In the business-to-business world, sales cycles are longer and about 60% to 70% of the journey takes place even before the customer contacts a vendor or service provider. So how do you sell yourself to the prospective client during this attention stage?

In an episode of Landing Page Optimization, SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash and Overdrive Interactive CEO Harry Gold cover what it means to get visitors to pay attention in the B2B space.

Pulling visitors to your nurture funnel

As marketers, ideally, we want anyone who comes in to our environment (i.e. clicks on a keyword, a banner, or a tweet) to fill out a form. Sometimes, however, customers are not ready to do that. So your best bet is to set a cookie on their browser for remarketing – you follow them around with a banner or paid search ads till they click and finally fill out a form to download a collateral. Even then, however, they still might not be ready to talk to you. Not yet.

So, you put those leads into a nurture cycle through a marketing automation system (e.g. Eloqua or Marketo on the high-end, Act-On on the mid-end, and HubSpot on the lower end).

sell the action not the product

Selling the action, not the product

Needless to say, getting an e-mail address early on in the process is critical, and a popular way to do this is to have visitors give away their e-mail in exchange for collateral.

Harry points out, however, that it’s a mistake to sell your products on landing pages and not the action. For instance, instead of talking about your products, feature your whitepaper by highlighting the cover and listing the benefits of reading it. This way you’re selling the action that you want the visitor to take and not pushing bottom of the funnel things that you want visitors to buy.

Sophisticated tracking

When visitors download a PDF, all pieces of information should be embedded – sort of making a custom PDF for a visitor on the fly – so you know that the user came off of a particular IP, on a specific date, and with specific browser environment variables. This way, when a visitor comes back later, on the inbound link, you can pick all that information up because they’re embedded in the whitepaper.

Harry stresses that appending lead data is critical to serving relevant content on your homepage when a visitor comes back to your site.

Tim observes, though, that cookies seem to be becoming less effective because users either wipe them regularly or use software that does that automatically, and they don’t help in tracking a user across multiple devices.

Harry agrees that only a few companies are closing the loop everywhere or unifying all their tracking. He notes, however, that tracking and cookie-setting is directional. They’re used for data to make fact-based decisions – to see what’s working and what isn’t.

People wipe out their cookies, so you will not be able to track every single conversion. What matters is some quantity of people are getting your drip campaign e-mails or dynamically generated CTAs on your site based on the cookie, and it’s increasing your conversion rate.

Tracking is not an accounting system but a decision making tool. (Am I investing my funds wisely? Is creative convincing people to do what we want them to do?)

Harry stresses that there’s a lot of information you can get off people’s data that you can append to their record, and consequently, there are a lot of binary decisions you can make based on tracking data.

Making the most of your content

It’s not enough to just track a piece of content, either – you need a viable distribution plan across multiple channels. Say you have a piece of content that you already know does well. Once a year, you can update that content and get it distributed again. Then, you can release it in multiple channels – eBooks, a PDF, an infographic, social media mentions, a fragment of the piece on the web site – and you can drip the release on some channels to keep the item active.

The point is to maximize your investment on the content creation side, so that once you have a viable piece of content, you can reuse it in multiple channels. Then you need to track all the traffic you’re getting from the collateral and tie those to actions like form fills and other things further downstream.

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