The Buyer’s Journey is Getting Longer
Landing a B2B sale is more complex than ever, especially selling highly value products and services. 43% of marketers surveyed said the buyers’ journey has lengthened over the past three years. Buyers are often 90% done with their purchase decision before talking to a sales rep.
B2B brands are faced with a challenge — how to maintain prospect relationships, drive greater trust, and ultimately close sales in a world where 75% of B2B buyers take six months to reach out to vendors for the first time.
50% of Your Leads Aren’t Ready to Buy
Nurtured leads can be worth 47% more than other leads — and without structured, systematic lead nurturing, you could leave as much as 80% of your potential sales on the table. That’s because, put simply, 50% of your leads aren’t ready to buy yet.
That doesn’t mean they’ll never buy — simply that they’re engaged in the 90% of decision-making they do “behind the scenes” before they reach out to you. The truth is, they spend much of that time reading thought leadership content and comparing you to competitors.
Who ultimately wins the sale? The one who maintains the deepest relationship.
Lead Nurturing Accelerates the Process
That’s what lead nurturing is about: Managing your relationship with prospects from the earliest awareness that they have a problem to their ultimate, well-considered purchase and beyond. The relationship is mediated by your Web content — helpful and informative blogs, white papers and so on, giving visitors the feeling they’re already working with you.
During this relationship, your content will do all of the following:
- Engage visitors who are aware they have a problem, but unaware of potential solutions.
- Capture leads who are in the midst of considering many different, competing solutions.
- Close customers who have narrowed down their decision to one or two leading options.
- Grow clients into advocates through continuing support, information and opportunities.
At each step in this process, your prospects will become more sophisticated. Your content has to follow the trajectory of their research, providing them with more focused, specific knowledge at every milestone on the path.
Put yourself in your prospect's shoes, they have three companies who all offer similar products or solutions. Company A has little to no content on their website, Company B has some commercial product brochures and Company C not only has product information, but a comprehensive portfolio of application notes, user videos, customer testimonials and thought leadership content discussing how their products have facilitated groundbreaking research relating to your reader's area of interest. Additionally, they keep appearing in a range of searches and useful touchpoints around the web and have loads of reviews and third party (impartial) evaluation.
Which company build's the deepest relationship? Which company will the buyer choose?
How to Hold Their Attention!
67% of Buyers are Relying More on Content
More than two thirds of buyers are consuming more Web content, so how can you be sure contact with them is consistent enough to provide the lead nurturing you want?
It starts with generating great content — clear, concise, effective answers to the questions each type of buyer might have. But as crucial as that task is, it’s only part of the story.
Software tools like Marketo, Act-On, Pardot and Eloqua improve your efforts by providing a more personalized experience to each prospect. By providing visibility into the buyer journey for each lead, they drive consistency and a more effective progression to the final sale.
Whilst marketing automation software is a great luxury to have, you can start with something as simple as an auto-responder email thanking the enquirer and providing them with links to "Learn more with other related content" which may be of interest. Alternatively, you can manually follow up and nurture the leads to get a feel for the process before looking to gain efficiencies with automation at a later date.
Once strong Web content has provoked initial interest from a prospect — moving them from awareness to consideration — this type of personalization becomes even more crucial. True, about 79% of leads never become sales...
But that might be because 71% of qualified leads never get any follow-up.
When you provide customized touch points like dynamic forms, customized email campaigns and so on, you seize the initiative from competitors who have decided to settle for doing less.
It’s a tough world out there for any B2B enterprise, but adopting lead nurturing best practices will help you navigate the complexity. Align your content strategy with your prospects’ buyer journey, then introduce a regimented follow-up approach backed by automation. Feel free to get in touch to find out more.