Guest contribution from Jean Spencer, a Content Marketing Manager at Kapost.
Chances are, your buyer is immersed in information right now. Everyone is.
We live in the age of mass Internet, meme, and information consumption. And it’s during the random parts of the day—when buyers are clicking through their favorite blogs, websites, and YouTube channels—that they are introduced to new ideas or business solutions.
More than half (57%) of the buyer’s evaluation of a product or service is now completed before speaking to a vendor’s sales force, as buyers access new ideas and solutions in a self-guided and self-educated way.
Marketers use buzzphrases like “maze of touchpoints” and “the buyer’s journey has shifted” to describe this process, but really it’s simpler than that.
It boils down to this: our buyers are more empowered. Thanks to technology and constant access to new information with the onset of mobile phones, pervasive 4G access, and the mobile workplace, buyers have taken their educational journey of business products or solutions into their own hands.
Through random perusing of popular websites, analyst reports, YouTube how-tos, and the gargantuan archives of product reviews and personal publishing, buyers have the tools and reports necessary to make informed business decisions. This increasing self-reliance has two fundamental impacts.
First, it scares marketers and salespeople.
It strips salespeople from their age-old process of nurturing buyers through sales calls, demos, and even in-person dinners, and relies heavily on the buyer finding your product’s information organically. Buyers find information on your company or service (in the forms of whitepapers, eBooks, YouTube videos, case studies, testimonials, etc.) at their own pace. That information—or content—must effectively educate the buyer and compel them enough to then reach out to sales to assist their needs.
By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their enterprise relationships without ever talking to a human.
Secondly, it has shifted the way businesses across the globe grow revenue.
Rather than having sales teams generate revenue from cold calling, business owners have increasingly turned the responsibility for the top half of the sales funnel to marketing. Marketing departments are accountable for quotas and the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or opportunities.
As a result, demand for marketing technologies is high. Technology such as marketing automation software, CRM systems, content marketing programs, and sales enablement tools are essential to stay competitive.
It’s a funny action-reaction scenario. Marketing’s growing dependence on technology is due to buyer’s independence because of technology.
But marketing technology can’t be undervalued. A well-executed, inbound marketing strategy that interlaces core technologies for marketers can deliver 54 percent more leads into the marketing funnel than outbound marketing, and saves an average of 13 percent in overall cost per lead.
Still, many marketers are befuddled by the options and vast number of marketing technologies available for purchase. TechCruch reports there are at least 947 marketing technology companies on the market. You may be thinking:
- Which are tools vs. platforms?
- Which of these options integrate?
- Which are essential?
- Which are more accessory?
Don’t make the process harder than it needs to be. Here are the four technologies mid- to large-sized companies must invest in:
Sales Force Automation Software
Visibility into your customers and their independent journeys to your company is critical for evaluating your marketing efforts. Which marketing efforts are working? Where are people finding you? These questions are answered with the help of CRM programs that organize, track, and predict buyer behaviors, as well as manage the sales process, and close deals more effectively.
Social Marketing Platform
Content distribution, including social media and paid channel diversity, is key to getting your message to the right people where they are already hanging out organically.
Social marketing platforms allow you to track community engagement and interactions with your target audience in real-time. This empowers marketers to strategically share important content assets. Social marketing platforms also analyze these efforts, helping your team evolve and hone social initiatives moving forward.
Marketing Automation Software
Marketing automation software tracks the digital body language of web users and scores them based on their actions. This is key to lead qualification and scoring, and boosts the value of each lead in your system, while allowing sales teams to focus solely on prospects that are worth attention. Moreover, marketing automation tools automatically nurture names in your database by sending them personalized emails and content that are strategically mapped to their buyer persona or buying stage.
Content Marketing Software
All modern marketing relies on the production and distribution of content to be effective.
- Sales teams need content to “warm up” phone calls or emails
- Social teams need content to share and engage target audiences
- Marketing automation literally needs content in the form of emails, but also needs to deliver unique content to specific email addresses to provide the buyer with relevant information
Content marketing software is the one technology that holds all the pieces together. It manages the production of content assets, the distribution of content to each of the tools mentioned above (and more), as well as the analysis of those efforts. Moreover, advanced content marketing add-ons can provide attribution modeling to individual content assets, so you can see what’s driving opportunities and revenue for your organization. (Literally like Blog Post A converted 2 qualified leads).
It’s a turbulent time for marketers, yes. But it doesn’t need to be more challenging than a few new technological investments, and redefining marketing strategies to pay a little more attention to our buyers. The above four marketing technologies will have any modern marketer well on their way to connecting with the new self-reliant buyer in a revenue-driving way.
About Jean Spencer
Jean Spencer is a content marketing manager at Kapost. She got her start in the world of political journalism working The Wall Street Journal out of their Washington DC bureau. Later, she moved to Boulder, Colorado to join the ranks of entrepreneurs when she realized reporting on political hogwash and “declines for comment” weren’t really her cup of tea.
Read all her content writing on the Kapost blog, The Content Marketeer.