Business-to-business conversion may seem like any other kind of CRO task, but it’s not that simple.
In an environment of longer and more complex sales cycles, you need to be even more focused on providing value to your prospects than usual. Most of the time, however, your customers will only contact you once they’re close to making a decision. Your big challenge is to convince potential customers that you’re the vendor or service provider they’re looking for even before they come knocking (or landing on your website) or calling.
The B2B Buying Journey
Understanding the B2B buying process is crucial to making your web pages and marketing campaigns more effective. While the B2B journey is highly similar to B2C, you don’t want to make the mistake of ignoring the dynamics inherent in B2B purchases:
- B2B is usually focused on generating leads as opposed to online sales
- B2B is a high stakes transaction involving multiple decision makers and gatekeepers in the buying decision
- More expensive products and services mean there is little room for errors, as these tend to be costly for the company.
Hence, the B2B sales cycle is often longer, with decisions often made with high levels of risk-avoidance. B2B buyers will only consider your products or services if they’re sure it will work in their vertical. Your prospects will engage in a complex and long process of research and comparison shopping, often establishing contact with their shortlisted vendors or service providers when they’re at the final stages of their buying process.
If you want to make sure your company will make it to the shortlist, use the five tactics below:
1. Provide valuable content
Information is a big thing in high consideration purchases such as B2B transactions.
B2B buyers often go through a complex information gathering cycle to ensure the reliability of their decisions. So you have to provide them with relevant, valuable content if you want to be even considered during the research stage.
Develop a content strategy based on where visitors are in your funnel. For instance, your goal during the early stages is to build trust and establish your company as an industry authority. Your content should be genuinely helpful and relevant to the various needs of multiple audiences in the prospect company: from the tactical people to the strategic decision makers.
Your content strategy should include a viable plan for multichannel distribution. Once you’ve identified your best performing content, you should be able to release it in different formats across multiple channels.
2. Nurture your leads
Lead nurturing is a critical top-funnel activity in B2B. Marketo estimates that half of your leads are simply not ready to buy. Building a relationship with your prospects and gaining their trust helps in nudging them to the next stage of the funnel.
Think of lead nurturing as gardening. You sow and grow your plants before you can enjoy the harvest. In business, you place your leads into a nurture cycle, possibly using a marketing automation system, and deliver the nourishment they need at certain points in the funnel.
Best practices in nurturing leads involve serving highly targeted, personalized content based on lead behaviors, channels they’re on, and engagement levels. Lead nurturing also contributes to more accurate lead scoring, which allows you to be more effective at identifying prospects who are ready to become buyers.
3. Encourage micro-conversions
The sales cycle for B2B is generally longer so it’s important to keep B2B prospects engaged. This is where micro-conversions can be very beneficial. By getting your prospect to agree to small commitments such as watching a video, following you on social media, or subscribing to your newsletter, you’re already prepping them for a bigger commitment.
The key to effectively utilizing micro-conversions is relevance. Your offers should be valuable and significant enough to persuade your prospects to act. It can be challenging to ask your visitors to download, view, or come back to your website if they don’t see the value of doing so.
Your micro-conversions should be aligned with your content marketing strategy. You should be able to map out the content needs of your visitors at every stage in the buying cycle, and what your micro-conversions are desired to get your prospects closer to the sale.
4. Track interactions at all stages of the funnel
If you’ve gone to the trouble of creating content for your B2B audience, it makes sense that you should be tracking for interactions and performance.
Monitoring the traffic you get for your content and tying them to specific actions or micro-conversions helps you get crucial data for personalizing offers and the user experience. For instance, you can append lead data to a PDF download so you’ll know which channel, campaign, or browser your visitors came from. Depending on which stage the visitor is in your funnel, you can then tailor your web experience to that visitor when they come back to your website.
Your visitors aren’t homogenous. Some of them will move faster through your funnel than the others. Some may even drop off at some point due to lack of fit with your business. But if you have data on how a visitor behaves at a particular stage, you can respond promptly with relevant and compelling offers to successfully convert a good percentage of your visitors or at least move them further down the funnel.
5. Utilize call analytics
In B2B, inbound phone callers are prospects ready to convert.
When a prospect is ready to talk to you, they’re usually close to completing the purchase journey. At this point, it is up to you or your sales team to actually turn the caller into a customer. But how do you make sure your company doesn’t squander any of these high-intent callers? By ensuring the quality of your calls.
This is where call analytics proves valuable. Similar to web analytics, you can put metrics in place to measure call quality and customer service levels. Call analytics can uncover the factors that influence a successful conversion, potentially providing you with call best practices for converting leads to customers. At the same time, it can help in identifying areas for improvement and other problems that cause lost sales.
Make it easy for B2B leads to say YES
Optimizing your B2B funnel takes time and hard work, but you’re already ahead of the pack if you commit to it.
By building trust, keeping buyers engaged, and nurturing leads, you keep your company top-of-mind for prospects during their entire buying journey. In the end, you make it easier and simpler for them to decide to buy from you rather than have to look for another vendor or partner who may not be as trustworthy and responsive as you are.