More is better when it comes to the number of channels technology product marketers need to best convert leads into customers. That’s the take-away from a recent Gartner survey of 500 technology and service providers with $10 million or more in revenue.
“Many technology and service providers focus investment on limited channels rather than spreading their marketing spending too thin across too many channels,” says Christy Ferguson, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “Gartner found that this is not the best strategy, and that a broader multichannel marketing mix is necessary to increase awareness and build the pipeline.”
“ Adjust the channel mix depending on whether prospects are in the explore, evaluate or engage stage of the buying cycle”
The survey found that technology service providers using more than 10 channels in their marketing campaigns saw a 7% increase in conversion rates across the marketing funnel over firms using fewer than 10 channels. Yet the majority of providers surveyed rely on fewer, lower-cost channels such as email, social media and organic traffic to drive conversion.
To maximize demand conversion, successful technology product marketers need a broad mix of channels and content. The most successful technology product marketers adjust the channel mix depending on whether prospects are in the explore, evaluate or engage stage of the buying cycle.
Customer Phase: Exploratory
Customers in the explore stage have an issue they want to address and have begun to research possible solutions. They have not yet committed to buying anything.
During this exploratory stage, customers will visit websites or read publications dedicated to their topic of interest. They will also contact influencers in the market and participate in peer communities dealing with the same issue.
Technology product marketers should put their message on channels that facilitate such exploration. These include informational websites, publications, and conferences or tradeshows. Take steps to woo influencers and introduce them to your product, so they are more likely to mention you in conversation with prospective buyers.
Customer Phase: Evaluating the options
During this stage, customers make a shortlist of providers and conduct due diligence to understand the features that differentiate providers from each other. Your goal at this stage is to make sure your product is on the list and that prospects have the information they need to compare you favorably with alternatives.
The channels to emphasize include owned channels such as proprietary websites and social channels. Also consider paid channels such as paid social, retargeting based on prospect behavior and highly targeted email.
Customer phase: Engaging the sales team
This is the stage at which prospective customers are ready to engage with a sales team or channel partner. The channels used to connect with and cultivate customers include a telephone call from a sales person, a meeting at a trade event, or a direct sales or partner contact.
Channels are not specific to any given stage. Product marketers may use a particular channel, such as social media or a proprietary website, at all stages. The specific content offered and the storyline of that content will get more personalized, however, as the prospect progresses through the cycle.
Consider the audience mix
A final consideration when developing a multichannel strategy is that the buying committee for a given solution may include people at different levels of the organization, such as senior or executive leaders, functional-unit heads and front-line staff.
Each buying committee member may use a different mix of channels at each of the three stages as they explore, evaluate and engage. Likewise, they will each bring a different lens to the process, driven by the issues important to them. Using a variety of channels and honing product content to the audience by stage will increase relevance, ultimately improving conversion rates and campaign results.