The B2B customer journey tracks all the interactions your customer has with you, from the moment they discover you, all the way beyond making a purchase. A surprising majority of this journey is spent without direct communication with you. That’s why it’s important for companies to be able to understand the unique needs of each stage of the journey to provide what their customers are looking for in that moment.
The General Challenges of Mapping
Customer journey mapping is the process of charting the course you want your potential customers to take. It might seem simple enough as journeys have a start and end point with a fairly linear progression in between, right? That might be the case with the B2C customer journey but with B2B it isn’t uncommon for potential buyers to go back a step or two as they determine whether you’re the right fit for their needs.
Another major challenge is that it’s very rarely just one person in a company making final purchasing decisions. This is partly why the B2B customer journey is so complex. Questions are bound to be asked by other decision-makers at all stages, forcing the journey to backtrack multiple times to find the answers they need. If this sounds complicated to manage—it is! But we’ve five tips that are sure to help you improve your customer journey mapping and win more customers.
Tip #1: Define Your Metrics for Success
The very first thing you need to do is define what success means to you. This can differ greatly depending on what B2B products and services you have to offer. If you’re selling large pieces of equipment, for example, you might consider website conversions or increased sales numbers to be success. If you’re selling software, you might define success as increases in resubscriptions, upgrades, and retention overall.
Defining your success metrics allows you to stay focused on clear goals as you map out the customer journey. It also tells you how to engage B2B customers in ways—and through channels—that steer them towards those goals. For example, if you’re angling for more website conversions, you should optimize your site for search engines, produce relevant blog posts, or create landing pages that address specific needs.
Also try to understand how your customers define success at each stage. Gaining enough insight to be able to confidently introduce your products and services to their superiors can be a win at the awareness stage. Having a clear idea of costs and the onboarding process can be success at the consideration stage. Try to situate yourself in your customers’ shoes so you can plan out each stage accordingly.
Tip #2: Identify All the Decision-Makers Involved
Often, the search for new products and solutions is initiated by specific teams within a company. As they go about their work, employees encounter challenges that make it difficult or inefficient to proceed. These issues are then brought up with their managers who are the ones that usually look up the best solutions. At this level, the buyer you’re dealing with knows what they need, what they want, and what to look for.
What they don’t have is the power to make the final purchase. Depending on the size of the company, there may be many more people above them that need to approve a purchase. Generally speaking, the higher a decision-maker is, the further they are from on-the-ground work, and the more concerned they are about value for money above anything else. Understanding who these decision-makers are among your potential customers is a vital first step to mapping.
Now, identifying which decision-makers your business is likely to encounter is easy enough when you target specific business sizes—there’ll be very little variance save for differences in titles, perhaps. When you’re dealing with a wider range of business sizes, it can be more challenging. Simplify things by targeting the decision-maker with the highest authority in the department that is most likely to need and want your products.
Tip #3: Involve Multiple Channels and Mediums
The more channels you use, the more touchpoints you set on the B2B customer journey—the more opportunities you have to interact, get to know, and engage with your potential customers. It’s the same when it comes to the mediums by which you deliver information to your potential customers. The more channels you have, the higher the chances of a customer interacting with your content.
At the very least, you should optimize your website for search engines and prepare your social media sites with as much basic information as needed. Those two are the common starting points when B2B buyers begin their journey. Make sure they’re met with relevant information about what your products have to offer via different mediums. Blog posts, infographics, and short videos work here.
As they go deeper into their journeys, make sure the content they receive has more detail to help other decision-makers make their purchase decision. Create landing pages to capture relevant contact details—offering more in-depth content like whitepapers and case studies in exchange. Their contact information can be used for further email campaigns or even warm calling. Ensure that the material they get dives deeper into the value of your offerings relative to their costs.
When your buyers express greater interest, start to offer demonstrations of your product or services, whether as a commitment-free trial or video demo. The idea is that you’re following their journey, anticipating the questions decision-makers might ask, and providing them with increasingly relevant information so they can come to an informed decision. Provided these are spread across channels and mediums, there will always be something relevant waiting for your buyers, even when they need to backtrack.
Tip #4: Identify Points of Abandonment
No matter how carefully you map out a customer journey, you’re bound to experience customer drop-off at some point. They could have shown great interest, traded their contact details for a particularly relevant piece of content—and then disappeared all of a sudden. It’s tempting to think that the best course of action would be to focus on those who stuck to the paths you charted, but you lose out by not trying to understand why customers lost interest along the way.
That’s particularly true when you’re looking at numerous instances of abandonment at a specific touchpoint. Was it that your content wasn’t providing the information they needed at that stage? Were you using a channel that your audience didn’t gravitate towards? Was the B2B customer experience unintuitive, slow, or unresponsive? Check the backend metrics to find the answer—and adjust accordingly.
Now, if you have one or a few drop offs at other points with no clear pattern, it may well be that they truly did not find your product the right fit for their needs or budget. It doesn’t hurt, however, to try to reach out to find out why. Perhaps they had one or two issues that they didn’t bother to tell you about. Sometimes, reaching out gives you one last opportunity to directly address these issues and even offer more favorable terms if necessary to win them as customers.
Tip #5: Continuously Analyze Your Wins
Speaking of analytics, don’t let your wins at each stage of the customer journey pass you by without understanding why they were successful to begin with. There are two reasons for this. First, knowing what was successful and why enables you to build upon these triumphs. This way, you can keep doing what’s working, but also potentially apply successful elements to other touchpoints that might not be performing as well.
Second, continuously analyzing your wins tells you when something starts to stagnate and perhaps not be as effective as it used to be. Trends shift, technologies evolve, needs change over time, new opportunities open up, and you need to be aware of how these affect your customers’ journeys to adapt to them effectively and efficiently. This is particularly true if your content is dated—your customers will place more value on information that is fresh and recent.
Bonus Tip: Just Do It
You will never get your B2B customer journey mapping perfect the first time around. There are far too many factors involved—big and small—but that’s alright. The worst thing you can do is not try to map your customers’ journey at all. Gather all the information you can prior to mapping their journey, then refine, rework, and improve along the way based on what the metrics and data tells you. It will never be perfect given how things may shift and change through time, but you will be able to quickly adapt if you’re attentive.
It’s also an advantage if you engage prospects that are already interested in what you have to offer. With the right leads list, you can skip over a lot of stages—saving time, money, and effort—focusing more time on converting them instead. Interested? Talk to us today. DemandScience has proven expertise in that regard.