Technology has made a tremendous impact on the way we live our lives – from how we communicate (email, Skype, WhatsApp), how we connect (Facebook, LinkedIn), how we find information (Google) to how we make purchases (Amazon, PayPal, Taobao). It has changed B2B sales too.
When it comes to B2B buying, there has been a profound change in recent years too. In the past, sales reps would meet with prospects, diagnose their needs and sell solutions. Nowadays, customers are doing more of their own research online and formulating early ideas of what solutions they’re looking for. Research by business consultancy CEB says that an average B2B buyer is 57 per cent through the purchase decision before reaching out to a sales reps!
So how can B2B sales and marketing teams wrest control of the conversation back from customers again?
Potential customers are researching about your company and its products and services right at this moment. But how do you influence their decisions before you even know who they are? Content marketing.
Through a strong B2B content marketing programme, businesses can engage potential customers who are currently in the market for their products and services. More importantly, they can also leverage on content distribution to find more qualified leads, educate them about your solutions and nurture them through the sales funnel.
Research is showing that content marketing is growing in importance to B2B firms too. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 Survey, 86 per cent of B2B marketers are using content marketing. Furthermore, 70 per cent of B2B marketers are creating more content in 2015 than they did one year ago.
For most websites, only 2 per cent of traffic convert on the first visit. So how do you continue engaging these potential customers after they’ve left your website? Retargeting gives you a way to do so.
Retargeting uses a cookie-based technology, which works by placing a small piece of code in your visitor’s browser, allowing ad servers to to show them your ads all around the web.
Based on which pages of your website they’ve visited, B2B marketers can set specific ads to target these anonymous visitors. Let’s say a visitor to your company’s website, checks out solutions for manufacturers and testimonials from clients, and then leaves. We can retarget this visitor with online banner ads showcasing our success stories with manufacturer clients.
Marketing automation solutions such as HubSpot and Marketo provide sales and marketing teams with the digital tools to drive more qualified leads and convert more leads to sales. Here at IMPACT, we’re using SharpSpring, which is a marketing automation solution targeted at small and medium businesses.
Some of the tools within SharpSpring that we love include VisitorID, which allows us to identify anonymous visitors to our website, as well as track which pages they have been viewing. With email automation, we can set up drip marketing campaign to nurture leads as they progress through the sales funnel.
And all of these interactions are integrated into SharpSpring’s CRM system, which our sales teams can access and use the information within to tailor their sales calls and presentations.
So there you have it. With today’s B2B buyers relying more and more on online research to define what products and services they need, sales and marketing teams need to adapt (or else).
With investments in content marketing and marketing automation, businesses can regain control of the sales cycle and increase their leads and conversion once more.