Buying into the future: the evolution of the IT buyers’ journey
A successful enterprise technology purchase is “one that meets the expectations of stakeholders in delivering against the use cases for which it was bought,” according to Gartner. But with buyers’ journeys evolving, what’s the best way of marketing to your target audience?
Recently, B2B buyers have continued along the path pioneered by B2C customers: they’ve accelerated use of digital channels (given a kick-start by the events of the pandemic), and today’s B2B buyers now want a great omnichannel experience underpinned by personalized marketing.
How have buyers’ teams changed? According to TechTarget, the past few years have seen buying teams grow to 9.9 members. The purchasing process has become more complex than ever, with the decision-making process now taking 9-12 months.
The balance of power has shifted in the sales situation. With access to more, better-qualified information than ever, buyers are now better informed. They’re more prepared and knowledgeable when they engage in the buying process, meaning they know what they want a lot more than they used to.
So, you can’t just “sell” to them – buyers have more power than that now. You have to shift from selling to helping. And that means knowing as much about your buyer as possible and engaging them in a personalized, tailored way with the content you provide.
The ABM evolution
Account-based marketing (ABM) has become increasingly vital and represents an evolution in traditional B2B marketing. Pure lead generation no longer suffices as a desired outcome: B2B companies must now generate leads and nurture ongoing relationships across all targets, however high a priority the sales team decrees any particular account to be.
ABM has become a key tool in the strategic marketing toolkit. It helps marketers profile the appropriate people at a customer and provide them with high-quality, relevant content. And that high-quality content creates opportunities for interactions at every touchpoint along the buyer journey.
Because engaging with your buyers is no now about so much more than knowing the names and job titles of your target people within a customer account. So marketing has to work as one with sales to develop persona-based buyer’s journey maps and tailor content to the buyer’s journey.
Understanding your buyers and giving them what they want
ABM can give marketers power and control that they’ve not previously had. It helps you identify targets better than before, but that’s just an opening salvo: from then on, ABM helps you help your customers by, in conjunction with sales, implementing targeted, effective relationship-building activities with your chosen audiences.
It addresses the evolved buyer journey by being continuous. Having identified your targets, you can provide them with tailored content that increases product and brand awareness, improves the quality of leads, and increases the chances of conversion.
ABM and the importance of quality content
According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, 71% of B2B marketers say content marketing is more important to their brand’s success this year than last year. Further, 73% of B2B marketers say they already have a content marketing strategy, and 20% plan to implement one in 2023.
For your ABM to be successful, you need a deep understanding of your identified targets:
• how they buy
• how they interact with you and each other
• what their challenges and pain points are
• what their content preferences are at every stage of the buying journey
Formulating a persona-based buyer’s journey map is a good place to start laying out the content you need to provide them with to keep them engaged and excited about dealing with your company and coming back to buy from you again and again.
Is your ABM campaign not yielding the expected results? Executed correctly, ABM can be an effective tool in the B2B marketer’s toolbox, but it can also be costly and underwhelming if you don’t take the right approach. Creating correctly targeted content is the key to success.
Download our guide to demystifying ABM to find out how to:
- Research and select the best targets for your ABM campaign
- Develop buyer personas that are interested in your products and services
- Create targeted messages that resonate with your audience
- Build the content mix that keeps your readers engaged