The B2B sales cycle is an extended process that’s much longer and more detailed than B2C buying. Your leads may spend months considering whether they’ll make a purchase with you. Competition is fierce in the B2B space, so it’s crucial that you actively nurture your leads during this time, keeping your company at the forefront of their considerations as they progress down the purchasing path.
Subsequently, understanding the purchasing path means the difference between success and failure for B2B marketers. Follow these steps to help boost your success with B2B lead nurturing and sales.
Build Credibility as an Industry Expert
Research is the critical first stage in the B2B buyer’s journey. Seventy percent of B2B buyers say they perform two or three rounds of Internet research before they settle on a purchase recommendation that they’ll pass up to a manager. Another 12 percent go above and beyond, conducting more than three rounds of research. As these buyers are scouring the Internet for reliable data on your industry, it’s essential that you emerge as an expert in your area.
Establish yourself as more than just an expert in your particular product line. Create valuable content that answers key questions and shares meaningful insight into your industry as a whole. Avoid shallow, keyword-packed pieces and focus instead on a more holistic approach with the goal of becoming a thought-leader to help establish your company as a leading voice within your industry.
Engage Customers Across Multiple Channels
Today’s B2B buyers connect with companies through multiple channels and a majority of B2B buyers prefer to consume different types of content for each stage of the buying process.
As these potential customers progress in the research process their search terms become progressively more specific. With this in mind, tailor your content carefully to each stage of the buying process so you can offer customized content for the most relevant search concerns at each stage.
As you’re preparing your content marketing strategy, carefully consider your buyer’s purchasing journey, offering content that fits their research patterns. During the past two years, there has been a 91 percent increase in B2B researcher smartphone usage throughout the entire path to purchase, emphasizing the importance of mobile-optimized content. Seventy percent watch videos, exhibiting remarkable staying power as nearly half watch more than 30 minutes, and one in five is willing to consume over an hour of content.
Explain Why They Should Buy It
Customers don’t want you to talk nearly as much as they want you to listen. Anyone can provide a series of emails at pre-scheduled intervals, but this type of marketing doesn’t take into account each customer’s individual needs. Lead nurturing is about creating a personal relationship with customers and providing targeted solutions for their unique situations.
You must use targeted communications that are relevant to the recipient’s industry, stage in the buying process, and previous communications. Your most effective communications are those that are relevant to a question or problem that the customer has presented. Listen to your customer’s needs, and explain how your products or services will resolve their problem in a concise and relevant manner.
Compare Your Company to Competitors
B2B buyers look at an average of 12 different suppliers before making their purchasing decision, so you have a good chance at scoring at least a cursory examination if you’re near the top of your market. However, a majority of buyers will visit your site just once before making a decision about whether to further their research or drop you from consideration. For most B2B buyers, only one or two brands ultimately make it to the consideration stage of their buying path.
Give potential buyers the competitor comparison they’re looking for upfront, so they don’t have to return to your site again and again to figure out how you stand up to others in your industry. Determine which data fields are most relevant to the customer’s purchasing path and gather all the information you can in these areas. Make these crucial facts easy to find and understand, and keep your website clean, concise, and easy to navigate.
Coordinate Your Communication Efforts
Today’s buyers are engaged via a slew of channels, including email, social media, PPC, webinars, blogs, and more. You obviously can’t personalize every facet of customer communications, but you can coordinate your efforts for a cohesive multi-channel message.
If you’re touting the benefits of a new product line on Twitter, coordinate this with personalized emails that expound upon the specific benefits of that product as they pertain to each customer’s market. Rather than sending a generic email blast to all your customers, you can nurture your leads with a more personalized approach that addresses how your new product is more relevant to the problem areas you’ve already identified with them.
Coordinate your marketing calendar so you’re not overwhelming buyers with multiple messages in a short period of time. Don’t send your lead nurturing emails on the same day as your weekly newsletter. Schedule your communications carefully so you’re in regular contact without drowning the buyer in a deluge of messages.
Cover Cost Benefits Appropriately
B2B salespeople who are seen as a trusted industry advisors, with an understanding of economic buyers’ needs, are 69 percent more likely to make a sale. Understanding the customer’s financial situation goes far beyond the faulty assumption that cheaper is better. B2B International estimates that as many as half of all companies in many B2B sectors are prioritizing price more than necessary. Meanwhile, 15 years of accumulated data indicates that just 20 percent of buyers prioritize price over other factors. The remaining 80 percent are more concerned about relationships, outcomes, and other issues.
Evaluate your target market and make sure you understand what B2B buyers in your sector really value. With this in mind, you can communicate the cost benefits, ROI, and affordability of your products or services in a way that will really resonate with your audience.
Companies with lead nurturing campaigns enjoy an average ROI of 125 percent, compared to just 86 percent for those operating without one. It’s clear that a well-organized approach to communicating with your leads throughout their purchasing path will help you form deeper and more profitable connections.
Make a conscientious effort to formulate a well-defined lead nurturing strategy, and you’re practically guaranteed to see a significant return for your efforts.