Improve Marketing Funnel Experience for Customers Through Findability and Credibility

November 9, 2020
Contributor: Rupal Bhandari

Showing up in search results or providing high-quality content is no longer enough. To successfully market to B2B buyers, software and SaaS providers need to incorporate a mix of findability and credibility in their marketing efforts.

For most software and SaaS providers, making sure potential customers find their product when searching for software online is a given. Engaging these customers with quality content is also a proven quick win. 

The challenge is creating a balanced mix of being searchable online (findability) and seeming reliable and trustworthy (credibility) on all marketing channels. This balance can be integral to a marketer’s content marketing strategy to ensure that buyers build a connection with the brand on the foundation of trust and experience a consistent and highly engaging customer journey.

As B2B buyers increasingly rely on digital marketing channels through all aspects of their buying process, they must navigate a complex web of online search, landing page, video and text content types, walkthroughs, stakeholder buy-ins and buying group debates. To keep buyers moving toward the final purchase, it is critical for B2B marketers to maintain buyer confidence throughout and ease their buying and purchase process wherever possible.

1. Show up in places your target audience looks for products and information

B2B buyers spend 27% of the time in their buying process researching independently online. The availability of quality information online is prompting a strong shift away from reliance on traditional offline channels such as sales representatives and word-of-mouth referrals, so much so that Gartner expects 80% of all B2B sales interactions to be digital by 2025. 

For example, a buyer looking for a CRM or project management software will begin by searching for “CRM software” or “top project management software” in a preferred search engine. Results will likely display not only the SaaS providers that did a good job at search engine optimization (SEO) but also third-party review websites and third-party pay-per-click (PPC) platforms. Then, it’s likely the potential customer will review social media marketing information and discussion forums to learn more about the SaaS providers or products that interest them. 

Software and SaaS providers must identify, analyze and activate the digital channels and platforms where their targeted customers are most likely to engage, interact and transact with them. 

Pro tip: Discover new marketing channels by mapping customer buying practices and channels of product research against possible gaps in your marketing strategy. Also, try conducting market/product research in incognito mode in a search engine to explore possibly untapped or undertapped marketing channels.

2. Help buyers make the right choice, but do not push them to choose you

Uncertainty is common among B2B buyers, with about 44% reporting they worry that they’ve missed a better opportunity every time they make a purchase. To mitigate such feelings of uncertainty, software providers must focus on building their credibility in the marketplace. 

Buyer enablement content designed to help buyers understand their options and overcome challenges in the buying process goes a long way in meeting that goal. Such content includes buying guides, pricing guides and profit/benefit or ROI calculators.  

But be careful to avoid a digital marketing strategy that treats content consumption or progression through the marketing funnel as purchase progression. Marketers should ensure their content portfolio has the diversity to reach and engage buyers at all stages of their purchase journey, beyond offering thought leadership or analysis of industry trends.

Contrary to five years ago, high-quality content is no longer enough. In fact, 89% of B2B buyers state that the content they come across during their purchase process is high quality. An abundance of high-quality content, however, hinders decision making, by making it 153% more likely for buyers to settle for purchases smaller and less disruptive than originally planned. 

To offset such situations, SaaS providers should highlight their credibility and incorporate a Sense Making approach (i.e., an approach designed to help customers evaluate and prioritize relevant information so they can arrive at their own understanding) into their buyer enablement content. Nearly 80% of the sellers who used the Sense Making approach closed high-quality, low-regret deals, according to Gartner.

Pro tip: Connect with the sales team to identify where leads tend to drop out of the conversion funnel or sales funnel and the common concerns they face in your sales process. Then use that insight to create successful buyer enablement and Sense Making content.

3. Refresh SEO and content strategy at appropriate intervals

For more than a decade, SEO has been integral to marketing by putting content in front of the right audiences and bringing online traffic. However, the dangers of relying on SEO and content marketing come from an approach that is designed to draw attention and clicks and does not get updated at regular intervals. Instead, B2B marketers must ensure the content aligns with their desired customer’s journey, purchase challenges and needs, as well as any market trends or developments. 

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a good example. It gave rise to the trending keyword modifiers “at home” and “remote” in all kinds of software searches. It doesn't take much to guess that marketers who quickly pivoted their SEO strategy to include those keywords and add content around remote working and work from home delivered a superior marketing experience in comparison to those who didn't pivot. 

To fully leverage the power of SEO, start by mapping keywords to each stage of the buyer journey. Refresh those keywords at appropriate intervals, such as monthly or quarterly, or in instances such as new product launches or before a brand refresh. Also watch out for external factors such as digital conversations, social media trends or socioeconomic events that might give birth to new keywords and content opportunities to improve findability and credibility. 

Pro tip: SEO doesn’t end at typed search: 17% of buyers regularly use smart speakers and 22% of smartphone users frequently use voice search, according to a 2019 Gartner survey (full report available to Gartner clients only). Marketers should explore the viability of voice-based channels and tap into them to improve voice search rankings.

The bottom line: Show up and help buyers make sense

A strategy centered on a combination of findability and credibility not only improves buyer experience but also helps increase deal sizes while tamping down purchase regrets. B2B buyers who receive helpful information are three times as likely to buy the bigger, more expensive option, with less regret. 

Abandon an exclusive push to sell; instead focus on showing up where buyers are and help them make sense of the wealth of information available. 

Learn how B2B social media marketing is more than just posting witty content with our Insights post, “Social Media Best Practices for B2B Businesses.
Rupal Bhandari

Rupal Bhandari covers sales and account management markets. She received her master’s degree from the University of Delhi, India, and has created content for some of the world’s leading technology products and companies. Connect with Rupal on LinkedIn.

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