Gone are the days when marketers believe that future customers behave in an undeviating fashion. The reality of the customer decision journey (CDJ) has taken over and B2B marketers have adapted to the new model of the four stages in the customer journey: awareness, education, analysis and initial decision.
Right now there are prospects at every different stage of the CDJ interacting with your brand. Not only are they at different levels of awareness, interest and education, but they each have a different buyer persona as well. That is a lot to filter through, segment and decipher the best engagement strategy. For now let’s delve deeper into the top-funnel aspect of the customer journey.
Map Out the Journey
The awareness stage is the most top-funnel level of interaction with your brand. Perhaps the prospect was referred to you by a friend, maybe you met at an offline event or they discovered your offerings while trying to solve a problem. This is where the marketers’ primary job is to be found by the right prospects.
Your team must be at the forefront of your industry, nicely seated on the pedestal of thought-leadership. Enticing your prospects to consume your value-adding content is your way of sliding your foot through the awareness door and making a place for a proper introduction at the latter stages of the sales process. But beware, strike too soon with over promotional content and you can scare away the nibble on your line.
This leads to the education stage where curiosity or need propels the prospect to dig further into your offerings. What makes your products special? What’s new about your company? This part of the journey can stretch for a very long period of time while prospects educate themselves. As a vendor its your job during this stage to direct the potential customer to the best content to move them along the journey.
The analysis stage signals the impending decision time and by now, you should have made the cut of the top 3 choices your prospect is investigating and comparing. It’s important to note that at every stage of the customer decision journey your prospects will visit your site multiple times. They want to know why they should choose you, so tell them. (We’ve got some solutions for you.)
Discern Digital Behavior
Implementing the appropriate top-funnel sales intelligence (it’s out there, read here to learn more) will allow you to see how different companies interact with your site. What blogs/ebooks/whitepapers are getting the most attention? Where do these prospects visit next? Do they go immediately to your product page? Are multiple people from the organization visiting your site before they make contact? These are all indicators of where your prospects are and what content can help propel them down the sales funnel based on their industry, company and location. Personalization counts.
Certain referral URLs and search terms used to arrive at your site are a dead giveaway into the customer journey. Let’s take a look at some good indicators.
Has your prospect just visited your homepage and features? They are just beginning to understand who you are. Maybe 5 people from the same company are inspecting your very technical drill down pages right now. This indicates the analysis stage in the journey. Perhaps your prospect has read your past 10 blog posts? Continue to educate them with webinars, white papers and eBooks. They are finding your content valuable, so give them what they want.
Referrals to your site stemming from byliners, press releases and the like may indicate the beginning of the awareness phase and this the ideal moment to present more in depth educational material, or relevant case studies that correlate with the topic discussed from the referral.
If your prospect arrived from a portal listing competitors, you better show off your advanced features and most competitive content. These prospects are comparing you to the competition and exploring your wares to make an initial decision.
Search terms that are very specific to the technology such as “API Financial Solutions for Enterprise” for example, indicate the education phase for your prospect. Supporting the learning process and offering up clear, information content will keep them coming back for more.
If your prospect found you by searching for alternatives to your competition, then they are more advanced. If you dare present fluffy content at this critical point, you will lose this golden opportunity. This is when you need to aggressively show why your solution is the best fit. Most likely, this prospect has already exhaustively inspected the competition.
Timing and Relevancy for Success
Unfortunately, getting the right customers/prospects to view the right content is viewed as an extremely hard task for marketers. There is a window of opportunity where your ideal accounts are onsite, this is the time to engage them. By gating content and pushing the lead gen too quickly you can throw back to the sea a huge fish.
Determining how to nurture top-funnel leads based on their journey is an art that any marketing artisan can master with the right analytics and real-time tools. Rediscover content for the customer journey and figure out what changes to your current assets to best suit the needs of your prospects throughout every stage in the journey.