B2B Articles - October 20, 2021
B2B companies use terms such as "sales funnel," "buyer's journey," or "buyer's lifecycle" to discuss how a potential client goes from a prospect (or someone who knows nothing about the B2B company) to someone who purchases the product or service. No matter which term you use, content plays a significant role in moving the person along until they become a buyer.
Since B2B sales cycles can take weeks, months, or even years, companies must utilize content as touchpoints and reminders so the potential client remembers the product or service's value. Businesses that provide informative blog articles, eBooks, guides, and other educational materials about potential customers' pain points to position themselves as solution providers, which helps bring in more leads and close more sales.
There are three main stages to consider when thinking about the buyer's journey (or B2B sales funnel).
82% of buyers viewed at least five pieces of content from the winning vendor (Forrester)
Companies must provide ample content at all three stages to push the prospect down the funnel until they finally become a client. In this blog, we will discuss the content in the "consideration stage" or the middle of the funnel. Companies often confuse this content with what belongs in the awareness stage, so it's essential to distinguish differences in the buyer journey and focus on creating the right assets for prospects with the appropriate messaging for consideration-level content.
Middle-of-the-funnel content educates prospects as they consider various solutions to solve their ongoing problem. What's most important, however, is that the offered information adds value. 47 percent of buyers interact with three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep, which indicates that the buyer wants content before making a purchase decision. With this in mind, companies need to provide enough consideration-level pieces to help them make that decision.
Furthermore, 68% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming their content (iMedia Connection), so content can connect the prospect to the company. The idea is to provide content offers that help these prospects choose your solution; however, not all forms of messaging will resonate with potential customers. For example, some companies fall into the trap of using too self-serving language or focusing on their own business, service, or product instead of the buyer.
Focus on strategies they can implement within their organization to address their problem. You can mention your service, but be careful not to come across as too salesy. When describing service or product features, be sure to highlight the benefit for the buyer and try to use statistics or proof points to demonstrate effectiveness.
At this point, the prospect most likely has already read your blogs and browsed your social media posts, and they are now ready for more solution-focused assets. Here are the types of content for the consideration level that help push the prospect down to the decision stage.
White papers: White papers are the most appealing to leads in the middle of the funnel. 76% of buyers say they will exchange their information to access a white paper. A white paper can take many forms - from an analytical look at industry trends to a long-form fact sheet on specific policies. The offer can detail how your product or service helped others or include facts about the company and its beginnings.
Case Studies: 57 percent of surveyed buyers said they would provide their information to access case studies. Case studies prove your product or service's value because it shows how someone else used it. The reader can see how your company supports another client and realize the potential of the technology you offer. Learn how to write B2B case studies.
Datasheets: This is a great way to show your value numerically. Datasheets (also called fact sheets) can showcase what you know about the problem being addressed and how well your company is able to solve it. Clients like data sheets that give statistical evidence as to why your company has a competitive edge as well.
In-depth guide or webinar: 79 percent of B2B leads will fill out a form to access an informative webinar. Consider offering an in-depth guide to accompany the webinar or for individuals who could not attend the presentation. The webinar does not necessarily need to discuss your technology but rather an overall industry look at the problem and solution. It will showcase your expertise in the area and offer valuable information to potential clients.
Demo Video: A demo video might be better suited in the decision phase, but some B2B buyers want this earlier on in the decision-making process. A one-on-one demo video offers you a way to showcase your product or service and answer any questions from potential clients. It also shows you are willing to give up time and resources to win over the buyer.
Other content considerations:
The most effective content marketing focuses on buyer needs and should inspire, educate, guide, inform, prove, and build trust. This is especially true for B2B content marketing--content must provide concrete help to the buyer's journey.
No matter which type or types of content you decide to offer in the middle of the funnel, remember to add value to the potential buyer. At this point, they are relatively well-versed in the problem, and they want to understand how to bring about a solution. Using content, you can offer in-depth analysis that can help them better understand the different solutions and, ultimately, why your company stands apart from the rest.
A CMO's Guide to B2B Lead Generation [Free eBook PDF]
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