The B2B sales cycle has changed dramatically over the past five years. Whether you’re a SaaS startup or a tire manufacturer selling your product to vehicle companies, your business must gain a strong foothold online if you’re going to close those deals.
Here’s the reality of the situation: most companies looking to buy your product are doing a significant amount of online research on that product before they ever reach out to you. What’s changed? Over half of B2B researchers are Millennials, which means they grew up with the modern-day internet and are comfortable using search engines such as Google to conduct research.
In the past, the B2B sales cycle relied on sales development reps to generate leads through cold and impersonal emails and phone calls before passing the baton to seasoned account executives who fought tooth and nail to seal the deal with prospective clients. However, today, it’s becoming increasingly common for the buyer to book an appointment with those very same account executives without the seller initiating contact.
Buyers now have more control
Here’s a hypothetical example. Let’s say a work tech startup is growing and needs human resources software for its business. The COO, who’s in charge of this B2B purchase, goes online and searches “HR Software.” What pops up at the top of the results page are several articles that detail the benefits of providing HR to employees, as well as an extensive list of software companies that specialize in human resource management systems. The COO, like any of us, will likely not search farther than the first page of results—and the companies that show up on the first page of results are the ones that have strong SEO, great content, and lots of backlinks. And the only way to get that is to invest in B2B PR, content, and website optimization. If you’re not doing those things, there’s a good chance that your potential customers will reach out to your competitors first.
Why is B2B PR effective?
Customers demand honesty. They want to connect with your brand in a way that is fun, informative, and familiar. Since buyers do the research, you need to control the flow of online information regarding your product. Utilizing B2B public relations or digital marketing to produce unique and engaging content helps to convince buyers they need your product and is critical to people regarding you as an industry leader.
To ensure that your brand’s products and services reach the appropriate target market, we recommend that you invest in listening tools that will help monitor a variety of sources including:
- Social media
- B2B blogs
- Search engines
- Industry magazines
- Google alerts
By listening for keywords across multiple platforms, social media listening tools like Sprout Social, Mention, and Sharpspring provide quantitative and contextual data that uncover B2B trends and help creators generate relevant content to improve your brand’s SEO. Thanks to the growing number of Millennial and Gen Z B2B researchers, it’s more important than ever that your brand reaches out to clients across social media channels.
Don’t underestimate the power of SEO
Because buyers are actively searching for solutions to their most complex business challenges on the internet, you need to invest in reliable content creators who will optimize your online presence. Consistently producing fresh content means that search engines display your product as a top result to buyers. Of course, you want your product to be people’s primary choice.
HubSpot reported that 64% of marketers actively invest in SEO. If your business is not producing and optimizing content to market your product online, then you’re falling behind your competitors.
And one of the best ways to improve your SEO is by investing in B2B PR.
Embrace how buyers engage with your brand
Gartner’s research shows that 80% of B2B researchers use multiscreen, indicating customers begin their search on a mobile device, tablet, or laptop, and periodically switch devices as they go about their day. What does this mean? People engage with your company even when they are in the comfort of their home, and your brand’s influence extends beyond the marketplace.
While you may be wary of your brand showing up on a platform like TikTok, it’s worth noting that 60% of B2B buyers are already Millennials, while the number of Gen Z B2B buyers is also rising. Those are also the generations that are using TikTok the most. Of course, those numbers will rise as we look ahead, and this is why it is crucial that your B2B PR also focus on online video platforms such as Dacast, Brightcove, IBM Cloud Video, and YouTube.
An effective B2B PR team will update information regarding your services, keep your brand trending, and interact with prospective clients in a way that enhances your brand’s reputation. B2B PR also optimizes your company’s SEO by getting you timely, thoughtful, and trending coverage through various digital media outlets—from magazines and online publications to blogs to video platforms, and social media platforms. You can then share this content everywhere you have a presence, on the platforms that are literally in the palm of your buyers’ hands:
Content is still king
Let’s get real. B2B companies haven’t always focused on generating the best customer experience. After all, it’s called business-to-business, not business-to-consumer. In years past, the end goal of the seller was to simply deliver a product that met the needs of the buyer, whether a company recognized their urgent necessity and initiated the purchase process, or a sales rep persuaded a company to purchase their product.
But in today’s world, B2B tech buyers expect a customer-centric experience.
The strongest quality of a customer-centric business is building brand loyalty, and the best way to establish loyalty is through trust and exposure online and across social media. B2B PR is about building brand recognition and generating relevant, progressive content that promotes your brand and product to potential clients who are connected to the internet now more than ever before. Want to know more? Read “Why Do You Need Ongoing B2B PR to Close Sales?” and reach out if you’d like to talk!