Competing with the Giants (& Losing)
With buyers bypassing the traditional sales process and relying on their own research to make decisions, content has never been a more important part of the sales process. In many ways, it is the sales process: According to CMO council, 87 percent out of B2B buyers say content has a moderate to major effect on their buying decisions.
With stakes like these, ordinary content won’t do. Business buyers acting like consumers expect to be able to access the same types of decision-making tools and media they’d use to make a purchase decision at home. Some of those tools will come from third parties—review sites, peers, and word of mouth to name a few—but the rest must come from you.
Marketers will need to up their game to ensure the content they’re pushing out to market is up to the task.
Content viewed pre-sale will be viewed as representative of the post-sale product or service. To that end, steps must be taken to ensure that assets don’t pose a liability during the sales process. Content needs to be modern, appealing, media-rich, and engaging.
Static content only goes so far
Just as they are in the consumer space, B2B buyers are demanding content in multimedia formats that hold their attention, meet their needs, and delight them. B2B marketers should consider moving away from static content and invest in modern, media-rich experiences on-par with the best content from the wider media landscape.
In particular, video and interactives are becoming increasingly important in B2B marketing.
According to Google, 70 percent of business buyers watch a video during the buying process, and Foleon has found that customers who replace static reports with interactives see engagement rates triple and leads surge by 20 percent.
To be sure, traditional B2B assets like white papers, e-books, and research reports are still effective and by many accounts, necessary. But trends in the consumer space point to a shrinking appetite for their most common format—the PDF. A 2017 Hubspot survey of consumers across four markets found that downloadable PDFs were the least-preferred content format among six varieties.
of business buyers watch a video during the buying process
Immersive, highly visual content that’s interactive and responsive to multiple devices and feeds actionable intelligence back to pre-sale teams.
Meet buyers where they are
Source: Convince&Convert - 80 Percent of B2B Buyers Expect Real-Time Interaction
Omnichannel and mobile are no longer just the province of B2C retailers. Younger, digital-native buyers are increasingly accustomed to marketing that puts them at the center of coordinated, frictionless campaigns wherever they are. B2B experiences should be no different.
In particular, business buyers are increasingly doing research on mobile. According to Google, people have twice as many interactions with brands on mobile than anywhere else, and mobile consumption is growing much faster than desktop. That means every piece of content brands publish should be mobile optimized. PDFs that don’t automatically reformat for small screens, for example, could send buyers to competitors’ assets that do.
Marketers should take care to understand potential customers’ preferred channels and modes of communication and orchestrate content campaigns accordingly.
Personalization is the norm
Sophisticated buyers expect personalized content. B2B marketers are adapting well: According to a study by Seismic and Demand Metric, 80 percent of marketers said that their content marketing objectives are better met when content is personalized. Sixty percent of businesses surveyed had adopted personalization tactics and most found them effective.
Among the businesses that hadn’t personalized content, 59% said they didn’t have the technology, 59% didn’t have the bandwidth or resources, and 53% didn’t have the data. Marketers on the fence about investing in software to swiftly and scalably personalize content should weigh the costs of fewer leads and shrunken deal velocity that might result from not doing so.