“Try-Before-You-Buy” – Generate High-Value, Late-Stage Leads
I am hearing from many technology marketers that — in a time in which marketing activities need to deliver tangible results within a tighter timeframe — it is imperative that marketers allocate a portion of their budget dollars toward campaigns which capture more late-stage, actionable leads.
To accomplish this, marketers often use pay-per-click programs that point towards product trials and online product demonstrations. While these types of programs result in marketers competing for a relatively small pool of leads, they do generate significant results because they reach potential buyers in the late stages of the research and purchase process – the “ready-to-buy” prospect.
Recent TechTarget market research indicates that “try-before-you-buy” programs are particularly effective in the Application Development software space, because the developer community is immersed in the types of tools and products that they are encountering or implementing on a daily basis. In the developer community, we see that implementers have a high degree of influence on the IT purchase decision. The “try-before-you-buy” method is very important in building their loyalty and trust, and provides the IT marketer with an opportunity to demonstrate both the quality of the product, and, in many cases, showcase the quality of the customer service supporting the product.
Also, because the developer community places a high value on peer feedback and product recommendations, marketers can leverage social media to reach this group by providing a platform for experts within their organization to engage prospects in discussions about market trends, not just to gain exposure for their product, but build a rapport with — and establish a degree of trust within — the community.
Finally, although there is a significant benefit to offering downloads and trial versions of software to generate leads from prospects in the final stages of the research and purchase process, it is important that this not be the sole focus of your marketing efforts to the detriment of campaign elements supporting your branding efforts or reaching potential clients at the early and mid-stages of the research and purchase process. You still need to maintain program elements to generate leads that will generate sales over an extended period of time.
While there is no “silver bullet” formula for what percentage of your marketing budget should focus on long-term or short-term leads, it is important that your plans include a mix of elements – like topical whitepapers to reach IT professionals at the very start of the research process, Webcasts and Webinars to reach mid-stage prospects, and virtual tradeshows to facilitate direct contact with prospective buyers.