September 22, 2014

Engaging B2B Buyers Throughout the Customer Lifecycle

iStock_000038499972Large-298x300

What has your content done for you lately?

Creating content that builds and sustains customer relationships is a real challenge, as indicated by a recent study conducted by Forrester Research, the Business Marketing Association and the Online Marketing Institute. The study, which surveyed 113 senior marketers to gauge their “content development sophistication and maturity,” found that 85 percent of B2B companies fail to connect content activity to business value. As a result, they fail to retain customers or win their long-term loyalty.

The authors of the study say B2B marketers can use it to benchmark and optimize their ability to understand customers’ interests and needs; align content themes to buyers’ objectives; develop content that engages buyers; and monitor how buyers interact with content.

“Our survey results show that the majority of B2B content practices focus too narrowly on early-stage buyer acquisition — which fails to engage buyers throughout their lifetime,” Business Marketing Association chair Steve Liguori, told the Wall Street Journal.

If content fails to engage customers throughout their lifecycle, sellers risk losing more empowered customers to competitors that are responsive. So how do you create content that keeps the sales pipeline full and builds relationships?

Produce articles, videos, ebooks and graphics that attract address customers’ needs during each stage of the cycle (Discover, Explore, Buy, Engage), not just content that reels them in at the beginning. Forrester calls this “distribut[ing] content to intersect with buyers’ purchase journey.”

After your customer has made a purchase, the channels of communication must remain open: Provide an easy way for them to give post-sale feedback, support them with content showing how to get the most out of products or services; track customer data and find out how they’re using those products and service. The post-buy engagement stage is also an excellent time to identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

“B2B marketers must make a fundamental shift from writing about features and benefits to delivering valuable information that drives business results,” said Liguori.

Mario Medina

Mario is the Creative Director of madison/miles media. He has a wife, two kids, a dog, a fish (but it might be dead — hard to tell) and an unhealthy obsession with Batman.