Delivering the right content to a buyer at the right time is becoming increasingly difficult for B2B marketers. Crain's BtoB Magazine and Bizo surveyed B2B marketers and found that the sales cycle has lengthened for 43% of B2B companies (Tweet this!). This increases pressure on marketing organizations to boost brand awareness to help deliver leads and then effectively nurture them through a prolonged buying process. In order to meet the needs of sale staff and buyers as they move down the conversion funnel, marketers are focused on creating content and delivering this content at the right time in the buying process.
How to Be a Catalyst
Building brand awareness is the first step in connecting with buyers. Branded content, social cues in your display ads, and lead generation services can place your brand in front of new eyes and new audiences. To reach buyers who are just beginning the purchasing process, focus on content that builds brand awareness and establishes your business as a go-to resource and thought leader. To connect with buyers who may be interested in the products/services your business offers:
- Use targeting functionalities to their full potential. 55% of B2B marketers say that reaching more of their target audience is their biggest challenge, according to the BtoB Magazine study. By using the targeting and segmentation features of different social networks, advertising platforms and email software solutions, you can target the right people right away.
- Publish and distribute white papers through multiple networks. To reach buyers who are in the research phase, but may not know about your brand and business, provide research-related content via whitepapers, infographics and case studies.
- Listen in on social media networks such as LinkedIn, Quora and Twitter, and online forums. Look for buyers who are looking for solutions similar to what your business provides and encourage them to read, watch, or view past content your business has created that can help them.
How to Continue Making an Impact
In order to make a continued impact as the buyer moves down the conversion funnel, your business needs to continue delivering value to the customer. More specific and tailored content is needed the closer a prospect comes to becoming a paying customer. Relevance and context really come into play here. If you want to continue making an impact with someone who is aware of your business and has a need, but isn't quite ready to make a purchase:
- Create content that appeals to your direct buyer AND others contributing in the decision making discussions. Content needs to address all those involved in purchase process. 81% of B2B marketers must contend with multiple decision-makers during the sales process (Tweet this!), but only 36% feel their current marketing programs effectively address all these stakeholders.
- Offer white papers or blog posts that are industry specific and case studies from similar companies to give your business a boost in credibility. Buyers want to see real examples and results similar to those they can potentially achieve should they choose your business. You're offering up information they're after while promoting your own brand.
- Use video marketing, especially if you are trying to reach B2B tech buyers. How-to videos and videos that showcase product features, or a product in user, can appeal to those who want in-person or in-action content that really engages them and provides them with more information about use.
How to Be the Closer
When a buyer is ready, chances are that they're going to reach out directly to the business they've decided to work with. If your business has acted as a catalyst and content resource in an effort to continue making an impact, you increase the likelihood that you'll also be the closer. The content you provide at the top of the funnel, as a catalyst, is often more broad as you try to reach a wider range of people. As prospects begin moving down the funnel, the content you offer needs to be more specific and tailored to those involved in the decision making process. Industry-oriented white papers and even case studies from similar companies can help. Throughout the conversion process, provide relevant content to the potential customer, from white papers to videos to webinars, and your business will be in a great position to be the closer.