Is your business running stagnant? Are you observing minimal growth? Have you implemented content marketing in your business? In 2018, digital content marketing is as necessary as your sales team is to your business. Making sales is the foundation of your business. I'm going to show you why digital content marketing is necessary for your business to 10x. We are going to talk about the average age of decision makers, the new customer buying behavior and what the future holds for marketers, all components of which are necessary to understand before you spend a dollar on online ads.
Millenials make 73% of the purchasing decisions in the B2B space. This statistic is significant given the fact that millennials spend one-third of their day on social media. It should not come as a surprise that Millennials and Gen Xers are glued to their smart devices and social media. What is surprising is that 70% of B2B marketers do not have a consistent strategy. (Source: Altimeter) And Millennials and Gen Xers both voted blog articles as their most favorite type of content,(Forbes). These facts make the efforts of most current B2B digital marketing misguided and laughable, especially seeing that content marketing offers three times the leads of traditional marketing while costing around 62% less. (Source: Content Marketing Institute). The average age has shifted and will continue to move towards more tech-savvy individuals who want to experience the same company behaviors they witness as a consumer.
What does this knowledge bombardment mean for you? It implies you have to shift your traditional marketing techniques to a more digitally focused sphere. Instead of marketing events, TV ads, PR Newswires, and radio, move your attention to where your target is. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and more professionally LinkedIn. To prove my point that the emphasis is no longer on traditional styles: How do you react when a TV ad comes on? What happens when the radio station goes to a commercial? Are you engaged in reading that PR Wire? The simple answer is….. the Internet. When a television ad comes on you immediately reach for your phone. Radio, you buy Sirius XM or play Spotify. PR Wires, you go to company online reviews. Back to my point, the millennial decision-maker is not paying attention to your traditional styles! Change it before it is too late and you become irrelevant through their eyes. If millennials are saying blogs and social media content are their favorite forms of online content, do those and learn about the behaviors they present before curation, because, sorry to burst your bubble, that has changed too.
Millennials B2B Buying Behavior
Millennials always seem to be a talking point in today’s business world. The question remains “how do we deal with these damn millennials?” It may seem like this generation of the workforce has had a collective shift in mindset that we all have to abide by. Some characteristics of challenges faced by millennial buyers will be explained along with a solution B2B marketers can implement.
#1: The Availability of Information
The availability of content at an individual’s fingertips has never achieved to the extent it has reached today. The B2B buyer is more educated and informed about their options, meaning that research is being conducted before initial interactions. According to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process.
Resulting in prospects obtaining necessary information about the products and services of your firm before engaging with a sales representative. Candidates are now searching and finding information online, critical information such as feedback, pricing, detailed information, and your competition.
Digital marketing plays a role in guiding prospects down the sales funnel, to the step where sales reps needed to get involved in closing the complex sale. Regarding standing out from mass information, a solution is to offer innovative insights. The modern buyer wants to see that you understand their pain points and the sphere of your product/service is the one they need to solve their issues. Your content should provide the perspective of the market to assist prospects in interpreting the market and why your methods are better than your competitors. Create content that adds value and influences the prospect to move to speak with a sales rep beyond your online sources.
Content that adds value will attract millennials. “Buyers are now as much as 57 percent of the way through the buying process before actually engaging with a seller”.
#2: Social Yet Anti-Social
In the Forrester, “Death of a (B2B) Salesman” report it makes the humbling discovery that “59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve a problem.”
Millennials are using the mass amount of data on the internet to help their buying decisions. The solution to this issue (It's only a problem if you do not produce regular content) is to add value to the customer consistently. Ultimately building trust, before the researcher (Prospect) even enters the saleroom.
The modern buyer does not want to hear a sales pitch. They want to learn something. They want solutions to real problems. The important fact that every modern salesperson should know is “B2B buyers are 5x more likely to engage with a sales professional who provides new insights into their business or industry” (LinkedIn). The reason buyers are more likely to engage in businesses that produce content online is that they are building trust, and people are more willing to do business with people or companies they trust over ones they are unfamiliar with.
#3: Socially-Influenced Customers
This point aligns with long-term goals that I brought up in a previous article: becoming a “thought leader”. People look to other people and their experiences to gain insight on if they are making the correct decision. LinkedIn found that 3 out of 4 B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions, and Influitive.com data asserts that word-of-mouth recommendations from peers influence over 90% of all B2B buying decisions.
People are socially influenced by others. What you can do in this situation to increase your amount of buyers is: help prospects make informed decisions through content, have an online community that trust you and use organic face to face relationships to build respect amongst your industry.
#4: A New Decision-Making Process
Sales reps deal with an increasing number of stakeholders within the decision-making process. There is more emphasis being placed on assisting the group of stakeholders to reach a valid decision. There are roughly 7 - 20 people with all different backgrounds, titles, and mindsets that are contributing to making decisions for their respected companies, therefore, decreasing the likelihood of a purchase.
How do we, as digital content marketers, rebel against this? We have to understand the buyer and their pain points and personalize content towards them through hyper-targeting. With a complete buyer profile/persona you will become more aware of what content to present and how.
B2B buyers are more informed and have higher standards than ever before because of the immense amount of data/information that is available. Traditional sales strategies will continue to be ineffective. To see continued success in today’s world of the modern buyer, sales reps must understand the buyer's persona, add consistent value, and engage with buyers early on in the purchasing process by presenting them with relevant content.
In brief, you must use technology to your benefit to perfect practices and processes, understand the needs of your buyers, present them with solutions and convert them into a customer, while retaining and educating your current ones.
What Does the Future Hold?
Once you are running digital content marketing within your business, the question is “how do we scale this content?” To answer this question companies need to do some intuitive thinking of what their long-term goals are and where is the market leaning? Tough questions but through industry insight and advanced research, I can give you some particular points of where the market is taking us in the next 10 to 15 years and how to market on them.
First, this is 2018, and I always hear experienced business people say “Video is huge now.” Yea no way, it has always been big, what do you think Cable TV was in the 50’s? Yea the most significant advertising network in the developed world. To understand the future of marketing, you have first to understand the past: the video has been prominent since its introduction in the mid-1900's, along with voice on the radio and blog articles in the newspaper.
The way we consume content has not changed only the platforms in which we consume. It is safe to say that we will always consumer content the same way just the platforms will continue to evolve. We will consistently consume, visually and through audio. Voice is the channel that has grown the most in 2018. Two - Three years ago barely anyone was listening to podcasts, in 2018 it is one of the most effective ways of consuming content. With Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Dot, and growth of Voice AI devices, voice is going to become even more relevant, and we as marketers will have to decide on how to market on these platforms. When a customer is searching via voice in the next five to ten years, Alexia will favor Amazon products/services, while Google will support the sites that have the most optimized website. Facebook will be astronomically more expensive, as larger companies realize that is where the attention is they are going to drive up the cost of advertisements per thousand, turning themselves more into a media company than a social media.
Regarding visual content on the five to ten-year scale. Video quality is going to continue to improve with more personalizations of visual content, other than that when AR and VR achieve critical mass, we are going to be consuming an extensive amount of material with devices that engage us. Therefore marketers will have to advertise in a more engaging/interactive manner than the present to win the game of scale.
Solution orientated businesses who predict oppose to will be ahead of the game when these new technologies achieve critical mass. Asking the questions, “how do we personalize our information, how do we have customers interact with our information in AR/VR, and how do we get favored by AI voice platforms?” The answer is… start thinking NOW.
It is an obsolete question to ask if digital marketing is necessary for B2B because of the data presented. It is 100% essential for the survival of your company. The average age of decision-makers has decreased and 73% of them are millennials. The process of buying has changed everything because of the Internet and the immense amount of data available, and the future holds an even more interactive/engaging outlook of advertising than the present. Traditional methods are not going to be able to keep up with the digital influx. Digital offers a cheaper, more effective way to market, but the time is now while Facebook ads are going for 7 USD per thousand impressions as opposed to 80 USD per thousand 5-10 years from now.
Every company must become a media company in 2018. This means that no matter what industry, geography, or culture you are operating in, a major transformation in how you address marketing and engaging media is necessary.
Contact our Dreamline Digital experts now in the link below to get started on your content marketing innovation.