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The b2b marketplace is busier than ever, with marketing needing to find new ways to adapt and evolve their strategies, in order to reach modern buyers.
In our latest episode of The Rev View Podcast ‘Unpacking the B2B Buyer Insights Report’, we talked with Jenna Chambers (Partner Account Director, Cyance), Dodo-Leonie Husmann (Head of Marketing, Schott Parma) and Alysha Spencer (Head of Enterprise Acquisition & Upsell Marketing, Virgin Media O2) about the findings of our B2B Buyer Insights 2021 Report and how b2b marketers can use these insights to help us engage with buyers in a more meaningful way.
We uncovered 5 key learnings to help b2b marketers improve buyer engagement and drive more marketing-generated revenue.
…And get better at reaching prospective buyers with the right message, in the right place, at the right time.
The digital buying journey is no longer a linear process. Today’s buyers are consuming more content, more often and from more sources – in places like podcasts and digital communities where it’s more difficult for marketing to measure attribution.
They are bombarded with content and communications from b2b companies trying to sell to them. Whether via emails, digital ads, direct mail or social media – the b2b marketplace is noisier than ever.
Achieving cut-through is essential to delivering value for your buyers, but also prevents wasting time and resources on marketing activity that at best, doesn’t generate meaningful engagement and at worst, creates negative brand perception.
Reach your buyers too early and you could be perceived as interruptive, too late and you may miss the window of opportunity. The key is to truly understand your buyers, what their challenges are, how they perform buying research, where they consume content and most importantly – what stage of the buying cycle they are in.
“What we saw previously as the relevant times to engage with prospects has really changed. We need to be more agile and considerate of the audience and where they are currently in their buying cycle.” – Alysha Spencer, Virgin Media O2
Marketing tags certain pieces of content based on the stage of the funnel where they are expected to deliver value. But does this lead us to make the wrong assumptions about where a buyer is in their journey?
The guidance from the B2B Buyer Insights Report was crystal clear – almost two thirds of those surveyed (64%) said that B2B vendors do not approach them at the right time.
So how can marketing overcome our own limitations to get this right?
Intent data helps us to uncover buyer behaviour using data signals to identify an account’s intent to buy. We can see which companies are in an active buying journey, what stage they’re at and the emphasis of their research.
“Knowing which accounts or types of organisations to target is one thing. But what about knowing when to reach out to them?” – Jenna Chambers, Cyance
By removing the “educated guesswork” our carefully crafted messages can land more ‘hit’ than miss. Delivered in the right place, at the right time – to drive meaningful engagement with our prospective buyers.
There’s no shortage of marketing content available.
In fact, many b2b marketers live by the phrase “content is king” with The State of Demand Generation 2021 reporting 71% of respondents are executing more content marketing compared to the previous year.
So the problem isn’t around content creation, but lack of content engagement.
The B2B Buyer Insights Report uncovered a disconnect between marketing efforts to create compelling content and how it lands with buyers. A whopping 79% believe they are given irrelevant information from vendors, despite the majority spending more time researching their purchases than ever before. Shocking, right?
Perhaps not… It’s easy to create content based on what we THINK our buyers want to hear and see, or what ‘fits’ a certain stage of the marketing funnel. When in reality, are prospects abandoning the content after a few seconds to seek more relevant information elsewhere?
“How often do you, as a marketer, approach your prospects or customers and ask what they liked or disliked about your content?” – Dodo Husmann, Schott Pharma
Without proper insights, it’s inevitable that our content will miss the mark – and we’ll miss out on sales opportunities.
Gather intelligence from all channels; track asset engagement, speak to sales or pick up the phone / live chat and talk to prospects yourself. Nothing is more valuable than first-hand insight. Only when armed with this level of intelligence can we truly put our buyers first and create value-add content they actually want to consume:
This approach better illustrates your understanding of the customer, rather than shoving a tonne of different content under their nose and hoping something sticks!
Track buyer engagement across all channels. Then, turn up in the channels that you know your b2b buyers are using to perform research, engage with content and make purchase decisions.
Website form submissions slowing down? Why not un-gate whitepapers, playbooks, eBooks and checklists so buyers can consume your content more freely during buying research? When they’re actively in buying mode, they’ll be happy to exchange their contact details for a brochure or demo / pricing / conversation.
Paid social not working as well as it used to for lead generation? Take a step back up the funnel and try using this channel to distribute educational mini-videos, podcast episodes and ungated thought leadership. Build a community where buyers look to you as the go-to source for valuable information that addresses their pain points.
“Don’t be a social media foghorn. Build a conversation, build engagement – make sure it’s a two-way street. Then take that learning and apply it to ALL your marketing efforts.” – Jenna Chambers, Cyance
Is email marketing dead? No. BUT less is definitely more if you want to stay relevant and keep buyers engaged on this channel. There’s nothing worse than entering a buyer into multiple nurture streams at once – it can turn them off your brand and leave them with a bad taste.
It won’t be long before you find that the key to increasing buyer engagement is to add value without asking for anything in return.
Brand drives demand. Every touchpoint that we have with our prospects is brand awareness, so it’s crucial that you deliver a consistent story to build brand affinity within your total addressable market.
“If you only focus on who’s in-market today, how are you influencing who’s going to be in-market tomorrow without doing brand awareness?” – Jenna Chambers, Cyance
An overwhelming 87% of buyers said they are more likely to consider a B2B vendor if they have a positive impression of the brand before conducting purchasing research (B2B Buyer Insights Report 2021).
Maintaining a consistent, positive brand perception is especially important when considering that buyers only want to be approached when the time is right for them and there are multiple stakeholders who all need to think favourably of a brand.
The role of marketing doesn’t stop at lead generation.
A key point of discussion during the podcast was the part marketing plays in accelerating buyers through the sales cycle. How? By enabling our sales teams with tools and content designed to nurture decision-makers as they progress through each stage of the customer journey.
“How do we open the feedback loop with sales to identify the positives and negatives, so we can adapt and try different things to improve buyer experience and accelerate them through the sales cycle?” – Alysha Spencer, Virgin Media O2
Ask your sales team what’s missing – thought leadership, primary research, case studies, customer stories, product videos? – and fill in the blanks. Support sales so they can accelerate buyers from MQL to close. Because both teams should have the end goal in mind – revenue generation.
It comes down to the age-old debate of how to improve sales and marketing alignment. If you want to better enable salespeople to shape positive buying experiences for your customers, you must align your objectives and set clear KPIs for joint goals.
“Marketing don’t always want to be the enabler for sales but in the end, we’re building the same pipeline.” – Dodo Husmann, Schott Pharma
Marketers should also strive to be more sales literate. As a united voice, you need to speak your customers’ language from the very first point of engagement. Tools like Refract provide sales intelligence across your deals, people and market, so you can forge messaging that always hits the mark.
When you can tailor your approach based on these five insights, buyer engagement will skyrocket. For more buyer insights and top tips for revenue generation, download the B2B Buyer Insights Report 2021.
Need help getting from A to Revenue? Explore our B2B Demand Generation Service.