Have you ever researched a product or service online and gotten frustrated because you couldn’t find the information you needed? How long did you stay on that site?
I experienced a variation on this theme once when I was looking to make a job change, right before founding Lumen Marketing & Communications. I was trying to learn more about a Denver tech company before deciding whether to apply there. During an interview with one of its executives, I asked him why I couldn’t find much info about the product on their website. Here’s what he told me: “That’s on purpose. I want people who are interested to pick up the phone and call me.”
Is that really a good marketing strategy?
The opposite is more likely to happen. Speaking for myself, if a company doesn’t provide enough information on their website for me to know whether I even want a conversation, I’m not going to call them. And I’m certainly not going to order from them. Furthermore, research says I’m far from unique. A post by Sirius Decisions reports that “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.”
Lori Wizdo, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, backs this up, citing a survey in which “74% of business buyers told us they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.”
Are you inviting buyers to kick the tires?
The aforementioned tech company executive’s way of thinking is old school. He is going to lose this battle. Buyers today have the world at their fingertips. You can’t force them to pick up the phone by withholding information. If you try that tactic, they will feel disrespected and manipulated, and that is not the customer experience you want them to have — and no, I did not go to work for him.
“74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase, according to Forrester Research. You cannot force them to pick up the phone by withholding information.”
Provide both digital and human experiences for the win
As a marketer, I know that both digital and human experiences are important to customers making buying decisions. Wizdo’s article on B2B buyers goes on to share how to use the five Ws – who, why, when, what, where – to think through how to coordinate digital content with human interactions in your marketing strategy. I’ll summarize Wizdo’s points here:
WHO? Are they purchasing as a team? Who is the end user? The decision maker? You probably have multiple customer personas to think about.
WHY? What is their need or pain? Knowing this will help you connect the value you provide to what matters most to them.
WHEN? At each point, what questions will a prospect need answered?
WHAT? What content will answer those questions? How do they want to receive it?
WHERE? Where do they want to access your information? Your website? An online demo? A webinar? A chat with you?
Notice that none of these are about your business’ needs. It’s all about the customer. As business owners, we always need to remember we are marketing to real people. We can’t afford to ignore current research about who they are and trends in information gathering and buying habits.