Align Your Marketing Mix to Your Buyers’ Journey – Solution Search Stage
Following the successful webinar about the complete Buyers’ Journey, Erez Barak of Optify and Christine Crandell of New Business Strategies, partnered again to explore one of the most important stages in the Journey, the Solution Search.
The Buyers Journey is a set of organizing principles for aligning company functions and roles to enable, engage and establish enduring relationships with buyers. The Solution Search stage, a sub-stage of the Buyer Enablement stage, is where prospects are starting to research solutions, offering you the opportunity to be first in their mind. Companies that want to be included in the short list of alternative solutions must know how to market during this stage and what marketing tactics to use.
Watch this webinar to learn:
- An overview of the Buyers’ Journey
- The importance of the Solution Search stage of the Buyers’ Journey
- How to balance your marketing through the Solution search stage
- How to choose the right marketing tactics to be on the top of the list
[Presentation] Align Your Marketing Mix to Your Buyers’ Journey: Solution Search Stage
- Q: Are there published industry ”standards” that demonstrate the value of optimizing by buyer intent? ie, leads are x% better; x% visits turn into sales; for every x number of search referrals, x% become validated leads —- that kind of thing
Christine: Every business and industry is different and given that buyers are equally unique, to engage in “standards” is fraught with misunderstanding. The key metric to focus on in evaluating the Buyer’s Journey is pipeline growth, % leads that close, pipeline velocity (net new and repeat), churn/disengagement, and NPS, and opportunity referral rates. My experience is that velocity for net new sales opportunities increases by 3x and add-on sales velocity increase by 5x, COS also decreases because you need less marketing content and your sales model is optimized. While we talked about the “Solution Search” stage specifically, the value comes from optimizing a consistent buyer experience across the entire Journey. For more information on how to uncover buyer behavior and expectations, take a look at Deciphering Your Prospects Digital Body language, a Slideshare presentation.
Additionally, I recommend that you benchmark against yourself regardless of whether you adopt the Buyers’ Journey methodology or not. That is best practice, and coupled with the right set of Marketing Operations metrics, will give you insight into where there is lead leakage, misalignment, disengagement and possible reasons as to why. You’ll find more in-depth information on the Buyer’s Journey at my blog, or on my Facebook page.
Erez: Before you check out industry standards, you need to make sure you have the mechanism to collect and analyze that data for your own company. The best standrad you can compare your performance with is your own benchmark. At Optify, we suggest new customers to first establish their baseline; make sure you collect the right data and document what’s your starting point. From that point on it’s all about testing and optimizing.
Check out our previous webinar Marketing Along the Buyer’s Journey to learn more about what to measure at each stage of the Buyers’ Journey.
- Q: does ”for free” include requiring registration?
Christine: Best practice is to request as little information as possible on registration. Ideally, ask for only 3 items – name and email address. With each additional item asked you’ll find two things happen; page abandonment increases and bogus data entry increases. Buyers are on a self-directed journey and want to control when they talk to Marketing or Sales. Let go and accept this. If your messaging is outcome-oriented, and your ‘free’ aligns to specific steps in their Buyers’ Journey, then let the content/tool do the work for you. If the buyer sees value and it enables them, they will naturally come back to you for more content and interaction.
- Q: Do you have a process of reviewing website referral data?
Erez: Yes. We’re using Optify to collect and then analyze the referral sources and measure them by total traffic (visits and visitors), number of leads, number of opportunities (including their respective pipeline value) and revenue each source generated. This is possible using Optify’s Visitor Tracking and Salesforce integration features.
- Q: What type of behaviors would you consider as an indication of the Solution Search stage?
Christine: Let’s turn the question around, how are buyers behaving in the Solution Search Stage? First of all, you need to understand that there are multiple buyers (Personas/roles) which follow their own Buyers’ Journey. These journeys are very similar but they have some unique characteristics to them that Marketing, Sales and Customer Service should align with in delivering expected experiences.
Buyers in the Solution Stage are focused on better understanding the challenge or opportunity they face and how their peers have addressed it. They are NOT in purchase mode because they do not have a clear idea of what they would buy to address their need. Instead they are looking for content and subject matter experts to engage in discussions, education and collaboration. The behaviors are to post questions in social communities within their industry or function, explore white papers in syndicated websites, search for case studies and industry thought leadership papers, reach out to industry analysts and other influencers, contact consultants and industry leaders, attend conferences, and they may sign up for webinars if they are not promotional but educational in nature.
The best thing you can do for buyers in the Solution Stage is to very open and forthcoming with information. Leave the marketing and sales pitches for later on. Focus on understanding what is it that buyers want to learn and freely provide that information. You’re not looking to identify leads at this point; you’re looking to build credibility and trust between the buyer and your brand.
- Q: How do you pick the keywords you target for this stage? Are they different than your standard target keywords?
Erez: Yes. Target keywords for the Solution Search stage are usually long tail terms (under 100 monthly searches) and will include phrases such as “how to…” or “best practices for…” Picking your target keywords for this stage should be part of your search persona development process and the content for these keywords should be aligned with the buyers’ objectives for this stage – learn how peers id it and gather best practices. The call-to-action on these content pages should also be aligned with the buyers’ objectives, so instead of prompting visitors to these pages to buy your product, offer them more content.
For more about keyword selection, you can watch this webinar and read this blog post.
- Q: What if you are building a market for something and the buyer doesn’t even know he has a need yet. Would you treat that differently?
Christine: Not really. The buyer has a need although it may be dormant or addressed in a different way. As you conduct your market research to validate the market opportunity and craft your Go-To-Market strategy, fold in the Buyers’ Journey process. By understanding how buyers currently learn about new outcomes and needs, it will improve the effectiveness of your market launch and strategy. Most companies don’t evaluate their launch strategies through the lens of how buyers learn about new methods and evaluate their needs. They do this afterwards, when it should actually be done as part and parcel of the market validation process.
About Christine Crandell
Christine Crandell is a B2B marketing and strategy expert with more than 20 years’ success in driving demand and strategy for leading technology organizations around the world. Her approach to marketing and strategy has led to recognition as one of Silicon Valley’s Most Influential Women for 2010 by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal.