The uncertain economy has made it harder for B2B buyers to make purchases. The purchase cycle is longer, with more scrutiny on every dollar spent. When every sale is harder, B2B marketers turn their attention to increasing new customer acquisition to have more prospects in the pipeline. And that’s exactly what they did in 2023, with 57% focused on creating new demand in the market.
Finding new leads has proven to be a challenge, with low lead volume identified as a primary pain point. There are a lot of different factors that could be contributing to the new-lead drought that goes beyond tightened budgets. B2B marketers are contending with a new world of buyers who are much more digitally focused than even a few years ago. They act more like B2C consumers and want content and experiences that engage them.
It’s a tough situation for marketers to address with limited resources. Yet, despite a constrained budget, B2B marketers have opportunities in 2024 to adjust their approach and improve acquisition rates.
Rethink Top of Funnel Tactics
If B2B buyers are starting to act more like B2C consumers, then B2B marketers need to follow suit, which means trying new early funnel tactics. Everything from YouTube to Instagram should be on the table for testing in 2024. I often hear from B2B marketers that social media other than LinkedIn isn’t a good fit for their brand, but that’s often not proven out in an actual test. B2B buyers are people, and they definitely go to social media!
These social channels will become more prominent in the B2B buyer journey as younger generations get buying power at work. GenZ adults like YouTube the best and watch ads on the platform. They use the platform to look for information and to learn, not just to be entertained.
While making special creative for different social platforms used to be timely and costly,
the industry no longer has an excuse. Generative AI like Midjourney can repurpose creative that already exists into formats that fit each platform’s specifications in mere minutes. These platforms are also built to help advertisers with a library of templates, tips, and reports to help with testing.
Simplify Non-Brand Search
What better way to find new customers than for them to find you? Non-branded search can be a valuable way to drive self-guided buyers to content on the site without hard selling. And there are a lot of buyers who are doing more research online than ever before.
With Google’s push to more automated campaign types like Performance Max, I’ve seen less investment in pure non-brand search. Performance Max and automated campaigns like it go after the lowest-hanging fruit. People searching for a specific brand or product name might have already converted anyway, while non-branded search represents an audience that might be net-new.
If this isn’t in the cards, B2B marketers can at least move budget to non-branded search to see how it affects the new-acquisition funnel. Chances are it will make a noticeable, positive difference.
Make It Easier to Convert
There are many unnoticed hurdles in every B2B purchase process. The website might be confusing, there might not be the right product information to download, or there could be a lack of all-important peer reviews. A B2B marketer’s job in 2024 is to remove as many hurdles as possible from the purchase process.
Marketers should put themselves in the shoes of a new customer and scrutinize their website. The goal is to make sure that the site makes it easy to research and purchase, with as few steps as possible along the way.
For example, the more concise a form is, the more leads a marketer will generate. Similarly, if site search doesn’t display the right information, prospects will leave and look for the information elsewhere. Now that more buyers are self-service, the checkout experience makes a difference. According to Shopify, changing from a multipage to a single-page checkout increases conversion rate by 22%.
Forrester Research notes that recommendations from peers are also an important part of the journey. If there are no case studies, customer stories or access to peers, it could turn prospects off.
Some B2B marketers are getting creative with the peer aspect of the buying cycle, creating communities and forums where prospects can ask questions and hear more about different use cases. This interactive strategy not only helps them with their understanding of a B2B company’s solution, but it also creates a positive connection to the brand!
Time to Start the Detective Work
Simply spending more to get more leads is not an option for most marketers in the current economic landscape, but it is still important to test new initiatives. Before starting any of these new tactics, it’s a good idea for B2B marketers to look at 2023 data and see where their best new acquisitions came from and what they did. Then, look at where there was the biggest drop-off in different parts of the journey. This data will highlight opportunities to find more good leads and to address issues that might have turned prospects away.
Marketers will get the best uplift if they can dive deep into the data as they test new tactics. Knowing not just the topline volume but also the type of leads and their value will help determine where to focus efforts.
About the author:
Andrea Duffy-Cabana is the Senior Director of Paid Media at Anteriad, where she helps B2B marketers maximize the value of their paid media strategies.
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