As a journalist, I learned to be wary of unattributed numbers, especially when they were offered to me by vendors. Too often, they recalled the old gag “Did you know that 87 percent of statistics are made up on the spot?” But sometimes – when sources are credible, and multiple sources confirm the story – numbers can be believed – even when the story they tell seems unbelievable.

Such is the case of lead nurturing. We all know our companies should be doing it; many of us have heard our CMOs talk about it in company meetings or planning sessions. Often, companies start these programs, planning on cultivating relationships that turn what would have been dead leads into customers and pumping up the marketing department’s ROI numbers.Nurture your leads

But those plans seem to dissipate rather quickly. According to the numbers, nurturing doesn’t get much love – in fact, according to Marketing Sherpa’s 2012 study, 65 percent of B2B marketers have not so much as bothered to establish a lead nurturing program. Those who have are not keeping it running, for the most part: only 22 percent of B2B organizations touch leads with lead nurturing on a weekly basis, while about 15 touch leads on a monthly basis.

That same lack of enthusiasm is apparent in the way money is spent on nurturing content. In TechValidate’s 2011 State of B2B Content Marketing Survey,  60 percent of the respondents said the chief driver for the production of new content in their organization was feeding lead generation campaigns. Those companies who cited a need for nurturing content as the primary driver? Just 2.9 percent.

That number suggests that a lot of marketers are simply recycling their demand generation content in their nurturing campaigns. But is that the right approach? What ever happened to tailoring content to the audience?

Well, that would be an investment, you might start to argue. And I would stop you and present you with two more numbers that suggest it would be an investment well spent. Forrester Research said that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost per lead.  And in 2013, the Annuitas Group discovered that businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451 percent increase in qualified leads.

So the numbers are in – lead nurturing, especially when it’s aided by marketing automation, is a proven winner. It breathes new life into leads that were thought to be losses, and, with a little additional revenue and thought, fully capitalizes on the leads that marketing generates for sales.

So, the question you should be asking yourself is this: can I afford to keep ignoring lead nurturing?

To get a head-start on Marketing Automation – including lead nurturing – download our Marketing Automation Guide

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