Today we unveiled Alloy’s latest white paper, entitled Converting B2B Buyers and Retaining Customers in Uncertain Times.
In an effort to understand the impacts of today’s uncertainty on B2B buying cycles and help CROs and CMOs effectively steer their organizations to success, we conducted a focus group of senior-level IT professionals. Our research found that as a global recession looms and big tech layoffs dominate headlines, IT buyer behaviors are shifting in three key ways.
First, IT decision makers are prioritizing mission critical tech when it comes to 2023 spending. For example, ESG research shows 65% of organizations plan to increase cybersecurity spending this year, even if they reported flat or decreasing IT budgets. Hardware and IT equipment are also seen as unavoidable expenses, with many new commercial spaces brought on in 2022 now requiring related hardware purchases.
Second, while budgets may be approved, IT buyers are purchasing more slowly. According to Forrester 75% of B2B buyers said the length of their buying cycle had increased in the last 24 months. At Alloy, many of our tech clients are now facing a 9 to 12-month sales cycles.
And third, IT buyers have a propensity to switch vendors, which may be the most unnerving characteristic for marketers. Around 80% of B2B buyers switched vendors at least once in 12 months according to Gartner.
With purchasing decisions prolonged, B2B tech marketers need to adapt their nurture strategies to keep prospects engaged throughout the entire elongated sales cycle – and beyond. But how can marketers increase customer loyalty and reduce churn as decision maker needs shift?
Our research showed that pricing and lack of customer education and engagement are the top two reasons IT buyers would leave a vendor. Tech brands with strong customer marketing programs can improve loyalty and retention, ultimately creating customers with higher annual contract value. Below are four ways how:
- Provide education. When you help customers master their skills and get the most out of your product, you stand out from the competition, boost the overall experience, and strengthen relationships – critical when two thirds of companies compete on customer experience. Education can come in numerous forms, from on-demand content like Q&As, how-to’s and webinars to certification programs, online academies and in-person user conferences. The key is to update content regularly.
- Create product stickiness. The average stickiness rate for the software industry is 13%. Improving yours is as much about the product as it is about engaging with users. Implementing nurture streams for free trial users, in-product prompts, and email campaigns to target unengaged customers can boost new product and feature adoption and improve long-term retention rates.
- Build brand champions. Brand advocates help market your product for you – in the most authentic way possible. Incentivizing customers is key here, whether you need reviews or award wins. If you haven’t implemented them already, referral and loyalty programs are good B2B tech marketing strategies that foster strong relationships and competitive differentiation. These programs can reward customers either monetarily or by offering exclusive access to new features, product trials, or events, and opportunities to participate in owned communities.
- Highlight customer success. Celebrating your customers’ successes can benefit your advocates and help turn prospects into buyers. Sales may be hesitant to ask customers to participate in these initiatives, but 86% of B2B buyers turn to peer reviews before buying a product. If you have happy customers, give them the spotlight via case studies, blogs, newsletters and PR features. It showcases their great work while demonstrating the success of your product.
Want a more in-depth look at evolving IT buyer personas and priorities? In Converting B2B Buyers and Retaining Customers in Uncertain Times, we share their personal perspectives and the integrated marketing tactics that are most helpful to them. Download it here.