A new paradigm in B2B lead generation has taken hold.
This was confirmed by Google in a recent article published in their business to business digital marketing report Think Insights. Over the course of two years, Google, in conjunction with CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council, surveyed 1,500 professionals who were involved in major purchases for several big B2B companies.
The survey results revealed that today’s business buyers navigate over half of the sales process without speaking to a sales person.
In the past, the sales process was drastically different and relied heavily on direct marketing techniques. These techniques often included activities like telemarketing, direct mail and advertising campaigns, which sought to reach potential customers through direct messaging placed where they where likely to be seen.
In most cases, these techniques were somewhat inefficient. For instance, placing an ad meant that in order to reach one qualified prospect, you often paid to reach hundreds or thousands of unqualified prospects, too.
The internet has changed the way your customers are buying your services and products. Search engines offer a deluge of information, from blogs to reviews of your products and your company, and gives customers accessibility to vast numbers of vendors and services with a single search. As a result, the process of sourcing business needs has changed.
How are businesses sourcing and buying services in today's economy?
According to Google's survey, business needs are typically sourced in the following manner:
- Purchasing employee(s) determine business needs
- Conduct internet research, reviewing well-known supplies and companies they are familiar with
- The internet is again utilized to gather additional information, reviewing blogs, web forums and similar resources
- A list of 3-4 vendors is developed and they are invited to present
- A vendor is selected
This process reveals two highly important opportunities for B2B marketers.
- Your products and services need to appear in search engine results.
- Static "brochure-like" websites are unlikely to result in significant B2B lead generation. The sourcing process above reveals something equally important about how you need to appear in the search engine results. A search engine result that leads prospects to a website featuring branding, product and service information is only fulfilling part of your prospect’s needs. Your prospects are looking to blogs, reviews, web forums and other interactive resources to choose vendors.
Your prospects are searching for information--critical information from trusted resources that will be used to influence their opinion on the 57 percent of the sale that occurs before a sales representative is even contacted.
That's a powerful argument for content marketing. Your website needs to provide your prospects with meaningful, helpful and relevant content in the form of blog posts, white papers, e-books and other resources, where they can download and digest information about how your product or service works, results customers have seen in certain situations, etc.
This website content helps with B2B lead generation when prospects find your website via search engines. Frequently posting relevant website content:
- provides a greater chance for ranking higher in search engine results, and
- will likely provide a competitive advantage over a competitor that has a "static, brochure-like" website.
A business blog is a great vehicle for promoting content, and answering your prospects important questions. Your blog can provide an opportunity to create engaging content that encourages conversations and interactions with your prospects. In addition, you can use your content offerings to gather contact information from qualified prospects, generating leads that can be worked by your sales staff.
A blog can actually be a high-performer for B2B lead generation, since content from the blog increases visibility in search engines, provides content for social media posts, and can be repurposed into other forms of content. Business prospects are willing to share their contact information in exchange for additional or unique content that they cannot get from other sources.
Modern B2B lead generation is about the key information you can provide to help and educate your prospects, and showing them how your products and services can solve problems. Gaining prospects through tactics like content marketing can help build closer bonds which are harder to break than if you acquired those customers through traditional direct marketing techniques.