Do you really know your B2B customer’s path to purchase?

business to business journey tnw

Digital marketers use a variety of methods to capture and hold the attention of their B2B target audience. Content creation, SEO, PPC, and social media marketing are just some of the tools at their disposal to position their brands front and center in the minds of consumers.

However, despite the variety of digital marketing channels, many marketers struggle to get their campaigns out of the gate. Why?

Customer behaviors have changed

In large part, the problem may be due to a failure to evolve with the times. B2B consumers today are not like their predecessors. Today’s customers are mobile savvy, less patient with uninspired content, and unwilling to simply accept what they consider to be “marketing hype.”

In this environment, if you want your brand to stand out, you must take into account the modern B2B customer path to purchase.

Eye-opening customer journey stats

The question, then, is: what are your B2B customers doing now that is different from what they did in the past? Consider these statistics:

  • 77 percent of B2B customers insist on doing extensive research before consenting to speak with a salesperson, according to research from Hubspot.
  • According to Forrester research, B2B decision-makers may be anywhere from 65 to 90 percent through with their research before they reach out to a vendor.
  • 71 percent of those decision-makers begin their search, not on specific webpages of vendors, but with a general web search, according to Google.

What do these statistics reveal? B2B customers are looking for content regarding their pain points long before they initiate contact with your specific brand. The challenge you face, then, is to put your brand messaging in the places where those decision-makers will be looking. To do that, you must map their behaviors accurately.

Where is your target audience?

According to research by the Aberdeen Group, aligning your marketing campaigns to the buyer’s journey increases upsell and cross-sell opportunities by as much as 80 percent. With potential results like that to consider, it simply makes sense to do all you can to find and reach out to your customers in those initial searching stages. How?

Your analytics and marketing research likely already tell you much about existing customers. From this research, you have probably already formed some picture of your ideal target customer and you may even have some buyer personas figured out. That is a great start.

To tweak those personas even more, be sure that you can answer some basic questions about your target audience, such as:

  • What problem are they looking to solve when they begin their research online?
  • What factors are driving the search for a solution?
  • Where are they looking for solutions? It is a general web search, social media, or some other channel?
  • On what devices are they performing their search?
  • Which factors are most important to them? Is it pricing, other customer reviews, strong support options, or some other requirement?

SEO helps speed the search

Once you have answered these questions, it is time to put those answers into designing your campaigns. One of the most important things to consider at this stage is how your target audience will be crafting their search queries.

Finding keywords that match the way your audience queries search engines will help you know how to tailor your content. That is not to say that you should stuff your content with keywords, but you should include relevant keywords that will help your audience find your content more quickly.

At its simplest, this means that if Google can find your content easily, your B2B audience can too. SEO matters.

Content designed for engagement

More than good SEO is required, however. Once your potential customers find your content, will they be satisfied with it? They will if your content adheres to these simple rules:

  • It is relevant to the problem they are trying to solve.
  • It provides information that is better than information that is found with your competitors.
  • It is specific, focused clearly on the decision-maker’s circumstances.
  • It is compelling both on desktop and mobile devices.
  • It contains a strong call to action, with appropriate next steps for the buyer clearly outlined.
  • It fills in gaps in customer understanding to help the buyer along the purchasing journey.

As you analyze the results of your campaigns, you can more closely align your content and SEO strategies with the buyer journey. The more closely you adhere to that journey in your content creation, the more likely it is that your content will find and engage your target audience.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

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