cesta zákazníka v B2B predaji

How to understand the customer journey in B2B marketing and sales

Category: Marketing, Tips and guides

In this article, learn about the journey a B2B buyer takes to make a purchase decision. Let's take a closer look at the 4 main phases of business-to-business sales.

The behaviour of B2B customers has changed radically in recent years. They actually buy as before, but when looking for information in the pre-sales phase or in the phase of searching for information about available suppliers and products, buyers or technicians no longer have to fly halfway around the world to visit a trade fair. It is enough to be able to find this information. It is this initial "sieve" involving web and digital technologies that becomes critical especially for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

An ordinary/average B2B company with 30 to 500 employees may not be world-famous, but it must work hard to acquire its customers. It is essential for these companies to respond to changes in customer behaviour and ensure that they are visible to the target group during the entire selection process - from decision making to purchase.

The basic difference between B2B and B2C buying behaviour:

In B2C, the final buyer is often only one person, his decision can be more easily influenced by marketing,, brand perception, or a simple need or desire to own a given product or service (for example, to buy a vacation).

The B2B buyer's journey is unique in thatthere are often multiple people involved in the buying process on the customer side. In B2B marketing, you sell to an entire team or group of people who have a say in the decision-making process andapproach the buying process more rationally. The decision-making process is thus lengthier.

A few facts from B2B for 2018:

  • 6-12 months is the average length of the purchase cycle
  • 67% of sales of the shopping journey are completed online
  • 2% success rate of arranging a business meeting within the framework of cold calling
  • 9 out of 10 B2B customers positively assess the benefit of quality content on the seller's website

source: https://searchengineland.com/

How to use the 4 main stages of customer behaviour in B2B

The B2B buyer's journey is one of the most important elements of a marketing strategy. To be successful, a seller's marketing strategy must be able to target the right audience and reach them with the right message at the right time. In addition, B2B marketers will understand what their buyers are doing and help them move from one decision stage to the next.

The AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) marketing behaviour model has been used for a long time in both B2B and B2C.

World-renowned marketer and analyst Avinash Kaushik updated this model to create the See-Think-Do-Care framework for the digital age.

 

A brief overview of marketing tools for each stage of the B2B buying cycle:

STDC prehľad nástrojov

 

The right targeting of content or ads to the right audience applies equally in B2B and B2C:

see think do care publiká

Phase 1: SEE - Awareness

This is the stage where your potential customer may not even know your company exists. Your marketing strategy at this stage should create awareness about your product, service, or business.

We can divide it into sub-stages:

  1. Identification of needs
  2. Research
  3. Rating

Identification of needs

  • As part of B2B buyer needs identification, your prospect recognizes that there is a problem or challenge to face, such as finding a new supplier of tires for a fleet, finding an alternative to a more expensive adhesive tape supplier, or covering the risk of a possible supply disruption from the UK due to Brexit.

Research

  • As part of your B2B supplier research, your prospect is likely looking for a solution to their problem. 72% of potential buyers turn to the Google search engine in the research phase. Companies that know the characteristics of their target group (they have developed so-called personas - virtual profiles of ideal customers) present their information in this phase of the sales cycle. Although B2B customers want to know the value of your product or service, they are more interested in facts, statistics, customer reviews, etc.
  • The content should focus on solving the customer's problem. So, if we have the right content for the right personas, we can focus on distributing it to the target personas. This can be achieved through search engine optimization (SEO), social networks and Google Ads. In the latter case (via Google Ads) based on targeting relevant keywords. Specific people in companies (buyers, project managers, technicians) try to get relevant answers in the SERP, so their searches are more specific.
  • The problem that occurs quite often in practice in smaller markets such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and similar countries is that the search volume for specific phrases is often so low that Google does not start advertising in Google Ads. This state is referred to as "low search volume". The solution is then to aim more generally, but with lower relevance, to engage in SEO activities, or to use GDN or other marketing channels to reach the target group.

Rating

  • Within Customer Evaluation: The customer has already found you but is now conducting further research and eliminating suppliers who do not meet their requirements. At this stage, your promising B2B customer will need more than one advertising banner in GDN or billboard. To move it to the next stage, it is necessary to work with content on the web, personalization, retargeting. Build interest and trust in your brand and product.

Marketing techniques and tools for working with customers in the SEE phase:

  • SEO - to ensure the traceability of the company and its products during all stages of the purchase cycle (slower process)
  • Google Ads - immediate response from search, disadvantage in case of low search queries
  • Advertising on social networks - with proper targeting, target group intervention, arousal of interest
  • Video advertising, GDN - with proper targeting, target group intervention, arousal of interest

Phase 2: THINK - Consideration

Your new potential customer is moving from the awareness stage ("I know about you") to the consideration stage. It is highly likely that during the consideration phase, a potential customer will narrow down to one or two suppliers. It often goes back to Google searches. The nature of the content presented on your website greatly influences whether a future customer will continue to consider your company.

In this phase, the quantity, quality, and nature of the information from you to the buyer is decisive.

In the THINK phase, your prospect compares your company to competing suppliers. It is at this stage that B2B buyers can contact your sales representative for further clarification, details, product demonstrations, etc.

Marketing techniques and tools for working with customers in the THINK phase:

  • SEO - to ensure the traceability of the company and its products during all stages of the purchase cycle
  • Reviews - feedback, trust factor
  • Expert comparators and search portals for B2B - just as in ordinary B2C life, a customer uses a product comparator (Heureka, Pricemania, Najnákup), similar comparators also work in the B2B world, for example: search engine and comparator for electrotechnical components https://octopart.com
  • Newsletter, e-mail marketing - the first contact, the buyer wants more information, more content
  • CRM - in case you manage to get in touch with a potential customer

Phase 3: DO - Decision

The last stage of the purchase decision is the phase of the decision, when we will achieve the fulfilment of the set goal. It can be, for example:

  • phone call and contacting a sales representative, filling out the contact form on the website
  • contact via online chat
  • downloading an application, trial version of software, e-book, manual or study, etc.
  • order a product sample, test drive, presentation
  • direct purchase of the product

In this phase, the so-called LEAD nurturing to the LEAD conversion phase. Oftentimes, the purchasing manager has completed the entire research process, gained management buy-in, and is ready to select a vendor/supplier and make the purchase.

The decision phase is an ongoing process for B2B consumers. Although they have already made a purchase, it does not automatically mean that they will be satisfied with this condition. The purchase is constantly under review.

B2B buying cycle is generally longer than B2C. B2B customers typically identify the key points they need to address and then obtain management or leadership approval before making a purchase. While B2C customers are more prone to act impulsively, the average business-to-business buying cycle lasts 6-12 months.

Marketing techniques and tools for working with customers in the DO phase:

  • SEO - to ensure the traceability of the company and its products during all stages of the purchase cycle
  • SEM (search engine marketing) - this includes, for example, Google Ads - immediate response from search, a disadvantage in the case of low search queries, in which case GDN (Google Display Network) is used, for example
  • Display - displaying a banner message based on pre-thought-out targeting, or displaying a banner based on retargeting - working with visitors who have already been on the website
  • Call tracking, user tracking - use of tools to identify the caller or website visitors and "submit" them to the sales department

For example, from my own experience, I can provide:

Phase 4: CARE - Loyalty

Customers or partners who have already purchased our service or product are in this phase. (As a rule, it is counted if the purchase was made at least 2 times, because one purchase could have been conditioned by circumstances and would not have occurred by default - for example, a delivery from a standard supplier on the whitelist has failed and it is necessary to ensure the operation of the operation. However, it also applies here that we have to take into account the specifics of the given business.)

Customers have already established trust in the company or brand; they have decided to buy, and if we continue to work with them properly, there is a huge scope for repeated purchases, which managers in every company want to see. This is where we work with terms like Up-sell or Cross-sell.

As you may have noticed, the B2B customer puts more emphasis on research. This is also the risk of this phase, i.e., not to rely on the fact that we have a customer, and it will stay that way forever - it can easily happen that a customer in the CARE phase finds interesting information from another supplier and goes through his STDC funnel.

A satisfied customer can become a valuable marketing tool for your company. You can get positive references, recommendations.

Therefore, in this phase, the emphasis is on customer retention - i.e., the ability to keep them for as long as possible.

In the CARE phase, the CLV (customer lifetime value) metric, i.e., the customer's value over time, is often counted. Every company should strive to make this value as high as possible.

Marketing techniques and tools for working with customers in the CARE phase:

  • CRM - frequency, value, order history, merchant visits
  • Newsletter, email marketing - maintaining contact, distribution of new content, special offers, news
  • Application - possibility to analyse buyer behaviour in more detail, closed system, isolation from in-browser searches, easier repeated purchases
  • Social networks - maintaining attention, news, feedback
  • Reviews - feedback, trust factor
  • SEO - to ensure the traceability of the company and its products during all stages of the purchase cycle

How to evaluate and measure marketing activities within STDC?

Just as different means of working with a potential customer are suitable for each of the phases, there are also different metrics that we can evaluate and measure for each stage of STDC.

In this way, individual KPIs (Key Performance Indicators, i.e., key performance indicators) that will be monitored can be assigned to each phase.

STDC KPI ukazovatele

Conclusion:

When using a SEE-THINK-DO-CARE marketing strategy for your business, make sure you cover the essential stages in the buyer's journey. You can also use the differences in the buying behaviour of B2B and B2C customers to your advantage.

I have been in B2B for 10 years and have had the opportunity to work personally and within our agency for companies of various sizes, from family businesses to international ones.

However, we should always keep in mind that behind every company there are specific people. That's why any abbreviation best describes your business, you don't need to forget the increasingly common term that we at Vivantina adhere to, which is human-to-human" (H2H).

Author
Ľubomír Radič
CEO & Project Consultant

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