buyers-journey-1Today’s B2B buyers no longer wait for vendors to direct them through their buying process.  Instead, buyers are guiding themselves through the buying process.  In fact, between 60-90% of their buying journey occurs before even speaking with a vendor.

What this means is that content now plays an incredibly influential role in purchasing decisions.  Both buyers’ engagement with and expectations of content are higher than ever before.  As a result, companies must have buyer-centric marketing and selling strategies.  It’s no longer about your company – it’s about your buyers and their needs.  If you simply focus on pushing out your sales pitch, buyers will quickly cross you off of their lists.

The modern B2B marketer must provide compelling content experiences that address their buyers’ concerns and educate them with expert insights.  These content experiences will many times be the primary differentiator driving conversions – not your product or service.  But creating this buyer-centric content can’t happen off the cuff- it requires a more sophisticated understanding of your buyers and how they buy.  That’s why in today’s B2B buying world, where multiple buyers with various roles are involved in the purchase process and the content experience is paramount, in-depth buyer’s journey maps are essential.

What’s a buyer’s journey map?

A buyer’s journey map is a framework that describes the steps, in detail, that each buyer persona undergoes from initial consideration to purchase decision and finally to implementing and using.  Journey maps give you a rich understanding of your buyers and how they discover, learn about, and choose solutions, and over time how they use these solutions to overcome challenges and improve their business.

A buyer’s journey framework consists of a sequence of clearly defined stages.  Once you have defined your buying stages, you need a way to uncover valuable insights into what your buyers are experiencing and thinking at each of these stages.  The best way to do is this is to capture four core dimensions for each of your buyer personas at each buying stage, including: (1) the buyer’s level of participation, such as driver, influencer, or gate-keeper; (2) the buyer’s informational and internals needs; (3) the buyer’s activities to fulfill those needs; and (4) the buyer’s content preferences.

It’s critical to remember that the buyer’s journey is the collective path – from the buyer’s point of view – that each buyer persona, as well as all personas together as a group, go through to solve their business challenges.  It’s NOT a vendor checklist detailing what sales has to say or provide and when they have to do it.  In today’s buyer-centric B2B environment, vendors can no longer view the buying journey from their own perspective.

What benefits do buyer’s journey maps offer?

The B2B buyer’s journey is complex – many considerations are made, many questions are asked, many steps are taken, and many people are involved one way or another in the purchase.  If you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, then you have no knowledge on how to impact their decision-making through valuable content.

The objective of buyer’s journey maps is to gain a truly rich understanding of all this.  The more you know your buyers and understand their buying behavior, the more likely you are able to successfully align your content to buyer needs, facilitate their decision-making, and overcome any concerns they may have.  You’ll more effectively influence your target audience, maximize the value of your content marketing investments, and establish brand credibility.

You’ll also give Sales the insights they need to optimize their engagements with buyers.  By providing Sales with a detailed map of the buyer’s participation, needs, activities, and preferences at each journey stage, they can more easily and effectively identify, based a prospect’s questions or actions, where they are in their journey and how best to engage with them.

Companies who invest in building journey maps that span the entire customer lifecycle – meaning they extend beyond the purchase stage to implementing and using – can provide better customer experiences, thereby driving loyalty and repeat purchases.  In a world where the customer experience is many times the only or ultimate differentiator between companies, maintaining and enhancing this experience over time is a growing priority for B2B marketers.

In sum, by creating rich buyer journey maps, marketers gain extensive insights into the thoughts, needs, and actions of their buyers.  Content Marketing will write better content faster, Demand Gen will run higher performing campaigns, Marketing will drive customer loyalty and repeat purchases, Brand will develop compelling messaging, and Sales will enhance buyer interaction to close more deals.

 

Read our Whitepaper:
How to Create In-Depth Buyer’s Journey Maps