In a recent post, we talked about creating business to business (B2B) content to help improve your lead conversion rate – as well as the need to keep it educational to speak to the needs of visitors early in the sales funnel. Now you may be wondering what kind of marketing offers will best convert your leads into sales.
Before you jump in and start blatantly promoting your products and services, consider this quote from content marketing evangelist Joe Pulizzi in his book, Epic Content Marketing:
“We need to focus more on our customers and less on our products. Yes, you heard that right: to sell more, we need to be marketing our products and services less.”
Because converting leads to sales in the “evaluation stage” of the buyer’s journey takes time. Just because a B2B lead converts on your website, doesn’t mean they are ready to make a purchase or even to see a product demo or request a quote.
According to the results of a 2016 DemandGen research study, almost half of respondents said their B2B buying process has lengthened to incorporate heavier research from a wider variety of sources. As a rule of thumb, the higher the price of your products and services, the more time will be spent in this phase of the process.
It marks a critical point in your leads’ journey because it’s where they start eliminating solutions that don’t meet their needs. So unlike early stage offers that concentrate on showing different ways you can solve their problems, your middle of the funnel offers will ultimately show why your products and services make the most sense. But this has to be achieved without hard sales tactics or obvious pitches.
Nurture your leads down the funnel
Think of the evaluation stage as a period of extended engagement where you provide B2B content designed to nurture your leads, build relationships, and establish trust in your brand – not just push your products and services. This lead nurturing process, when done right, can result in a second conversion on a lower funnel offer, so you can give your sales team highly qualified leads without having to make any cold calls.
The results are worth the effort.
B2B companies with a refined middle-of-the-funnel engagement and lead management strategy see a 4–10 times higher response rate compared to generic email blasts and outreach (HubSpot).
Demonstrate your expertise
B2B buyers gravitate towards content that includes thought leaders, third-party analysts, and peer reviews (DemandGen 2016). It’s no surprise then that some of the most effective types of content in the evaluation stage are expert guides, webinars, and whitepapers – marketing offers that shows your business is trustworthy and an expert in your field.
Speak to different lead segments
DemandGen research also indicates that one of the top reasons business buyers choose one vendor over another is because they display a stronger knowledge of their company and its unique needs. So while you can – and should – offer some content that features your products and services, it has to be focused on how specifically they will solve your leads’ problems. Personalize your middle-funnel content to different B2B buyer personas, and use metrics to determine who’s doing what and when, and serve up content accordingly.
Include bottom of the funnel offers
Don’t forget about people edging closer to making a buying decision. You can combine “bottom-of-the-funnel” offers like case studies, demos, and trials with your middle-funnel offers to capture all segments at an earlier stage of the decision making process – and to position yourself as a preferred provider. Just make sure these types of offers aren’t your main focus.
Offering the right inbound marketing content is key to conversion rate optimization – and it’s just as important in the later stages of the buying process. Download our free e-book for more tips on creating B2B content for every stage of the sales funnel.