In the last 5 years alone there has been a significant shift in how B2B buyers find out about your product and services; assessing your offering long before they speak to your sales departments. The impact this has on how we, as marketers, sell (or help people buy) is quite dramatic. In this blog post, we’ll look at the trends, opportunities and challenges this presents for B2B marketers.
How B2B buyers identify products that solve their problems
Go back five years and the first port of call to find any software product was usually a Google search. In a lot of cases, it still is, but it’s diminishing. A lot, and I mean, A LOT, of people will tell you this is still the case, which is why you need to plough so much into your search strategy and really focus on Google.
Back then, I saw small software companies ploughing five figure sums into the Google paid ads, complaining that the results weren’t as good as they used to be. They put it down to competition.
I questioned that. It was only a theory, but not the only theory.
We did some investigation work and the results were astounding. On some the key terms or topic areas for our software clients, the search volumes were seeing a sharp downward trend. Don’t take my word for it – take a look for yourself.
Help desk software:
Document management software:
This isn’t true of all software sectors and the charts only relate to those specific terms, but where once they drove mountains of converting traffic, we started to see the traffic decreasing along with the conversions and ROI.
The question to ask is: where is everyone going? The market wasn’t saturated and sales were still good, but conversions weren’t coming from search.
I don’t want this to be about search, as that’s not the point. The thing we were looking to discover is where people were finding out about the products and services, so we could refocus our efforts there.
A few thoughts on this were:
Searchers were getting savvy to Google search advertising and seeking out other channels of trust that can tell them about the best products and services. This naturally leans to a few things:
- Peer-to-peer questions and answers on social media
- Peer review sites such as G2 Crowd
- Face-to-face questions
- Analyst reviews such as Gartner
- and others too
Diversifying your digital strategy
Given the trends we were seeing it was clear that those businesses not only needed to rethink their search strategy, but needed to consider diversifying their digital marketing strategy.
That’s not just about having an excellent SEO strategy and paid search strategy, but taking a look at the customer and their behaviour – how they find you and how they buy.
Putting the customer first and assessing where they’re coming from, how they interact on the website, how fast they move through the sales process and whether they convert enables you to inform your digital strategy and refocus your efforts. The result – your marketing spend in more appropriate, higher converting areas and better ROI.