There is a series of steps before any buyer makes a purchase, and the length of time a buyer spends on each step depends on the product or service on offer. B2B products and services have a longer buyer’s journey, given that the process is complex and involves multiple stakeholders.
To drive more conversions, B2B vendors must first understand the different stages of the buyer’s journey. This knowledge must be applied to developing comprehensive content marketing and outreach strategies that serve the clients’ needs at each stage of their journey.
Meeting your clients where they are and offering relevant content will enhance their purchasing journey and experience, speeding up the sales cycle. Check out some of these statistics about B2B content preferences:
- There are 6-10 people involved in any B2B purchase decision (Gartner)
- Each decision-maker must independently collect 4-5 pieces of information and deconflict them with the group before a decision is made
- 34 percent of customers do not engage with B2B content because marketers send too much irrelevant content. 29 percent cite failure to offer value outside products and services
- 68 percent of B2B clients wish to see vendors organize content according to their challenges or issues
Most B2B customers vary significantly according to their present stage in the buyer’s journey. Therefore, you must tailor your content to meet their needs, interest, and goals at each stage to boost your overall conversion rates.
Demystifying the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey is broken down into three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision/purchase. A new stage, called the customer success stage is included after purchase to cater for retention and customer satisfaction of an existing customer.
At this stage, the buyer begins to realize their problem, challenge, or pain point. At the awareness stage, a potential customer may search for the following:
- How do I measure ROI on marketing efforts?
- Why aren’t my leads converting into customers?
They start to look for a solution, but they may be unaware that you offer a solution to their problem. In their search, they may be led to your products/services/company as a potential solution.
At this stage, the buyer has named their problem and is researching various solutions available to them. A prospect at this stage may search as follows:
- Pros and cons of different marketing automation platforms
- Which marketing agencies specialize in my industry?
They will have a list of potential solutions/vendors in mind and will compare and contrast them to determine who promises the greatest value for them.
The buyer has identified the solutions that best solve their problem, and may now be comparing vendors with similar solutions. He/she is looking at things like case studies and testimonials, support channels, pricing information, and implementation processes, among others. Their search query is very specific, for instance:
- Salesforce CRM implementation and support process
- Features included in HubSpot pricing plans
Marketing doesn’t stop when a buyer becomes a customer, particularly for B2B business models. An existing customer may experience other challenges you can solve, need add-ons and upsells to make their life even easier, or need your support with the solution you sold to them.
You may create customer-only content that focuses on their unique needs, goals, and challenges, and encourages them to use your products fully. Eventually, you want to create brand evangelists – for them to tell others about your products and services and bring you more business.
ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu
Businesses use the concept of conversion funnels to track buyer’s progress through the buyer’s journey. The funnel divides the buyer’s cycle into stages according to the action taken by the prospect. This way, companies may identify gaps in the strategy and resolve the prospect’s needs for every stage. The funnel is divided into:
- ToFu – top of the funnel, which is the awareness stage
- MoFu – middle of the funnel, which is the consideration stage
- BoFu – bottom of the funnel, which is the decision/purchase stage
Each of the stages above demands different types of content, which are discussed below:
ToFu: Content to Serve the Awareness Stage
Content in the ToFu stage should be broad enough to appeal to your entire industry and focused on providing relevant educational content. At this stage, prospects are trying to understand or name their challenges, and may not respond to any mention of your product or service.
Types of content to focus on at this stage include:
- Educational content – a complete guide to a certain concept in your industry or a series of videos offering quick tips
- Diagnostics content – for instance, create an article to show prospects how to identify and quantify gaps in their sales and marketing funnel, revealing their problem areas
- Thought leadership – for instance, predict the top industry trends or tips to remain relevant for the coming year within your industry
You don’t want to bombard a person who has just learned about your product/service with sales copy; this will hurt more than it helps. Instead, focus on being helpful by teaching them everything they should know about their problem and potential solutions.
MoFu: Content to Serve the Consideration Stage
Having provided the information prospects need to identify, quantify, and understand their challenges, they are ready to consider solutions to these problems. It is now okay to be a little more explicit about how your product or service addresses your prospect’s problems. Some content you can share include:
- Case studies – show how customers with similar challenges used your product/service to solve their problems or add value
- Comparison sheets – honest pros and cons list to compare and contrast your solutions with competitors’ solutions
- Evaluation guides – help prospects understand the tools, features, and services to look for in their ideal solution
You should create content that is specific to your company’s products and services without being too explicit by over-promoting.
BoFu: Content for the Decision/Purchase Stage
Your prospect is now actively evaluating your solution. They may already have made contact with your sales rep and may have shortlisted one or two other solutions along with your brand. You should offer content like:
- Product demos or free trials – allow them to get your product or solution is one of the best ways to tilt their final decision towards your brand.
- Free assessments or diagnostics – this is a useful way of adding value before asking for their business. for instance, offer a complimentary funnel gap analysis or audit of their marketing database/website
- Product and pricing brochures – outline the details of features and services which are included in your products and services to help prospects understand which tier works best for their needs
Your form strategy should also reflect the same level of tailoring according to the prospect’s buying journey for the best results. Otherwise, you will discourage prospects from moving further along the process with your brand in mind.
All buyers and prospects need relevant, useful, and contextualized content according to their needs. By understanding the buyer’s journey and their needs at each stage, you can now create a complete content strategy to move them along. Develop and execute a comprehensive plan to maximize numbers at each stage of the funnel, and delight your customers so much they can’t help but become brand evangelists at the end of their buyer’s journey.