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The State of Scientific Purchasing 2023

The world of scientific purchasing is constantly evolving, influenced by technological advancements, market trends, and changing consumer behaviors. To shed light on the current state of scientific purchasing, the AZoNetwork marketing team recently launched the highly anticipated fourth edition of The State of Scientific Purchasing market report. To present the findings, the team organized a live webinar.

In this blog, we provide a comprehensive overview of the insightful Q&A session during the webinar. This session not only addressed key questions and concerns of the audience but also offered valuable insights and recommendations from our industry experts. The webinar recordings are available on-demand and as a podcast below.

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Danny: In the chat, Ross has asked what the value is in gating content?

Frank: Well, it depends. There are two schools of thought on this. One approach is more aggressive lead generation, where we gate almost everything. The other is demand generation, where we gate less content, usually just bottom-of-the-funnel content or when someone requests a callback. The effectiveness of gating content depends on factors like the size of our sales team and the number of leads we already have.

If we're inundating our sales team with leads and they prefer leads that are ready to buy, then I believe gating less content and offering more for free is the way to go. This way, we can ensure that those who provide their data have already consumed a lot of content and are genuinely interested.

On the other hand, if we have the ability to nurture leads more extensively, such as through eBooks and webinars, and we're generating many marketing-qualified leads, it might not be wise to pass them directly to the sales team. Instead, we can add them to marketing programs and warm them up through regular email communication. We don't necessarily need marketing automation software for this; email platforms and scheduled emails can do the job.

Ultimately, the decision on how much content to gate depends on the size of our sales team and the desired balance between page views and leads further down the funnel. However, it's crucial for upper management to understand and support the chosen strategy. If aggressive lead generation objectives are set but we're focusing on demand generation, we'll end up with a small number of sales-qualified leads and a lot of ungated page views.

Danny: Communication is key when making changes to our gating strategy. If we decide to pivot our approach, we must ensure that everyone in the organization is aware of it. Reporting 1,000 marketing qualified leads month after month and then suddenly switching to just one or five will raise questions. So, if we're changing our strategy, we need to communicate it internally to ensure a smooth transition.

Danny: According to the poll, navigation is considered the most important aspect of UX, and I agree with that. What annoys me the most is when I can't find what I need quickly on a website, followed by being bombarded with multiple popups as soon as I land on the site and excessive display ads. What are your thoughts on this, Sara?

Sara: Absolutely, I completely agree. In my opinion, user experience revolves around intuitive navigation and clear, engaging content. The goal is to eliminate any pain points for the users, allowing them to smoothly move through the conversion funnel. To improve user experience, it's essential to examine the customer journey and identify any potential difficulties that may hinder conversions or goal completion.

Addressing these critical pain points should be the top priority. Once the core goals are achieved, we can focus on other aspects such as loading speeds, responsive design, and visual enhancements like parallax effects. However, it's important to prioritize paving the path for customers to convert before adding any secondary elements. So, I agree with the importance of intuitive navigation and removing obstacles from the user journey.

Danny: Thank you for sharing your insights, Sara. Frank, do you have any thoughts or experiences with website irritations?

Frank: Yes, intuitive navigation is crucial for me as well. Being able to quickly find what I'm looking for is essential. I often find videos incredibly helpful when I visit a website and want to understand what a company does. Some solutions out there are quite unique and innovative, and a 60-second explainer video can effectively convey complex concepts in a concise manner. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video can convey even more. Additionally, having a search bar on a website is beneficial. We added one to AZO Network, and it allows users to search for specific topics like video, lead generation, demand generation, or brand awareness, and it retrieves all relevant content for them to explore.

Danny: Let's dive deeper into the post-sale video marketing strategy. Once customers have made a purchase, what should our approach be? Where should these videos be housed, and how can they be effectively utilized?

Rebecca: In the post-sale stage, it's important to provide customers with valuable resources to enhance their product experience. Short explainer videos that demonstrate how to use your products effectively and aftercare guides can be immensely helpful. These videos should be easily accessible and shareable with your customers.

One effective approach is to create a dedicated playlist on platforms like YouTube or Vimeo. This allows customers to have a centralized collection of instructional videos at their fingertips. Additionally, we discussed earlier the use of Seismic, they offer a ‘university’ website within their website, which serves as a comprehensive hub for training videos and relevant information. It adds an element of fun and achievement for customers as they progress through the content.

By providing customers with readily available resources and housing them in user-friendly platforms, we can ensure that our post-sale video marketing strategy adds value and enhances the overall customer experience.

Danny: Jin-Sun mentioned an active community and the role of a chief community officer, which is not commonly seen in the scientific instruments field apart from trade shows and conferences. She suggests establishing interactive platforms to initiate communities around well-defined topics within the AZoNetwork, in our sites like AZoMaterials and AZoMining. What are your thoughts on this?

We've briefly touched upon this topic in previous conversations, but the exact approach is yet to be confirmed. Frank, do you have any thoughts on this?

Frank: We already have online communities on LinkedIn for each of our site brands, which we are actively building. I encourage you to join these communities and engage with industry professionals, thought leaders, companies, publishers, and researchers. Tagging relevant individuals and starting conversations is a great way to initiate discussions and raise brand awareness. Being part of these conversations is the first step towards building a community and establishing our presence in the industry.

Danny: Earlier, you mentioned the importance of case studies, are there any good templates or ideas for marketers to gather them effectively, Rebecca?

Rebecca: Sure, when creating case studies, we typically follow a format that includes sections on the customer's initial issue, the solution we provided, and the results achieved. We also include highlighted statistics to provide an overview of the case study. Additionally, for testimonials, it's helpful to have a set of specific questions related to each product offering. This ensures that we gather the desired information during the interview process.

Frank: Every good story follows the structure of a beginning, a middle, and an end. The problem, solution, and result format aligns with this principle, which applies not only to case studies but even to children's stories. It's a simple yet effective approach.

Danny: What recommendations are there to encourage clients to recommend their business to others?

Sara: Well, one straightforward approach is to implement an open incentive recommendation program. You can offer discounts, vouchers, or other incentives to customers who provide reviews or share positive feedback on social media. That's a direct way to encourage recommendations.

Another strategy is to proactively reach out to clients who have had a great experience with your business. You can ask them if they would be willing to share a few words, answer some questions, or participate in a case study highlighting their success story. Since it's a positive customer journey example, they are likely to be happy to help. Even if they decline, it's not a big deal. You can move on to other cases or opportunities.

It's important to remember that good customer service plays a significant role in generating word-of-mouth recommendations. If your clients have a positive experience with your business, they may naturally recommend you to others without you even being aware of it. So, maintaining excellent customer service is key to fostering recommendations.

Danny: There was a previous question about how smaller companies or startups can become part of the conversation in their subject areas. What are your thoughts on this?

Frank: Well, social media has leveled the playing field in the past decade, allowing smaller companies and startups to compete with larger, well-known brands. As a smaller and more agile team, you have the advantage of being able to post and engage without the constraints that larger organizations might face. Take advantage of social media platforms like LinkedIn to share original content such as MP4s, images, slide decks, and polls related to your subject areas. This is a great way to get noticed, build awareness, and become part of the conversation in your industry.

When creating content, tag relevant thought leaders, customers, and individuals within those communities. This helps increase visibility and engagement. Additionally, consider hosting content creation days where you can capture video testimonials or interviews with customers. You can repurpose this content into snippets for social media, podcasts, transcriptions for webinars, and more. The key is to actively engage with the community, whether it's online or in-person, and attend leading industry events to network and showcase your expertise. By consistently creating and sharing valuable content, you can establish your presence and become an active participant in the conversation around your subject areas.

Danny: If we look at the final poll, over three-quarters of our attendees have said under 10% or 10-20% of their inquiries are SQLs, is this what you’d expect, Frank?

Frank: If we had asked this poll in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, more people would have reported higher percentages, around 20%, 40%, or even 30% to 40%. However, the shift in recent times reflects the understanding that the online landscape has become increasingly competitive. With everyone vying for content and data, there is a greater emphasis on respecting privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA. People are starting to recognize the importance of treating others as they would like to be treated as consumers. Instead of bombarding them with product information every week, it's more effective to send a monthly newsletter that keeps them informed about the latest developments in your application and industry. Overall, it's common to see most people reporting lead percentages under 10%, given the focus on qualifying leads to the SQL stage.

Danny: How can niche scientific topics be effectively presented on short-form social media platforms like TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram Reels?

Sara: When presenting niche scientific topics on short-form social media platforms, it's important to break down the content into smaller, digestible chunks. For example, if the topic is about using a specific product or machine, you can create separate videos that cover different steps or aspects. Start with demonstrating how to prepare a sample for a specific application, then move on to loading the sample into the machine, running it, and analyzing the results. On platforms like TikTok, you can link each video to the next part, allowing viewers to easily navigate through the content.

The shorter format of these platforms naturally lends itself to higher engagement, as people find it more enticing to consume bite-sized content rather than lengthy videos. Don't be afraid to present the information in parts, as viewers specifically interested in certain aspects will still find value in those segments. By delivering engaging and informative content in a shorter format, you can effectively capture the attention and interest of your target audience on these platforms.

If you're interested in learning more about scientific marketing, we encourage you to get in touch with our team. We are here to provide expert guidance, tailored solutions, and a deep understanding of the scientific purchasing landscape.

Posted by Rebecca Turpin

Manchester born Rebecca has a first class B.A.(Hons) in Photography from the University of Plymouth. Rebecca began her career in 2017 working as a sales and marketing assistant for a healthcare company before moving in to an agency position in 2018. She spent two years running a small agency in Salford until 2021, gaining marketing skills and invaluable experience working with clients before coming to AZoNetwork. Outside of marketing, Rebecca loves anything outdoors, the theatre and any creative activity that lets her be covered in paint.

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