Although B2B stands for business to business, it’s important to remember when attempting to create a more compelling customer journey that you are leading actual people down a funnel, and all people make purchases based on emotions. In fact, current research shows remarkable similarities between the top tier must-haves of the average B2B buyer and a B2C consumer. Although there are subtle variations, the primary motivations are the same:
|Is product or service within budget?
|Am I getting a good deal?
|Is supplier reputable?
|Is brand reputable?
|Are the product/service features and benefits worth the investment?
|Are the product/service features comparable to alternative?
B2B Buyer Differences
Where B2B and B2C journeys truly differ is in the number of people involved in the buying decision and the time it takes to arrive at that decision. According to research from Martech.org, “the B2B buying process takes an average of two to six weeks and involves three to four internal decision makers.” In addition, B2B buyers are big on digesting a lot of content, which is why Sureshot is big on automating personalized content for marketing campaigns. The average individual B2B buyer will consume at least 13 pieces of content before pulling the trigger on a purchase.
B2B Content Consumption
What is interesting to note when it comes to the types of pieces B2B buyers consume is that a majority of what they read and view is first-party content, as in directly from your website, which is why friction-free navigation is so vital to your sales and marketing success. The remaining five pieces of content are typically sourced from third parties, and include a number of reviews.
The 4 Stages of the B2B Buyer Journey
Market research firm, FocusVision has identified four stages in the B2B buying journey, as well as the most popular types of content potential customers seek to consume at each stage, and they are:
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map is a visual diagram that represents different ways customers interact with your company or brand as they make their way to a specific point in the decision-making process, such as buying a product or service.
The purpose of a customer journey map is to better understand your customer’s experience as they interact with your brand across the various channels you use, from SMS and email, to landing pages, websites, social channels, chat, messaging and beyond.
The goal of a customer journey map is to ensure no prospect is left behind. Moreover, mapping your customers’ path to purchase allows you to “see” where they are experiencing friction in their journey, which allows you to smooth bumps along their road and create a more rewarding experience for you, and a delightfully seamless experience for them.
There are a variety of outlines, templates, and strategies that can be used for mapping out the customer journey. The best way to create a customer journey for your company will depend on your organization’s products, services and brand personality. Just remember to remain aware of the key stages a buyer goes through as you develop content for each step.
Steps to Mapping Your Customer Journey
Here are five steps you can take to build a more effective map for your customer journeys:
1. Identify Your Target Market
Before you can understand your customer, you need to be clear on who your target audience is. Ask yourself who is most interested in buying what you have to sell. Then, define what that audience looks like demographically (age, education, job title, etc.), firmographically (company size, industry, annual revenue, etc.) and geographically (city, state, sales territory, etc.). Compare the list you develop with the demographics, firmographics and geography of your best customers and note any differences, as these variations may connote untapped markets for you to pursue.
2. Create Ideal Customer Personas
There are typically up to four people involved in making a B2B buying decision and all of these folks will have different motives, perspectives and objectives in pursuing your products. In this step, you want to ask yourself what your ideal customers look like. A helpful exercise is to write a description of this imaginary person and include their background, product needs, frustrations and any other factors that influence whether or not they purchase your product or service.
3. Monitor Journey Checkpoints
As your customers progress down the sales funnel, going from awareness to consideration and ultimately arriving at purchase, be sure you track their interactions. It’s important for you to know where they are in their journey and what they are experiencing at every stage. Create a list of the actions you want them to take in their journey, and note whether or not the actions you desire at each stage are being taken. For example, when a customer visits your landing page did they download a whitepaper, see a demo, or sign up to attend a webinar? If they didn’t complete the actions you set up for them, it’s time to investigate why.
4. Eliminate Roadblocks
Your customer journey map should help you understand why a certain percentage of customers is or is not taking a step. When customers don’t take action at the various waypoints in their journey, you need to look for and find any issues that might be making it difficult for them to follow through on the actions you desire that they take. Make a list of the issues they experience, diagnose problems you need to fix, and prioritize solutions. Your goal is to make their journey a highly enjoyable and friction-free experience.
Below are questions you should ask a sample population of your customers to identify what is and isn’t working in your current customer journey:
- How did they hear about your company?
- What problem(s) led them to look for a solution?
- What attracted them to your brand?
- Why did they decide to make a purchase?
- Why did they disengage?
- What are their goals?
- What do they expect from your company at this point in their journey?
5. Make Adjustments
Good marketers create well-planned customer journeys. Great marketers go on that journey first before sending customers down the path. The only way to know for sure what your customers are experiencing is to walk a mile in their shoes. When steps aren’t working it’s time to recalibrate. You may have to keep tweaking until you get it just right, but it’ll be worth it for you and your customer in the end.