State of B2B Buyer Enablement Report: Insights from 500+ Marketers
May 5, 2021
If you think you’ve got a tough job as a B2B marketer, try being the buyer for a change. You need to identify all your pain points, loop in the right stakeholders, evaluate a dizzying number of solutions and get through procurement before you’re even able to buy anything. You’re faced with needless friction and information overload every step of the way. And if you receive one more demo invite you didn’t ask for, you’re actually going to scream.
This is a common experience for B2B buyers, and we as marketers have only ourselves to blame. We’ve built impressive websites and deployed world-class content with the express purpose of enabling our funnels, rather than enabling our buyers. But what if buyer enablement became the driving force in B2B marketing, rather than an afterthought? We know that building a buyer-centric journey will translate into far more revenue than any marketing hack, buzzword or fancy tool. So how do we get started?
PathFactory recently partnered with Insent, 6Sense, Heinz Marketing and MarketingProfs to survey over 500 B2B marketing teams catering to mid-market or enterprise customers. Our mission was simple: to uncover how well equipped they are to enable buyers towards a decision. What’s working for them? What are they struggling with? What are the biggest gaps in buyer enablement that need to be addressed?
The result is the industry’s first-ever report on the State of B2B Buyer Enablement, which is available here for free.
B2B buyers are doing their own research (and don’t need your sales reps as much)
- 80% of buyers stay on top of the market with their own research.
What this means for your marketing team: Buyers can access unlimited information at the click of a button. They don’t need your sales reps to educate them. What they need is the right information, at the right time. If you can provide this — with as little friction as possible — you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors. Do you know if you have the right content to allow them to do that?
“Our buyers are at odds with the way we’ve always done marketing. That needs to shift,” said Cassandra Jowett, Senior Director of Marketing at PathFactory, on a recent virtual panel unveiling the report. “We have to enable these buyers to pull themselves through the buying process and have it be self-directed, not run by a sales rep.”
B2B sales cycles are getting longer and involving more decision makers
- 65% of respondents say that sales cycles are getting longer, involving more decision makers, or both.
- 56.7% of respondents have prioritized account-based marketing (ABM) in 2021 to increase account awareness and buyer committee coverage across all target accounts.
What this means for your marketing team: Collective buy-in from other stakeholders is essential for adoption and success, which means the B2B buyer’s journey is more complex than ever. Stakeholders can progress at varying speeds, with individual preferences, evaluating different value propositions. Marketers have adapted by embracing ABM, which creates room to hyper-target each stakeholder and deliver relevant content.
“We all know what content marketing is. At least we think we do, and we think we’re doing it right. Still, at this point, it’s mostly focused on us. The content is about us and how amazing we are,” said Nina Interlandi Bell, Brand Director at MarketingProfs, who is excited about refocusing the conversation to actually help inform complex buying decisions.
“A big part of buyer enablement is really helping your buyers communicate the value within their organization, so they can build that consensus around the decision they need to make,” said Michael George, VP Brand & Digital Experience at 6Sense.
B2B buyers know who your competitors are.
- 61% of respondents say that their prospects are aware of more than 5 competitive solutions in the market
What this means for your marketing team: Buyers have no shortage of options, but there’s only so many a committee is willing to look at before making a decision. If you do manage to divert their attention from the rest of noise in your space, don’t squander it by serving a bumpy buyer experience (we’re looking at you, form fills, hard gates and resource hubs).
“We want to gate so we know who you are so we can call you incessantly to set up an appointment,” said Matt Heinz, President and Founder of Heinz Marketing, who observed that the entire process is designed to help your sales team, rather than your buyers.
Buyers have no reason to stay the course when they can simply move on to a competitor who won’t make them work as hard. To prevent this from happening, ensure your website and content work together to provide a seamless experience at every step of the buyer’s journey. That means easy navigation, clear product information, immediate access to sales and relevant content to support buyers in their decision making.
Most B2B marketers don’t optimize their websites or personalize their content for buyers
- Only 2.5% of respondents say they eliminate high-friction elements on their website to make it easier for buyers to navigate
- 62% don’t use any personalization on their website at all
- 59% don’t use buyer’s past behavior, content history and CRM engagement to serve content that’s relevant to their stage or needs
- Just 15% serve relevant content to guide the buyer along their journey
- 4% use chatbots and content to personalize at scale
What this means for your marketing team: You’ve probably invested a lot of time and effort (not to mention budget) into getting buyers onto your website. The thing is, most websites are designed to support marketing and sales teams, rather than help buyers find the information they’re looking for. Further, the level of data now available to marketing teams means there’s no reason why you should still be treating every prospect the same, regardless of their previous engagement, company demographic or even sales-readiness. Slapping a personalized banner at the top of your homepage isn’t going to cut it. Not anymore.
Instead, turn to your data to curate relevant, thoughtful web experiences for buyers. Serve purposeful content to support their particular needs at every stage of the journey. A buyer who just read your features page from top to bottom should receive product-specific content, while webinar now-shows could be guided to the recordings page the next time they’re on your site. Investing in your buyer’s experience isn’t an indulgence, it’s a competitive advantage.
Get your hands on the free State of B2B Buyer Enablement 2021 Report.