B2B Purchase Process: How to Apply 2013 Buyersphere Survey Results

Mapping the B2B purchase process or buyer decision process and the content that buyers are looking for is a key challenge for planning and executing better b2b marketing. BaseOne, a terrific European B2B branding agency, has once again published their benchmark study “HOW B2B BUYERS SEEK INFORMATION TO MAKE A PURCHASE” to include updated 2013 results. In this post we take a look at some of their key findings and apply them to developing better B2B content.

Information Used In the B2B purchase process

B2B Purchase Decision, B2B Buyer, B2B Decision Stages, B2B Pricing, B2B technical information, B2B industry overview, B2B competitive comparison, Interview with a company expert
Key finding: the top 4 information types used during the B2B purchase process

#1 pricing information

#2 technical/product/or service specifications

#3 industry or competitive comparisons

#4 interviews with company experts

Here are 3 practical tips on why and how to target these B2B buyer information needs:

Should You Put B2B Pricing On Your Website and In Your Content?

Data from MarketingSherpa agrees that pricing is often the number on search during the B2B purchase process yet B2B websites rarely have pricing information or pricing pages.  Prices in complex B2B sales are often challenging to publish as web content.  But making the effort to provide some pricing information for example how you approach pricing, how a buyer should budget for a purchase, or even sample project pricing will deliver relevant content and provide valuable prospect profiling data.

B2B Competitive Comparison Tools

The B2B Purchase Process includes comparing solution alternatives and vendors.  So it is not a surprise to see industry and competitive comparisons highly ranked.  B2B Buyers are trying to understand the market and how different solutions will apply to their specific needs and pains.  But B2B marketers rarely share relevant or useful comparison tools or information.  This is a missed marketing opportunity.  As a vendor in the space, you are uniquely positioned to understand your industry and competitors.  The current providers of comparison content are 3rd party research firms and analysts who often focus on information gathering and proprietary analysis formats rather than really useful analysis. So if you believe that your offer a real value proposition, go ahead and map it our for your prospects.  It is information they want  to know!

Interviews with company experts

In the B2B purchase process for a complex sale, buyers know they won’t find all the information they need through digital research.  They are just working to get as much as they can so they can understand and evaluate your information before getting into a high velocity sales conversation.  But eventually they need to take generalized solution information and apply it specifically to their needs and requirements.  And that takes a live, consultative conversation with an expert.

One approach is to package subject matter expert interviews as content to demonstrate how you can provide expertise and thought leadership.

A second approach is speaking at live industry events and making sure you offer some one on one Q&A sessions.

A complementary third approach is to position early sales conversations as information sharing.  The terrific Michael Brenner has coined the concept of “Stop selling and start helping” which focuses on helping B2B buyers buy by offering more relevant and valuable information during the B2B purchase process.  This is clearly content and a format that B2B buyers want.  The big opportunity is to add a “information Q&A” offer to your sales readiness calls to action along with download more resources, get pricing information or a quote, and contact us.

Leveraging B2B Purchase Process Learning for better marketing results

There are lots of other smart B2B buyer process insights in the Buyersphere so it is worth a download and then some thinking about how to apply their findings to deliver better B2B marketing.  Don’t forget that their research does not break their findings out by decision stage.  And by definition they are purchase focused rather than need focused in their learnings.  Check out this post on decision stages for more information on how to create content for different buyer decision stages.

B2B Social Listening: How to Tune In

Good listening skills are paramount to any relationship and the same is true when it comes to B2B social listening. When done correctly, social listening skills can not only improve your social media interactions but also provide current, up-to-the-minute insights into the needs and pains of your audience, which will add depth and dimension to your marketing strategy.

Social listening B2B

What is B2B social listening? 

B2B social listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of listening and evaluating online discussions, to find out what customers, industry leaders, and competitors are saying about a company, brand, product, or concept. A study conducted by JD Power and Associates reported that 42% of companies listed social listening in their top three priorities for 2013. Compared to more traditional research tools like focus groups, interviews, and surveys, social listening often yields fresher, more current data, usually with less effort involved.

Social listening can be used to track relevant conversations that businesses can use to:

  • Connect with new prospects
  • Identify conversations and topics that will connect to your customers’ needs and pains
  • Identify and connect with potential partners / resellers
  • Monitor competitive activity
  • Support and engage with current clients and / or people who have participated in their programs

It’s a good idea to prioritize and rank these objectives according to what you are trying to achieve with your social listening strategy. This will help to determine which keywords to track.

What tools should I use for B2B social listening?

There are many tools available for identifying and aggregating data from public platforms. Examples include:

These tools deliver data, though—they do not interpret it.

While some tools are capable of organizing data by category and sentiment, technology cannot accurately translate the subtlety of sarcasm, clichés, and colloquial expressions. Human analysis is still necessary to interpret significance from the aggregated content. Technology is useful to expose the conversation, however it won’t do the interactive footwork for you.

How should marketers use B2B social listening to track relevant conversations?

 1.    Choose a platform (Brainrider recommends Argyle social, but there are many great tools available).

2.    Choose the keywords you want to track. These should be based on searches that are relevant to both your target audience’s problem, and your value proposition. You should also include competitor’s brand names, product names, solution names, or specific technical concepts unique to the industry.

3.    Set up keyword tracking.

4.    Set up campaign classification for your business’ content. Brainrider does this by defining the needs and pains of your customer, classifying those pains into 4-5 content categories, and then filtering those categories back through your value proposition, to ensure your keywords are connected to your business. You can tag assets within a campaign, and then track which campaigns are the most engaging.

5.    Set aside 30 mins – 1 hr/week to review and read conversations. Set aside 10-15 minutes every day to engage with 2-3 conversations each week. For example, you can engage is by offering resources to demonstrate subject matter expertise.

6.    Review your keyword in chosen platform, looking for relevant conversations.

7. Identify relevant conversations. Here’s some criteria Brainrider uses:

  • The message comes from one of your target audiences, prospects, potential partners / resellers, competitors, or current clients
  • The message is relevant to your business’s value proposition (someone is looking for a tool similar to what you provide, or trying to solve a problem that your business could solve).
  • The message shares something of value.

8.    If you spot valuable, relevant content being shared by a third party, share it with your followers.

9.    Continually cull your keyword list down to focus on those with a higher yield.

 What should you do next?

Download this content marketing strategy template to align your content development with your business objectives.

Pinterest for B2B: What You Need to Know

What should you know about Pinterest for B2B? Well, Pinterest has taken the social media world by storm, since its launch 3 years ago. With over 48 million users, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this highly visual platform creates an excellent business opportunity to attract leads and develop brand awareness. But, many companies find themselves scratching their heads, wondering where to start and how to fully optimize a Pinterest profile for their company.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of Pinterest best practices, advice, and some helpful business examples.

Why pin:

  • Content consumers are very attracted to visual information. According to Social Media Chimps, approximately 83% of learning occurs visually and people remember only 20% of what they read.
  • It forces your business to think creatively about new types of content and visuals to attract and educate audiences.
  • Pinterest for B2B can help with SEO, if you emphasize keywords and link to your web pages.

What to pin:

  • Visually appealing and easily digestible content
  • Thumbnails or images from your e-books, white papers, guides, and blog posts (with an accompanying link)
  • Infographics and memes
  • Videos
  • Product and services previews
  • Creative content that displays your company culture
  • Photos of events
  • Other users’ content- just make sure you cite that it’s their source

How to engage users:

  • Comment on other people’s pins to build a larger following
  • Connect your profile to your other social media platforms
  • Ask questions
  • Actively promoting re-pins
  • Pin regularly
  • Add a “Pin It” button to shareable pages and custom images on your website, such as blog posts

Other Pinterest for B2B best practices:

  • Link your pins to your website through the provided tool or in the description of your pin
  • Don’t just self-promote, share useful information that focuses on your audience’s needs and pains
  • Use analytics tools to measure traffic and leads- then adjust your content based on demand
  • Check out Pinterest’s free analytics tool for business accounts
  • Use analytics to gathers insights into buyer personas
  • Use keywords and descriptive hashtags
  • Stay focused on your target audience
  • Consider the legal implications of photo ownership

Who’s using Pinterest for B2B well:

Here are some great examples of Pinterest for B2B:


Pinterest for B2B

Marketo: https://pinterest.com/marketo/

Pinterest for B2B

HubSpot: https://pinterest.com/hubspot/

Pinterest for B2B

Eloqua: https://pinterest.com/eloqua

Pinterest for B2B

GE: https://pinterest.com/generalelectric/


Brainrider joined Pinterest a few short weeks ago and we are working to make our own account better. Follow us at: https://pinterest.com/brainrider/ and let us know if you have feed back or suggestions.




B2B SEO Strategy: Targeting Buyer Intent

B2B SEO strategy and, even more importantly, targeting B2B buyer intent can be a big challenge.  This post takes a look at recent B2B SEO strategy best practice, B2B marketing content best practice, and B2B lead generation best practice in order to provide some practical tips.

Technical B2B SEO Best Practice

For years the focus of B2B SEO strategy has been on keyword stuffing and volume of links. But Google is increasingly targeting more subtle ranking factors to deliver relevant vs optimized search results. Take a look – the chart below from SEO authority SearchEngineLand shows the complex mix of factors Google is believed to be using to deliver search results.

B2B SEO Strategy: SearchEngineLand Table

These “Success Factors” include traditional B2B SEO strategy elements such as copy, freshness, HTML tags including titles and descriptions, and links, as well as newer elements such as authority, trust, and social mentions.  Most of the technical elements can be managed by an effective content management system using best practice SEO tools.

B2B SEO Strategy: Content Best Practice

While technical optimization remains complex, the net result is that technical optimization (beyond good Google friendly hygiene) is becoming much less important than developing, publishing, and sharing relevant, useful, and valuable B2B content related to your subject matter expertise.  The starting point should be developing a customer-centric content plan that targets what your customers want to know at each stage of their decision process.  This model targets different stages of B2B buyer intent with different content approaches.

B2B SEO Strategy: B2B content ideas

Next, develop a keyword strategy that will allow you to describe your content using customer language, and target buyer intent searches.  For B2B SEO the focus is not keywords, for example “procurement”, but longer keyword phrases used by prospects at each decision stage, for example “procurement spend under management benchmarks” or “SAP procurement solution reviews”.  While the search volumes will be smaller, the quality of your traffic and prospects will be higher.

B2B SEO Strategy: Lead Generation Best Practice

Finally, attracting the right traffic using B2B SEO strategy is only the initial challenge.  Given the investment it takes to attract high quality traffic, you need to optimize your content, website, and lead generation programs to acquire new prospects using gated content and other tiered calls to action.

B2B Lead Generation Form Best Practices

B2B lead generation forms can serve as helpful marketing tools and can be highly beneficial to your business. If used correctly, they collect information about your website’s visitors, and ultimately turn anonymous visitors into identified prospects.

If you’re still unsure whether or not you need forms on your B2B website, here are a few benefits of using B2B lead generation forms. They help you:

  • Profile and get to know website visitors.
  • Generate better leads.
  • Understand visitors preferences, to better segment your database.
  • Get feedback from site visitors.
  • Qualify engagement and sales readiness.
  • Prove or disprove assumptions about target audiences.

There are 3 types of B2B lead generation forms:


    These are the most basic B2B lead generation forms you can have. When using static forms, no matter how many times a specific prospect fills out a form, they will always get asked for the same information in the form fields. You can create static forms that include basic text, dropdown menus, checkboxes, or even file uploads.


    Progressive forms are a marketing automation feature that allow you to further qualify repeated visitors. These B2B lead generation forms allow you to select which form fields appear for a specific prospect, based on the information you already have about them.
    For example, if you’ve already captured a prospect’s full name and job title the first time they filled out one of your B2B lead generation forms, progressive profiling allows you to capture further information the next time they fill out a form. This means more valuable information for you in the long run.


    Sometimes, if you’re working with a lengthy B2B lead generation form, it’s a good idea to break your forms up into 2 or 3 steps. That way, if a prospect starts filling out your form but doesn’t get through all the form fields, you can at least capture some basic information.
    This also means, if you’re creating a multistage form, you want to start with the most basic information first and get more specific in the next steps.

What B2B lead generation form is right for you?
It all depends on what your objective is!




Gated Content (Download)

Putting high value resources behind a form on your B2B website is a great way to capture and identify qualified leads. As a rule of thumb, asking for “first name”, “last name”, “company”, and “email” is good practice.
If the asset you’re offering is of extreme high value to your prospect, you can ask for additional form fields. A great way to further qualify returning prospects would be implementing progressive forms.


Subscribe / Manage Your Preferences

These types of forms capture prospects who are interested in subscribing to your content as well as give you insights into each prospects needs and pains.
Create an Email Preference Centre to allow prospects to opt in and out of your lead nurturing mailing lists (“I’m interested in”).


Event or Webinar Registration

If you’re running a webinar or any other event, don’t miss out on the opportunity to capture prospect information. This is where you can find out what they’re specifically interested in and follow-up appropriately.



Usually, if you’re running a contest, your goal is to capture as many leads as possible, rather than further qualify prospects. Therefore, keep your B2B lead generation form fields to a minimum to maximize form submissions.


Get a Quote

This is a great way to nurture and further qualify the sales readiness of leads. Because these prospects are demonstrating an intent to buy, you can require specific information (beyond just full name, email, company). Ex. “Company Size”, “Number of Employees”, “Role/ Title”, etc.
A great way to encourage form submission is to use a multistage form, where you request more basic information on Step 1 and more detailed information on Step 2 and 3. Avoid creating more than 3 steps, as that might discourage form completion.


Contact Us

Allow prospects to get in touch with you right from your B2B website. Variations include “Send Us a Message”, “Request a Call”, “Ask a Question”, or “Request a Demo”.
Keep form fields to a minimum. Create a dropdown menu to filter what kind of inquiry the prospect is submitting (sales, careers, customer support, others, etc).


Survey / Poll

Collect feedback on your products and services. Offer a free download in exchange for the feedback.


Sign-Up (Free Trial)

Collect all necessary information to sign-up prospects to a free trial of your product or services.


User Registration

Create a members-only section on your website where you provide access to exclusive content in exchange for prospect information. Because you’re offering more than one resource, you can require more fields in your registration form.


Small Talk with Adam the Bobblehead: A Look Inside the Bobbleventure

Over the past few weeks, Brainrider has documented Pardot‘s Adam the Bobblehead as he journeyed on a “Bobbleventure” around Toronto. So, we decided to catch up with Adam the Bobblehead in an intimate one on one interview to hear more about the details of his experience. Our Content Marketing Strategist, Miranda Steinway, sat down with Adam for “Small Talk with Adam the Bobblehead: A Look Inside the Bobbleventure”.

B2B Lead Generation Trends for 2013

A look at three B2B lead generation trends from this year’s B2B Technology Marketers B2B Lead Generation Report worth incorporating into your marketing programs.  For information on how to execute better B2B marketing including adopting these trends visit the B2b Lead Generation and Nurturing services page.

B2B Lead Generation Trend #1: Metrics

As more B2B marketers move to integrated Sales CRM and Marketing Automation platforms B2B marketing performance measurement increasing in importance. The LinkedIn Technology Marketing Group has provided metrics benchmarks that provide insight into how B2B technology marketers are using metrics to evaluate marketing performance.

B2B Lead Generation Trends: What Metrics are Being Used To Evaluate ROI - Cost Per Lead, Revenue, and Lead Volume

When measuring lead generation marketing performance our recommendation is to:

  1. Focus on measuring and reporting against your marketing objectives: attracting prospects, acquiring prospects, nurturing prospectsm, qualifying sales readiness.
  2. Use diagnostic metrics such as Click Through Rates to improve tactical performance not to report marketing results.
  3. Start with the built-in reports provided by your marketing automation platform.  These will give you consistent and comparable data.
  4. Marketing contribution to revenue generation is a challenging number to establish.  Focus on a revenue “touched by marketing” metric to support marketing’s business contribution.

Here are the core B2B Lead Generation performance metrics we track and what they measure.


Metric  from Pardot, Google Analytics, & SEOmoz

Business Objectives

RevenueRevenue Touched By Marketing

Marketing Objectives

Overall and By Program

Attract Prospects# of Visitors
Acquire Prospects# of Prospects
Nurture Prospects# of Active Prospects
Qualify Sales Readiness# of Assigned Prospects

Marketing Diagnostics

By Execution

 Program DiagnosticsCost Per Lead
Click Through Rates
Form Completion Rates
Visitors per channel
Content DiagnosticsLandingPages
Form Completions
Click Through Rates
Pages Per Visit
Time on Site
Website DiagnosticsDomain Authority
Page Authority
Targeted Keyword Rank

B2B Lead Generation Trend #2: Compelling Content Targeting Decision Stages

While the report identifies content as a key email tactic, better B2B Content Marketing is an essential lead generation tactic in all marketing programs.  Most B2B marketing campaigns are under-investing in content development and merchandizing that targets different buyer decision stages.  This chart will help your evaluate your content strategy by decision stage:

If Your Customer Is Asking

What’s My Problem

How Do I Fix My Problem

Are You Right For Me

They Want:

Education & Thought LeadershipSolutions & Product SuitabilityCredentials & Decision Support

What To Share With Them:

    • Trends
    • Benchmarks
    • Analyst coverage
    • 101 Education
    • How to guides
    • How other people are solving this?
    • What is the solution & how does it work?
    • Solution comparisons
    • Pitfall analysis
    • Readiness & suitability assessments
    • How do I choose a vendor?
    • Pricing
    • Bench strength demonstration
    • Case studies
    • ROI/TCO
    • How to buy
    • Working with us

B2B Lead Generation Trend #3: B2B Social Media

Social Media has arrived as an effective B2B marketing tactic.  But to produce measurable results you need to focus on the basics: blogging, influencer relations, and posting high-value content on social sharing sites like LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr/Picassa, and Google+.

B2B Lead Generation Trends: B2B Social Media Marketing

That is a quick recap of three key B2B Lead Generation trends you should include in your marketing budget.  There are several other interesting trends highlighted in the research.  See below for the full study results.

Lead Nurturing Email Examples: The Good and The Bad

“Can you share some lead nurturing email examples?” is a frequent request that Brainrider receives when hosting webinars, presentations, and workshops. This better practice analysis looks at 3 lead nurturing email examples, including a special offer, an update, and an announcement email.

Lead nurturing objectives

The business goal of most nurturing programs is to get more prospects through the pipeline and qualified as sales ready. This business goal can be split into two main marketing objectives:

  • Extend prospect engagement, when you already have their attention.
  • Re-engage older prospects with relevant, useful content.

See Lead Nurturing Programs That Deliver Against Objectives, for more information on setting your objectives.

Effective tactics to extend prospect engagement include “what’s next” links, “thank you” content, auto-responder emails, and drip campaigns triggered by prospect activity. If prospect activity has stopped, timed email nurturing tactics like email newsletters, special offers, and announcements can help to re-engage inactive prospects.

Here are 3 timed lead nurturing email examples, along with an explanation of what they are doing right and what they can do even better:

Lead nurturing email example #1: “Hail Mary Call-To-Action”

Lead Nurturing Email Example: Liaison Technologies


This email uses a number of best practices:

  • CAN-SPAM compliant unsubscribe option and account address.
  • Clean, legible design with a strategic use of images and graphics.
  • Clear marketing call-to-action: “download this whitepaper”.
  • Personalized format that addresses the email to the reader.


Some quick recommendations on what to do better:

  • Like many B2C campaigns, this email is focused on a single “Hail Mary” call-to-action: “download this whitepaper”. While single CTAs are effective for simple, price-based email campaigns, they are often much less effective in complex sale B2B campaigns that address multiple audiences, different pain points, and different decision stages.
  • If you know that this specific whitepaper is timely and explains what this prospect wants to know, then this is a terrific CTA. Otherwise, you will get better prospect engagement by using a “Choose Your Own Adventure” approach.
  • The quick rule of thumb is “the more relevant links you can provide in a re-engage campaign, the more re-engagement you will get”. Go ahead and feature a high-value asset, but make sure you include additional content targeting different pain points and decision stages.
  • Use a thumbnail of the asset, not just an icon, to concretely illustrate the value of the resource you are featuring.
  • Provide more detail about the resource. Define what it includes and what it can be used to do.


Lead nurturing email example #2: “Missed Opportunity”

Lead Nurturing Example: Forrester Reseach Missed Opportunity


This email from Forrester is a terrific example of a number of best practices:

  • CAN-SPAM compliant unsubscribe option and account address.
  • Clean, legible design with a restrained use of images and graphics.
  • Effective use of a sidebar layout.
  • Segmented content based on prospect subscription preferences.


Some quick recommendations on what to do better:

  • Use a more descriptive subject line describing why it might be useful to read.
  • Make sure that you share more than one content asset if your goal is engagement. You have gone through the trouble of sending the email and, more importantly, your reader has gone through the trouble of opening it, so make it count.
  • Try sharing other related content, with a “Choose Your Own Adventure” approach, and include more sales readiness calls-to-action.
  • Use a thumbnail or a chart of the report to illustrate the value of the content.
  • Make sure you do a great job of merchandizing your content. In this case, the description is short, dense, and truncated. Give away some of the most valuable insight in the description to tease you reader with real value.


Lead nurturing email example #3: “All About Us”

Lead Nurturing Email Example: Alfresco Software All About Us


This lead nurturing email example from Alfresco looks terrific and it does a few things right:

  • CAN-SPAM compliant unsubscribe option and account address.
  • Clean, legible design with a restrained use of images and graphics.
  • Effective use of a sidebar layout.
  • Tests video as an innovative content offer.


As a nurturing program, it has some critical misses:

  • Corporate announcements, like introducing a new CEO, are often big news for the company and its investors, but they are much less relevant for customers and prospects. These announcements are rarely focused on what customers and prospects want to know about their own needs and pains, unless their pain was the old CEO.
  • While it is sometimes important to share company announcements with customers and prospects, make sure you take a customer-focused approach to the content.
  • Include some high value content, other than announcements, to let your reader know that you are thinking about their needs.
  • Merchandize the content. This is very important with videos because they are impossible to quickly to scan before a customers commits to watching them. Describe what the video will cover and why it is worth watching.
  • If the objective of your nurturing program is to engage your reader and profile their activity, then try to direct them to your website and prospect analytics. In this case, the video call-to-action links the reader to the company’s YouTube page instead of embedding the video on an Alfresco webpage. After watching the video on YouTube.com, your prospect will be easily tempted to watch other video content, rather than continuing on to the Alfresco content and messaging.


If your business needs help with their email marketing campaigns, Brainrider is here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us, if you have any questions or comments.

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