The buyer’s journey is a trendy topic in marketing circles and for good reason. Buyers today hop from channel to channel, and it’s never been harder for organizations to map out what that journey looks like.
This is especially true for B2B organizations, with complex products and prolonged sales cycles.
In a spirited effort, marketers white board all sorts of diagrams. Venn diagrams, spiral diagrams and elaborate figure eights that look amazingly similar to the symbol for infinity. Most of this stuff is heady, highly intellectual and well-reasoned, but it’s rarely actionable.
At the core, the buyer’s journey flows through three primary phases – attraction, conversion and retention. With this simple framework, marketing organizations can avoid the analysis paralysis that plagues meetings and both build buyer personas and map content to each of those stages.
You can always add depth and detail later. Marketing is partly a process of analysis continuous improvement. And so that’s theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links [UML] — the simple buyer’s journey of attract, convert and retain.
As it is every week, below are the headlines and links to three vetted articles I suggest for further reading. I have called out some of the points that stood out for me – have a look for yourself to see what stands out for you.
1) Attract: Get More Mileage out of B2B Content
Previous studies have shown that most of the content B2B produces goes unused. Perhaps if we made the materials easier to find, more of it might go to better use.
A survey by Seismic which found more than half of the content that marketing creates goes unused because sales doesn’t know where to find it. That may well be where the finger pointing starts.
Sales people say marketing never alerted them as to the new content, and marketing re-sends the mass email to the sales team with a tinge of resentment for the task of spoon-feeding.
But perhaps both sides should reconsider that viewpoint, according to my take of reporting by Hal Conick. In a piece for the AMA, titled, Half of B-to-B Marketers Say Content Marketing is Wasted on Sales Departments, he writes:
“Daniel Rodriguez, vice president of marketing for Seismic, says misalignment between sales and marketing isn’t just a B-to-B problem, but there are two factors that exacerbate the problem.
The first problem is the increased complexity of purchasing decisions made in large corporations. Sales departments of large companies need messaging and collateral for different personas, something marketing teams often don’t do effectively. The second is that sales cycles are usually longer in B-to-B, and content is needed more often to keep potential buyers engaged.”
A little supporting knowledge management technology could go a long way towards better sales and marketing alignment. B2B might need librarian too and in the spirit of friendly finger-pointing, I’d pin that role on sales operations.
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2) Convert: B2B Website as a Brick and Mortar Store
If B2B organizations think of their websites a store, it’ll change the lenses through which we view this asset. Every piece of content, every email, every social post is like door or window display beckoning visitors to enter the store.
That’s what I grasped from reading How to turn your website into a B2B lead generation machine by Jaakko Paalanen. He offers five practical tips – advice I found to be both sound and actionable including this:
“3. Use the 80/20 rule for content
What this means is that 80% of your content should be helpful to your audience and 20% should be promotional.
One of the biggest problems in building lead generation websites is not having any educational content on your site. Providing educational value upfront will help conversions and lower bounce rates as website visitors will land on pages that don’t necessarily talk about the product or service. Brochure websites have this the other way around, which kills lead generation.”
Even in a world of content marketing and social media, for many B2B organizations, a website remains the single most valuable owned media asset.
3) Retain: $2.3B Analysis Shows How B2B Loses Clients
An analysis of $2.3 billion in B2B accounts found that a lack of account support is the factor most likely to put customer renewals at risk.
That’s according to Rick Reynolds in a contributed piece for Sales & Marketing Management called Top Predictors of Damaged B2B Accounts. Mr. Reynolds, the CEO of Atlanta-based AskForensics which performed the study, also revealed that client’s hold leadership accountable for their perceptions:
“When executive B2B decision makers mentioned that they weren’t receiving the desired level of support, they cited the lack of a strategic relationship with the provider’s corporate team as the main culprit.”
Those executives that get involved before the deal, and leave once terms are signed, create a “false expectations” of continuing executive involvement. He writes that C-Suite has a relationship responsibility beyond just closing a sale.
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Photo credit: Flickr, TORLEY, attracting the moon (CC BY-SA 2.0)