The ultimate guide to the new buyers journey

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At MarketBridge we have the privilege of working with hundreds of marketing and sales leaders every month. In those discussions one thing is abundantly clear: the customer buying journey is rapidly …

At MarketBridge we have the privilege of working with hundreds of marketing and sales leaders every month. In those discussions one thing is abundantly clear: the customer buying journey is rapidly changing and organizations are struggling to keep up.

These dramatic shifts in buying behavior are well documented; independent research by Gartner and Forrester suggests that by 2020,

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  • 1. 1 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY image Objectively envisioneer manufactured products via standardized interfaces. Phosfluorescently embrace timely e-tailers via integrated synergy partnerships and innovative metrics. The Ultimate Guide to THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY
  • 2. 2 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY The Ultimate Guide to THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION: The New Customer Buying Journey................................................................ 4 PART 1: Rethink Your Segmentation And Let Analytics Lead the Way..................................... 8 PART 2: Prevent Customer Detours Through ProActive Digital Engagement ....................... 13 PART 3: Align Your Content Marketing Strategy to Every Buying Stage................................. 17 PART 4: Take the Long-view in Customer Engagement with Online Communities............... 21 PART 5: Unlock Billions in Hidden Revenue............................................................................... 25
  • 3. 3 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY ABOUT MARKETBRIDGE MarketBridge is a leading technology enabled services firm, providing digital marketing, sales enablement, and customer analytics solutions for Fortune 1000 and emerging growth companies. We help companies improve sales productivity by increasing digital customer engagement and building robust customer analytics engines that focus marketing investments and sales activity on the right customers, with the right messaging and solution, through the right marketing and sales channels. Our unique RevenueEngines™ and SMART™ Analytics solutions deliver data-driven digital customer engagement by connecting marketing and sales to increase pipeline volume, velocity, close rates, and customer loyalty. Our solutions are powered by best-of-breed technologies including social, marketing automation, CRM, and business intelligence, all of which dramatically improve revenue performance, cost efficiency and customer experience. Corporate Website: www.market-bridge.com MarketBridge Community: www.the-digital-bridge.com Phone: 1-888-GO-TO-MKT Corporate Headquarters: 4350 East-West Hwy, 6th Floor, Bethesda MD 20814
  • 4. 4 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY INTRODUCTION The New Customer Buying Journey We’ve all seen the stats. According to CEB, B2B buyers are 57% of the way through the buying process before they engage a sales rep and Gartner and Forrester research has suggested that by 2020, >80% of the buying process will occur without any direct human-to-human interaction. Customers are turning to digital channels to self-educate about products and services, and they are waiting later in the buying process to speak directly with a sales person. As a result, organizations need to rethink their customer engagement strategies in order to align to the new way customers are buying. If you have not evaluated your target customer’s buying journey to understand how it has changed and how you should align to it, you may be left behind. The average firm leaves millions of dollars in revenue potential on the table by waiting to respond to this changing buyer’s journey. New and innovative channels are playing a major role in the way customers purchase goods and services, and this landscape is evolving rapidly. Furthermore, the data to provide deeper intelligence about customer needs, preferences, and behavior is widely available (although often difficult to identify and integrate). Organizations who are winning in today’s environment are building digital channels and data analytics into their go-to-market strategy in order to dramatically improve the productivity of their sales and marketing resources, increasing revenues, reducing costs, and improving the customer experience. However, firms that are not embracing these new techniques are seeing sales productivity fall of a cliff as conversion rates drop, pipelines slow, and opportunities are missed. Customers today know what best-in-class digital engagement “feels like”, giving them a standard by which they evaluate all other businesses (including yours). The world of sales and marketing has changed; the question remains, has your organization changed with it or are you being left behind? In this whitepaper, we will outline the series of steps your organization needs to implement in order to address this change and realize untapped revenue opportunities. SOCIAL AND DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT CONTENT MARKETING ONLINE COMMUNITIES SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT SEGMENTATION STRATEGY
  • 5. 5 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY At MarketBridge we have the privilege of working with hundreds of marketing and sales leaders every month. In those discussions one thing is abundantly clear: the customer buying journey is rapidly changing and organizations are struggling to keep up. Independent research by Gartner and Forrester suggests that by 2020, 80 percent of the buying process will occur online without any direct human-to-human interaction. Industries that rely heavily on sales teams today may not require any direct phone or face-to-face sales engagement with customers five years from now. While these dramatic shifts in buying behavior are well documented, today’s organizations continue to over-rely on traditional marketing and sales channels to reach, engage, convert, and expand their customer relationships. The cost of this failure to adapt is HUGE. The average firm will leave millions of dollars in revenue productivity and cost efficiency on the table. “By 2020, 80% of the buying process will occur without any direct human-to-human interaction.” - Gartner and Forrester
  • 6. 6 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY It’s no secret. Digital and online channels are playing a major role in the way customers purchase goods and services, and this landscape is evolving rapidly. Most customers conduct pre-purchase research to understand their options via a combination of channels including search, social, email, and a number of competitive vendor websites. Increasingly, sophisticated customers go a step further. They engage selectively with traditional offline resources only when their interest has been peaked via digital engagement. Effective marketers must learn how to not only engage the new digital buyer, but to align their online and offline resources to the buyer journey. Customers know what best-in-class digital engagement “feels like,” giving them a standard by which they evaluate all other businesses. For example, most customers today will react negatively to unsolicited contact by a salesperson, but they do want a real-time response when they decide the time is right. This reinforces the growing need to connect marketing and sales via data and technology to provide the tools marketers and sellers need to drive revenue performance. To further complicate this issue, the shift to digital has led to an explosion of marketing and sales technologies that have created considerable new hurdles for organizations to overcome, such as: • Data Management and Infrastructure Realignment • Technology and IT Alignment • New Organizational Processes • Need for Fractional Deployment of Specialized Capabilities Every company we speak with is aware on some level that they must shift resources away from traditional marketing and sales models to new technologies, digital engagement, and data practices. However, the infrastructure and processes that have long served them now get in the way and slow their progress. “The infrastructure and processes that have long served organizations growth, now get in the way and slow their progress.” The implications of the change in buying behavior
  • 7. 7 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY People – Do you have all the expertise you need in-house to set the right strategies, manage and analyze vast amounts of data, make decisions on and manage the technologies, and execute the right campaigns and programs? Process – Given the changing marketing and sales landscape, have you developed and installed a scalable process to effectively connect marketing and sales to produce predictable pipeline growth and conversion? Have you connected the “top of funnel” lead generation activities to “bottom of funnel” conversion with customer engagement platforms that support the new buying model? Technology – Given the hundreds of technology options, which ones should you focus on and why? How are these technologies integrated to work in unison as opposed to point-to-point solutions? Data – What are the strategy and infrastructure requirements to manage the petabytes of data that are generated through today’s technologies (and which hold the promise of significant performance improvement if managed correctly)? What should organizations do about it? Best-in-class firms are adopting new strategies to address these challenges, focused on evaluating their current state across four key levers: In the following chapters, we’ll delve more deeply into how best-in-class organizations are aligning marketing and sales using digital engagement and data to address these issues. Furthermore, we will outline specific techniques that will lead to new opportunities that drive revenue, reduce cost, and improve the customer experience. Process Data Technology People
  • 8. 8 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY SEGMENTATION STRATEGY SOCIAL AND DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT CONTENT MARKETING ONLINE COMMUNITIES SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT PART 1 Rethink Your Segmentation and Let Analytics Lead the Way 1 Part of the power of the new buying behavior is the opportunity associated with the millions of touch points which customers make with your online platforms. This data (when integrated and married with social, CRM, and transaction history) can provide clarity into customer behavior and preferences, and can be predictive of customer value, needs, expected behavior, and the best buying channel. However, trying to map out the buyer journey and integrate all of these data points can feel overwhelming, even impossible. The right segmentation and analytics strategy can make mapping your customer buying process a lot less complex. Most organizations struggle with too many forms of segmentation and no clear strategy. Many are confusing buyer personas, customer profiles, and segments in terms of the broad definitions they use to understand and engage their customers. Almost all organizations struggle to make their segmentation actionable and few can point back to how it is making them money. A great segmentation strategy should have a few key common characteristics. How can you re-think your segmentation to drive value? Continue reading…
  • 9. 9 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY As buyers interact with us in multiple ways, the myriad impressions via both media and channel are startling. Not only is the journey complex, but different buyers take different paths. If used correctly, segmentation can bring organization to the chaos. If used incorrectly, it can compound the challenge. When you ask sales or marketing professionals if they use “segmentation,” the answer is typically “Yes”. But, if you ask whether that segmentation is based on behaviors, life stage, value, lifecycle, attitudes, or interest, the answer is typically “No”. In fact, most organizations are overrun with too many forms of segmentation and no clear strategy. Segmentation is, according to Merriam-Webster, the process of dividing something into parts. For sales and marketing, it is simply a method to organize customers and prospects into meaningful and actionable groups. To take it a level further, building a segmentation strategy to deliver measurable value to sales and marketing should take on a few key characteristics. A great segmentation solution should: 1. Be led by strategy 2. Come to life when applied in practice 3. Serve as a platform to unify the sales and marketing functions 4. Be flanked with other tools “Most organizations are overrun with too many forms of segmentation and no clear strategy.”
  • 10. 10 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY Build: Generally speaking the most important thing to consider is whether or not your segmentation criteria is well-aligned to your objectives. Everyone’s objectives are different, so while there are lots of best practices, there is no single best way to build a segmentation. The key is having the experience to know which approach is best to use given the objectives. Implement: Once you settle on the right approach to build the segmentation, you are not done. Now you have to figure out how to apply the segmentation, whether that is in your CRM system, marketing toolset, site personalization engine, call center, or POS system. The fact is, anything you build will not provide value if it simply sits on a shelf. It is critical that you build the implementation plan before you build your segmentation, as implementation priorities are core to ensuring that you build it the right way and that you are able to operationalize it in practice. Make money: Once we have the segmentation built, and implementation strategy set, you need to continue the design effort and think through our supporting process to ensure that we actually use it and make money from it. Our planning processes and tactical processes need to evolve around how sales campaigns are developed, executed, and measured. Let’s put the horse first, cart second, and think through what our segmentation solution needs to accomplish and if segmentation is even the right tool. This sounds easier than it is. Many organizations throw segmentation at everything. Others go big, they build it, then try to use it but get hamstrung trying to operationalize it. In both cases, teams fail to set their strategic objectives across each step. BUILD1 IMPLEMENT2 MAKE MONEY3 1 A cohesive segmentation strategy should be our starting point.
  • 11. 11 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY “The buyer journey is a two-way conversation and, increasingly, it’s on the buyer’s terms.” To bring a segmentation to life, it should be articulated through three core components: profiles (what the segments look like), personas (their needs and attitudes, defined through research or extrapolated from other data), and buying scenarios (where we begin to frame out the buyer journey to gain clarity on how each segment buys). This is a key step—and that persona imagery in the binder and on the boardroom wall is very important. It serves as a starting point for executive buy-in and organizational momentum. If done right, this will be a journey and not a small project. Once we have buy-in and move into implementation and execution, these insights and data points play a critical role in defining our map by informing: • Who (target audience) • What (offer, product, message, content, script) • When (contact cadence) • Where (media and channel) We’re accustomed to using segmentation for push communications but it should also be leveraged to respond to pull-based interactions: a buyer hits the site—what content should render? A buyer calls the call center—what’s the script? The buyer journey is a two-way conversation and, increasingly, it’s not on our terms as marketers and sales professionals but on the buyer’s terms. 2 The segmentation should come to life. 1 At a minimum, this should include sales and marketing but also potentially service and product development, too. The segmentation should act as a common language by which the organization can talk about both current and potential customers in a way that is not defined by organizational structure (for example, product, region, or industry). We all know that while these are common organizing principles for us to run and manage the business, the customer couldn’t care less. When we ignore that, our interactions are disjointed and are not optimized against the buyer’s journey. A good segmentation will help an organization overcome this by unifying how we think, plan, and execute—focused on the customer. 3 The segmentation should serve to unify various functions
  • 12. 12 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY The segmentation needs to be paired with other processes like layering (or micro-segmentation) and other tools to be used as a targeting application, arguably its most common use. Layering pulls in dimensions that are a critical part of your business but are not defining factors of your segmentation. This is where some of those organizing principles may come into play, as long as they help optimize that customer journey and don’t detract from it. The layers you choose add complexity but, if chosen wisely, should drive incremental value due to the lift you’ll gain through added personalization, message versioning, offer and other customization. The segmentation allows us to organize our prospect and customer base, but it is a broad tool. Scalable tools of precision, paired with segmentation, are necessary to highly intelligent targeting. Targeting techniques are often based on predictive modeling, either delivered using batch, near-real time, or real time methods for both off- and online decisions. These are typically trained on attributes like value or propensity to respond, buy, click, or engage. Even if you’re planning, rebuilding, or trying to leverage an existing segmentation, don’t forget to lead with comprehensive planning and strategy, consider how to bring your segments to life, and don’t shy away from creating a cross sales and marketing solution to drive the best possible value from your efforts. 4 The segmentation cannot stand alone.
  • 13. 13 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY 1 SOCIAL AND DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT SEGMENTATION STRATEGY CONTENT MARKETING ONLINE COMMUNITIES SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT PART 2 Prevent Customer Detours Through ProActive Digital Engagement 2 We’ve already established that digital and online channels are playing a significant role in the purchasing decisions of today’s consumers. Organizations need to create digital strategies for a multitude of online channels, including but not limited to, SEO, Digital Advertising, Social Media, Websites, Communities, Blogs, Etc. Furthermore, organizations need to optimize these strategies for inbound marketing, outbound marketing, content marketing and digital sales coverage. Most companies deploy digital tactics, however, the critical part of the new buyer’s journey is not creating digital tactics, it’s how your organization engages prospects once they engage digitally. When the appropriate digital engagement does not take place around a key consumer segment, the potential revenue loss could be massive. But not all customer engagement is created equal. Research shows that customers who engage on social media expect a response within a few hours but those who take other digital actions, such click on a PPC ad or download a whitepaper on your website, typically do not want to be contacted right away by a sales rep. Carefully plan out when and how you engage with perspective and existing customers. A lack of engagement in the digital space when your community is ready to vent or overly engaging when your customers are not ready to buy can mean the customer terminating their journey with you or, worse, your competitors offering them an alluring detour. Don’t let your competitors provide a better customer experience than you, it’s a sure fire way to lose revenue. How can you digitally engage with your prospects and customer to ensure loyalty and continued engagement? Continue reading….
  • 14. 14 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY We’ve established that the customer buying journey has changed significantly given the new role digital and online channels now play in the way customers purchase goods and services. Buyers today are extremely selective in how and when they will engage with traditional, offline sales channels until they have sufficiently conducted online research around a product of interest or a digital marketing effort grabs their interest. Once the buyer is actually ready to engage with a human inside a given brand, they will do so quite often through a digital channel and will expect a real-time response. When the appropriate digital engagement doesn’t take place around a key consumer segment, revenue loss is a very real scenario. While we often talk about marketing or sales engagement in terms of lead nurturing for new opportunities, the reality is that the buyer’s journey is still in play for existing contacts. After all, an increase in current customer yield or buying frequency is an equal revenue opportunity. With the emergence of digital (and specifically social) channels, the journey of these existing consumers is becoming an increasingly important area for digital engagement, where the absence of engagement means the potential for significant revenue loss. ““Brands are spending too much time and effort on widespread marketing but are not engaging customers directly.” @#
  • 15. 15 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY Let’s illustrate this with a real case study. In December 2013, Ryan Holmes wrote in the Wall Street Journal about Twitter user Jay Rooney (@ RamblingRooney), a current AT&T user who, curious about the value of T-Mobile’s free international roaming deal, took to Twitter to vent: Jay Rooney @RamblingRooney “Just found out that @tmobile doesn’t charge extra for overseas data. What the hell am I still doing with @ ATT?” What emerged was a social face-off between the two carriers. The engagement eventually involved John Legere (@JohnLegere), CEO of T-Mobile choosing to engage with this response: John Legere @JohnLegere “@RamblingRooney bet @ATT’s CEO isn’t going to join the convo. Come join the #WirelessRevolution! “ With that, the deal was sealed and T-Mobile had effectively stolen a customer (and probably several of his friends) away from their rival simply because they were willing to engage immediately and personally when the consumer simply sent up a rogue question about services into the Twittersphere. Think these stories are few and far between? Guess again. Lane Douglas, Leader of the Social Practice @MarketBridge, was one of the thousands of recipients on the bad end of UPS’ Christmas shipping debacle. He sent out a simple tweet just before the holiday stating, Lane Douglas @LaneDouglas “#Amazon Prime doesn’t mean jack when #UPS tells you they had a carrier delay.” Within 24 hours, the tweet was being showcased on the front page of USA Today and within 48 hours Lane had received personal messages from The Today Show, NBC News, ABC News and several local affiliates all seeking to interview him for the story. But did he ever hear back from UPS? Nope. Which is why since he has opted to contact companies directly rather than go through Amazon and specifically asked for FedEx delivery. Why is this concerning? Studies still show that brands are spending too much time and effort on widespread marketing but are not engaging consumers on a direct level. In a recent study done by Simply Measured, it was shown that 54% of Interbrand 100 companies send less than one @-reply per day. The point is this: in the new customer buying journey, you need to think of your existing customers as buyers too, or the new sales you realize through marketing will be canceled out by the loss of your current contacts. Digital Engagement - Case Example
  • 16. 16 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY A lack of engagement in the digital space when your community is ready to vent can mean the customer terminating their journey with you or, worse, your competitors offering them an alluring detour. As we previously stated, best- in-class firms address the new challenges of the changing buyer journey by focusing on four key areas: people, process, technology and data. Here is how they can be practically employed around the area of engagement: People – In most firms, marketing and sales teams focus on new leads and opportunities. Customer satisfaction often falls to the Customer Service reps and brand image falls to the PR teams. For engagement to be effective in the digital space, these resources need to be connected. Don’t simply leave it to a junior staffer in your PR department to close (or keep) the deal. Process – In Holmes’ Wall Street Journal article, he raises a great question, “Was Legere glued to his Twitter stream, searching for mentions of T-Mobile?” Doubtful. Instead, the more likely scenario is that an employee saw the conversation evolving (or devolving as it was) and took the initiative to forward it to him. If you don’t have the staff necessary to manage your social platforms then social monitoring and listening tools are necessary to track industry and brand conversations. This process is critical for success, where people with eyes on the digital space know who should be notified when the brand is mentioned. Technology – Enterprise-level listening platforms have come a long way in the past several years and employing them (or outsourcing to a firm with the expertise) inside the social space is an absolute priority to succeeding in digital engagement. Additionally, many of these platforms now allow for you to build out your resources, roles, and processes and setup automated flags and notifications anytime certain criteria are met: volume drops, volume increases, brand is mentioned, etc. Leveraging this technology will ensure the engagement happens quickly, and by the right person. Data – Engagement strategies do not need to be built on a “listen-and-wait” tactic. Data, such as share of voice, influencer reach, and #hashtag mentions can be collected over time to map trends, inform marketing strategies, and provide targeted content inside an enterprise-level CMS that allows for dynamic segmentation based on prescribed user pathways. Having this data on hand as a monthly, if not weekly, reference is becoming more and more critical to winning in the digital space. As you begin to address the evolving customer journey, don’t forget that engagement is a critical factor to ensuring there is no needless revenue loss. 4 Key Areas to Focus on for Digital Engagement Process Data Technology People
  • 17. 17 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY 1 CONTENT MARKETING SEGMENTATION STRATEGY SOCIAL AND DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT ONLINE COMMUNITIES SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT PART 3 Align Your Content Marketing Strategy to Every Buying Stage 3 Content Marketing was the biggest buzz-term in Marketing in 2013 and the trend is continuing in 2014. However, whereas as in 2013 organizations were primarily focused on creating an array of content and building an extensive content library, in 2014 the focus needs to be on creating engaging content. After all the infographics, whitepapers, e-books, newsletters, webinars, videos, blog posts, and case studies were created and distributed, Marketers were left wondering what were the results of all that effort? Unfortunately, for most Marketers the answer was not good. What many came to realize is that just having an abundance of content is not enough to move prospects down the buyer journey to an inevitable purchase. In 2014 the key to a successful Content Marketing strategy will be the ability to have engaging content in the right channel, at the right time, to reach the right audience. Furthermore, the ability to provide the right content at the right time will heavily rely on organizations effectively mapping content to each stage of the buyer’s journey. Efforts should be spent on developing content that generates awareness, then pushes prospects to consider your products or services, and eventually helps them make a purchasing decision. This type of content process flow will be critical in today’s fast-paced digital environment. Additionally, creating a content piece that works across all stages of the buyer’s journey will help organizations maximize their marketing efforts in a cost effective way. What types of content can be used across all the buying stages and what are the best practices for developing engaging content? Continue reading……
  • 18. 18 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY Effective digital engagement demands digital content. CEOs and CMOs are well aware that buyers no longer want marketing materials to be pushed on them to help them make a purchasing decision. Instead, they now instantly pull the information they need whenever and however they want. Buyers are paying less and less attention to the traditional marketing messages they are bombarded with every day and have become desensitized to what brands are trying to tell them or sell them. Online “surfing” is such an integral part of our daily lives that buyers barely notice those flashing online banners anymore, let alone read print ads or open that pile of direct mail. In the midst of this media frenzy, we have to ask: What can we do to make buyers start paying attention again? What is the best channel to reach them? What will make them react? From those questions was born the idea of “Content Marketing,” or as it’s defined by the Content Marketing Institute, the “technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Businesses of all sizes are now shifting gears to include Content Marketing as one of the pillars of their marketing strategy. As they race to create more content - 73% of B2B marketers said they are producing more content now compared to one year ago – their biggest challenge of all is producing content that actually engages buyers. “The information overload typically developed for the masses will not create memorable impact.” Biggest Content Marketing Challenge 36% 21% 20% 11% 9% 3% Producing Engaging Content Producing Enough Content Budget to Produce Content Lack of C-Level Buy-In No Answer Producing a Variety of Content Figure 13 B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends MarketingProfs/Junta42
  • 19. 19 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY 1 Stage 1: Education & Discovery To truly engage buyers, content needs to be relevant, valuable, and relatable across every stage of the buyer’s journey. Buyer researches internal (friends/family, colleagues) and external (forums, blogs, social media) sources for the best solution to address their problem or pain point. 2 Stage 2: Acknowledgement & Consideration After careful research, buyer typically select 2-4 brands to consider and compare. Buyers develop selection criteria that is important to them or their business and assess the criteria against a competitor set. 3 Stage 3: Validation & Decision Buyers want confirmation that the product or services promised fulfills their expectations. Demos, samples, or trail offers are provided at this stage. Education & Discovery 1 Acknowledgement & Consideration 2 Validation & Decision 3 Purchase 4
  • 20. 20 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY Marketers need to know how to attract, acquire, and engage with that extremely sought-after buyer and need to assess how they can match the right content type and format to the corresponding buying stage. This is a critical factor when developing a content strategy. A webinar is an excellent example of a content piece that works across all stages of the buyer decision-making process. With a webinar an organization can address consumer pain points, explain product benefits and advantages, and provide a product demo. Use webinars to not only address all stages of the buyer’s journey but also to move prospects along all stages of the buyer’s journey. Registering for a webinar indicates interest, attending the webinar indicates consideration, and responding to a webinar follow-up invite indicates validation. Today’s buyers are not only harder to impress, they’re also pressed for time, making their decision-making process dramatically shorter than it used to be. Buyers need to know only what matters to them now and what fits their needs at their immediate buying stage. The information overload typically developed for the masses will not create a memorable impact. The key is to figure out what content will best provoke first consideration and then decision for your product or service. A segmented analysis of buyers’ interests and pain points will help marketers define which messages matter and narrow down what will resonate with buyers. New marketing technology tools make content personalization easier and more effective than ever before. Personalization today goes far beyond adding someone’s first name to an email greeting. Effective content personalization is when the consumer feels as though they are receiving content that was written especially to and for them—and that addresses their needs specifically. In the discovery stage of the buying process, personalization can include qualitative information such as presenting only case studies matching the buyer’s industry or providing solutions that match the buyer’s pain points. Infographics, flash demos, social media platforms, blogs, and video testimonials can address the specific needs of your target audience to provoke consideration, while validation and decision can be facilitated through sales presentation of competitive strengths. Content for Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
  • 21. 21 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY 1 ONLINE COMMUNITIES SEGMENTATION STRATEGY SOCIAL AND DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT CONTENT MARKETING SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT PART 4 Take the Long-view in Customer engagement with Online Communities 4 In today’s digital environment we’ve established that buyers can take several different paths to reach a purchase decision. However, that journey to a final purchasing decision can be a long, intertwined and winding road for some customers. Trying to map out those array of potential paths for targeted customers can almost be a herculean feat for most organizations. Moreover, sometimes segmentation and content marketing can only take you so far. As a result, many organizations are creating their own online communities to bring potential customers to on central location where they can be nurtured until they are ready to purchase. Within an online community, organizations have the ability to move prospects along the buyer’s journey giving the individual an opportunity to education themselves, engage with like- minded people and consume content without feeling pressured to make a purchasing decision. The beauty of online communities is that they allow customers to come to you and gives you the ability to serve up tailored content without having to go hunting and fishing through different online channels to find them. What are steps needed to build an effective online community? Continue reading….
  • 22. 22 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY “Fish Where the Fish Are Swimming.” It’s an old, oft-referenced axiom in marketing. In essence: don’t waste your time casting a wide net. Focus your energy on finding where your customers are, and engage them in the perfect moment to hook and reel them in. Sure, it’s catchy (we’re marketers, after all). But shouldn’t we think bigger than that? Shouldn’t we as sales and marketing professionals aspire to build something beyond the obvious “hooks?” Why not be more ambitious and set our sights on building the pond itself instead? The new digital realities dictate that it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself from the myriad of other messages and “hooks” being cast by a growing pool of online and offline marketers. The fight for consumer attention has never been more intense. Yet, oddly, it’s clear that the traditional focus of driving prospects and customers to an immediate action, or goal, persists as the default goal for most campaigns. While doing so often helps us hit our short-term objectives and targets, we end up missing out on an opportunity to create a deeper, broader, and more impactful engagement with our audience. With the confluence of social tools and low-cost digital assets the connected web has afforded us, brands now have the ability, and imperative, to think beyond end-of-funnel metrics. Instead of simply driving prospects to sign-up for an offer, trial, or service, we should force ourselves to consider the long-view. Wouldn’t it be more impactful to provide our prospects with a destination, playground, or community in which they can engage, learn, and grow? Decide for yourself. Take the example of a brand looking to break into a new segment with a new target audience. To keep with the previously established aquatic theme of this section, let’s assume this new audience is “Boating and Fishing Enthusiasts.”
  • 23. 23 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY Find/Reach: Locate the new audience in various online communities or social networks geared towards boating and fishing topics and target them with relevant offers through online ads and search campaigns. Direct: Get the consumer to click-through to a targeted landing page to conversion, or collect more information about the prospect. Follow-Through/Convert: In a B2C environment, the call-to-action may be geared towards immediate online conversion and getting the quick sale. In a B2B context, you may be more focused on setting up appointments to move the prospect through the pipeline as the next step. In either instance, the consumer will probably land in one of two camps: one, you’ve hooked them and they become a hot lead or a sale or two, they unhooked themselves from the line – and they now get lumped into the next round of retargeting campaigns. Audience Generation – Case Example Option 1 - Old School Approach With this school of thought, you’re likely to see the following approach:
  • 24. 24 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY Find/Reach: You still want find the new audience through various online networks, but your offer is very different. While it still needs to be relevant, the offer can include online content or tools to better educate this audience (e.g., the latest strategies in fly fishing) and it may not even be branded with your company’s name (pause for shock value). In many instances, we’ve found success in creating an online destination distinct from the Brand’s core website – to create a broader and more comfortable “pond” for your audience to interact with you. Direct: Instead of driving consumers to a one-off landing page, you’re driving them to an online destination that offers a variety of relevant content, tools, discussion forums, and expert dialogue. Sure they may be able to find similar content on other websites, but you’ve got it all in one place. Engage: Through this online community, not only are you capturing customer demographics but you’re also capturing usage data helping you to round out your customer profile. This platform enables a longer term relationship with the consumer by providing them with a range of interaction mechanisms such as a combination of regularly updated licensed and original content; a forum to communicate with other like-minded individuals and experts; stickier tools like tide calculators or fish finder apps; and occasional live “Google Hangouts” featuring a well-known expert in the boating & fishing community. Follow-Through/Convert: Based on the newfound user data, you’ll be able to target each individual with more timely and relevant product offers. Over time, consumers receive the right message at the right time in their buying process. As always, the consumer will have the option to become a hot lead or a sale, but if they don’t, you now have a safe place to “throw them back” to until they are ready. While this is obviously a fictitious example, we’ve executed several similar programs for clients with much broader audience categories, across industries. Time and again, building the pond has proven to be the successful path in customer engagement. Let’s agree to never let our customers know we refer to them as fish! Option 2 - New School Approach Build the Pond Approach. Here’s how things change with the more dynamic approach:
  • 25. 25 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY 1 SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT SEGMENTATION STRATEGY SOCIAL AND DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT CONTENT MARKETING ONLINE COMMUNITIES PART 5 Unlock Billions in Hidden Revenue 5 When it comes to pipeline management, typically marketing focuses on the top of the funnel with lead generation programs and tactics while sales focuses on the bottom funnel with opportunity management tactics. So who focuses on the middle of the funnel? And therein lies the biggest hindrance in realizing the full revenue potential from the marketing and sales strategies we’ve previously outlined. Organizations need to turn their attention to the middle of the funnel where leads often disappear. The reality of the new buyer’s journey is that after the initial engagement most customers are not ready to purchase right away. They continue to conduct research, they validate products with friends or colleagues, they meet with other stakeholders for consideration, and they evaluate cost, timing and need. This process could take months, so instead of dumping them into a “black hole”, create processes and strategies to manage them in the middle of your funnel until they are ready to purchase. However, in order to manage the middle of the funnel, you MUST have marketing and sales alignment. There needs to be one central process for both marketing AND Sales, otherwise there will be a lack of visibility when it comes to critical prospect data, such as conversion metrics, purchase timing, and return on investment. Marketing and Sales alignment not only requires a mutual agreement between marketing and sales on lead qualification, but also, lead disqualification, lead follow-up and the lead hand-off process. If your organization could develop an approach to address the middle of the funnel, how much additional revenue could you expect to gain? Continue reading…..
  • 26. 26 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY As if there weren’t enough reasons for the largest firms to rethink how they market and sell to potential buyers, here are 120 billion additional ones. That number represents the revenue potential trapped within the Fortune 500’s marketing and sales pipelines. To understand that figure, let’s back up to make an argument that by following the new buyer’s journey companies can find a lot more revenue growth. If 2014 is anything like last year, revenue growth targets mandated on Sales officers will be substantial. According to CSO Insights, 75% of CSOs were targeting more than 5% revenue growth last year, yet 47% had concerns regarding their organization’s ability to attain that growth. A major threat to growth for most large firms is that they have yet to effectively respond to changes in how their customers buy – aggressively adopting data analytics to understand their buyers’ preferences (how they want to learn about, compare, evaluate, configure and eventually purchase goods and services) and launching digital engagement programs to align to those preferences. What’s truly eye-opening is that for the largest companies, the fastest path to new revenue growth may be right under their noses—or more literally, trapped inside their existing prospect pipeline. It takes an innovative, more coordinated approach between Marketing and Sales to tap that reserve of revenue growth—one that connects Marketing and Sales operations to nurture and qualify the middle of the funnel to produce more opportunities for Sales to close.
  • 27. 27 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY Hard work, for sure, but the payoff can be huge. We’ve recently combined pipeline performance improvement benchmarks from Marketing Automation platform vendors with MarketBridge’s program experience with Fortune 500 clients over the past year to calculate the value tied up within the middle of most large firm’s pipeline. This is the portion of the pipeline where Marketing typically “hands off a lead” to Sales. Unfortunately, in most large organizations, that hand-off is broken. Research from MarketingSherpa suggests that only 27% of marketing generated leads are qualified (just 1-in-4!), so Sales tends to discount or ignore them as they’re not ready-to-buy (not surprising since 65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing and 79% have not established lead scoring). Better qualifying is not just better for the prospect as you deliver advice and insights needed to make an informed decision, it’s better for Sales since reps will begin trusting the quality of leads delivered to them. So how huge can the payoff be? We estimate for B2B-oriented Fortune 500 firms, an additional 1% of revenues may be trapped inside the middle-of-the-funnel. While that may seem trivial at first blush, adding an additional 1% of revenues to the top-line would have increased 2013 growth rates by: • 12% for Aetna • 18% for Cisco • 31% for 3M • And More Than Doubled Dow Chemical’s, AT&T’s, & GE’s growth. In fact, the average Fortune 500 firm may have $240 million in untapped revenue stuck in their pipeline and all 500 collectively could have $120 billion (1% of $12.0 Trillion in combined revenues). That’s how huge. So why do companies that connect Marketing to Sales realize better pipeline conversions? Mainly, because they use technology to nurture prospects with personalized content (based on buying personas and past behavior) at well- defined points in that prospect’s buying journey to produce predictable outcomes. Basically, they give customers what they want, when they want more effectively than their competitors. And since research shows that 95% of buyers prefer brands that provide content throughout the buying process that personalized digital engagement gives them an edge. How much of an edge? Companies that provide a great buying experiences grow 2 times faster than companies that provide average experiences.
  • 28. 28 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY Establish a unified, connected funnel from top-of-funnel prospect generation, all the way to bottom- of-the funnel closed deals. Firms that maintain one funnel for Marketing and one for Sales are postponing success and holding on to outdated, segregated processes that no longer serve their business well. 1 Build a Single Connected Funnel Buyers continue to squeeze out sales reps in favor of digital education and engagement. If you’re not competitively present in these new distribution channels, or offering the right content at the right stage to make their purchase decision easier, you’re not effectively aligning to new preferences and you are creating a revenue opportunity for your competitors. 2 Digitally Engage Across the New Buyer’s Journey In contrast to what many marketers think, most firms don’t need more leads. They need to nurture the leads they already have (including existing customers!). A greater focus of resources to manage and engage leads with relevant content to nurture them as they educate themselves and evaluate vendors can yield big returns. 4 Attack the Middle of the Funnel The beauty of increased digital engagement is the data that can be generated. Mining customer interaction data from marketing automation, website, and social platforms combined with CRM and purchase transaction history can identify the best customers and the path they prefer to learn about, shop for, and buy your services. 3 Understand Preferences from Actual Behavior Below are six best practices that are common among our most successful clients who connect Marketing and Sales with data analytics and digital engagement programs: Connecting Marketing to Sales can only happen when Sales receives what they need (qualified & scored opportunities, not raw leads) and Marketing gets what they need (timely follow-up by Sales to continue the buyer’s journey, not inaction or generic selling). The best way to accomplish this connection is to establish clear SLAs (Service Level Agreement) between the two organizations to produce the proper teamwork and unified direction in order to produce more deals. 5 Establish a Formal Hand-Off Between Marketing and Sales The ultimate indicator of a successfully connected funnel is greater sales productivity (our bias is that revenue trumps all other metrics). Better alignment to the new buyer journey by using digital engagement and customer data analytics can be measured in connected pipeline metrics such as, volume, velocity, conversion rates, deal size, and customer penetration. 6 Measure the Connected Pipeline from Sales’ POV So, what’s an additional 1% of revenues worth to your business?
  • 29. 29 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY As most organizations have realized, there has been an indisputable shift in the customers’ buying process which has led to pain being felt by organizations that are slow to adapt. In this whitepaper, we’ve outlined several key areas to focus on as your organization addresses changes in the buyer’s journey. As organizations implement new digital customer engagement and data strategies, to be successful they must have expertise in four key areas - their people, process, technology and data At MarketBridge, we’ve helped hundreds of clients implement new digital marketing and sales strategies which has resulted in dramatic improvement in revenue performance. Based on that experience, here are a few key recommendations we would like to share as you align your Marketing and Sales strategies to the new buyer’s journey: 1. Rethink your segmentation approach so that it is informed by true customer behavioral data, is actionable by your teams, and actually makes you money! 2. Once you identify the right customers, deploy digital and social tactics to keep them progressing along the buying journey and focused on your products and services. 3. Ensure your content marketing strategy is structured to engage prospects and customers at every stage of the buying process and drives them all the way to purchase. If you don’t have a content marketing strategy, start building one today. 4. Develop assets which support prospect and customer nurturing, including digital platforms and communities, to address the challenge of customers abruptly moving away from traditional sales resources and into online environments and communities. 5. Focus on Marketing and Sales alignment, and integrate the activities of these teams to ensure that prospects, and thus revenue, do not get stuck in the middle of your funnel This significant change takes time, investment, and dedicated effort; no organization can do it all by themselves. You’ll need a partner to help you set the right strategy, execute in the new environment, and measure/optimize for success. MarketBridge can be that partner. Contact us to learn more about how MarketBridge’s RevenueEngines™ and SMART™ Analytics solutions can help your organization successfully approach the new buyer’s journey and unlock revenue performance while reducing costs and improving the customer experience. Let us help you realize the true revenue potential of your pipeline. Corporate Website Phone www.market-bridge.com 1-888-GO-TO-MKT Conclusion
  • 30. 30 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE NEW BUYER’S JOURNEY ABOUT THE AUTHORS Below are the authors who have contributed to this whitepaper: Jason Robinson // SVP, Sales and Marketing Jason Robinson leads MarketBridge’s Sales and Marketing teams. He is responsible for both direct sales & marketing activities as well as go-to-market channel partnerships. Jason has over 15 years of consulting experience in the Sales and Marketing space, and has worked with over 100 firms within the Fortune 1000 in the technology, telecommunications, financial services, and business services sectors. Stephanie Russell // SVP, Business Analytics Stephanie Russell leads the Business Analytics practice for MarketBridge, which provides solutions which inform both online and offline sales and marketing decisions and range from predictive modeling and segmentation solutions to web analytics and closed loop sales and marketing effectiveness measurement.. She has 15 years of experience in CRM strategy, analytics, and enabling technology. Lane Douglas // Principal, Strategic Solutions Group Lane Douglas is the Principal for MarketBridge’s Social Media Solutions where he leads the development of innovative social marketing strategies and platform creation. With over 15 years of online marketing experience, he and his team apply a strategic and systematic approach to building measureable social marketing campaigns, customized analytics dashboards, competitive benchmarking analysis, and professional reputation management for profitable growth. Steven Lewis // SVP, Marketing Services Steven Lewis is the Senior Vice President of the MarketBridge Marketing Services practice which designs and executes demand generation programs based on MarketBridge’s RevenueEngines™ solutions. Steven has over 14 years of experience in sales and marketing consulting as well as in the design, production, execution and assessment of digital marketing and sales enablement programs. Rebecca Johns // VP, Marketing Services Becky Johns leads the Marketing Services practice at MarketBridge. Her experience centers primarily on building brand loyalty through customer acquisition, engagement and retention programs and developing online and social media communities. In addition, she has expertise in enabling sales teams through innovative training and sales readiness programs. Mike Kelleher // SVP, Strategic Solutions Group Mike Kelleher leads the MarketBridge Strategic Solution Group which delivers innovative sales and marketing productivity solutions using MarketBridge’s technology-based solution architectures. Mike has 22 years of consulting and implementation experience with a focus on innovative solutions that combine traditional sales and marketing channels with emerging technologies including online and social media tool.