In the digital age we live in, customers hold the flag in competition. And when it comes to brands’ marketing strategies, we know one thing for sure: Today’s digitally-savvy customers no longer accept push-style communication methods.
As a result, brands from various industries embrace inbound marketing to reach their audience at customer-driven touchpoints. And this is when the power of content comes into play because content marketing allows target customers to gain information about the service or product they are searching for while influencing their decisions at the right moments.
We don’t have to emphasize the impact of content marketing any further, the numbers speak for themselves. For example, the Content Marketing Institute surveyed companies about what they would focus on in 2021, and 70% said content creation.
But when it comes to the influence of content marketing actions, we need to state the difference. Since customers and touchpoints vary for companies from different industries, so do the sales cycles. Especially when it comes to B2B sales cycles of niche industries such as tech businesses, the whole process is way more challenging. Thus:
So, why is content marketing so important for B2B tech companies? Let’s dive into the factors in detail.
B2B sales cycles are not linear since they include complex dynamics in the decision-making process along with high price points. And since your high-tech service or product offers very specific solutions to companies, they need to understand why they need it first.
These challenges in closing a sale with B2B customers translate into numbers: Studies found that 13% of leads convert to opportunities and the average time for conversion is 84 days. And, the conversion rate is even lower: Only 6% of leads convert to deals while it takes only 18 days on average to convert.
Therefore, B2B companies need to adapt their content marketing strategies to meet expectations accordingly. For instance, you can show helpful content on your leads’ consideration phase such as blog posts, detailed comparisons of the benefits, use cases, success stories, or remarketing actions like personalized automated emails. And make sure that your content marketing efforts should always deliver value to your customers.
At this point, let’s discover the main challenges in sales for B2B technology companies.
From start point to the decision making, a B2B purchase made through a challenging process for your buyers:
Image: B2B Buyer’s Journey
According to Gartner, complex buying journeys such as B2B tech businesses’ don't follow linear orders anymore. Instead, customers ‘loop’ across a typical B2B purchase, revisiting each buying job at least once.
This dynamic results in multilayered decision-making processes that require overcoming any conflicting opinions: More than three-quarters of the customers Gartner surveyed describe their purchase as ‘very complex or difficult’.
In addition to the core stakeholders such as C-level executives, gatekeepers, technical and financial experts, many people are negotiating the legal terms, and even IT vendors that the firm is already in partnership with are in the decision-making process.
According to the authors of The Challenger Customer, an average of 6.8 stakeholders are involved in a B2B buying decision process. And recent studies indicate this number is now closer to 8.2. This is one of the prominent reasons that complicates and extends the sales process in this niche sector.
Therefore, as a tech company, you need to not only identify these stakeholders but also convince all of them that your solution is in line with their business prospects and challenges.
When it comes to more niche B2B industries such as tech businesses, the sales cycles tend to last for weeks to many months depending on the product.
After all, you are trying to sell complex technology that can impact organizations' infrastructure on different levels. Hence, your prospective customers require a detailed understanding of your product and services. And to close the sale, you need to fully gain the trust of your prospective customers.
When we consider the challenges in B2B tech sales, we can’t overlook customer experience. And it is no wonder why customer experience provided by B2B businesses falls behind B2C ones: In addition to the decision-makers factor, there are other touchpoints at stake here.
As a tech business, you are trying to reach a very specific audience and create meaningful contact with them. Therefore, you need to address these points of interaction and find out if you are missing any.
Ask yourselves: Where do your visitors hear about your brand? Do your touchpoints help your leads find what they want?
If you are offering a tech solution for another business, both the standards and competition are fierce.
This is because you're not only competing with other rivals in the market, but also the constant change and evolution of the technology itself. Innovations can arise on a daily basis, and you need to keep up with the necessary infrastructures and embrace adaptive pricing concepts since there are no durable standards.
And overall, these concepts even imply that you need to be the partners of better processes.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” - Simon Sinek
Because of the challenges we have mentioned above, tech marketers are looking for new channels of targeting and reaching their niche audience. And selling high technology requires marketers to attract leads with a wide range of customer-driven and user-friendly information.
So, what do tech marketers need to offer their potential customers? What does content marketing success imply in this competitive business environment?
The start point of your sales funnel is your visibility, so that you can reach and attract your audience. Concerning this step, Forrester found almost 74% of B2B buyers conduct about half of their total research online before they make an offline purchase.
Hence, search engine visibility is the initial touchpoint in the overall growth funnel. With the correct B2B marketing actions, you can reach and attract high-quality leads at the right moments as they look for the specific solutions only you can provide. And, to get the visibility you need, keywords will be your most important asset for SEO (search engine optimization) activities.
In your SEO activities, make sure you position the content according to the critical keywords and always focus on how your customer is searching for you. For example, they may not search for your services as 'the best CRM solution'; instead they may search for 'how can I accelerate my website performance'.
If you want to learn more about how to improve your search engine visibility, you can check the guide we prepared for you.
Consumer-driven marketing is the accelerator in today's decision-making process that allows you to attract them with helpful information. If you aim for success in the fast-paced market of technological services, you need to especially focus on your audience, not your product.
If you focus on the product features or use the technical jargon in your content especially during the reach/attract stage, you will fail to capture their interest. Remember, at the beginning of the B2B buyer’s journey, your customer is simply trying to identify their problems. Hence, unless they understand why they need your specific product or service, they will see no use in that kind of offering.
The best option to care for your audience’s needs is to provide them with informational content related to their specific problems. For example, understanding the challenges that cybersecurity businesses encounter in lead generation, we focused on lead generation & management strategies for them. Therefore, after you have decided who the buyer persona is, target the problems they are dealing with in your content offerings.
Only if you understand their wants and needs can you build a trustworthy relationship as you convert them to be your customers. And, to bring value to your tech solutions, first, you need to address the reason you offer to them.
In the competitive industry of B2B tech solutions, content marketing will pave the way for your end goal: Becoming a thought leader that your buyers look up to.
Remember, your customer’s journey is extremely complicated. And as you try to both gain new customers and retain the existing ones, the only way to sustainable growth is not only to support the ever-growing B2B tech industry with your industry know-how but also to lead it.
Hence, content marketing is indispensable for you in all your sales activities; it is the key to reach/attract, engage/convert, nurture/close, but specifically for your tech company to retain and grow.
Lastly, if you want to find out how to implement growth-driven content marketing, you can check out our guide for you.