Don’t forget demand generation

If you’ve been in the B2B industry for an extended time, you have probably noticed the buying cycle is getting longer and customers are more likely to contact sales reps later in the process. Salesforce cited data from DemandGen, which revealed 90 percent of buyers will reach out to you when they’re ready.

Technology has redefined B2B marketing and sales, and this means customers will no longer tolerate Internet marketing methods that come across as too salesy. The expectation is that B2B vendors provide relevant content to educate buyers during the purchasing cycle. However, this can present a significant challenge to marketers. Stage-based marketing can support demand generation initiatives and lead to better results.

Demand generation involves bringing customers to you. Marketers can align their techniques with buyer preferences by offering different types of content throughout the sales funnel. Not only can this help you cater to what prospects want from your marketing team, it can also facilitate the process of moving leads from one stage to the next.

Why you need demand generation

Inbound marketing is more important than ever, according to BtoB magazine. In fact, the majority of demand generation will come from inbound techniques in the future. Shifts in buyer behavior have created the need for you to adapt your Internet lead generation techniques.

Because B2B customers have greater access to information than ever before, they are more likely to trust colleagues in the industry rather than content that comes from brands. This means you need to build trust and serve prospects instead of always delivering sales pitches. In the B2B environment, it’s highly likely that your leads will have consulted their peers for opinions on different vendors.

People are more connected than ever and more interested in self-service information, the magazine said. Mobile devices mean leads can research on the go. B2B research may not be limited to just the office anymore. Citing Google, BtoB said 59 percent of buyers make purchase decisions at home.

Because of these significant shifts, the buying cycle is no longer a linear journey. B2B marketers need ways to get the customer journey under control, and this is where demand generation comes into play.

Matching content to stages of the buying cycle

Similar to how there are different steps in the customer’s journey, your marketing efforts should have clear steps.

In the beginning of the funnel, content should include minimal mentions of your company or product offerings, Salesforce said. Customers may still be in the stage of identifying their own pain points so overly promotional content won’t be effective. The right content can improve prospects’ awareness of issues within their businesses.

Content in the middle of the funnel can be more targeted. For example, case studies are more effective at this stage of the game because they can demonstrate how a particular product offering can help a business cope with their pain points.

For buyers, the last stage of the funnel is more about selecting the right vendor because they have already decided to purchase a product. This is when your content should include a sales emphasis to sell leads on your offerings.

While outlining the stages of the buying cycle to tailor content for customers may seem like a challenge, a marketing automation platform can streamline this process. These tools can help you perform lead nurturing with email marketing to have a better idea of where prospects are in the buying cycle. As demand generation becomes more important to reach the modern empowered customer, implementing marketing technology can ensure you aren’t selling too early or missing leads.