In this video, I talk about using data and analytics to build a content strategy to reach B2B buyers and influence them through and down the purchase funnel with content. Enjoy the video and subscribe to my Youtube channel to be the notified when new videos are added.
I have probably managed or been involved in about a dozen technology RFPs over the last I would say decade or so.
One of the first ones I was involved was back in 2006 when we were looking for an enterprise collaboration software and we decided to go with Clearspace which then became Jive Software.
In the early days, we also looked at social intelligence platforms like Scout Labs, Radian6, Sysomos, Collective Intellect and more recently Crimson Hexagon (now Brandwatch), Synthesio, Infegy and Pulsar.
I’ve also been a decision maker or counselor in social publishing and social CRM platforms like Sprinklr, Spredfast, Involver and Vitrue.
And lastly, i’ve helped my clients navigate the employee advocacy space and helped them decide on platforms like Dynamic Signal.
And one of the advantages that Ive had is that I could just pick up the phone and make a phone call, maybe send out a tweet and talk to someone. I don’t download white papers, I don’t read blogs. I want to get my hands dirty.
But not everyone has that advantage. In fact most B2B buyers have a very difficult time buying software. It’s an 12 to 18 month process before technology decisions are made so the
In fact, a recent study by Gartner found that 77% of B2B buyers rated their purchase experience as extremely complex.
And there are a few reasons why.
- There’s an abundance of information on the internet
- Also, it’s not just one decision maker. Typically there’s a group of 5-10 stakeholders and trying to get consensus between all groups isn’t easy.
- And the buying journey isn’t linear, it’s dynamic and unpredictable
In fact, Gartner refers to the buyer journey as 6 buying jobs.
- Problem identification. It’s coming to the realization that there’s a problem and we need to do something about it.
- Solution exploration. Is there a vendor out there that can solve our problem. If so, who is it and let’s go talk to them.
- Requirements building. What exactly do we need this software to do?
- Supplier selection. Does this software do exactly what we want it to do?
- Validation. Do we have enough information to make a decision? We need another demo, talk to a few customers and read more tech specs.
- Consensus creation.This is probably the most difficult. How do we get all the decision makers on the same page so we can make a decisions.
Now these don’t happen sequentially. In fact they are happening simultaneously. And Gartner calls this looping. It’s going in and out of these different buying jobs throughout the process for B2B buyers.
Now these are the things that buyers do before getting to the validation phase and here’s where content come in to play.
If you think about these things that B2B buyers do when gathering information, this series as an opportunity to intercept that search, that conversation, that engagement in social media and begin to influencer the buyers through this funnel.
So if you look under problem identification, you’ll notice a few things. You’ll see a web search, you’ll see research, downloading a white paper. These are all buyer actions that you can use to create demand. You can create content as it relates to a problem in your industry and then answer the questions with why your software can solve that problem.
If you’ve optimized that content the right way from an SEO standpoint, you’ll begin to rank well in Google for the terms that B2B buyers use when researching software.
If you look at solution exploration, you’ll see more Google searches, online and peer discussions and LinkedIn engagement. This is a great way to activate employees to participate in technology conversations and influence B2B buyers through the purchase funnel.
In requirements building, you see more web searches and seeking validation from former colleagues and industry experts. This reason alone should be enough for you to activate an influencer marketing program so that you can influence the B2B buyers using 3rd party validation.
And then lastly you have customer testimonials, videos and social media conversations. These are all pretty straight forward.
Now if this were me, I would map out all the content that I have, find the gaps, and then build a content matrix so I can see what content I could use for each B2B buying job.
Now, going back to the last video about using data to inform a B2B content strategy, and understanding audience and the affinities they have. These are all inputs you can use about B2B buyers to inform your content strategy – the narrative, headlines, social content press releases, web content, paid search and paid social.
Everything you do to reach B2B buyers should be build using data; and then thinking about the data you want to use to drive lead generation and demand.