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How to navigate today’s complex B2B buying process

What’s happening?

According to a study by Demand Gen, during the pandemic B2B buyers across a wide range of categories – from professional services and software to parts and materials – are taking longer to research, longer to purchase, and they’re remaining anonymous as they do it. Consider:

  • 68% of buyers of B2B services saw the length of their purchase cycle increase
  • 82% said purchase decisions now progress based on changing business needs and priorities
  • 77% spend more time researching purchases
  • 71% of buyers say the first three months of their buying process is anonymous
  • 62% said providing content that makes it easier to build a case for purchase was a top five driver of purchase selection

So how do you ensure your content is still set up in a way that drives purchase?

What does this mean?

The B2B buying process, already complex and spanning multiple target audiences involving both sales and marketing, has become even more complicated. And with the expectation of having information at their fingertips, buyers are making the process more self-directed. Giving prospects the information they need, when and how they need it, has become even more critical to B2B sales growth.

What should marketers be doing?

B2B brands should be assessing their entire approach to marketing to ensure that it is supportive of buyer needs and behaviors. Three critical areas to assess include:

  1. Audience understanding. Given their increasing time spent on anonymous research, it is more important than ever to ensure you have a solid understanding of the audiences involved in the purchase decision, as discussed in this previous blog post. While your products or services may be highly relevant, buyers may not always understand how they align with changing business needs and priorities. Understanding the broader landscape and macro issues customers are dealing with, and then figuring out how to put your products/services in the context of those issues, will help your solution become a higher priority.
  2. Content Availability. Just because your team has put out an e-book or thought leadership about your offering does not mean your audience is eager to read it. You must have an easily accessible repository of relevant content that includes the basic building-block information customers are looking for as they begin their independent research. Actually, your content should range from the very basic to more advanced messaging and ideas so you can meet customers wherever they happen to be on their path to purchase. And an always-on nurture campaign can help ensure that when your leads are ready to take that next step, your brand is already top of mind.
  3. Proactive Paid Outreach. If the first three months of their buying process is now anonymous, customers are likely already making short lists without contacting you. And if you aren’t in the consideration set at the beginning, your chances of being there at the end are greatly diminished. Therefore, top-of-the-funnel, awareness-driving advertising is crucial. Not only does it give your organization a chance for consideration, but more than 70% of respondents said they noticed ads from the solution provider they chose during the research process, and 48% said those ads positively impacted their perception of the brand.

Have you revisited your B2B marketing strategy in recent months?

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