According to McKinsey & Company’s Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Forum, 50% of B2B marketing spend is misaligned.
That’s because many B2B marketers are not using the consumer decision journey as their framework for thinking about the buying cycle. McKinsey’s breakthrough research in creating the Consumer Decision Journey has forced marketers to discard the traditional notion of a purchase funnel. While initially a consumer-based study, the same phenomenon has been validated for business-to-business (B2B) customer decisions — giving way to the idea of a Customer Decision Journey.
Understanding what drives customer decisions means that marketers can make smarter, more informed decisions about where to allocate resources. For many marketers, the tendency to spend the majority of their marketing efforts on creating brand awareness through advertising holds a powerful attraction. While advertising can be effective in creating product or service awareness, it is frequently not enough to generate sales. Depending on the statistics you wish to believe, it can take an average of 7-8 brand interactions to result in a sale. So advertising is only a portion of the touch points that a buyer will encounter during their decision process — which is anything but linear.
So what should you do?
(1) First, document the customer decision journey for your buyer personas. By understanding who is involved in the buying process and the steps they take during the buying cycle, you can gain insight as to the pre-sales touch points where your brand needs to be engaging. This is possible by first analyzing the buying behavior of your best customers. This can be accomplished by interviewing those customers, talking with your sales staff that closed those customers, and analyzing the CRM interaction data the lead to sales with those customers. This should provide a framework for understanding how they buy and what touch point interactions are critical along the way.
(2) Next, you should take inventory of your current marketing tactics and the associated budget spend and plot the activities along the Customer Decision Journey to look for engagement. Specifically, are you touching buyers throughout their decision journey? This exercise will reveal gaps where buyers are seeking interaction and your brand is not engaged — particularly early in the buying cycle where prospects are looking for product or service information but not yet ready to talk to a sales person. Ask yourself if you are making it easy for buyers to learn about your brand and your products or services.
(3) Third, evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing tactics to identify poor performers where funds could be reallocated to other stages of the Customer Decision Journey (e.g. active evaluation). Marketers tend to spend on the tactics they know best — and that familiarity can lead to focusing only on a few touch points.
(4) Fourth, measure the right behavior at each stage of the Consumer Decision Journey. For instance, the role of social media is to build engagement and not sell — so measuring sale transactions is probably the wrong conversion goal. Make sure you understand the role of each tactic and how they work together to produce a desired outcome.
If you are new to buyer personas, customer decision journeys, or marketing resource allocation — let us help you apply best practices to your lead generation efforts.