B2B buyers receive tons of messages across a multitude of channels these days. These demands are changing how B2B marketers approach lead generation. According to a study by Goo Technologies and Harris Interactive, 82 percent of Americans ignore online ads. B2B marketers can no longer afford to rely solely on paid advertising.
Current paid online advertising approaches to lead generation are becoming outdated. Many marketers are still looking to banner ads, social media ads and paid search to generate leads, but this just isn’t enough. Almost 200 million Internet users have installed ad-blocking software, according to PageFair and Adobe, up 50 percent from last year.
Audiences use ad blockers because display ads are intrusive and they don’t want to see them. According to a survey from Research Now, almost 75 percent of consumers use ad blockers to avoid seeing ads and 62 percent said that excessive ads being served, was the reason.
But all is not lost. B2B buyers still need goods and services and will appreciate those companies that can connect to their needs. By creating good content that appeals to their audience’s needs, marketers can overcome ad blockers and attract in-market buyers.
Buyers want to build relationships with service companies and marketers must put in the time to develop useful content that keeps prospects informed, educated and entertained. “Customers will engage with marketers who meet their needs—their changing needs—for different information and options during the buying journey,” stated Forrester analyst Lori Wizdo. “Marketers who continue to ‘go to customer’ with product-centric campaigns and offers risk becoming irrelevant.”
Many B2B marketers are learning how important content is in their upper funnel activities. Lead generation and sales are the two most important content marketing goals for the majority of B2B marketers, according to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarking, Budget and Trends report.
Many marketers have lost patience with their programs and are purchasing “sales-qualified” leads, which in theory should be ready to turn over to sales for a quick close.
The problem is that by the time the sales person gets in touch, the buyers are ready to negotiate, not hear the story of your brand.
Instead marketing departments should make the most of their own CRM data and align with sales early on so that both teams are working towards the same goals. Inbound marketers should also consider adding third-party data to the mix. The right marketing approach can be better than outsourcing leads.
Search engine optimization should not be overlooked in the mix, because it is at the center of customer experience and ties in to other marketing channels. SEO content and customer content should not be siloed separately, and need to be created for both humans and search engines.
However despite the opportunity, many large companies have issues proving its value and, in turn, can’t get the resources for it. Only 47 percent of the 500 marketing professionals surveyed said they use SEO. Eighteen percent of marketers said they have difficulty in showing the channel’s return on investment, according to a survey by market research firm Clutch. Many find that moving up in natural search results takes too long, whereas other forms of online advertising bring quicker results.
In the end, content is the most important channel for marketers who see search as a way to push out content. Savvy companies are learning the importance of integrating SEO into their content strategy. Thirty-four percent of respondents said creating high-quality content will be the SEO tactic they prefer over the next year.
In the end, a strategy that delivers good content to in-market buyers, across the digital divide, will help B2B marketers break through the clutter and connect to potential buyers throughout the buying cycle.