Demand Generation

Capitalizing on Buyer Intent: Updating Our Definition of Engagement

Much has been written about the critical nature of “speed to lead” or “speed to contact.” This typically refers to the amount of time it takes for a sales rep to attempt contact with an inbound lead. Benchmarks abound on how quickly you need to get in touch before your prospective buyer is off thinking about something else – and probably gone for good.

Certain lead sources warrant faster speed to lead, like a demo request or contact us form, but the general idea is that you’re much more likely to get someone live, or at least get someone who is willing to actively engage with a rep, when they’re still in the act of researching your company or product.

Catch them in the act
So how do you catch your prospect in the act of engagement? Live chat is one way companies try to capitalize on buyer intent: “Are you ready to talk right now? May I help you find the info you’re looking for on our site? Do you have any questions?” Whatever the motivation, the rule of thumb is that businesses will have more success getting an audience with a buyer who is in the act of self-educating. This idea is neither new nor particularly revolutionary.

But it does make me wonder why we don’t apply that same standard of engagement when it comes to other aspects of the buyer’s journey. Let’s take an example that’s pretty universal – the display ad. I see an ad for a piece of content that looks interesting. I click through and feel it’s worth exchanging my contact information for, so I fill out the form (it’s pretty long….). Then said piece of content is delivered to me either immediately as a download or by email. The end.

What’s just happened to me as a prospective buyer is that a door was digitally slammed in my face. A display ad is a door – it’s an entry point for prospects to engage with you. By walking through it, I am showing some form of intent. At a minimum, I’m demonstrating an intent to consume content on a given topic that you presumably know something about. And you really want me to consume that content because you want to share your point of view. But are you, as a marketer, doing enough to capitalize on my intent?

Think beyond the click
Too many B2B companies assume the click or the conversion is the end of the journey when it’s really just the beginning. In much the same way that many B2C companies try to hold your attention with offers powered by recommendation engines, B2B marketers should think about how to hold on to their buyer’s attention beyond the initial click.

I’m busy, really busy, but you have my undivided attention right now. In another minute, I will be off doing or researching something else and I might never find my way back to your particular product, service or solution. I could be doing any one of a hundred different things right now, but at this particular moment, I have chosen to walk through your door – so you better make the most of it.

Traditional lead nurturing is a one-way street
In some ways, programs like lead nurturing and re-targeting have encouraged bad behavior. As marketers, we know that once someone converts (or even if they fail to do so), we will get another chance to re-engage them. If we’ve done our job and created the appropriate air cover, we’ll drop the next email in a week or push a few more ads at them by-and-by. The problem with this logic is that the engagement happens on the marketer’s schedule, not the buyer’s.

I’m engaged right now and I’m ready to self-nurture but you’re going to email me in a week, at 10 am on Thursday to be precise. But guess what? I’m in back-to-back meetings all morning – good luck getting my attention all over again when I come back to the 100 emails that have piled up in my inbox over the last few hours.

Conversations not conversions
You’ve worked hard and spent money to put a series of doors in my path, and your brilliant omni-channel strategy ensures that those doors will appear wherever I happen to be online. So here’s the thing: Don’t slam the door in my face when you feel like the transaction is completed. And while we’re at it, stop thinking of me as “transaction.” Last time I looked, I was a real person, not a conversion, a click-though or a lead score.

Sweet talk me a little, show me some hospitality, make conversation, offer me something else I might like or find useful…. That single click could facilitate the entire buyer’s journey without you ever having to serve me another door.

Want to learn more?
To hear more about how you can improve the content experience on the destination side of the click, check out our recent webinar with Demand Gen Report: Accelerate the Buyer’s Journey with “Always-on” Nurturing.