A recent study by Televerde suggests that at least 80% of customers’ decision-making happens before they ever speak to a sales representative, even in the B2B space. Customers are doing their own research, usually online, and making their own decisions. Drawing on the report, here are our top ten things to note about this group of buyers.
The rise of self-reliant buyers has meant a huge increase in the importance of marketing
If 80% of decision-making happens before any contact with sales teams, that means that material online is massively important. And who is responsible for online content? Marketing teams. Overall, 80% of marketers agreed that self-reliant buyers have increased the importance of marketing in their organisations.
The increased importance of marketing has not been matched by revenue or respect
The report suggests that in the mid-2000s, marketing was accountable for around 10% of revenue. Today, that has increased to an average of 44%, recognising the increased importance of marketing to organisations. However, most marketing teams are expected to achieve this more ambitious goal with little or no increase in resources. This suggests that companies have not fully appreciated the importance of marketing activity.
CMOs are concerned that lack of resources is hampering revenue-generating activity
A massive 95% of CMOs who admitted that they lacked resources said that this meant that they had missed revenue-generating opportunities. Overall, one in three CMOs suggested that lack of resources was hampering revenue-generating activity such as content creation, brand awareness-raising, or personalisation.
Marketers feel under increased pressure and are less confident they can deliver
Almost two-thirds of marketers (63%) feel under very high to extreme pressure to meet revenue targets. However, only just over half (53%) feel even moderately confident that they can meet those targets. This is largely because the targets themselves are out of marketing teams’ control, because they have to hand over leads to the sales team to close.
There are three main areas of focus to attract self-reliant buyers
Effective marketing for self-reliant buyers focuses on three main areas. The first is creating a great digital experience. The second is creating better content, and the third is developing a more seamless omnichannel experience for customers and potential buyers.
The digital experience is a crucial part of acquiring new customers
More than 90% of a customer’s journey is now online. Almost three-quarters of customers (73%) would give up and go elsewhere if the digital experience was poor. This means that digital is a crucial part of acquiring new customers—and absolutely should not be considered a customer retention channel only.
Self-reliant buyers are more likely to value new types of content
The traditional forms of marketing content include webinars, case studies, solution briefs, white papers and e-books. All these forms of content are likely to be useful to self-reliant buyers. However, there is increasing evidence that marketers are finding that new forms of content, such as interactive content, or even games, are more attractive and engaging to these buyers.
Personalised marketing is also important, but needs to work seamlessly with other content
Personalised marketing for self-reliant buyers needs to be a seamless part of the customer journey. It must therefore be linked with other content, and be generated by touches on different parts of the website, social media contacts, or responses to marketing emails. Crucially, it must be part of an overall effort to build relationships with customers and potential buyers.
Marketing teams need to focus on measuring return on investment
Businesses inevitably want to be able to link spend to returns. This is difficult for marketing, but new forms of tracking and analytics are now available to help. It is now possible to analyse customer behaviours and track patterns to see which events and/or assets have been most effective. This is an essential part of justifying increased budgets for marketing.
Marketing teams need the skills to understand data and leverage technology
Fewer than a quarter of lead marketers (just 13%) say that they have the necessary skills on their teams to understand and leverage data, analytics and technology. This is crucial in marketing to self-reliant buyers. It is essential to draw on accurate insights from data to understand behaviour.