Customer nurturing is the company-customer relationship-building process, taking place at every stage of a sales pipeline and accompanying the buyer at every step of his/her journey. A correctly set nurturing process results in customer loyalty and repeated purchases. But why should you waste time, money and effort on that, if you can spend the same resources acquiring more and more new leads instead? Just check some stats before running to conclusions.
- According to Marketo, around 50% of the prospects are not yet ready to purchase when turning into leads.
- MarketingSherpa’s research draws a gloomier picture, coming to the conclusion that near 80% new leads never buy.
- The nurtured leads’ purchase size is usually 47% bigger than that of simple leads, as per The Annuitas Group.
- One more conclusion, made by Marketo, is that appropriate customer nurturing generates 50% more leads ready to purchase, while the price for acquiring those leads is around 30% lower.
Just like any other relationship, a healthy and durable relationship of a business with its customers is based on mutual trust. And this trust doesn’t arise out of nowhere — it is built on perfect customer experience, which, in its turn, is the modern driver of people’s buying decision. The more you focus on your customer’s needs, the more satisfied he/she is and the bigger the chances for him/her to stay with you for a long time bringing you revenue. Thus, it becomes clearer that your time and effort are a worthy investment.
With all that in mind, let’s try to sort out whether customer nurturing is more of a B2B or B2C approach.
Why lead nurturing
Traditionally lead nurturing is considered a B2B strategy. Usually, consumer marketers dismiss it. In the opinion of some, “lead” is a B2B marketing term that normally includes extended sales cycles and difficult negotiations. However, individual customers need to be nurtured no less than businesses. Regardless of your business focus, you’ll want to engage with your target audience, leading it through all the stages starting from acquisition and retention to loyalty and advocacy.
Lead nurturing process is something worth embracing due to even more reasons. First of all, customer acquisition channels are limited, and therefore related costs may rise in time. Second, conversion and retention of an existing customer are much cheaper and easier than that of a new one. And third, think about the word of mouth that has gained impressive power nowadays, being able to either ruin your reputation or bring you more clients in an hour.
B2B and B2C customer nurturing — what is the difference?
B2B and B2C marketing are both about people. After all, people, be them individual customers or procurement division managers, are those who make the buying decisions. Hence, your customer engagement and retention efforts should be focused on people first. But of course, due to the specifics, B2B and B2C customer nurturing processes require a different approach.
Here are some of the key differences between them:
- The sales cycle for B2B is usually way longer than B2C and involves more resources’ spending. Various sources have shown that the average B2B sales cycle is about 7 months.
- B2B invests more in unique and valuable content, as this is the only way to convince the customer to make a purchase. In its turn, the content for B2C is more about promotions and offers, having as a goal to bring the buyer to the store.
- As long as B2B aims at the key decision-makers, who are mostly top managers, its audience, and, hence, the market are much narrower than that of B2C.
- The social media “habitat” of the B2B audience is usually LinkedIn, while the B2C marketers have a wider choice — Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and more. Of course, all the platforms can be used in both B2B and B2C marketing, but it’s a matter of focus, trustworthiness and authority.
- Price perception and quality with little to no personal acquaintance are the key selling factors in B2C. In their turn, B2B sales are based on trust and professional relationship, built in time. In B2B big money is at stake, and the consequences of any unfounded decision can be severe.
- Unsolicited calls perception in B2B during business hours is mostly positive or at least neutral. This kind of calls is something very common as each business copes with many people on various matters each day. The attitude is 100% different at B2C — these calls are perceived as a privacy invasion, so the permission marketing techniques are golden in B2C.
- B2C clients spend their own money, so the lowest price is oftentimes critical to winning a customer, especially when the market is full of competitive offers. B2B clients usually have a budget allocated for the purpose, and the primary goal of a business is to be convinced that the product or service is worth it. A lower price is welcome, but is not a determining factor here.
- B2B marketers need to have in-depth product knowledge to address the client’s concerns right away, as they are speaking to the decision-makers. In B2C, though important, product knowledge gives way to triggering the client’s interest.
- Unlike B2C person-to-person interaction, B2B marketers and sales reps usually communicate with whole teams and are expected to meet the expectations and specific needs of many people, who could influence the decision-making process.
B2C customers are believed to be more impulsive when making a buying decision, while B2B clients are considered more cautious and measured. Just like B2B customers, they need information and arguments that will help them make the best choice, so the lead nurturing is a process suitable for dealing with both. With all the specifics in mind, one thing is unchangeable — a nurtured customer will always remember the care, which will end up being a valuable asset for your business.
Despite all the differences, B2B and B2C lead nurturing processes are mainly similar in their need for nurturing, as well as lead quality is important for both. In case the leads are bad, even the most potent strategy will fail. That’s where lead scoring comes to the rescue. But it’s a totally different topic.