Marketing Along the Buyer’s Journey
More than 70% of B2B purchase cycles are self-directed, trust-based, social — and invisible to vendors and suppliers. Buyers place more importance on the lifetime experience than the purchase, and they expect to realize value long before they purchase your solution. These days, it’s about the journey, not the ultimate purchase.
So how do you reach these 70% to influence their buying decisions – when they haven’t visited your site yet?
On December 6, 2011, Optify and Search Marketing hosted a free webcast on how to market along the buyer’s journey. The live webcast was led by Erez Barak, VP of Products and co-founder at Optify, and Christine Crandell, President of New Business Strategies, a marketing strategy consulting firm. Following the presentation, the speakers participated in a Q&A session gathered from the webinar attendees.
Watch the webcast and learn how to:
- How to identify the stages of the Buyer’s Journey
- How to align marketing and sales to the Buyer’s Journey
- Why companies can accelerate their revenue cycle with this approach
Presentation: Marketing Along the Buyers' Journey
- Q: How do you know in what stage a contact/lead is?
Christine: You can determine that by looking at the buyerâs longitudinal digital body language relative to the role/Personaâs Buyersâ Journey. That will tell you where they are in their Journey. That insight can further be augmented by lead scoring or other marketing automation metrics which I highly recommend doing.
Erez: There are explicit and implicit signals for what stage in the Buyers’ Journey a lead is on. The simplest way to know is by asking them in a web form, during a call conversation or by allowing them to tell you if they area ready to buy or not. The implicit signals can be mostly gathered from the lead’s online behavior; certain web pages they visit (on your website and off your website), recency and frequency of visits, and the type of engagement they have with your online assets. For example, if a lead came to your website from a tweet about a recent white paper you published, downloaded the white paper and left your website, it’s safe to say that this lead is somewhere in the early stages of the Buyer Enablement stage. But if this lead came back to your site and looked at your feature page, pricing page and downloaded a case study, it’s a good indication that this lead is in the evaluation stage and you should start building your sales pitch and reach out soon. Using methods like Lead Scoring and Lead Intelligence will help you identify these explicit and implicit signals and quickly act upon them.
- Q: What do you think about generic call-to-actions such as âContact Usâ if you donât exactly know where the buyer is in the journey?
Christine:âContact Usâ is an expected call-to-action. I, however, recommend that you think creatively about how to use this contact mechanism. Leveraging your Buyersâ Journey research and insight, you will understand how buyers want to engage with you and can then shape the use of âContact Usâ to fit their expectations. You may find that your buyers may not take the initiative to âcontact youâ because they donât want to talk to Sales; however, they may be willing to use âAsk a Questionâ feature because they believe the questions will be answered by Service/Support. Short of investing in the research to document your Buyersâ Journey, you can find out how to best use âContact Usâ by polling your customers/end users as part of customer satisfaction surveys, user group discussions, or even as a web-based pop-up survey.
Erez: Aligning the call-to-action with the stage is key for success but also making it easy to reach out to you. Therefore, “Contact Us” forms are good call to actions on neutral web pages. Put them when they will be most likely effective – on your About page for example – and track them differently then the other forms on your site. Form tagging and tracking is a great way to gather implicit data on your leads. If a contact us form was submitted from the Job Opportunities page on your site, you can assume that this isn’t a good lead.
- Q: How do you know what really drove a deal?
Christine: What drives a deal are a) the trigger event that started the buyer on the Journey, b) sought outcome, c) trust they have in you based the (consistent) experience theyâve had in the invisible 70%, d) your WOM reputation in their social circles, and e) how well you can and have delivered the sought outcome to customers. Notice what I didnât say â value proposition, feature/functions, price, how nifty your website it, etc.
Erez: Revenue attribution is one of the hardest and most complicated challenges marketers are dealing with on a daily basis; what really generated a deal? Was it the first touch, the nurturing touches or the final email that pushed the lead from just a name in your database to an opportunity? The way we handle this in Optify is by tracking the first visit referral type and the details of that visit and then connect that data with deals we closed. Our Opportunity Analysis Dashboard in Salesforce is an out-of-the-box feature that allows you to do that.
- Q: Does the Buyerâs Journey Model also work for companies on their B2C sales, in addition to their B2B sales?
Christine: Yes, the Buyersâ Journey Model is as applicable to B2C as it is to B2B. One would go through the same steps to understand the specific Journey for the various target B2C buyers. Research the journey, understand the expected end-to-end experience, craft the experience, align marketing assets to the journey, align employee roles to the journey and measure what happens.
- Q: Have you seen success with Live Web Chat offering buyers a chance to interact live via typed conversation with your company?
Christine: Live Web Chat is a good way to be accessible to buyers and others that want to engage. Keep in mind, however, that only by researching the Journey can you determine if your target buyers/persona will want to use Chat. Youâll need to understand where in the Journey they would be inclined to use chat, for what purpose, and more importantly what are their expectations. That will determine who staffs the chat line and how you would measure its effectiveness in engaging or enabling buyers.
- Q: How do you learn where the buyer is going to find information?
Christine: Ask them. Seriously, engage in primary research with customers, prospects, lost accounts, target accounts, etc. Itâs the only way to get that information. For many people the thought of asking these types of questions make them uncomfortable. Thatâs OK, there are many firms and people that can do that for BUT make sure that whomever you use are experts in qualitative research and analysis. Additionally, the interview tool must be based on the Buyers Journey methodology.
Erez: Market research is a great way to learn what your target audience does during their Buyers’s Journey, but also collecting the data on how they came to your website (source) before they converted to a lead is essential. Tying that information with what sources drove deals and revenue will tell you if what you’re doing is working and if you have online presence is in the right places. A lot of this work starts by building buyer personas and search personas. To learn more on this process, check out this webinar and white paper on how to build your search personas.
About Christine Crandell
Christine Crandell is a B2B marketing and strategy expert with more than 20 yearsâ 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 Valleyâs Most Influential Women for 2010 by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal.