In the past, B2B customers spent a lot of time speaking with sales reps to explore solutions, choose vendors, and validate their decisions. But today, most of the buyer journey happens online with no human interaction. If buyers had their way, most would never connect with a sales rep directly at all. That means marketers need to change their tack to move customers through the pipeline more efficiently.
The Data on Today’s Customer Journeys
Buyers today prefer to find the information they need on their own. In fact, according to a recent Harvard Business Review survey, 43% of B2B buyers would prefer to avoid sales conversations when making purchases. Similarly, a recent Gartner survey showed that B2B customers spend only 17% of their buying journey interacting with a sales team.
This preference for going it alone is so strong that 87% of B2B tech buyers want self-service options, and more than a third say they’d be willing to spend half a million dollars or more without ever talking to a sales rep. To capture their business, companies need to create the online experience that B2B buyers are searching for.
Further complicating things is the fact that the buying process now involves multiple stakeholders following non-linear paths through the sales funnel. According to Gartner, one fifth of a customer’s journey now involves meeting with buying groups and gaining consensus. And the typical buying group includes six to 10 decision-makers whose decisions are each being influenced by four to five pieces of independent research.
Today’s consumers find information from many sources, including company websites, Google, and review sites. As each member of the group does their online research, content marketers need to create individual buyer experiences based on their organizational role and stage in the buying process. By delivering the right content at the right time and being consistent across every touchpoint, your team can optimize conversion rates.
Best Practices: Managing the Digital Customer Journey
Given how much time potential customers spend researching options online, the digital content you create is critical. The information customers find and the experiences they have with your site shape how they view your brand—and ultimately, their purchasing decision. No matter what kind of content you’re creating, your marketing efforts must be aligned with the new ways B2B buyers are conducting business.
#1) Start with a Journey Map
Mapping out the customer journey helps you define what kind of content you need at each stage and the pathway B2B buyers will take as they evaluate your company, your products, and your services. This serves as a foundation for the majority of your marketing efforts.
Want to learn more about customer journey mapping? Read our recent blog post, How to Build a Buyer Journey in Less Than 30 Minutes.
#2) Develop Buyer Personas
Invest the time to understand your audience. Buyer personas will give you a good idea about the types of buyers and organizations you want to market to. What are they searching for? What problems are they trying to solve? What are their key motivations? Answering these questions helps you frame your marketing efforts to target the most qualified and likely buyers.
#3) Set Up a Problem and a Solution
The most effective marketing will showcase a problem and then demonstrate how your solution solves the problem and aligns with the customer’s motivations. This approach eliminates the guesswork for buyers while also demonstrating empathy for their situation, which helps to build trust.
#4) Consider the Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
Modern B2B buyers move in and out of three stages, each with distinct goals that require certain kinds of content.
- Awareness: Defining a problem, getting answers to general questions, and seeing what options are available.
- Consideration: Looking more deeply into solutions and comparing options.
- Decision: Ready to commit to a solution, need convincing about which one.
By carefully mapping the customer journey, marketers can deliver the right content at the right moment and move customers towards purchasing.
#5) Build Awareness
When customers are just learning about your company or products, B2B marketers should focus primarily on educational content that doesn’t contain a heavily promotional element to establish trust. This could include thought leadership content, educational blogs, industry reports and analysis, troubleshooting guides, and infographics.
#6) Present Solutions
When buyers are digging deeper into their options and narrowing their list of possible vendors, B2B marketers should focus on providing a clear solution to their problem. Build credibility and demonstrate value by sharing content such as webinars, how-to videos, technical blog posts, eBooks, and downloadable assets.
#7) Support Customers in their Decision
When B2B buyers enter the decision stage, they’re ready to invest in a solution. Now, B2B marketers need to convince them that your solution is the best option. Ramp up content in this final phase with product comparisons, case studies, demos, and other offers or incentives.
#8) Build Trust Through Transparency
B2B buyers are more skeptical than ever, largely because they’re inundated with marketing messages daily. Marketing approaches that don’t provide honest, forthright, and transparent information run the risk of being dismissed as puffery, while those that offer unbiased information build trust. At every stage, B2B marketers must review their offerings to make sure they’re being truly transparent. A recent study by TrustRadius shows most companies are falling short; while 87% of suppliers say they are transparent about product limitations, only 37% of buyers agree. Closing that gap will help close more deals.
From Digital-First to Digital-Everything
The pandemic has increased the preference for digital resources to make buying decisions. As we approach 2023, B2B marketers need to prepare for more change as B2B customers now demand consumer-like buying experiences. They want immediate access to information and customized, all-digital experiences.
This shift requires organizations to rethink the way they build demand and generate revenue. B2B marketers will need help from buyer experience platforms like Folloze to implement account-based marketing (ABM) strategies. With the help of artificial AI and machine learning, marketers can deliver data-driven personalization across each digital touchpoint at every stage of the buying journey.
The Folloze advantage
Folloze helps B2B marketers deliver a more robust buyer journey that accelerates the pipeline by:
- Recognizing and targeting accounts
- Using first- and third-party data, including buyer intent data, to craft a personalized buyer experience
- Recommending the best content for each buyer, at each stage of the journey, using intelligent content nomination
- Measuring and analyzing account engagement for optimal nurturing activities
- Driving collaboration between marketing and sales activities to fuel sales orchestration
Folloze has helped businesses execute more than 300,000 targeted campaigns, created 1.5 million engaged accounts, and produced millions of buyers. We give B2B buyers the kinds of personalized journeys they crave so marketers can deliver greater conversions. Unlock the power of the Folloze Buyer Experience platform today.