If you attend any sales or B2B conference then it’s difficult to avoid hearing someone mention ‘the rules of engagement’.

But, David Klanac of Pardot argues, it is actually a very relevant phrase. It’s the nature of the marketer’s job to follow the changes wrought by proliferation of media.

David was talking at FUNNEL, part of the Festival of Marketing, and gave his seven tips for lead nurturing.

The first step for Pardot was to actually ask the B2B consumer “what steps do you take to research and purchase a solution?”

This question is important because the tactics for buying have changed. When Google started in 1998, only 26 million web pages were indexed, ten years later in 2008 this figure stood at one trillion. With all that content it’s hard to get found. Nevertheless, consumers try, searching two or three times on Google before considering the purchase cycle.

So, what are David’s seven tips for nurturing leads?

Understand the need for stage-based marketing

It’s not right to generalise, but a lot of B2B consumers purchase in three stages. As the price of a product or service increases, so does the time for research.

The stages of research are:

  • Unidentified need.
  • Felt pain, but no budget, authority, need or timeline (BANT).
  • Achieved budget, authority, need and timeline.

Learn to map content to stages

77% of consumers want different content at each stage.

  • At stage one, the content should be about the consumer, e.g. advice on how to do their job better.
  • At stage two, the content should be social proof, e.g. how their peers have been helped with your service.
  • At stage three, the content should finally be about your product, e.g. why you’re the best.

In the different stages there are different needs for sales keywords and branding. At stage one, neither are needed, at stage two you can start to introduce some branding and at the BANT stage there’s room for keywords and branding.

Consider how smart your leads are

Consumers often disqualify before they qualify, in much the same way we delete spam email before moving on to the good stuff. It’s important to make sure you’ve got your leads qualified and in the right stages, otherwise they won’t listen.

Lead your prospects through the stages

Make sure your content sent to cold leads includes some way to move them towards the next stage. An email including detail on how a consumer can do their job better could also include some sort of workflow document or template, for example, should the consumer want to engage a little more.

1, 2, 3

Looking at all your leads it’s important to understand priorities. Your ready-to-buys will necessarily be most time sensitive and should be dealt with first.

Keep it simple (the KISS method)

71% of consumers want fewer than five pages of content and then a link.

The creation of content doesn’t have to be intimidating. You can use other people’s content as long as it’s properly referenced.

Nurturing won’t be email only

It is cross channel. You should be using retargeting and also start to think about the incorporation of social listening.