Lead Nurturing

Self-Nurturing: How To Accommodate Your Customers’ Natural Buying Behavior

Most modern B2B marketing tactics and programs are predicated on the idea that marketers need to control virtually every aspect of the buyer’s journey. From awareness to purchase, we like to think that our actions are moving prospects from stage to stage. That our emails, ads, tweets, and voicemails are the reason why people become increasingly ready to buy.

Who are we kidding, though? Email open rates are plummeting, with 80% of marketing emails going unread. Even with the best available data at our fingertips, most of our tactics are shots in the dark at best. Despite our ever-growing marketing tech stacks and data piling up inside each one, there’s still so much we just don’t know about what our future customers do during the buying process.

Personalization (ahem, beyond “Hi {firstname}” would be nice) and account-based marketing are increasing our odds of success in small batches, but they don’t necessarily scale very well (yet). We’re stuck measuring clicks and form fills, trying to add them all up to indicate some level of sales-readiness.

It’s time we gave our future customers more credit. They’re fully capable of researching what they need and making their own buying decisions. They’re in the best position to know what they need to know, when they need to know it. They manage people, budgets, and technology without our intervention every single day, after all.

It’s no wonder they get annoyed when we constantly interrupt them with the wrong marketing at the wrong time. Or, even worse, when we make it hard for them to find the information they need to move toward a buying decision. They don’t care about the clicks and they definitely don’t want to fill out any forms; they just want to learn more about something that will make their lives better.

Marketers are improving, day by day, with new strategies and technologies. But there’s no tactic or piece of software that can match every individual’s unique buying process, step for step. It’s too chaotic.

I’m not saying we should give up. We should, however, devote more time and resources to serving their needs and solving their problems instead of ours, and to accommodating their natural buying behavior.

We should devote more time and resources to serving their needs and solving their problems instead of ours, and to accommodating their natural buying behavior.

Here are four ways to help your prospects self-nurture:

1. Audit your existing landing pages for dead ends

It’s hard to get someone’s attention. Why give it up so easily on or after the landing page? You earned that click. They’re interested. Feed them more!

If any of your landing pages are dead ends, it’s time to start thinking about what the next best piece or pieces of content might be to allow someone to continue self-nurturing. They’re not going to wait for your next email.

2. Give your visitors options (but not too many)

When it comes to B2B marketing, there tends to be two extremes:

  1. One-and-done dead-end landing pages where people can only access a single piece of your content, or…
  2. Resource centers and content hubs with all the content your company has ever produced in one giant, chronological pile.

More content might seem great, in theory, but resource centers and content hubs are often overwhelming. Even with categorization, there’s a lot to choose from. Too much. It’s a lot of work for someone to figure out which pieces of content might actually get them the information they need. Package related or relevant pieces of content together to give your audience a more curated menu of options to choose from.

Package related or relevant pieces of content together to give your audience a more curated menu of options to choose from.

3. Introduce third-party content into the mix

Look, I’m sure your content is great. I’m a content marketer. I get it. I’m precious about my content sometimes too. Conventional marketing wisdom has always been to keep visitors on your web properties for as long as humanly possible and avoid directing them to third-party websites.

The only problem with that is people are looking at third-party content all the time whether you like it or not. You might as well help them find high-quality content that reinforces your marketing messages from sources they can trust (i.e., not you).

Start building a library of third-party content and recommend relevant pieces alongside your own content.

Start building a library of third-party content produced by trusted industry analysts, influencers, and journalists, as well as current and future customers, and recommend relevant pieces alongside your own content. Don’t overlook community or forum threads, reviews, or social posts.

4. Stop gating all of your content

You wouldn’t know it from looking at B2B websites, but at meetups and in Slack channels everywhere, marketers are having hushed conversations about how to ungate some or all of their content in the future. Perhaps you’re a participant in these conversations yourself. Or maybe you’ve read Drift’s “a year without forms” blog post and felt a little pang of jealousy.

Whether it’s just a one-field form requiring an email address, or a giant questionnaire asking about everything from your job title to your company’s revenue, nobody likes filling out forms. Sadly, today, if people don’t fill out your form, they’re not becoming more educated on the ideas you need them to understand to become more sales-ready. And that means you’re not doing your job as a marketer. When the average bounce rate for landing pages is 70-90%, you’re leaving a ton of opportunities to educate your future customers on the table.

You can try optimizing your landing pages to death to squeeze a few more conversions out of them. Or you can just ungate some of your content and trust buyers to nurture themselves.

If this all seems a little overwhelming, start with just one tactic to help your buyers self-nurture. See how each approach impacts how qualified they are when they speak to your sales team and how quickly they move through the buying process.

Written By
Cassandra Jowett
Cassandra Jowett is the Senior Director of Marketing at PathFactory. She is an award-winning marketing leader who specializes in helping early- and growth-stage startups scale their marketing efforts. She also runs a meetup group and Slack for B2B content marketing leaders. Before joining PathFactory, Cassandra led the content marketing teams at Influitive and TalentEgg.ca. She has a journalism degree from Ryerson University and, when she's not doing marketing stuff, she loves going backcountry camping and canoeing in the wilderness.

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