The business-to-business (B2B) buyer cycle is complex, not because the products are necessarily hard to use, but because the offerings are more sophisticated both in terms of what they can do and on what scale they can do it. Along with this higher level of sophistication comes a matching price tag. And along with this price tag, comes a more curious yet cautious buyer.
The curious and cautious B2B buyers
B2B buyers are curious about how a product can make life easier and business better; however, they are also more cautious when making purchases because a mistake can be costly both for the company and their career.
B2B purchases also generally involve multiple players who each have a stake in the final product chosen.
Because of these two things, in order to win a B2B sale you first have to build trust, demonstrate how reliable your product is, and show how it is suitable for the particular business you’re speaking with. This all means the B2B sales cycle is often very lengthy.
How to go from first contact to signed contract faster
To go from first contact to signed contract faster, we recommend using campaign landing pages that employ segmentation based on a variety of factors including the type of buyer you’re talking with or his/her place in the buyer cycle. Landing page segmentation means giving users simple choices that let them put themselves into a bucket. With segmentation you ask “who are you” and “what are you looking for?” and then provide targeted content based on that information.
Each B2B customer will be thinking about products in the context of his or her own position. The faster you determine each customer’s perspective, and can mirror their concerns with benefits, the faster you’ll both move on to the next step. Segmentation is the perfect way to get this done…fast.
Here’s a great example of how one firm used segmentation to optimize their media spend and increase conversions:
Mini Case Study
Challenge: A large virtualization company launched a paid search campaign to generate leads for their compliance solutions for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). The search campaign directed respondents to a topic-specific microsite that resulted in only a .5% conversion rate of mostly unqualified leads.
Objective: The objective of the new campaign was to target hospital purchasing decision makers so as to generate qualified leads.
Solution: The new campaign needed to “weed out” respondents who were not part of the target audience, and hit decision makers with messaging that was specific to their hospital’s size and subsequent needs.
A segmented landing page was created to direct respondents down conversion paths focused on the needs of their hospital based on size (see image above).
Results: Upon conducting a post-click marketing segmentation analysis—in real time—the company immediately learned that more than 70% of respondents were not in their target audience of hospital decision makers.
Even with only 30% of the respondents in the target audience, conversion rates still soared 556%, based in large part on the directed paths and audience-specific messaging.
Within 10 days of launch, data revealed that respondents from Google were better qualified and were converting at a higher rate than respondents from other search engines in the media buy. By week three of the campaign, the budget was moved entirely to Google, and further testing of the segmented landing page resulted in an almost 2,500% lift in conversions.
The bottom line is the B2B buyer cycle will always require thoughtful consideration because of the sophistication of the offerings. However, with targeted online experiences we can shorten the length of time between first contact to signed contract.
Anna Talerico is the executive VP of ion interactive (@ioninteractive), the maker of LiveBall, a landing page management platform. Anna loves working with the sales and client services teams at ion to increase conversions for companies like American Greetings, DHL and Bronto Software.