What Buying a New Car Can Teach B2B Marketers about the Buyer’s Journey
August 17, 2016
Recently, we hosted a client webinar with Intel Security. Alexandre Papillaud, Marketing Director for Intel Security’s Global Demand Center and a Top 40 Demand Marketing Game Changer, shared how his team is nurturing buyers and moving them through the funnel faster by delivering 2.5X more content per click.
If you missed our live webinar with Intel Security,
you can view it on demand here.
One thing Alexandre said during the webinar really stuck with me: “If you’re buying a new car, you don’t visit the dealer then wait a week to go back, so why do B2B marketers make their prospective buyers wait?”
Alexandre was referring to the way traditional scheduled marketing and nurture campaigns “drip” content to prospects over time – when the most motivated and engaged buyers want all the relevant information they can get their hands on right now so they can make an informed purchase decision.
I’ve always been a “car guy” and have fond memories of a Lamborghini poster hanging in my teenage bedroom. I’d glance at that poster of the classic Italian supercar and I just knew it was “the one”: Yes, one day, it will be mine!
In reality, even a more modest (and practical) ride is an important purchase – one that requires you to do some serious self-educating about the vehicle you want. When was the last time you made a major purchase like a new vehicle on a whim? Probably never right? It’s rare that anyone walks into a car dealership, simply raises a finger without having done any research and says “I’ll take that one in red.”
What normally happens is the consumer will dedicate time to do meaningful research on all aspects of the car they are interested in to understand as much as they can about how it will fit their needs. Did you want leather or cloth seats? Would you like front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive? Sunroof and satellite radio?
During this process of self-education, two things are important:
1. The Consumer is in the Driver’s Seat
The consumer is going to research as much as he/she can during the time they dedicate to learn about the car before they ever go to the dealer. They’re not only going to go to the car manufacturer’s site, but also to Consumer Reports, forums for car owners, etc.
2. Information “Ergonomics” Matter
Think of how in a well-designed vehicle, all the gauges, dashboard displays and controls you need are right at your fingertips. When you’re researching a major purchase, there is something to be said for having ALL of the information you need in one place and readily at hand. To make the consumer’s research as easy as possible, the content necessary to make an informed decision about the car – from safety rating to fuel economy to options and drivetrain warranty – should be packaged up and presented in one place to deliver a one-stop shop experience.
No One Wants to Buy a Lemon
The really interesting thing is that the car purchase journey is a lot like the B2B purchasing journey. Many consumers show the same content bingeing behavior when making decisions to purchase anything in the B2B space. If you’re on a B2B buying committee for a significant purchase, the stakes are high. You’re spending the company’s money, and they’re entrusting you to make a wise decision. Making the wrong choice could have a serious impact on the business – and on your career!
When a B2B buyer is invested in finding out more information so they don’t buy a lemon on the company’s behalf, they dedicate a lot of time to self-educate, to deepen their knowledge of what they are looking for specifically.
We as marketers should stop and ask ourselves an honest question about how we present our information to these potential customers. Are we allowing would-be buyers to access as much content on a specific product as possible in the time they are giving us? Do they know enough to ask intelligent questions when they finally do get in touch with a sales rep?
It begs the question: How do we take advantage of the precious time that prospective buyers give us when they’re motivated to learn? Traditional scheduled marketing ignores the urgency of the engaged buyer and sticks everyone in the same slow lane – trickling the next content offer on the marketer’s arbitrary schedule. It’s absurd when you think about, like a car dealer sending a brochure on the design and benefits of the car’s cup holders one week and then waiting a week or two to send another communication about the vehicle warranty.
B2B marketers should aim to offer up as much relevant content to the buyer in the moment of time they are researching to allow them to self-educate faster and be more informed.
Revving Up B2B Lead Nurturing
We need to add horsepower to our modern lead nurture programs. We have to kick our existing nurture programs into top gear and model our content engagement experiences the same way a car company aggregates content to educate someone looking to purchase a car. We should look to make our potential client’s self-educating process as efficient and frictionless as possible while taking advantage of the time they are giving us to research.
That’s exactly what the marketing team at Intel Security is doing: They’re accommodating buyers who are motivated and want to move fast by packaging up relevant content into full experiences.
Marketers can accelerate the engaged buyer’s decision-making process by aggregating their content into one comprehensive experience that allows the consumer to look at more than one piece of content post-click. Creating a nurture program that harnesses the best of your subject-specific content will not only supercharge your lead nurturing, but surprise and delight your prospects, who will now have the opportunity to do more with their valuable and limited time, and the freedom to explore all aspects of what you have to offer.
In today’s Attention Economy, B2B marketers should look to online car sales tactics as an example of how they can tailor their nurture programs to the way buyers actually consume content today. It’s not about trying to manufacture demand where it doesn’t exist, but rather catering to the inherent desire of serious, sales-ready buyers to binge on content.
By creating effective, meaningful content experiences and offering up more content per click in the time that prospects are willing to give you, chances are you’ll see improvements in your nurture results. Intel Security was able to deliver 2.5X more content per click and accelerate the path to purchase, posting an MQL to Opportunity straight conversion rate above 15% in just 2 months – simply by accommodating engaged buyers who want to move fast. Think of it as building an autobahn for your buyers as opposed to a single lane country road.