How can tech companies exploit a digital buying journey?

Many B2B technology companies are being lulled into thinking they’re already doing well because traffic to their website is high.

A digital buying journey means conversion is the problem not traffic.

A visitor to your website will probably give you at most three seconds attention. Then they will have either worked out whether to stay and explore or jump off and leave.

Today many technology and B2B companies are lagging behind the curve when it comes to fully exploiting digital channels. The nature of the digital challenge is evolving rapidly and challenging the traditional approach to doing business.

It’s Time to Transform Your Marketing

With the Internet and social media revolution there is continuous pressure to become more buyer-centric. Today, buyers do not have to rely only on a sales person’s insights or corporate sources to learn. This information is readily available a few clicks away – online. 

  •  47 percent of buyers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (Demand Gen)
  • 51 percent of B2B buyers rely on content to research their buying decisions. (Demand Gen)

With so many touch points now in the buying process the sales cycle is becoming longer and more complicated.

Budgets are tighter, more vendor options to consider, more stakeholders and a risk averse culture make it a challenging buying process.

The Internet and access to cheaper technology through SaaS (software as a service) have enabled smaller businesses to adopt the tactics of larger companies.

There are a number of other factors that in my mind have changed the way we buy and sell nowadays. The mantra now is shifting to selling how you solve a problem rather than the product itself.

The image below explains the inbound methodology.

theory of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing methodology
The Changing B2B Sales Process

The sales process for the technology and B2B industry is complex and difficult to maintain any control over.

With B2B buyers doing more and more “self-researching”, it is important that your business is being found online. Before a sales person has any contact, prospects are already 57% of the way through the sales process

Key issues to consider:

  • Not taking seriously enough the impact that the Internet has had on a buyer’s decision making process
  • When eventually having contact with the buyer trying to sell rather than offer advice first
  • B2B demand creation that has become increasingly complex
  • Changes in buyer behaviour requiring marketers to focus on a buyers’ needs and preferences throughout their buying cycle
Doing B2B Business Has Changed – Have You?

To run a successful business you need to understand where your customer’s pain aligns with the solutions you provide. Working out how you’re going to create and distribute content that your target audience is searching for.

Creating a buyer persona is a key step in preparing for an inbound program It digs deep into how your ideal buyer behaves and their digital habits.

FREE Buyer Persona template
The Buying Journey Goes Digital

When a B2B buyer decides to buy, what might seem like a simple transaction can actually be many interactions.

The B2B buyer has a range of alternatives to assess or symptoms they are not sure about. This buying journey typically has three phases: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision (see below):

mapping content marketing to the buyers journey
B2B Buying journey

The buyer’s journey can be used to pinpoint the behaviour and needs of your buyer personas at each stage of their journey.

Today’s Marketing & Sales Priorities

According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound report, B2B marketers today are focused on:

  • converting the visitors they attract into leads and customers;
  • growing website traffic;
  • increasing revenue from existing customer

So if Sales & Marketing are going to be effective and achieve their objectives what needs to change?

Grow Leads - Free guide
Outbound vs. Inbound Behaviour

Outbound or traditional marketing does have its benefits, especially for larger companies with budgets to fund driving traffic and reach. 

But changes in B2B buyer behaviour are forcing companies to adopt a strategy that targets a buyers’ specific needs. The inbound methodology attracts an audience and grows attention organically through content marketing. 

What Is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound or traditional marketing involves pushing your marketing message out, not necessarily targeted. With “one way” messages there is no way that you can be sure at what stage your prospect is at.

There is often a mis-match between how sellers communicate and buyers source and digest content.

Historically sales teams relied on outbound tactics to get their message across, whereas buyers do self-research now. 

As companies begin their digital transformation there are a number of questions that they need to address:

  • Which combinations of digital channels and platforms are the most effective when it comes to reaching your buyer personas?
  • How can these channels be harnessed to create value for the company and engage with customers?
  • Which digital touch points should your company focus on to generate the most influence?

A company web site has probably the strongest chance to positively influence a customer to engage further. 

When you consider the behaviour today of a B2B buyer, we know that they can be difficult to reach. Also, they prefer to educate themselves using online sources.

The Value Of A Sales Funnel

The buying journey is not a onetime process as visitors move between various stages of the buying cycle.

For your company, it is vital to keep customers coming back until they are at a point when they are ready to buy. A sales funnel aids visualisation of the different stages in the buying journey.

For each funnel stage, there is a variation in the content message and format. The further down the funnel information needs become more specific.

Key Considerations – How Do I Know If I Have A Problem?

Normally if you are experiencing:

  • inconsistency in terms of sales
  • not able to generate sufficient leads for your pipeline
  • losing out to your competitors

Then you are probably experiencing the following: 

  1. Over reliance on cold calling for new business development
  2. Losing a top of mind position with your prospects or existing customers – because you sell rather than educate
  3. Not knowing how to connect with leads who aren’t ready to buy just yet
  4. A lack of know-how on how to provide advice and build trust 
  5. Knowing how to nurture leads that are just starting their buying process
  6. Insufficient number of leads for your B2B sales pipeline
  7. A long and complex sales cycle to manage
  8. A lack of using your customer data
  9. Not enough resources allocated to create content to lead the buyer along your sales funnel
  10. No defined lead generation and nurturing programme
  11. Inability to track the lead-to-deal-process from start to finish
  12. Sales and marketing teams not working together effectively
  13. A focus on traditional sales and marketing methods
So What Can We Do Together?

Across the entire customer journey, every touch point is a brand experience and an opportunity. These moments must be used to try and influence the final purchase decision.

If your company is starting out on a journey of digital transformation or you need help to know what to do next – then let us know.

John Kennedy

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