Buyers are in the driver’s seat, are you their destination?
In today’s world of “information everywhere,” marketers are no longer in the driver’s seat. Buyers have the world at their fingertips, and they can access product information, reviews, and comparison data 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from the convenience of their couches, offices, and favorite coffee shops.
Buyers—not marketers—are now in the driver’s seat. In fact, one study found that B2B buyers are typically 57% on the way to a buying decision before they even engage with a salesperson (CEB Marketing Leadership Council). Some studies put this as high as 80%. This is where content marketing comes in. By feeding buyers a regular stream of content through a variety of marketing channels, you gradually draw them into the sales funnel and nurture them along until they are ready to buy. To do this, you must serve up that content where they are: in their homes through direct mail; at work through direct mail and email; and out and about through email, mobile, and social media.
Why do you need all of these channels? There are multiple stages in a buyer’s journey, and each channel and type of content is more effective at different stages.
Stage #1: Product/Brand Awareness.
Before someone can make a purchase, they have to become aware of your product or brand. One of the best ways to do this is through direct mail. Email addresses and social media preferences change. Buyers can ignore Internet advertising. But nearly everyone looks at the direct mail that arrives at their homes.
Stage #2: Product Research.
Once buyers are aware of your product or category, they begin their research. The first step is generally the marketer’s website (nearly half of buyers say vendor websites are one of the first three resources they use). You can also use email, marketing collateral, white papers, product samples, and other content to gradually feed buyers information during the research phase.
Stage #3: The Closer
Once they’ve done their research, buyers are ready to contact you. At this point, your calls to action turn from engagement to closing the sale. Use email to follow up on direct mail CTAs or, if you are engaging via email first, follow up with direct mail for a more powerful punch. Mix up your channels because you never know which channels a customer will respond to at any given time.