It’s Not Just a Phase – The Buyer’s Journey for B2B Marketers
In sales and marketing, knowledge is power. Today, let’s talk about one of the more critical areas for a marketer to be knowledgeable about – the Buyer’s Journey. We sometimes get so involved in our own systems and processes that we take our eyes off the big picture, our customers, and the experience that they have engaging with and ultimately buying and utilizing our product. Understanding the phases of the Buyer’s Journey gives Marketing and Sales the power to take a leadership role in the purchasing process.
Phases of the B2B Buyer’s Journey
The standard model for the Buyer’s Journey is a path which begins with a state of unawareness, and ends with a customer so pleased with their purchase that they recommend it to others. The phases or stages of the Buyer’s Journey sometimes have different names, but the general idea is the same. Here are the steps in the Digital Reach Buyer’s Journey model:
The prospect is unaware they have a problem that needs action.
The prospect is aware of the problem. It may be an acute problem that needs quick action, or a realization of a gap between the status quo and industry best practice; thus the length of the sales cycle can vary widely.
The prospect is searching for information about their problem, as well as available solutions and/or service providers to fix it.
The prospect, now informed about the options, considers taking action, weighing the costs vs benefits to determine whether to purchase.
The prospect has decided to move forward with a purchase and is finalizing which solution and/or service provider to buy from.
The prospect has become a new customer. The goal is to deliver on the promised solution, exceeding expectations so that the customer is delighted.
The customer is so impressed that they are willing to help the business succeed by providing testimonials, referrals, and information for case studies.
B2B buying is complex; winners help make it simpler
A recent study by Gartner revealed that B2B buyers who felt that the information provided to them by suppliers helped them moved forward through the buying process were 2.8 times more likely to experience a high level of purchase ease. They were also three times more likely to close a larger transaction with less buyer’s remorse.
Understanding the phases of the Buyer’s Journey helps Marketing and Sales teams to provide the right information to the buying team at the right time to help them move forward towards a decision. There are many ways to provide the needed information. Because as much as 70% of the Buyer’s Journey is completed before a prospect will contact a company representative, it is important that information of interest to those in each phase is easily found online.
More relevant information is more helpful
At each phase of the Buyer’s Journey, the prospect is most concerned with gathering a different type of information. It is most difficult to convince someone who doesn’t think they have a problem that they have a problem, so many Marketing teams don’t tackle that phase. If they do, publishing thought leadership content is an effective tactic for progressing from Unaware to Aware.
Once the prospect is in the Aware phase, they will quickly move to the Informational stage and seek out high-level information about the problem and possible solutions. At this point they are not explicitly looking for a particular provider. Educational ebooks, white papers, and videos are the most relevant for the Informational prospect. The fact that your logo is on their most valuable educational resource is a huge asset.
When the prospect has been educated and convinced that solutions exist for the problem they are in the Consideration stage. They are most interested to know if the value they will gain from the solution is worth the expense and hassle from moving away from the status quo. Information that shows quantifiable results of other companies which have adopted the solution is the most compelling. It is at this phase that the prospect will most often reach out to your firm to talk to someone, looking to ask probing (and possibly buying) questions.
Once in the Buying phase, the buying team has decided to move forward with a purchase. The big decision is which firm to work with. At this point, your team has probably collected data on which prospects have viewed or downloaded the information you’ve provided online and may have proactively reached out to a member of the prospect’s buying committee. At the Buying phase, the team needs to know why they should work with you and not your competition, so information which demonstrates your company’s expertise, like testimonials and case studies about successful projects are the most influential.
Conduct a Content Audit – Do you have content for each phase?
Ideally, your company will have compelling content for each stage of the Buyer’s Journey for each solution or service offering your company provides. That’s a lot of content! Here are some tips for making sure the content is actually used:
- Make sure information about products, services, and solutions is up to date and easy to find by both prospects and your own Marketing and Sales teams.
- Provide information that is easy to understand and easy to share. Picture the Buying Team talking around a conference table. Will your company’s information be easily remembered, recalled and related in discussion?
- Provide information in different formats. Some people will read a lengthy ebook while others will only read the Executive Summary.
- Consider whether always gating content is a good idea. Gating helps know who is accessing your content, but at early stages of the Buyer’s Journey it may be more strategic to provide the best information freely and widely.
Building on the Buyer’s Journey model
Once Marketing and Sales are equipped with the right information for every phase, relevance can be improved further by tweaking the messaging for different ICPs and different Personas within those ICPs. In a world overflowing with information and marketing messaging, the information and messaging which is the most aligned with the recipient is the most likely to stand out to them.
Reaching the Buying Team with the right information at the right time
Now that you have the right information available for prospects to help them progress through the Buyer’s Journey, how do you make sure that it gets to the right people when they need to see it? Since most of the process happens online, the best thing to do is to make sure that search engines can easily find your content. The Digital Reach SEO team can help optimize your online delivery for search.
Another way to progress prospects through the Buyer’s Journey is to retarget prospects who have accessed content, directing them to additional content suitable for the next stage. Well-designed retargeting and nurture campaigns can be very effective in helping interested prospects stay engaged with your company and its solutions.
If you need assistance in mapping out your Buyer’s Journey, creating content for the phases, improving SEO, or designing and conducting retargeting campaigns, please contact Digital Reach today!