Building A Buyer: How to Move Your Prospects Through the B2B Customer Journey
Your business is well-established, but profits are starting to plateau. Now is the time to invest in business growth strategies to scale or differentiate your business. But where should you start? Here's our recommendation: Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes and build a customer journey map. You can then use that map to plan your digital marketing strategies.
If you’re wondering why we’re making that recommendation, check out these statistics! According to a 2022 study from Hanover Research, 91% of surveyed businesses reported their customer journey maps have helped drive sales, and 89% said their maps helped them identify and act on their competitive advantage.
Not bad, right?
If you’re ready to see results like these for your own business, then keep reading to learn how.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this blog post:
- Understanding the B2B customer journey
- Marketing tactics you can use at each stage
- Strategies you can put into action to take your customers from prospects to brand loyalists
What is the B2B Customer Journey?
Not every website visitor is ready to buy from you. Just as you take your time to research and weigh your options when you make a personal buying decision, your potential customers are doing the same. This process that they’re going through is the customer journey.
In a nutshell, the customer journey is a potential customer’s path through all the touchpoints with your brand that help enable them to make a decision. (You can read more about the online customer journey in this blog post.)
It’s a “journey” because the path potential customers take before becoming buyers and brand enthusiasts is not a straight one, as you can see in the image below. They will often move back and forth between the early stages of the journey before making a decision.
Along the way, there are several touchpoints with a brand that either influence them to continue moving forward, move backward, or abandon their journey altogether.
An ideal customer journey includes 5 stages:
What Is A Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map gives you a way to visualize the customer journey. It incorporates the touchpoints they have with your business as they try to make a buying decision, but more importantly, it includes the steps they take that you don’t see.
By keeping the focus on the customer, you develop a deeper understanding of their needs and pain points. You can use this valuable information to improve your business. For example, you might see where in the buying process your customer experiences difficulty. Now that you know this, you can change your process to make their experience better. Over time, these improvements can shorten the time your customer takes to buy and also improve their satisfaction. Happy customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and advocate for your brand.
To make a customer journey map, you’ll need a few resources: your customer persona and key people from across your organization. Now you can go through the mapping process. You must consider who is involved in the customer journey, how the prospect feels, what their needs are, the processes they have to go through, and what their make-or-break moment is that could either drive them away or convince them to buy your solution.
Now let’s journey through each stage together and discuss the tactics and strategies you can use to help your prospects keep moving forward in their decision-making.
Stage 1: Awareness
Your customer’s journey begins when they become aware of a problem or pain. Their eventual goal is to make it better (ideally with your solution!), but first, they will seek out information to learn about and understand their problem more broadly.
Though they are nowhere near ready to buy, this is your opportunity to get in front of them–to make them aware of your brand–by capturing their attention.
Before you can do this, you need to know who your target audience is. We recommend crafting your customer profile before you map the customer journey to give you even more clarity on who your customer is. Their profile should include things like their demographics, behaviors, preferences, and pain points. This information will then inform your tactics, strategies, and content.
Here are 3 strategies you can use to grab the attention of ideal customers and put your brand on their radar.
- Implement targeted advertising campaigns on the social media platforms where they spend time.
- Utilize search engine optimization (SEO) to improve online visibility and show up in their search results.
- Create engaging content to attract them and begin building brand recognition.
Pro Tip: Focus on crafting compelling and relevant content to capture attention and pique curiosity.
Stage 2: Consideration
Once your customer has defined and named their problem or pain, they move into the consideration stage. At this point, they are wondering, How can I solve this? In their quest for a solution, they are exploring the products or services they have to choose from. They’re still not ready to buy, but they are weighing their options.
Your objective is to continue to hold their attention and help them consider their options.
Here are 3 tactics you can use to nurture your ideal customer and guide them toward making a purchasing decision.
- Develop educational content that addresses their pain points and offers solutions.
- Utilize email marketing campaigns to provide valuable information and build trust.
- Implement lead nurturing strategies, such as offering free trials or demos.
Pro Tip: Provide clear and concise information to help your customer evaluate the benefits of your products or services.
Stage 3: Action
After carefully evaluating their options in the Consideration Stage, your customer is now ready to make a buying decision.
At this point, your goal is to get them to convert: to buy your solution. You should focus on encouraging them to choose you by positioning your offer as the best one for their needs.
If you’re wondering how you can ethically encourage your prospect to choose your offer, here are 3 techniques you can use.
- Optimize landing pages and calls to action to simplify the conversion process.
- Offer time-bound deals or exclusive discounts to create a sense of urgency.
- Streamline the checkout process to reduce friction and prevent abandoned carts.
Pro Tip: Use persuasive language and emphasize your unique value proposition to motivate your customers to take action.
Stage 4: Experience
They did it! Your prospect purchased your solution and is now your customer. As they prepare to use your product or service, your focus should be on curating an exceptional experience. Going the extra mile to provide true value to your customers is key to developing a lasting business relationship.
If you want your customer to buy from you again, it’s important to remember that the sale is only the beginning. You need to continue to nurture them and educate them on new products, services, and more.
How can you continue to create positive and memorable customer experiences after the sale? Here are three strategies we recommend.
- Focus on personalized and relevant communication throughout the customer journey.
- Offer proactive customer support and address any issues promptly.
- Collect feedback and leverage it to enhance the overall customer experience.
Pro Tip: Continuously monitor customer satisfaction and actively seek feedback to improve the experience.
Stage 5: Advocacy
When you’re preparing to make a personal buying decision, do you ask a trusted friend for recommendations? Do you read online reviews? Your customers do too!
Word-of-mouth and online reviews influence buying decisions. You want your satisfied customer to become an enthusiastic ambassador for your brand so you use their influence to your advantage. When your customer shares their experiences with their personal and online communities, they can help move prospects through the customer journey for you!
If you want this level of loyalty from your customer, you need to continue providing quality service and personalized, relevant communication. Additionally, you want to build a brand culture that fosters a community your customers can engage in and identify with.
This might sound like a big undertaking, but you can turn your happy customers into advocates using these 3 simple methods.
- Encourage customers to leave positive reviews and testimonials.
- Set up referral programs with incentives to motivate your customers to refer others.
- Engage with your audience on your social media channels and incorporate user-generated content to strengthen your community.
Pro Tip: Provide exceptional customer service and exceed expectations to cultivate a loyal customer base.
The time you invest in building customer profiles and mapping out the journey they take from prospect to customer is well spent. Deeply understanding your customers and what it takes to move them through their buying journey is beneficial for your business.
Keeping your customers top of mind and working to improve their overall experience will make it easier for them to buy from you and become an advocate for your brand. Being customer-centric will boost your revenue and grow your business.
What are you waiting for? Optimize your marketing efforts by acting on these insights into the customer journey today!
If you need help planning a digital marketing strategy that will take your potential customers from awareness to advocacy, we’ve got you covered. Check out our digital marketing services!