Navigating the B2B buying maze: Tips from senior marketers

At a recent roundtable, marketing leaders gathered to discuss how to build better customer journeys and channel prospects down the preferred paths. Rebecca Ley reports

One of the biggest problems in B2B right now is that the purchasing journey has become increasingly complicated, with buying decisions often reached before customers even engage with suppliers.

But helping prospects navigate the convoluted process makes it more likely they’ll buy your products and recommend your brand to others. So how do marketers help simplify the process?

At a roundtable this month, Navigating the B2B buying maze – held in association with tech marketing agency April Six, we asked senior marketers in attendance to share the challenges they’re facing, and how best to get customers through the journey to a done deal.

1. Brand matters

Buyers are smart. You can’t just hit them with product all the time, it’s also about the services you offer and how you can add value to their business. If 80% of the purchase decision is made before they come to your website, you need to make sure your brand has a strong reputation that is built on trust and good customer experience.

2. Always-on marketing

Marketing should feel serendipitous – it shouldn’t feel like the brand has taken you there. With buying patterns changing so frequently, you have to be one step ahead of the customer, and one way to achieve this is through an always-on persona model.

In an ideal world you’d be reviewing your buying personas on a daily basis and therefore your marketing would change daily. If you tweak something too late, after careful consideration, what’s the point in making that change? Daily reviews might seem overwhelming, but with the advent of AI this process could become much more intuitive and painless.

If people are conscious you are influencing them they change how they behave – unconscious marketing is what’s exciting.

3. Sales and marketing alignment

There’s a battle between sales and marketing over who owns the customer. But the reality is no one does. Getting alignment between the two teams right can make all the difference to customers, who want a personal, tailored experience.

Sales might not understand what brand awareness is, with the focus solely on leads. But communicating and understanding how everyone fits in the chain is essential. Find a common language and talk about what matters in the customers’ buying journey. If sales understand the customer in more detail, both sides will know how to influence them better.

4. Data and analytics

There are lots of vanity metrics available, but how do you measure engagement? How do you put an engagement metric across the whole buyer journey?

This can be made easier through lead scoring customers and focusing on social media. The key is trial and error: testing different approaches and seeing what reaction you get. It’s important to know what happens if you tweak your strategy.

5. Customer-centricity

If you can’t match your growth and aspirations to your customer, your organisation will be dead in 10 years. The customer has to drive the business and it has to be led by marketing.

‘Build it and they will come’ doesn’t cut it in this fast-moving and data-driven world. All areas of the business should be customer-centric, and anticipate their needs. If you need more persuasion, without agility you’ll end up in a position as  Kodak once did.

Using specific targeted campaigns can help to bring something relevant, as long as it’s addressing customers’ problems and anticipating pain points. This also means testing and redefining your customer journey as you go; you can’t just get it right once and stop.

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