When we begin a conversation with a new client, we discuss how their own prospects typically find them and turn into qualified leads and customers.
Our understanding the B2B buyer’s journey, from market realization to vendor selection, becomes critical in developing a successful online marketing program.
But how does the B2B online marketer go about uncovering their buyer’s journey?
The place to start is in understanding the different phases of the B2B buyer journey itself. While many B2B marketers have already engaged in this exploration for their respective organizations, there are just as many who are only in the beginning phases.
To get this process started, we’ve compiled 14 visualizations designed to aid marketers in defining their own B2B buyer journey.
B2B Buyer Journey Basics
As I mentioned above, the first step is in understanding the various phases associated with the B2B buying process. The following four visualizations help map out the different phases.
Tony Zambito’s blog post and buyer experience mapping may be more than six years old but it still holds relevance for B2B marketers looking to uncover their own buyers’ journey.
Zambito’s review of each phase in the buyer experience is designed to help B2B marketers discover “the right set of solutions and investments needed to achieve strategic initiatives, strategies, and goals.”
Assaf Dudai’s outline of the B2B buyer journey is simple and effective. By incorporating a series of direct questions along key phases of the vendor exploration process, B2B marketers can get a sense of how they need to adapt information and communication accordingly.
The important takeaway from Makiko Ara’s buyer journey mapping is that as much as 2/3 of the buying process is actually completed before the buyer even comes in contact with a person at your company.
The B2B buyer’s access to information online changes the requirements organizations must consider when crafting marketing programs, online marketing in particular.
Ultimately it was the creativity of the graphic that caught my attention first. That said, even in 2013 (when this post was written), more than 90% of B2B buyers started their purchasing cycle by looking for solutions and suppliers on the Internet.
B2B Buyer Journey and Content Marketing
Content marketing fuels the results we get from SEO, PPC, and social media marketing programs. To that extent, it is critical to consider what type of content may resonate best throughout the entire B2B buyer journey.
These next six graphics look to connect content marketing to the B2B buying process.
Tom De Baere’s post provides a proposed roadmap for how to consider aligning content across the buyer journey. The first step is to understand the difference between content formats and content itself, followed by alignment with the buyer journey.
De Baere then goes into how to link content with marketing automation and ultimately how to understand what types of content show real marketing ROI across the buyer journey.
Tom Pisello’s article for Content Marketing Institute takes a proposed process like De Baere’s one step further by providing more specific objectives and content marketing recommendations towards each phase in the B2B buyer journey.
B2B marketers fortunately do not all have to speak Dutch to follow this infographic from SpotOnvision. This graphic provides additional perspective on the potential content types that can be applied to each phase of the buyer journey.
The team at Accent created this infographic breaking down the B2B buyer’s journey and offering insight into which types of content may be most effective in each stage.
For B2B marketers interested in more industry-specific B2B buyer journey comparisons, here are two examples. The team at Maximizer offers this proposed roadmap between content and the B2B buyer journey for SaaS and software companies in particular.
I appreciate how the team at Lingo takes this concept one step further: providing content recommendations across phases of the B2B buyer journey and how telemarketing professionals can adapt their tactics and objectives as well.
Of course, it is worth mentioning that not every content format resonates with every buyer in every market. B2B marketers still need to consider what they know about the content marketing preferences of their specific target market.
In other words, use these visualizations for guidance, not as a mandate for what must work for every audience.
B2B Buyer Journey, Content, and Campaign Selection
These last four graphics seek to further align the B2B buyer journey across content development and digital marketing campaign selection but, again, marketers should consider how all of these elements relate to their own organizational priorities and specific customer needs.
In mid 2015, Forrester Analyst Lori Wizdo wrote an article highlighting the B2B buyer journey and the various channels and vehicles prospective buyers seek information.
The graphic above was likely created based on findings from Forrester survey data that showed 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.
The immediate follow up graphic (again from Forrester and Analyst Lori Wizdo) is much more complex. The reason for this complexity is because there is acknowledgement that buyers across industries and markets are unique.
Per the article this graphic was taken from, “…savvy marketing practitioners know that it’s irresponsible to build your customer engagement strategy on aggregate trends. The behavior and proclivities of your buyers might be very different from those averages.”
In Will Humphries’ recent article on Internal Results, he details several of the key factors that make someone the right B2B buyer to target with your lead generation activities.
To better illustrate his points, Humphries uses this SiriusDecision Buyer’s Journey Map Framework, which gives an overview of the different stages on a customer journey, and the alignment between content assets and platform selection.
And lastly, B2B International’s own customer journey map was designed to enables marketers to build a detailed picture of the customer experience throughout the path to purchase and beyond – from awareness through to repeat purchases.
Understanding the B2B buyer journey can be one of the most difficult aspects of strategic marketing. But B2B marketers who understand this journey are better adept in all aspects of strategy and campaign development.
With this information in hand, B2B online marketers can better organize and prioritize keyword research, orchestrate social media programs, and align content marketing development and distribution with buyer preferences.
Hopefully these visualizations help guide strategic marketing process, leading potential B2B buyers from the discovery phase to sales-specific discussions within the organization.