Are you finding it hard to adapt your marketing tactics to the new type of B2B buyer? With the growth of digital marketing, the increasing use of online research, and advancements in technology, in many cases buyers no longer rely on sales teams to obtain information about companies. Now they are online, finding it for themselves.
How can you respond? B2B marketers need to adapt to the changing environment and implement a digital marketing strategy that provides the answers buyers are looking for, when they are looking for them.
With the above in mind, this article will share three tips to help you reach buyers and nurture them to close the sale.
- The B2B sales journey has evolved, and buyers are now finding information for themselves before contacting companies.
- Creating content for the later stages of the buying cycle and publishing it on multiple channels can help you cast a wider net.
- Optimizing online content for search and speed can create a more user-friendly experience.
- Using marketing automation can help you track user behavior and nurture prospects through the buying cycle.
The Evolving B2B Sales Journey
Previously, B2B buyers would come to sales representatives with a problem they couldn't solve. They required information on products and services directly from your company. These days, things have changed. Buyers are identifying their own needs through online research, and are educating themselves on the options available.
Research shows that today’s B2B buyers are between 60% and 90% of the way through the buyer’s journey when they contact companies. This means they are in the latter end of the evaluation phase, and moving into the decision-making phase. In order to meet buyers in these stages and close deals, you need strategic digital marketing tactics.
We have three great tips to help you. Plus, look out for a bonus tip at the end!
1. Create Content for the End of the Buying Cycle
Studies have found that 95% of buyers choose a provider that uses content to inform their buying process. It makes sense that if buyers are reading informative, relevant content which helps to solve their problem, they will begin to trust the author. Additionally, the material you provide can be used to promote your own solution and build your email list. Here's an example of a piece of content—an e-book—created for buyers in the evaluation/decision making stage:
The problem the audience faces is identified in the main text. Then, when you scroll down the page, the solution is promised in the e-book:
Your company can follow suit and create content that provides the answers your audience is looking for. In the consideration stage, prospects are comparing all available methods for solving a specific problem. Content at this stage could include podcasts, e-books, webinars, videos, and comparison white papers.
In the decision phase, buyers want supporting documentation, benchmarks, and positive testimonials to help them make their final decision. You might want to include case studies, product trials, vendor comparisons, product comparisons, or live demos.
Overall, be sure to plan your content strategy to provide answers for your potential buyers.
2. Publish on Multiple Channels
Once you have created incredible content to engage your audience, you need to make sure they find it. B2B buyers use an average of three channels throughout their buying journey, so it's clearly important to create a variety of content types which are dispersed widely.
This can be achieved by publishing and promoting through various channels. Ideal channels for reaching B2B buyers include search, social media platforms, third-party sites, your own website and blog, paid ads, and email.
3. Optimize for Search and Speed
After you go to all the effort of reaching your prospects, you need to make sure they have a positive experience when discovering and accessing your content. Today’s buyers are independent, efficient, and self-sufficient. Your material needs to be easy for them to find and consume, or they will go elsewhere.
One approach to making sure your content is easily discovered is to optimize for search engine rankings. For example, SUSE created the e-book we mentioned above and promoted it through paid advertising on Google, targeting the keyword "b2b cloud document storage".
You can also optimize for speed to ensure that prospects aren't put off by having to wait for content to load.
Here are some tips for making sure your content is as user-friendly as possible:
- Optimize your website's content for SEO and work towards page one rankings for your keywords.
- Optimize your social media profiles and blog posts for SEO.
- Ensure your website, blog, and ads load quickly and get to the point.
- Make sure your website and blog are easy to navigate.
By implementing these practices, you can ensure that buyers can quickly find and easily access your amazing content.
Bonus Tip: Implement Marketing Automation
We have one last tip before you go! Marketing automation can make a huge difference in effectively reaching your B2B buyers. Even though they are guiding themselves through your buying cycle, that doesn’t mean you as a marketer have to remain in the dark. Marketing automation is a helpful tool that integrates multiple components in order to give you a cohesive view of where your prospects are and how to communicate with them.
Specialized software can show you where buyers are in the cycle so you can make more insightful, data-based decisions, improve consistency, and implement personalized messaging. Some tools enable you to track specific buyer activities and even automate triggered responses such as sending emails or displaying popups.
Ultimately, marketing automation offers the opportunity to gain relevant knowledge about your prospects' activities. It then helps you respond appropriately to move them further through the cycle. There is a huge choice of marketing automation tools available to suit a range of needs and budgets. Many offer free trial periods so you can experience their benefits first-hand before committing long-term.
You no longer need to worry about communicating with B2B buyers who are further along in the buying cycle—their independent research behavior and use of technology can be met with strategic digital marketing tactics.
By using the tips provided in this article, you can reach B2B buyers at the appropriate point in the buying cycle, and provide them with the answers they need to make a decision. Let’s quickly recap what we’ve covered:
- Create the right content to appeal to buyers in the consideration and decision phases.
- Publish that content on multiple channels, so prospects can find it easily.
- Optimize your content for search and speed, so it is useful and efficient for buyers.
- Use marketing automation to track buyers' behavior across multiple channels and respond accordingly.
How has the shift in the B2B sales cycle affected your company? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below!
Photo Credit: geralt