Despite popular opinion, marketing is not just about making a lot of noise. It’s not about pie charts and guesswork. It’s about lead generation and lead nurturing, and proving the worth of your marketing budget.

Successful B2B marketers are now taking the guesswork out of their marketing, and make calculated decisions on what they should do next. Because successful marketers know, you’re only as good as your lead conversion rate.

Which, you would think, falls onto the responsibility of the sales team. But recently, we’ve seen a subtle shift. With more automated technology at the hands of the marketers, they’ve been able to take on more of the work in the funnel. Hence why now we are seeing marketing take more responsibility.

Now it’s that little blue dotted line on the right that we want to talk to you about. The evaluation stage. If you’re working on current statistics, then the average sales cycle is somewhere between six to nine months and in that time at least 25% of your leads should be qualified and converted. Below the B2B industry standard? Then it’s time to start worrying. Your marketing isn’t up to scratch.

The good news is there’s something you can do about it.

Start using best practices in your marketing

The worst thing a marketer can do is the same thing over and over. Tried and tested is true of most methods, but not in the marketing world. What works for one quarter will quickly become stale and the quality of your leads will suffer. Not what you want. Successful B2B marketers are constantly innovating, reinventing their brand, finding new ways to get the same information across to their leads.

To do this, you need to start using the best practices in your industry. Look at what your thought leaders are doing. This will give you the best indication of what is working. For example, take a look at the B2B email marketing realm. We’ve found that plain text emails perform higher than HTML graphic-led emails, which is why we’ve applied it to our own marketing. We’ve seen click-through rates increase from 3% to 15% (because, let’s face it, open rates don’t really mean anything anymore). We’ve also been able to improve our new business campaigns every quarter by focusing on changing the message of the email rather than just focusing on the design.

Align your sales and marketing efforts

I know, I know. Getting the sales and marketing teams to work together isn’t the easiest thing in the world. But once you can move away from the whole “marketing for the sake of marketing approach,” it is achievable. Now I bet you’re wondering how to move away from that kind of marketing and transform yourselves into a target-driven marketing team – one that continues to improve the lead conversion rate. Well here’s how you do it.

You start tracking what your prospects are doing.

From which marketing campaign they came from, whether it was email, PPC or social media, to what they are looking at on your website. Do a deep analysis at the most granular level possible about who your top target profiled prospects are. What communications do they respond to? What questions are they asking in the industry? How can your business make them more successful and productive? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can build marketing campaigns around them.

Build a robust lead nurturing process

So now that marketing’s job is two-fold, it’s important that you focus on more than just attracting the right top target prospects. You also need a robust lead nurturing process running in the background that is going to increase your conversion rate further. We touched on the fact that we are using plain-text emails to achieve this, but there many elements that affect your lead nurturing.

Essentially what you need to know is that leads convert when the right message is sent to the right person at the right time. Now, in the past, marketing used to wing this, hoping that their email campaign just managed to catch the prospect at the right time. But again, we’ve moved on from that. Marketing automation suites now have a vast variety of tools to make sure you are sending the right message at the right time.

You can now integrate your marketing automation with your CRM to create targeted email campaign lists. You can even use dynamic content to personalise the emails themselves. Tie in marketing workflows that allow you to set rules and conditions and you can determine which prospects receive which email. It’s just about using the tools at your disposal. Used correctly, you can start achieving what was previously near-impossible in marketing.