In the world of consumer goods, purchase decisions are often made instantaneously and on a whim.
“This blouse is exactly my style! I’ve gotta have it!”
“I’ve been wanting a PlayStation 4 forever. Finally it’s mine!”
“This tent is just what we were looking for. I don’t even need to ask the wife, I’m buying it now.”
Even large, life-changing purchases can sometimes be triggered in a snap.
“This car is perfect for me. I was going to check out a few other dealerships but no need; I’ll take it!”
Of course, in B2B, this is rarely the case. Recently, we discussed the expanding nature of today’s buying committee, which is part of the reason business purchase journeys are only growing longer.
Recent data suggests that 75% of sales cycles for new customers run at least four months, with almost half (46%) taking seven months or more. And since this is based on overall aggregated data, it’s safe to say that larger organizations and enterprises are more likely to fall on the top end of that range and beyond.
Of course, such high-value prospective customers are generally the most coveted for providers of B2B solutions, so being able to engage and persuade these buyers (and committees) over time — not to mention accelerate this process — is of the essence for B2B content marketers.
So, let’s examine some content planning steps you can take to do so effectively in the current B2B marketing landscape.
Why Is the Sales Cycle Getting Longer?
Indecision appears to be the most common driver. New research from Aberdeen, featured in the report Why Do B2B Buyers Struggle? The Answer is in the Data, shows 53% of buyers saying they halt or postpone decisions on at least half of their B2B purchases.
Aberdeen Buyer Research on Long Sales Cycles
When asked why they’ve cancelled or postponed purchases, two-thirds of buyers called out lack of differentiation between solutions as the most typical cause. Another 57% say they decided no vendor meets their needs.
How can content marketing play a role in overcoming these gridlocks, and the power of corporate inertia? When delays and stalling are unavoidable, how can you we make sure your brands stay top-of-mind rather than slipping by the wayside?
Counteracting Prolonged Sales Cycles with Content Planning
Selling to enterprise customers is a marathon, not a sprint. Becoming pushy or trying to force a decision will get you nowhere. However, the right strategic content planning can be pivotal in gently nudging a prospect toward your solution, as well as accelerating the process of making the call. Here are a few smart techniques to incorporate.
Use an Always-On Approach
We need to keep buyers engaged throughout this extended cycle, and always-on marketing programs are the ticket. Rather than being encased in ephemeral campaigns, your marketing cadence is perpetually ongoing. You want prospects to be able to find and engage with your brand at any time throughout their lengthy consideration.
As our Vice President of Client Accounts Alexis Hall wrote last year: “Campaigns 工作职能邮件数据库 can absolutely drive valuable spikes in traffic, engagement, or conversions, as well as help you target specific audiences or verticals. But you need to be able to nurture the audience you’ve built beyond the confines of the campaign—otherwise you’re not only wasting your budget, but also leaving longer-term value and opportunity on the table.”
Longer buying cycles necessitate spreading out our content for maximum exposure and impact over time; always-on is designed for this purpose.
Align Content with Buyer Stages
The customer journey is no longer a predictable linear path, but the old pillars — awareness, consideration, decision — remain viable as overarching guides. Is your content mapped to address each phase properly under the Attract, Engage, Convert framework? For instance:
Get your brand on the radar with easily discovered digital assets and insights
Build trust with credible information, consistent output, and thought leadership
Answer questions that tend to arise as customers are first recognizing their need
Collaborate with a range of relevant influencers around important, trending topics or pain points within your niche to gain targeted visibility
Use paid promotional tactics and remarketing to ensure key messaging connects with qualified prospects
Generate content across various channels and formats to meet your customers where they’re at during self-driven research
Analyze your competitors’ content strategies, and identify white space or opportunities to establish distinction
Collaborate with prominent influencers around more specific topics relating to purchase decisions and solution differentiation