Virtually every business professional will agree that a good website is highly valuable for their company. The problem, is many can’t tell you what that value is, especially in regard to sales productivity if sales cannot be traced directly back to a website.
Fortunately, you do not necessarily have to establish a direct correlation between your website and a sale to certify your site’s value. The real value of a good website lies in its ability to support the sales process and provide incentive in the form of valuable content that can encourage sales. The key, of course, is content that provides the relevant, actionable information prospects are seeking. Content that gently nudges them into engaging in a dialog with your organization and provides you with an opportunity to positively influence purchasing.
This relatively new concept of “content marketing” is perhaps most valuable in the business-to-business (B2B) marketplace. As business buyers make increasingly sophisticated purchases they seek out increasing amounts of information to better inform the decision-making process. With reams of data instantly available on the Web with just a few mouse-clicks, it should be no surprise that decision-making is taking longer as more information spawns more questions. That can also drag more people into the process – studies have revealed that major B2B purchasing now involves, on average, 6.8 stakeholders, up from 5.4 just two years ago.
The reality today is that, whether we like it or not, the Web drives sales. In fact, a recent Forrester study has revealed that 74 percent of executives researching purchases use the internet as their first choice for information about products and the companies that sell them. It stands to reason, then, that with the increase in the number of stakeholders involved in purchasing decisions and their preference for getting information on the Web, having a website that is optimized for sharing information is crucial.
It starts by realizing that your website can be a far more powerful tool than just a lead-generator. Designed and provisioned properly, it can be an effective marketing and sales tool at every step of the prospect’s journey from lead to customer. Content created for each phase of the sales process should resonate with prospects based on the trigger events that would cause them to seek your specific solution. As questions arise at each stage, ideally you have content ready to effectively address them. All of this content and prospects’ engagement with it will build trust in your brand and your sales team because your business and salespeople are acting as helpful, informative agents in the purchasing decision process – and not annoying order-takers simply urging the prospect to buy.
The key to being able to effectively engage your prospects and provide meaningful information throughout the sales process is thoroughly understanding who they are, their needs, and what motivates them. This is collectively known as your “target customer persona” and it is the single most important element of your entire sales and marketing effort -- because if you do not understand your target audience and what they really want, you stand little chance of convincing them you have what they need.
Now, some might think that you need all sorts of sophisticated data mining software, complex algorithms, and mountains of Big Data to develop your target customer persona. You do not. You can start by talking with your top-performing sales reps. He or she should be able to provide you with some keen insights into your customers and what motivates them. After all, if they didn’t have a thorough understanding of the people they’re selling to, they wouldn’t be top performers. If your organization believes it requires outside help gathering marketing information, then a good place to start is with a buyer persona project through a reputable marketing consultant.
Once you thoroughly understand your target audience and have a clear picture of your target customer persona you’ll have a good idea of the questions they might ask in the process of considering a purchase. This will provide you with the opportunity to answer those questions through blog posts and nurturing tools such as email, social media posts and paid search that leads them back to your supporting information in a blog or an eBook.
It’s critical that your messaging and positioning statements are consistent across all platforms and communications channels –desktop and mobile, social media, paid search, even chat. Consistency helps retention, which helps recall, which helps build visibility, which ultimately helps build your brand and its value in the eyes of the customer. That’s how an efficient marketing and sales process works.
Don’t look at your digital marketing initiatives as only a lead generation activity. Consider it an integral partner with sales, much in the same way as you would view sales operations or other support staff that make your sales effort more efficient.
Most marketing platforms provide businesses with a way to trace every lead to its source. When marketing automation platforms are integrated with a sales CRM system, a business can trace the path of every sale from the first contact all the way through to the close. So, even though your digital marketing may not generate the initial contact with a client, the content it provides surely has an influence on them or one of the dozen other stakeholders at their company who has a say in the purchase.
Today, a company’s online presence can be complex, layered and nuanced. It is no longer enough to simply maintain a static website. Consumers – including B2B buyers – are hyper-connected, well-informed, and demand a rich, satisfying online experience that maximizes the availability of valuable, actionable information with minimal hassle. Traditional “analog” sales strategies will no longer work in a digital age.
The mission of Bristol Strategy is to assist B2B companies and other organizations transition to digital marketing and take advantage of the dynamic opportunities that exist online to connect, engage, and influence today’s B2B buyers.
Bristol Strategy is a full funnel inbound marketing agency and inbound sales agency offering the full complement of Inbound Marketing services that enable our clients to surpass their business objectives by transforming the way they engage with their buyer on-line. Reach out to us to learn more about how our experience and capabilities can help your business grow.Image Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo