The B2B buyer’s journey consists of the actions that a prospect takes from discovery of the product to purchase of the product, and your marketing content has a great influence on that journey.
Consider these two points:
At a high level, the buyer’s journey consists of three different stages:
Often, these stages are discussed as top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. While no two journeys will be exactly alike — some come in with a hot need, others are merely curious — there are some frequented bad habits of content strategies that can really slow down the buyer’s progress.
As marketers are increasingly tasked with speeding up the sales cycle, and sending a higher quality of leads to sales, we need to make sure our strategy avoids certain roadblocks.
Below are 5 clumsy practices to avoid for the buyer’s journey:
Do you use Netflix or do you use Hulu? Spotify or Pandora? iPhone or Android? Paperbacks or Kindle? Instagram, SnapChat, or Facebook? Or all of the above?
The point is that the digital age has brought variety to the forefront. Your prospects all have their own individual preferences for how they like to experience content, and marketers need to adapt to that.
If a traditional whitepaper or eBook landing page gets a 2-7% conversion rate, well, then where is the rest of 93-98% going? What is driving them away? They probably don’t want to read another a 30-page PDF, or skim through an eBook.
One solution to this problem is taking any traditional pillar asset and re-purposing it into several different incarnations. This may seem like a tremendous amount of work to just throw on your plate, but, really, it’s optimizing all the work you did on that one asset.
One eBook could become:
These multiple assets should be planned with the creation of the pillar asset. All the smaller content versions can lead back to the pillar, creating more visitor touchpoints and variety for those not interested in an eBook.
The lead form. While the notion of tossing all lead forms in general has been recently buzzed about, the truth is that B2B marketers still really need them. We need insight into who is looking at our content, where they come from and why they might be interested.
The stumbling block is that the lead form is a turn-off. More specifically, the really long lead form is an exit point.
The image above shows three different examples going from short to long. The shorter of the three is pretty standard, but even that might be asking for a bit much, depending on the asset.
Whenever possible limit lead forms to the bare essentials: First Name, Last Name, and Email. Sure, you may say “but we need more information than that.” One way to address that is to use progressive profiling, which presents short forms that ask for additional information on subsequent downloads.
If you need to use a longer lead form, experiment with its placement. Wistia, a B2B video platform, found that CTAs located in the middle of their customer’s videos, or at least in positions other than start or end, converted the best at around 17%.
For non video content, there are tools available that allow you to convert PDFs to more dynamic formats with the option to put the lead form anywhere throughout the experience; on page 2, 5, or further towards the end.
Not asking for too much too soon will keep your prospects more engaged and willing to browse your resources.
Once you do convert a lead, it’s nurture time. However, what you send them next should be dependent on the piece of content with which they engaged.
As mentioned in the introduction, not all buyers follow the same path. Some can start their journey right from the beginning, the introduction phase, others could be much more advanced — coming in with more knowledge and decision-making power.
The key is to have content ready for every part of the journey and to send the next logical piece that would be helpful for each independent prospect.
To do this, your content library should have several different pieces that can fit in a narrative like introduction-body-conclusion. The content should become increasingly detailed and product-centric as they are closer to the conclusion (decision making).
So if a brand new lead is engaging with content that is more detailed and less introductory, don’t send introductory content next — that will slow things down. You want to keep them continuing closer to their destination, not circling back.
While it’s not always easy to pinpoint these positions, marketers turning to alternative media like interactive content are gleaming advanced insight into their buyer’s specific needs.
Content with these elements can ask questions within the content experience to learn exactly how advanced a lead is on the subject, sometimes even obviously so, like in this ServiceNow assessment.
This one is real simple. Someone who requests a demo is active, interested, and wants to talk now. Making sure your content or website with demo request options is linked directly with your sales team’s software is a must.
If you’re not sure, do an audit. Check out a recent lead who requested a demo and then ask your sales team what the follow-up was like for that specific case.
Or, better yet, request a demo yourself with a pseudonym and see what the response time is.
Often, your main advocate who engages with your content, and expresses real interest, is not the sole decision maker in terms of making a purchase. While your primary focus is creating that advocate and advancing them through their journey, it’s important to understand that there are others involved.
Once arriving to the decision stage, your buyer champion needs to be able to communicate all of the wonderful things about your product and why it’s worth an investment briefly and effectively. Your content should try to help this process as much as possible.
A 30-page whitepaper, or a collection of blog posts don’t usually cover it for this particular purpose. What decision makers need to see is the direct impact of the purchase, and x, y, and z of how it will work for them.
Easily passable content for this stage can have many different formats, but the key is to be direct and prescriptive.
Prescriptive content could be:
Direct content could be:
The calculator asks you a series of questions about the app you would like to build and based off your answers, gives you a price quote.
This asset hits on several key elements for decision makers:
Now, we can’t all make this kind of intricate and robust asset tomorrow, but it exemplifies many of the points decision makers would like to see.
When taking a critical look at your content resources and campaign strategies, try and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were coming in at a broad and introductory level, what would you like to see? And then, what would you like to see after that?
Repeat this thought process for each of your buyer personas at different levels of interest and understanding of your product or service. Always be asking yourself, “what would they want to see next?”
Now, take a step back. Are your customers receiving dynamic, personalized experiences? Is your marketing team developing insights to enable your sales team? Have you aggregated buying signals across all channels and stages to accurately target and nurture prospects? If you answered no to any of these, download this guide with 3 Strategies for Using Interactive Content to Improve the Buyer's Journey right now, to help you improve your buyer's journey.