when he’s 60-90% through the buyer’s journey, according to analysts like Forrester.

Become a publisher to stay competitive

It’s essential for many B2B organisations to stay competitive by becoming publishers. Those who fail to transform, run the risk of losing market share to competitors who are publishers, especially if the competitor strategically distributes content that positions its expertise to prospects at the right time by monitoring their digital consumption habits and measuring how well they fit within the ideal customer profile.

Herein lies the danger; companies are rapidly jumping on board with marketing nurture programs, however, there seems to be a lack of discussion around the elephant in the B2B marketing boardroom, which is – it takes a long-term commitment to get it right and to make it work hard for sales, and it takes a very strategic approach.

Just as a virgin gardener experiences the pains of learning which plants work best in their environment – such as how much sun or water it needs, what type of soil works best and what is the optimal planting period. It’s risky business for a B2B organisation to bank on an impressive yield at the start.

But the B2B world is changing, and marketers must start thinking inbound.

If you aren’t jumping on board with inbound – but your competitors are – then you could be missing out on a large slice of the marketing pie.

Read more: Are you still buying into these B2B social media myths?

Nurture programs: part art, part science

Truly optimising nurture programs requires a myriad of variables one can test or trial. Some tests consist of a single email send, and therefore a matter of minutes. Others can take longer to allow enough time to capture a significant enough data set for both the control and test.

For example, testing two different designs for a call-to-action inserted between paragraphs within an article. On top of that, if the outcome of a different test points to “we need to develop a more premium asset to capture more email addresses,” or “we should build an assessment tool to drive conversion rates for prospects that are in the consideration stage,” these can take a little longer – but are generally worthwhile in the end.

That being said, where the competition is less sophisticated in their approach to marketing, companies can spend less effort on regularly drilling down into conversion rates, challenging areas of opportunity or testing for improvements.

However, for organisations in more sophisticated or competitive industries, it’s absolutely critical to manage expectations that a marketing nurture program can realistically take two to three years to produce quality leads on a regular basis – and it may take ample resources to make the optimisations needed to reach that optimal baseline output.

If you want to find out more about how a lead lifecycle and nurture program can help your organisation, get in touch with us to start a discussion.

The elephant in the room for B2B marketing

Shawn Low
Shawn has more than 15 years of content and marketing experience, working both client- and agency-sides. His diverse career has seen him work across both the B2C and B2B segments, as well as with start-ups. As Head of Content and Social for Green Hat, Shawn will drive effective content in order to meet strategic, commercial and business needs.