B2B (business-to-business) customers’ journeys are very different than those of B2C (business-to-consumer) customers. B2B customers tend to sidetrack, backtrack and fast track their way along the buyer’s journey, while B2C customers very often sprint to the destination.
The difference in the time their journeys take is stark. The sales cycle for a B2C buyer can be as short as a few days or as long as a couple weeks, not to mention impulse buys that were never on their radar, but occurred thanks to a well-placed social media or digital ad. It’s a distinct contrast for the B2B buyer who must perform due diligence that can take months or even years. The larger the expenditure and effect on the business, the longer the buyer’s journey.
Regardless of the time B2B customers spend on their journeys, there must be a map for them to follow, a map that guides them to the final destination—buying a product or service from your company. And, the marketing touchpoints you make with B2B customers along their way must be carefully crafted to keep them on the path to your business.
Mapping Out Your B2B Customer’s Journey
By mapping out your B2B customer’s journey, you pinpoint exactly where your touchpoints need to be in order to maximize their engagement with your business. The more, the better since it takes several interactions with your business before a B2B customer will notice your brand, much less consider a transaction.
A well-thought-out map includes all marketing channels, such as:
• Social media
• Email marketing
• Digital advertising
(to name just a few).
Knowing where your customers are, along with their state of mind at the moment of interaction, helps your marketing team craft the right message at the right time, moving them further along in your sales funnel. Ultimately, each touchpoint builds awareness, familiarity, and eventually a level of trust with your business.
Mapping your B2B buyer’s journey across all marketing channels and evaluating how they connect and build upon one another achieves three important goals:
1. Helps you better understand your target customers
2. Focuses your marketing efforts (and budget) in the most opportune places
3. Ensures your messaging is compelling, whether by improved sales data or refining the message until sales numbers rise
Not All B2B Customers Who Wander Off the Path Are Lost
In the B2B world, the buyer’s journey deviates off path more so than in the B2C world. B2B customers are dealing with budgets, other stakeholders in the company, integration of your product or service with existing products or services, comparisons with other solutions, and even time of year or internal transitions.
Digital B2B marketing efforts should include tracking metrics to:
• Learn or verify just how long your buyer’s journey really is
• Determine which marketing channel returns the best results at each touchpoint by seeing how many times prospects interacted with your marketing touchpoints before taking an action, such as making contact, registering for a webinar, downloading a lead magnet, requesting a quote, etc.
• Evaluate which messages resonate best at each touchpoint
• Allow for fine-tuning digital marketing budget and messaging
These metrics will show you where B2B buyers wander off course, and more importantly, give you the opportunity to lead them back and closer to the destination—your company.
What Touchpoints are Included in Your B2B Buyer’s Journey?
B2B customers follow their unique journeys. Customers are human. And, even your industry affects the path and length of the sales cycle. That being said, the B2B buyer’s journey generally includes the following marketing platforms and advertising tactics.
LinkedIn is the standard in the B2B space; however, Facebook and Instagram are effective, too. These three social media platforms work together to create brand awareness and build demand.
• Company culture posts on Facebook and Instagram not only create brand awareness, but also align your culture with your buyers.
• Educational and benefits/features posts on LinkedIn build demand with your buyers.
With brand awareness and building demand in process, the next step is to forge and nurture relationships with buyers via email marketing. By using an email marketing platform, like HubSpot, Mailchimp or Constant Contact, you gain the metrics needed to evaluate the effectiveness of your email messages, as well as siphon prospects into your sales funnel.
Through email marketing platforms, you can deliver more personalized information, such as e-newsletters, product or service offerings and updates, company/industry news and more. Calls to action should be included, making it easy for prospects to get in touch directly, say for a sales call, webinar or demo.
The platform’s metrics track open and click rates, which can be used to score how cold, warm or hot a lead is. Segmenting buyers into different sales funnels, based on their score, allows you to meet your buyers where they are along the journey and offer information they’ll find most relevant at that point in time.
Email marketing is a customized, measurable way to guide and track buyers through the journey. And, it gives your sales team the data they need to act accordingly.
Like all buyers, B2B customers are always online. Digital advertising encompasses social media ads, pay-per-click ads, landing pages, and optimizing your website content for search engines.
Digital ads can direct B2B customers to a landing page or your website, which is optimized for converting visits into sales. Offer valuable content, such as a demo, a white paper, case study, etc. in exchange for contact information.
All Touchpoints in the Journey Lead B2B Customers to Their Final Destination
All touchpoints in your B2B customer’s journey create the experience they have with your brand. As your customers move through the sales funnel, each touchpoint can be honed to lead them to their final destination.
Having developed the buyer’s journey for hundreds of B2B companies, the EAG team can help you map out your customer’s path, including evaluating the experience they have now, their pain points, how to address them and where in the digital marketing landscape. Ready to get started? Let’s talk.