If your digital presence isn’t strong, you need to pour your focus into building it. Otherwise, you face a stark reality — you’re not on the map for most B2B buyers. There’s extensive data that supports the need for a robust digital presence including a Gartner report that finds 80% of B2B sales interactions will be via digital channels by 2025.
Featuring content that supports a digital buyer journey also builds trust, as will pulling down your content gates and leaving them in the past. Just like their function in the physical world, gates were better at keeping the majority of buyers out.
Listen to this episode to learn how to build your presence, where to start, where to expand and more.
[00:23] Intro: Buyers want to self-educate
[03:44] Make your digital footprint your best sales rep
[06:10] Start with your website and offer content for all stages of the buyer journey
[08:54] Your website should be a gate-free zone
[12:03] Examples of types of content
[16:07] Speak to your ideal clients with consistent messaging across digital channels
[18:13] How many touches before your audience engages?
[19:14] Omnichannel presence
[20:44] Tapping into third party channels
[25:04] Creating, sticking to, and weaving your unique point of view across digital channels
[27:16] Key takeaway
Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to The Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long-term sustainable growth, especially in the HR tech industry.
Hey everybody, welcome back to The Demand Gen Fix with GrowthMode Marketing. Today, Deanna and Greg and I are going to be talking about a subject that we feel pretty strongly about. As we’ve discussed in the past, things have changed a lot over the last few years. We all know that. And the B2B space is no different. Buyer behavior has definitely changed, and prospects are spending way more time digging and doing their own research before making a buying decision. Therefore, it’s becoming harder and harder for sales reps to make contact with a prospect, let alone making a meaningful connection. The reality is that one, people are reluctant to talk to a sales rep, and two companies need to evolve to support this new behavior. And so building your online presence with your content is a really good way to start to allow those people to do their research and to get in front of them.
I don’t think it’s what sales reps want to hear, but the reality is people are definitely reluctant to talk to sales reps today more so than they were a few years ago. And we’re definitely seeing that they want to evaluate on their own with self-research, and if you don’t support the way that they want to buy, they’re going to find a vendor that does. So, it’s really important to know it, understand it, and evolve your marketing to support that, because if you don’t, I think you’re going to regret it long-term because they’re going to find a vendor that can give them the information that they’re looking for and have not so intense of a sales process when they raise their hand and say, I’m ready to engage.
Yeah, and the metrics that are out there now, that just keep coming out and they just keep coming. They support that reality. 70% of sales reps are saying that getting access to stakeholders is a really big challenge now, and that’s from Gartner. We’ve talked about before. 84% of B2B buyers say that they self-educate as much as they can before reaching out to a salesperson. So it’s always evaluating on their own before they reach out.
Up to 80% of B2B sales interactions between buyers and vendors happen in digital channels according to Gartner. And if you take all of that, what that’s telling you is these metrics support the reality that people are less open to engaging early with a sales rep. So you definitely need to put your online presence to work.
It really does help to build that non-intrusive relationship. You don’t have the sales calls coming in, the emails and all of that kind of stuff. You’re able to just get out there, do your research, and it results in stronger trust with the companies that you are able to actually get information on.
And your online presence is there 24/7, right? It’s there 365 days a year. If they’re doing their research on the weekend or at night, you’re still out there. It’s not like you have to wait to talk to them to tell them what’s going on. You’re aware your prospects are at the particular time that they’re available to look, you can be in many places at one time, right? Your website is out there, your social, whatever, you know, your advertising, your third-party things that you’re doing, like all that stuff is out there for them whenever they’re ready to start to start thinking. Everybody all at once.
Right? Certainly, this doesn’t replace all the other marketing channels and the sales reps, but the goal should be to build out your digital footprint to become your best sales rep. And when we say that we’re not saying, you don’t need sales reps, spend it all on marketing, build out a digital footprint. But what we are saying is, hey, we know from the statistics that have come out and from the clients and prospects that we have talked to, that companies are much less likely to be engaging early on in their decision process. A Gartner statistic we throw out all the time is that they’re making up to 80% of that purchase decision before they’ll engage with that sales rep. So when you think about that, you’ve got to support the prospect’s desire to self-research so that they can prepare to talk to a sales rep when they are ready.
Because quite frankly, as much as we would all love it to be the case that our marketing and our sales are so good that we convince somebody who’s not in market to buy, it just doesn’t work that way. If you’re working with an expensive HR technology or any type of technology or high spend item in the B2B space, if 5% of companies are in market in a good year, there’s probably 1% that are in market to buy this year, making it even harder. And so you don’t want to divert all your efforts and assume everybody’s in market. We’re going to chase them because quite frankly, there’s a lot of money, resources, expenses that are spent by organizations because they’re trying to chase that elusive lead, right? And again, if you don’t know that they have buying intent, if you haven’t done the work to help create the demand, you’re going to have a lot of leads that are going to go nowhere.
And that’s so frustrating, and it’s so common because people are going to gather as much information as they can, and you don’t want to miss out on making their shortlist of companies to talk to because your competitors make it easier for them to learn about it. So the whole build your digital footprint out to become your best sales rep, it’s really about how do you make the right information readily available? We can certainly dig in and how to do that and where you should put that stuff because it goes so much deeper than I think a lot of companies think about.
Yeah, the obvious place to start is with your website, right? I said it’s your digital footprint and that’s something that you own, you can control, right? You can do anything you want with it. The first thing is you have a really strong website with the content around those different pathways that your ideal customer is going to go through. Awareness, the basic content around what your product’s doing, just so people can start to understand the company, what’s your unique point of view, what’s your solution? That’s probably 90 to 95% of what you should be putting into your website.
And then you have to make sure that you’re also hitting those other stages of the funnel as well. Obviously, you don’t want to discourage the people who are actually looking for the down and dirty information too. Make sure you have everything out there. Make sure that you have, like Greg said, the real high-level content, but also, pricing and maybe some demos and make sure you’re hitting all different stages of buyer’s journey through the process.
It’s a good idea too, to always look at your website and think about how do you create that infinite content loop, and that’s about serving up more related content. Let’s say you have someone come to check out your recruitment management software on your website. You want them to see more and more content as they’re digging in so that they stay on your site, versus they look at one thing, they jump, they do a Google search, they move to the next company and look at their content. And so the more rich you can have the content that’s on your website, I think the better you’re setting your company up for success. And when we talk about content loops, the goal is to get that person to spend more time on your site. The content loops are just more content. Think of when you see something and it’s like, you may also like, or check out these articles or these blog posts or these podcast episodes or videos or whatever type of content you have, so that as they get done with that first article or they listen to that podcast, you’re immediately serving up more specifically on the topics that they seem to be interested in.
They got to your site because they were looking for some something that interested them on a search or whatever, or they clicked on an ad or a social post. If they’re interested in that content, even a podcast like this, then you could have a blog article that takes it a little bit further that gets into more detail. There are some other ideas that you can have besides blogs and podcasts.
There’s all kinds of different types of content. We talk all the time about slicing and dicing different formats of content. If you want some ideas, certainly give us a call. We can chat through that. But one thing that I would call out, please do not gate your content on your own website. This is a tactic that was very popular back in the day. We were trying to capture email addresses so we could put people in our nurture sequences and continue to be in front of them. The challenge there is that in reality, 75% of B2B prospects skip content that requires them to submit their content information that is resulting in a lost opportunity to build credibility and trust on your own website. You really have to think about what is more important to us to capture a handful of contacts or to make this content readily available, because we want the right people to consume it because we believe that it paints our organization and our products in the right light. It will build not only more brand awareness, but trust with them and it will help with the sales process and their decision making. You really have to evaluate that.
Yeah. You don’t want to gate it and then the email addresses you get aren’t necessarily going to be people that are in market anyhow. You just eliminated 75% of the people, that doesn’t really make sense.
Right? Yeah. And you know that that statistic was, somebody ran some research through LinkedIn, they had over a thousand B2B buyers respond to it. 25% of them said, yeah, I’ll fill out a form if it feels valuable enough. But those of you on the frontline, look at your traffic for your landing pages and tell me, are you actually getting a 25% conversion rate? Because if you are, that’s pretty fricking phenomenal. Because what we see a lot of times, like when prospects come to us, they’ll be like, help our landing page isn’t converting. I don’t know if I need to redesign the landing page. And it’s like, no, you need to get rid of the gate because it’s clear people are interested in your content. If you have 1500 people come to your landing page and you get zero to a few that actually fill out the form, that’s a red flag right there, we’ve talked about it before, but it’s not always obvious when you’re in the midst because you’re looking for all the different reasons why it might not be working. The reality is it’s the way people buy today and the way they consume information.
You can test that too, right? To another landing page, send it to a smaller audience and see what happens and test it out.
I would say do it fast and test it quickly. Don’t take six months on one landing page and landing, oh, this one isn’t working. It must be the landing page, switch it up and wait another six months and find out that landing page doesn’t work either. If you’re going to fail, fail fast.
After that, then you need to have some deeper information about your product, right? You have this high-level stuff, but then you also need to have some more detailed product literature, maybe video demos case studies, and definitely pricing. Even if it’s high-level sort of ranges you want to let them be able to decide on their own, is this going to fit my budget or is it so far out that I can’t even consider it? Because you don’t want to get calls from people and get them through a demo and then tell them the price later, and then everybody’s wasted their time because they get the price doesn’t fit what they’re looking for. So it’s important to have that info out there.
It is important. And I think there are a lot of companies that are very hesitant to do that. And I get that. If you’re selling a half a million dollar, $3 million type of software, and it’s very much, it depends on the number of employees you have and the complexity at the organization, whether it’s enterprise or small business, things like that, the prices, it’s not like you have a standard price set, right? Like it’s much easier for, say, Augusto to say it is $15 per month per employee than it is for let’s say ADPs human capital management system for a company that has 60,000 employees. You can’t put the price list on there for that. It’s something to think about. Is there a way to put pricing on there that makes sense? Partly to disqualify people to waste less of your time? Because quite frankly, if they are looking at it and it turns out they never would’ve spent the money, they can’t afford it, that’s a waste of time for your team and your resources, and it’s a waste of time for them. There are also companies that may hesitate because they’re like, ah, it’s probably too expensive and maybe it wasn’t, you know? So I think there are benefits and, and it’s certainly worth considering.
And I think too, if you’re a person that’s doing this research and you need to get a budget for this software that you’re looking for, you need to know what you’re asking for. If you need to go to your boss and say, this is what I’m looking for and this is how much I’m going to need, give them something to work with.
So, if they’re looking at things like pricing, video demos, case studies, the things we’ve already mentioned, I think a good tip here to think about, these tend to demonstrate some level of buying intent. So these are the individuals that you might consider running retargeting ads and sales focused campaigns to website. Sometimes, depending on the marketing technology you have in place, you can see what companies are doing it and who specifically is doing it. Sometimes you can’t. Retargeting is great because it’s based on the IP address. It will follow that individual without you knowing their name. Marketing automation, and all the other technology tools that will identify those people are great because you can actually see what they look like and start to build some campaigns around how do we get in front of these individuals more often or these companies? If you’re looking at a pricing page, you’re thinking something about the product, specifically more than just, I came to your website to read this. Best practices and tips and advice article.
The next step would be building out ways to reach your audience through more managed channels, right? So we talked about the website, but then there’s other things outside of your website, obviously. So you can give the prospects a reason to continue to follow your company and consume your content. So that’s marketing channels where you have full control of what you publish and when. So it could be something that you own or, you know, rented space like you know, social media or being on somebody else’s podcast, part of the message is yours.
The podcast like guesting on someone’s, I’d actually put into a different bucket. I’d put that into third party audiences. But the point here is how do you build out an audience that wants to consume your content, that finds it interesting and continuance to follow? Because that’s how ultimately you build that brand awareness and trust over time is to continue to get in front of them. And I think it’s really important how you build your audience, you know, craft content that’s hyper-focused on your ideal customer profile. We talk about the ideal customer profile all the time. I don’t think a lot of organizations really understand what an ideal customer profile is. And even when they create it, they don’t necessarily live and breathe by it. And I think that is a mistake if you’re in a very crowded market, like the HR technology
Space, I think a lot of companies use a buyer persona instead of the ideal customer profile, right?
Right. I would argue that even that they don’t always use, to your point, Jenni, a buyer persona is different than an ideal customer profile. They both have a place, and they both can be really great tools to use in your marketing, but if you create them and you don’t use them and you don’t hyper-focus, they’re kind of a wasted effort because so many companies will create them and set them and forget them if they even do create them.
And then of course, we’ve talked about the unique point of view a lot of times on this podcast, but you want your audience to buy into that too. You’ve done all of this research and you’ve done all of this thinking around what your company is all about and what your unique point of view is. You need to sell that to your ideal customer profile. You need to get it out in front of them in all these different kinds of channels over and over and over, so that they are like, oh, yeah, okay, and you do feel like you’re talking in circles sometimes, but they’re not listening to every single time that you’re talking about it. And it takes a long time to get somebody to actually get the message. It’s just something you have to keep putting out there over and over.
Yeah. Repetition matters. I’ve seen statistics from Gartner that it takes 66 touches before they’ll engage with a sales rep or engage with a company. I saw recently like a statistic from Forrester that said 27 touches before they’ll have a conversation with a sales rep. So if you add those two together and assume that the 66% is before they’ll pay attention to your company and the, or 66 and the 27 is once they start paying attention, that’s a lot of touches. That doesn’t mean I get to just send you a hundred emails and you’re gold and you’re ready to buy by any means. If only it was that easy my friends, then we wouldn’t need marketing agencies and big marketing teams and all these podcasts and blogs out there giving you advice, right? It’s a struggle to get people to pay attention even more so now than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago,
And that’s why you need that omnichannel, right? Presence where you have your social media and your podcasts and your webinars, and you’re saying the same things over and over again. Your prospect is not seeing every single post that you make. They’re not seeing every single podcast that you published. They’re not seeing every webinar that you run. So, they’ll see one of these two of those three, these, it’s like going to the smorgasbord and they will take a little bit from this plate, take a little bit from that plate, and by the end they’re folding, they’re ready to go. So then they’re ready to sell.
And it would be amazing if you could turn everyone into a super fan, but you know, in the B2B space, let’s be real, let’s not always easy. You’re probably not going to find very many people that will attend every one of your webinars and listen to every one of your podcasts and read every one of your articles. And if they’re, they really are a super fan, and if they’re not buying from you, they’re probably likely to buy from you someday. But that’s the goal with building out all of this digital content, is making that content available in all these different places. So over time, they pick up all that content, and when they’re ready to dig in and they really want to learn more about the topics you talk about, and then eventually buy that’s when it’s golden to have all that information out there because you’re much more easily findable if it exists on the web. And that’s why your digital footprint needs to be your best sales rep.
And then going back to what Greg had mentioned earlier about being on other people’s podcasts, that’s a really good example of another option that you can do, which is tapping into third party channels. This expands your reach into the market that other people have already created and you’re kind of like riding their coattails maybe a little bit. So it’s like relevant industry outlets, influencers, resources that have already established an audience that is your ideal customer profile.
The nice thing about that too, like you were saying, Jenni is it adds that third party’s credibility, right? If it’s coming from another perspective, it’s not you talking about yourself and your products, it’s them helping you talk about it. So that really is a nice added bonus. It’s like digital PR is kind of related to that.
It’s not easy to build out your own audience and to get them to continually fall along. So a lot of times it makes sense to tap these third party audiences that are relevant to your audience because they already exist, they already have a following. I know there’s a lot of organizations out there using podcasts as an example. They’ll leverage that and they’ll kind of merge the, I’m creating my own audience sometimes with the, I’m tapping into a third party channels audience by having guests on specifically for the audience that they bring to it, right? And if you think about that, how can you do that from a marketing perspective? You now get to go have a conversation with somebody who’s going to go promote that podcast to their audience as well, to expand the reach of the conversation that you’re having. And that person brings credibility to your company because they’re someone that’s well respected in the industry
And hopefully you’re bringing your audience to them as well. So it’s a win-win situation, right?
Something to know, third party opportunities can be both organic or pay to play. If you want to go get on someone’s webinar or podcast and you go pitch yourselves, sometimes you can get on those without having to pay fees. They’re looking for guests, you’re helping them out, they’re looking to tap into your audience. Sometimes it’s pay to play. I mean, there are a lot of influencers in the HR tech industry. We think of influencers as, no, that’s only B2C. That’s not true. We work with companies to help them tap into some of these opportunities. There’s also the industry resources that are long and well established. For example, you can go to hr.com and you can pay to have emails sent through their email list that they’ve procured. You can pay to be a speaker on their webinars. You can leverage these things to be able to use their value and credibility in the market and their audience to help expand your message. And it doesn’t mean necessarily that everything you do, you go and you’re like, we’re x, y, z company and this is why you should buy from us. Sometimes you’re just coming in as an expert and it’s a soft sell, and that’s okay, because I think that actually builds more credibility than that hard sell and that push for organizations.
Just remember your unique point of view.
Tell your story, weave it in.
Absolutely, you’re absolutely right Greg. So many options out there that you can tap into for sure. And if you do take advantage of it, whether they’re coming into your audience or you’re going into their audience to tell that unique point of view. Because again, repetition matters. You want to tell it over and over and over so that they hear it. Because think about how many times you have to hear something before it actually starts to stick, and eventually they start thinking the same way, right? They’re like, ah, you know what, what you say makes sense. I agree.
Or you can extend that into other you know, events and conferences too, right? Like booth graphics could tie into your unique point of view. Make sure that your salespeople know when they’re talking to people to what that unique point of view is.
It’s not just marketing that is telling the story for an organization, right? It’s anybody that’s client or prospect facing is helping tell that story. So you want to make sure when you do develop a unique point of view story framework, that you roll it out in the right way to your team so that if someone goes and looks and finds your digital footprint and they start digging in and reading and they really like what they see and what they’re hearing when they do reach out to your company, they’re getting the same story when they talk to people too. Not just, oh, I read all this stuff about your marketing content and your sales person’s like, yeah, let me tell you about our product , they need to be able to, to tell that story and weave it into the processes in the conversations that they have as well, because that’s what’s one over the prospects that are reaching out and raising their hand.
You could even take that story into industry awards. Like if there’s certain things that you’re trying to get across, there are awards that you can apply for that help to support that message. You know, we’ve helped some clients getting some you know, awards like Globes and Stevie and HR Tech awards. They have different categories within those awards programs. So you can pick out the categories that help to reinforce what you’re, what you’re trying to say through your marketing messages, and then you can roll that out into right social media posts and other things and, you know, put it on your website and it’s more a third, third party endorsement, but it’s supporting what you’re trying to accomplish. Know your message.
Yeah, that’s a great point, Greg, because if you think about it, anyone that’s filled out an awards application knows that it’s a storytelling opportunity. Because you’re telling them what you’ve done, why you deserve the award, all of those things. And so absolutely that helps build out your digital footprint because industry awards, they’re going to post about you on their website, you’re going to have an opportunity to do some marketing around it yourself, but it’s also going to, if someone reads that and they read the story on, the award website or within an industry publication instead of directly on your site, think about the credibility that that adds while still conveying that message.
So I think the key takeaway today here is that the new reality is that many HR tech buyers in the B2B world are digging in and gathering their own information before they decide to engage with a vendor. So if you’re not building your marketing strategy to turn your digital footprint into your best sales rep, then you’re really missing out on an important opportunity to win them over before they make their short list of companies.
Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe from more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus give us a like, tell your friends, we’ll see you next time.
At GrowthMode, we combine the unique discipline of growth marketing and the evergreen principles of traditional marketing to develop integrated strategies and measurable programs that help businesses drive growth where it matters most to their vision. We help our B2B clients focus on their specific goals and ensure that their investment is aligned with their broader strategic vision.