While it is useful to understand the journeys of various segments of buyers, progressive B2B marketers are following the paths of individual prospects to gain a better understanding of the best ways to engage them at all stages of the buying cycle.
This was one of the key trends highlighted at this year's Salesforce Connections event in New York. The three-day event showcased a variety of case studies spotlighting the growing trend of individualizing the customer journey.
It's the dawn of the digital marketer because of the rise of the connected consumer, according to Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. "What's different and new is that we're able to connect all the interactions buyers have with a brand," McCorkle noted during his keynote session.
While connecting these interactions are important to having an in-depth understanding of the buyer's journey, the blurred lines between channels has created specific challenges. "The always-connected customer doesn't care if there is a marketing, sales or services interaction," McCorkle said. "All they care about is having a consistent conversation where and when they need it."
To facilitate a consistent conversation, B2B organizations need to understand the various paths to purchase that their prospective buyers can take. "They need to understand their prospects, where they are at in their journey and where they need to go next. We're not passive observers," McCorkle noted.
McCorkle broke a successful customer journey into five parts:
- Acquisition — gaining net new leads through relevant messaging and channels;
- Selling — converting leads into customers;
- Onboarding — walking new customers through their new purchase;
- Engagement — continuously targeting existing clients with relevant content to enhance their marketing and sales initiates; and
- Advocacy — engaging customers as brand advocates to offer credible insights into how a product or service works for new prospective buyers.
McCorkle highlighted several updates to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud designed to help users engage their audience at every step of the customer success journey. This includes an integration between the Journey Builder and Active Audience tools to position marketers to create personalized journeys for recently acquired customers.
"Something really important happens once a customer becomes a customer," McCorkle said. "Marketers need to understand how to say 'thank you' and how to introduce new customers correctly to a product or service to maximize their success. Onboarding new customers is probably the most critical step in the customer journey."
It's clear that the customer journey does not end at conversion, but is a continuous process that B2B organizations need to manage and monitor to keep customers engaged, McCorkle noted.
Data, Mobile And Video Play Key Roles In Journey Success
Customer insights and data are the fuel that helps B2B organizations continue to provide personalized experiences for prospects moving through their buyer's journey, according to participants in a CMO roundtable held during the event.
The panel, which included senior-level executives from Facebook, BBDO and DonorsChoose, discussed the importance of data in creating effective messaging for target audiences.
"Data is the heart of successful storytelling," said John Osborn, President and CEO for BBDO New York, during the session. "Great stories come down to great characters, storyline, social experience and tension. We have the ability to tell stories in diverse ways, it's not an either or. But the worth of the work is much more important, so understanding the ROI and calibrating it is crucial to reaching people where and when they want it."
Mobile is one of the primary channels fueling growth. "The amount of shift to mobile is extremely underestimated," said Gary Briggs, CMO and President of Facebook. "A vast majority of our revenue comes from mobile, more than 50%."
The panelists pointed to video as an effective format for engaging prospects. "The ability to produce video with tiny phones and other devices is breakthrough" said Osborn. "We think the breakthrough in video and how it integrates with other technologies has helped evolve the way we tell stories."
Facebook has adapted to the trend toward more visual content, according to Briggs. "On Facebook, you have to get that content to make the viewer take action in the first eight seconds. Video has helped gain that attention."
Traditional marketing formats, such as email marketing, continue to provide consistent value to marketers — even as mobile and social gain in popularity. "Email is not dead; it drives 50% of our [revenue]," said Katie Bisbee, CMO of DonorsChoose, a nonprofit organization that aims to help students in need. "While social is attributed to 10% of our revenue, email is the main driver. Email allows us to tell a story, personalize our asks to each individual, templates allow us to reach out on our behalf.
Panelists concluded that creating ideal buyer's journeys is an ongoing process. "Enjoy the journey more than the destination," Osborn concluded. "Because honestly, there is no final destination with customer journeys."