The business technology buying space is getting complex with longer buying cycles. Buyers are controlling their journey, more than ever before. With their relentless desire for information that would help them buy.
Just consider the following statistics:
74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase while an average B2B buyer consumes 13 content pieces before choosing a provider.
So, how can technology sellers drive the process for results?
By engaging the buyer with content that is relevant, valuable, and educational.
Come to think of it. If you were a B2B SaaS buyer, would you buy from a seller who doesn’t care about solving your problems? Chances are your answer would be ‘NO.’ You’d prefer to buy from a seller who demonstrates in clear terms how he/she could solve your problem and alleviate your pain points.
But, the big question is: what type of content attracts and moves business technology buyers to purchase?
Here’s a data-driven answer.
1. Business tech consumers respond to content that is mapped to the buyer journey
Engaging customers with content across specific touch points of the buyer journey has been proven to work.
MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm conducted a study which found that 60% of technology business buyers want content that is relevant to their needs as they progress through the buyer journey. But, only 38% of marketers customize content to different buying stages.
The buyers also expect brands to share content that shows their expertise and builds trust. Basically, IT buyers are looking for “solutions to solve a current problem.” Show them how your technology solves their specific problems and they would buy from you.
So, Which Content Should You Use at Each Stage of the Buying Cycle?
Some B2B content marketers might be creating content specifically for three to five buying stages but I want to look at three stages: early, middle, and late. I call them the attract, convince, and convert stages.
In the first phase, prospects are simply identifying their problems and whether those problems require attention—for example, whether their CRM system needs an upgrade or a replacement. In the face of other competing business challenges, the first phase might involve prioritizing which of the issues should first be tackled.
In the middle phase, customers assess their highest-priority problems and the various solutions that exist. For instance, for the CRM issue, they might consider build-versus-buy options, technology-versus-people solutions, and the implications of integrating various solutions with existing systems.
In the late phase, having agreed on a suitable solution, the customer considers providers and engages, often for the first time, with a sales rep.
Now, let’s look at the different stages and their content requirements.
Stage 1: Awareness
Prospects are researching at this stage. It’s your job to enlighten them that a solution to their problem exists and that you could help them. Your aim is to enlighten them about their challenges while positioning yourself as a trustworthy advisor.
Your content should be inspirational in tone and allay their fears. You can do this through how-to videos, landing pages, blog posts, checklists, infographics, guest posts, research and data, thought leadership, and social media posts.
Stage 2: Consideration
Buyers already know about your product or service but they still need to know more about how it can solve their problems. They need proof that it works and look to customer reviews for assurance.
Use content such as email campaigns, eBooks, webinars, white papers, product videos, FAQ, product information, and other educational materials.
Stage 3: Decision
This is the point where prospects finally decide to become customers. Your content should motivate them to buy. IT buyers consider pricing, technical features, peer recommendations, competition, in-depth product guides, and implementation planning at this stage.
The most ideal content here is demos, fact sheets, free consultations, ROI calculators, sales presentations, landing pages, video, case studies, implementation guides, and customer testimonials to show how your offerings have helped others. Tone is informative and marketing becomes hard-hitting at this point.
So, Which Specific Content Types are Most Effective for the Buyer Stages?
A 2018 Content Marketing Institute (CMI) study found that B2B marketers rated blog posts/articles, white papers, and case studies to be the most effective types of content for the early, middle, and late stages of the buyer’s journey, respectively.
2. Business tech buyers love informational and educational content
Conductor, Enterprise Content Marketing software, performed a study to unveil how educational content impacts purchases. The results showed:
* Buyers were 131% more likely to purchase from a brand immediately after reading content from that brand
* 78% consumers found a brand “helpful” and 64% found it “trustworthy” immediately after reading content from that brand—and these numbers increased by 8-9% one week later.
The 2019 B2B Content Marketing report by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) also towed the same path. It stated that 77% of marketers nurture their audiences primarily through educational content.
This confirms what Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, recently said about educational content. He said: “these days, people want to learn before they buy, be educated instead of pitched.”
The bottom-line is: Buyers Value High-Quality Information.
Example: The Drift Blog which offers rock-solid sales, marketing, and customer experience content. No wonder the blog has grown from zero to 30,000 email subscribers in a few years!
3. Business tech prospects engage with content that is based on their recent interests and actions
They relate with content that speaks their lingo. They connect with content that speaks directly to their needs. For instance, if you abandoned cart while shopping and the brand sends you an email reminding you of the purchase, while giving you a discount to act promptly, would you do the needful? Chances are, you would. Why? The content is based on your recent interest and action.
Example: Amazon does this perfectly. It recommends products similar to the ones you search. It is personalized marketing and it works. Here’s Amazon with an email influenced by a search I recently conducted for a book by Gary Vee. It’s triggered or behavioral in nature:
This is personalized content and it’s highly effective! Just consider the fact that 80% of customers are more likely to purchase products or services from brands that provide personalized experiences and you would understand the power of relevance and personalization in this experience economy.
Personalized content uses specific information about customers to strike a distinct and emotional connection. Such data could include keyword searches, buying history and information on their location, age, gender, etc. When pulled together, this data helps to understand customer interests and needs, so you can create or curate content that resonates with them. The result? Higher sales and increased engagement.
Emails can be personalized, landing pages can be personalized, product demos can be personalized, etc.
4. Business tech buyers act on interactive and visual content
Interactive content has been touted as the future of digital marketing and the statistics support this:
- 51% of marketers say online calculators are most effective in the “consideration stage” of the sales cycle (Outgrow).
- 45% of B2B buyers say interactive content is one of their top three preferred content types (SnapApp).
- Interactive content gains two times more engagement than static content. (DemandGen)
Fact is, interactive content does not only engage, it gives customers a reason to visit your website again and again. Resulting in multiple exposures. Culminating in brand loyalty.
Pray, what is interactive content?
SingleGrain defines it as “any type of content — such as calculators, assessments and interactive infographics, white papers and videos — that requires and encourages users to actively engage with it rather than passively consume it.”
It’s opposed to static content which just sits there. Interactive content involves customers, whether by requiring them to press the play button on a video
or enter keywords to search on a keyword suggestion tool. It also engages them. Sort of a total immersion.
Examples include online calculators, keyword suggestion tools, headline analyzers, plagiarism detectors, games, quizzes, videos, etc. But, let’s dwell on video for a moment.
Video Marketing for B2B Tech Enterprises
Selling B2B SaaS is a complex venture. Instead of just telling people about your product or service, you can show what it can do in short explainer videos. It helps prospects to understand better. And, when they understand, it becomes easier to sell to them.
Video is highly effective as a marketing medium. A 2016 survey by Ascend2, a research and marketing firm, found that 85% of marketers find success with video content. It helps them to increase brand awareness, boost online engagement, improve customer education, and
and generate warm leads. About 50% of the marketers surveyed consider customer testimonials, explainer or tutorial videos, and demonstration videos the most effective types of video content.
Aside marketers, customers are also rooting for video content. When asked how they’d most like to learn about a product or service, 66% said they’d prefer to watch a short explainer video.
Video Marketing Tips for Sales Tech Providers
Tell Great Stories
Stories enable brands to strike emotional connections with customers. Leverage on the power of stories by sharing your brand story, stories of employees, and that of clients. Basically, show how your sales tech solution is helping other companies. Provide behind-the-scene peeks into life at your organization like Highspot does in the video below:
Make Fun Videos
The fact that you’re selling a technology product does not mean your content should be boring. You can make your video content come alive by sharing fun videos. Like New Relic does in this funny rap video about coding made by one of their employees.
Share Valuable Information
Valuable information is an attention-getter. It cuts through the noise and firmly stamps the name of your brand in the mind of customers. This should not be a product plug but a trusted resource to inspire your customers and spark off their creativity. Like Adobe Creative Cloud does in the video below:
Experiment with Length
With video content, they say, the shorter, the better, but I think that should not be cast in stone. At least, give room for some experimentation. Hubspot shares both 2-3 minute videos as well as 30-minute tutorials. It’s all about testing and tweaking, based on your video marketing results.
Here’s a 26-minute video from Hubspot:
Give Your Videos a Professional Look
Amateurish videos are not cool. They give your brand a bad rap. You want to shy away from them by engaging the services of professionals in making your videos.
3 Types of Video Content You Should be Creating
These three were named to be the most effective in the Ascend2 survey I earlier talked about.
When compared to what you say about your brand, customers believe third parties more. They believe what other people say about your brand. This is why you should invest in filming customer testimonials. They’re extremely influential to getting deals.
Here’s a Customer Testimonial from Everstring:
Explainer or Tutorial Videos
How-to information works! Why? People want to learn how to do stuff. Attract this group of information-hungry tech buyers with tutorial videos on how to do stuff that aligns with your enterprise SaaS solution.
Example: Hubspot Academy
Highly popular, the Hubspot Academy offers 100% free video courses in the sales and marketing space. Website visitors can subscribe to the courses and certifications with their email address. Thus, making the academy a powerful lead-generating tool for Hubspot.
Demonstration videos enable you to show off your product or service, and engage a wider audience at the same time. Product demos also allow you to showcase the features of your product and how it can benefit buyers.
Example: Core4 CRM
Want to jump on the video marketing bandwagon? Read these video marketing tips for more inspiration.
Now, let’s go back to the other forms of interactive content.
Other Forms of Interactive Content
I have seen the following examples in the general marketing space.
In the B2B Technology space, I have seen a preponderance of online calculators like:
- GoConsensus’ ROI Calculator
- DecisionLink’s Customer Value Management Assessment
- Hubspot’s Website Grader
- Drift’s Conversion Rate Calculator
- Albacross’ Revenue Estimator
So, how is your interactive content strategy going to be? It’s now left for you to decide.
The B2B SaaS marketing space is highly competitive and buyers expect more from vendors. In fact, some brands have raised the bar and you just can’t ignore this.
Want to get attention, build trust and win over buyers? The simplest way is to give buyers what they want. That’s going to make their path to purchase a lot easier (and faster!) which is a win-win for everyone.
The amazing thing about content is that it continues to produce years after it is shared. Paid advertising doesn’t have that quality. Leads stop coming in as soon as your paid campaign ends.
In life, the more you give away, the more you get. Content marketing operates the same way. And, Brian Clark confirms this in the quote below:
“The paradox is the more info you give away, the more people will buy what you have to give.” How about that for some inspiration?
Ready to 2x Your Sales with Killer Content?
Hire Iyabo Oyawale to write for your business today! She is the Founder/Copywriter at CopyVista, a freelance copywriting team, that specializes in B2B tech marketing. She makes one bold promise: “I write engaging long-form SEO content that turns casual users into die-hard fans.” Wanna test this claim? Schedule a free 15-minute call here.