The B2B buying cycle can be a long and arduous one. But what if there was a way to shorten it?
Fortunately, there is. Let’s take a look at how.
The key to shortening the buying cycle
One of the best ways to mitigate the lengthy B2B buying cycle is to engage with prospects at an earlier juncture in their process. However, this strategy is not just about timing. The key lies in providing them with valuable resources that will help them meet their objectives. By delivering useful information such as guides to choosing a solution provider, whitepapers, or related market research, this approach will help you establish credibility with your prospects, build a relationship with them, and ensure that you stay “top of mind” with them when they are ready to make a decision.
Making it happen
The key to engaging your target audience online is to be visible when they are searching for the products or services that you provide. However, in order to engage with them earlier in the buying cycle, you need to be found on the keywords that someone would search on before they even know about your products or services. So how do you target the business owner that is not aware that your product exists? Simple. You need to think about your offering as a solution to a problem. Then you need to build out content around those problems and how your offering can help.
Understanding the problem
For example, let’s say your business offers a software product designed to help business owners efficiently allocate revenue to related expenses to ultimately reduce costs. As such, you are solving the problem of inefficient cost management because at the end of the day, your software helps business owners save money. Given that, you would want to have visibility on the keyword phrases that a business owner is going to search on for a solution to the problem. In this case, you might want to make sure your website is found when a business owner queries “business cost savings.”
5 Steps to get in early
Below are five steps to help you engage your audience earlier in the buying cycle:
- Think: Reflect on the origins of your offering. Why was it developed in the first place? What problems does it solve today? Does your offering help improve efficiencies by streamlining procedures? Does your service help decrease overhead through outsourcing? Start making a list of all the problems your offering solves. Perhaps you might even want to reach out to customers and ask them about the problems you’ve helped them overcome. These problems will help you start to build out your keyword list.
- Simplify: Give thought to the language that might be used by someone without extensive knowledge of the solutions you offer. List out the basic keywords, avoiding your industry or marketing language. Think “budget management” rather than “budget forecasting software,” or “hiring good employees” rather than “business staffing solutions.” Steer clear of buzz words and business jargon, and instead think about the basics. While you’re at it, check out your competitors’ Web pages and see what basic content they are targeting.
- Prioritize: Once you’ve compiled a list of keywords that includes both the problems you solve and the basic language that might be used to search for your services, it’s time to prioritize your list. Fortunately, visiting the business blogs and forums can help you do exactly that. By checking out the questions business owners are searching for, you can prioritize your keywords. The more buzz there is around certain words, the higher they should appear on your priority list.
- Develop: Your prioritized list of keywords will serve as the theme categories to start targeting as you develop new website content. Think beyond just straight copy for the sole purpose of search engine visibility, and strive to provide useful and valuable content that will help establish your credibility. Remember, you are targeting someone who is just starting the buying cycle. Consider comparisons to similar solutions offered by your competitors, whitepapers, case studies, success stories, or ROI statistics. Also think beyond just HTML — tools, surveys, videos, or image content could be useful to your target audience. When you provide prospects with valuable resources, it not only allows you to build a relationship with them, but it also gives them a reason to return.
- Promote: Once you have built out your new website content and optimized for the targeted keyword phrases, you need to promote it. As the search engine visibility of your new content improves, you can use other online strategies to build awareness amongst your target audience. For example, incorporate the new content into your paid search campaigns. Go back to the business blogs and forums and engage in the conversations to tell your target audience about the valuable content you’ve created. Submit search optimized press releases building the online awareness of your new content, tools, videos etc.
While the B2B buying cycle is inherently long, you can shorten it by building out valuable content based on the keywords your target audience is using at the start of their process. Doing so will go a long way to helping you build credibility with your prospects and stay top of mind with them.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.