The B2B buyer’s journey is evolving rapidly. The benchmarks and strategies that worked just a few years ago might not have the same impact today. In addition to incremental changes, such as the shift toward mobile devices, B2B marketers must also contend with a rapidly changing workplace and online world.
For example, workers today are more likely to work from home or on the road, making it harder to track which company they work for due to shifting location. The end of third-party cookies by companies like Apple and Google can make it more difficult to visualize which sales or marketing strategies work — at least for now.
Overcoming these challenges requires B2B marketers to pay closer attention to the buyer’s journey. One of the most effective ways to do that? Pay attention to crucial buyer’s journey benchmarks.
What do buyer’s journey benchmarks tell you?
The B2B buyer’s journey is no longer a straight line from discovery to conversion. B2B buyers have access to more data and information than ever — and that isn’t always a good thing.
Buyers can get lost, not just in the buyer’s journey, but also in the overload of information and options they find online. Their journey often loops and repeats steps multiple times, like this:
The number of channels and repeating loops creates more opportunities than ever for buyers to fall out of the journey — costing brands millions in lost sales.
Tracking buyer journey benchmarks throughout the journey helps businesses determine where buyers are falling out of the funnel — and provides key insights into how to keep them on the path to conversion. The problem is, many B2B marketers aren’t tracking the right benchmarks.
Why B2B buyers’ journey benchmarks are different from B2C
The B2B buyer’s journey looks nothing like the B2C journey. Unlike consumers, B2B buyers won’t make a purchase on a whim standing in the checkout line. They are more likely to research a problem (sometimes for weeks) before settling on a solution. And, they might not reach out to your company in person until they are ready to buy.
Here are a few stats that highlight the differences in the B2B buyer’s cycle:
- The B2B buying cycle is six to twelve months, much longer than the few weeks most consumers take to make a purchase.
- The B2B buyers’ journey involves far more people. According to the Gartner Group, between 11 and 20 people are involved in B2B purchase decisions.
- B2B buyers spend just 17% of the buying cycle time meeting with potential suppliers — the rest of the time is spent researching and meeting with their buying group. This means B2B sellers need to be ready to close when buyers reach out.
These differences don’t just impact the marketing strategies you employ; they also impact the metrics you measure in the buyer’s journey.
For ease of use, we’ve broken the top 12 B2B buyer’s journey benchmarks into sections based on the steps of the buyer’s journey. Each section includes benchmark metrics B2B businesses should keep a close eye on.
Keep in mind, however, that the benchmarks for your business might vary based on your industry, product type, or even target audience. For example, a B2B machine parts company might not be concerned with trial sign-ups, while it would be a key benchmark for a B2B SaaS company.
The discovery phase of the buying cycle is when businesses realize they have a problem and begin looking for a solution. This is one of the most crucial steps in the buying cycle, because it is when businesses must establish themselves as the ideal solution in their market.
What benchmarks should you pay attention to? As we mentioned before, the most important benchmarks can vary by industry and even marketing strategy. However, there are a few key metrics to pay close attention to.
1. Organic search traffic
Organic search traffic refers to traffic that comes to your site from a search engine, not from paid ads. For example, if a user searches for a key term or question related to your industry and ends up on your site. This activity generally occurs in the discovery phase, when users are looking for resources or solutions.
Organic search traffic can be tracked in search engine analytics platforms, such as Google Analytics, Bing, or Yahoo. To view it in GA, look under Acquisitions.
2. Unique site visitors
Unique site visitors track the number of visitors who have visited the site, and each visit is only counted once. For example, a site might have 5,000 visitors in a day, but if only 2,000 are unique, this indicates visitors are returning to your site regularly. This data can provide insight into the true reach of your website.
Like organic traffic, this data can be viewed in most search engine analytics dashboards. In Google Analytics, you’ll find the data under “Users” on the Analytics home dashboard.
Pageviews refer to the number of times each page on your site is viewed. During the discovery phase of the buyer’s journey, users may view several pages on your site to better understand what services or products you offer, look for specific features, or learn about payment options. Pageviews allow you to see which pages resonate most with your users. This data can guide content marketing strategy, paid campaigns, and other marketing initiatives.
In Google Analytics, this data is located under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. There, you can view page views, unique page views, and average time on page.
Other benchmarks that might be important at this stage, depending on your industry and marketing strategy, include e-book or guide downloads and time on-page.
At the validation stage, users have made a decision — mostly. They may have spoken to a few other stakeholders and are looking to prove your solution is the right choice. Remember, B2B buyers may have to communicate with up to 20 other stakeholders, which means this can be a long process.
Tracking benchmarks at this stage ensures you don’t lose qualified leads — and ensures your sales team is ready to go when buyers decide they are ready to close.
4. Average visit duration
Average visit duration tracks how much time visitors spend on your website. In general, a longer visit duration means users are finding the information they need and are engaging with your content. For example, they might spend several minutes watching a demo video, reading a blog post, or reviewing a case study.
Average visit duration is called “average session duration” in Google Analytics. It is calculated by dividing the total duration of all sessions by the total number of sessions. To access this metric, view the Audience Overview report in Google Analytics.
5. Direct traffic
While organic traffic is traffic that comes to your site via search engines, direct traffic refers to users who type in your actual URL to find your website. This is a crucial stat in the validation stage because it means users are coming directly to your website. They know who you are, what you offer, and are looking for more information to help finalize their decision. A high direct traffic rate is generally good news for your business.
In Google Analytics, direct traffic metrics are located in the chart under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.
6. Trials/demos sign ups
During the discovery stage, buyers are still deciding if your solution is the right one for them. Brands that offer services or software, in particular, should pay close attention to trial and demo sign-ups. These are users who are in the final stages of the buying cycle. Tracking (and following up with) trial and demo sign-ups can boost final sales rates considerably.
Most businesses track these metrics in the software system they use for forms, landing pages, or email marketing software.
At the purchase stage, users are ready to complete their purchase. While this stage can be a slam dunk, the sales process doesn’t always go as smoothly as we’d like. The benchmarks in this section are important to ensure sales don’t fall out of the funnel right at the end.
7. Abandoned carts/form fills
It can be frustrating when users are clearly ready to buy but don’t complete the purchase. Tracking abandoned carts or form fills (depending on your business model and offers), can help you find users who have navigated the majority of your buyers’ funnel successfully but don’t complete their purchase for some reason.
If a larger than expected number of users abandon their carts or fail to fill out a form to finish their purchase, consider whether your form is too long, site speed is slow, or you have other UX issues.
8. Paid ads traffic
Paid ads can be used at any step of the buyer’s journey. However, ads are generally focused on driving users to buy, not just getting familiar with what you offer in the purchase stage. Tracking paid ad traffic at the purchase stage provides insight into how successful your ads are at driving users to complete the final action.
If your paid ads traffic is low for ads focused on conversion, you may be better served using ads in the discovery and validation stage and focusing on other strategies for the final push to convert.
Paid Ads traffic can be viewed in Google Analytics and most ad campaign platforms.
How many users sign up for your product, buy your service, or purchase a software plan? While the term “conversions” are used in just about every stage of the buyers’ journey, the final conversion is, of course, the number of users that purchase what you have to offer.
While it’s an obvious benchmark, it’s also one of the most important. Conversion metrics can be used on their own but also as part of other metrics. For example, what percentage of users who sign up for a demo also convert?
Your buyers have converted — but they aren’t done with the buyers’ journey just yet. Once they’ve purchased, it’s time to turn them from buyers into advocates. Referrals can be crucial to long-term growth. According to ThinkImpact, 78% of B2B referrals create viable leads for businesses, making them an ideal source of new customers.
Here are benchmarks to pay attention to to turn buyers into advocates.
10. Adoption and usage rates
Once the sale is done, your work is over right? Not quite. Tracking adoption and usage rates ensure buyers are actually getting value from your offering. For example, if you sell a year’s subscription for your software to a company but no one uses it, they’re unlikely to keep paying.
Tracking how much your tool or offering is used can help you locate buyers who need more support or guidance making the most of your offering. The more value buyers place in your offering, the more likely they are to recommend your solution to others.
11. Social media mentions
How often do buyers recommend your business, share your resources, or talk about how you’ve helped them succeed? Tracking social media mentions on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter can help your business see who is recommending your tool to others.
You can use that information to turn them into advocates by asking for testimonials for your website, offering referral bonuses, or creating case studies.
12. Customer reviews
While the vast majority of online reviews are for B2C products and services, don’t discount their importance in the B2B market. According to G2, 92 percent of B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase after they read a review they trust.
Reviews can be found on a variety of sites, such as CrowdSource, G2, Google, and other industry sites.
The best marketing comes from happy customers. Which is why tracking the number of customer reviews is a crucial benchmark for turning buyers into advocates.
Final thoughts on benchmarks for the B2B buyers’ journey
The B2B buyer’s journey is a complicated process, which makes it challenging to find where your sales and marketing processes are getting it wrong.
Tracking metrics is, of course, crucial to tracking success. However, paying attention to which benchmarks to track in which stage of the buyers’ journey can help your company better understand which measures work — and which don’t.