For some time, the B2B marketing funnel has been a constant. Businesses have evolved, marketing platforms have too, but the funnel has remained. However, this is no longer the case. The buying cycle of business decision makers has changed. Now, your marketing funnel needs to do the same. When more than 90% of B2B buyers start their purchasing cycle by looking for solutions and suppliers online, you need to provide information about the solutions and how they are beneficial to your audience. You need to update your marketing funnel and here are the reasons why.
A New Research Process
There is a new research process in place that impacts your marketing funnel. Business buyers are increasingly conducting their own research before ever speaking with a sales rep. In fact, according to Forrester, two-thirds to 90% of the buying cycle is completed before a B2B buyer ever speaks with a sales rep. Instead of sending out impersonal or broad information via email, provide targeted, relevant content to your audience directly on your site and then share that information with targeted campaigns. Create awareness around the solutions your business provides and the problems you solve. You can do this through social media marketing, email campaigns and paid ads. Then, spend some time educating your site visitors and subscribers. Explain the impact and potential for prospects when they use your products. However, keep things conversational and educational. Not all content you offer needs to be a sales pitch.
A New Buying Conversation
Business buyers are no longer communicating with service or product providers right off the bat. According to IDG Connect, buyers spend just 21% of the buying cycle in conversations with salespeople, instead spending 23% of the time in conversations with peers and colleagues, and 56% of the buying cycle searching for and engaging with content. Those aren’t the only people contributing to purchase conversations as the number of people involved in a large technology purchase increased from 5 in 2010 to 7 in 2012 (International Data Corporation). The content you provide needs to appeal to the lead business buyer as well as others within their company. Consider what executives and managers will have an impact in the buying decision and provide content for each group. Business owners also want to know what businesses similar to theirs are buying, researching and investing in. When possible, share that information as well as industry trends.
A New Purchase Process
Businesses are conducting their own research, talking with colleagues and only reaching out to vendors when they are ready to receive proposals. According to UBM Techweb, 70% of business technology buyers are at the RFP stage by the time the vendor becomes aware of the opportunity. By the time a buyer reaches out to a business, they often have a deep understanding of their problem and have scoped out solutions. Now, those customers are requesting proposals from your business as to why they should work with you instead of another company. Many sales conversations are becoming fulfillment conversations. If you’ve provided great, relevant content and a lead is now reaching out to your business, focus on fulfilling their needs. There’s a good chance they’ve already eliminated some of your competitors and have put you in their final tier before the purchase.
Content marketing is one of the hottest marketing trends of 2013. The revolution taking place in the marketing funnel is a huge part of that. Your business needs to engage with customers by providing them content that establishes your brand as a thought leader. Through registrations, you can acquire names, score them as identified sales leads and then filter them through your lead nurturing program until they are deemed “sales ready.” Take a survey of current clients and compare their buying cycle to the marketing funnel your team has in place. Any missed steps or content marketing opportunities can be updated and capitalized for greater success.
What are your biggest challenges in refining your marketing funnel?