Practical Strategies for a Better Prospect Journey
October 3, 2019 | Kirsten Lyons
Many B2B marketers find themselves fighting an uphill battle against falling conversion rates, low email open rates, and changing goals.
While marketers are busy tweaking button colors on landing pages and rewriting email subject lines to improve KPIs, we often forget that there are real people on the other end of disappointing monthly reports. The reason it’s getting harder to be a B2B marketer, is because it is also getting harder to be a B2B buyer.
Understand your prospects’ point of view
Gartner reports that 77% of B2B buyers describe their last purchasing experience as “complex” or “very difficult.” Not to mention that once buyers get to the finish line of a purchase, 95% of buying groups report having to go back and revisit decisions.
This creates a clear opportunity for marketers who can find ways to uncomplicate the buying process to be incredibly successful. Changes in B2B buying behavior mean that marketers must put prospects back in the driver’s seat and engage them in the qualification process as partners.
Buyers AND marketers are in a difficult position because marketers still use old tactics to orchestrate to the buyer journey. But marketers can improve their prospects’ experience (and their ROI) by taking a few simple steps:
Segment and nurture leads
Today’s buyers spend 48% of their buying process conducting independent research. That means they are sifting through all of your content, your competitors’ content, and a wealth of information from third party sources to find a solution that meets their needs.
Marketers can prove value to savvy prospects by addressing the specific pain points that drove them to initiate a buying process. While marketers can’t design individual programs for every lead, they can segment their audiences by important firmographic, demographic, and qualitative factors.
Once you have audiences segmented to address pain points effectively, you can deploy nurture programs to serve personalized content and campaigns to the right prospects at the right time.
Imagine you have a new ebook to promote that emphasizes the ROI of your solution. Without segmenting and nurturing your audiences, marketers will likely end up sending out a blanket email to their database promoting a new ebook—maybe you’ll get a few clicks, but you’ll also risk alienating prospects that it doesn’t resonate with.
When marketers effectively segment and nurture prospects, the new ebook could be used as a part of a campaign for a C-level segment of your audience, delivered strategically at the end of the fiscal year.
And it works: Targeting users with content relevant to their position along in the buying process yields 72% higher conversion rates.
Let prospects direct their own next steps
Nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities over non-nurtured leads. However, marketers often make assumptions about the right next steps in a nurture for prospects based on a journey they have orchestrated, not what prospects actually need.
Marketers also make assumptions about buying intent (and stage of the buying process) based on the kind of content prospects consume. In the past marketers might have been able to assume that a prospect might start on social media, move down the funnel to download a gated whitepaper, and finally land on a contact page. This runs contrary to the nonlinear journeys today’s buyers follow to arrive at a purchase decision.
Instead of guessing where a prospect is in their buying process, or what the next right step for them would be, engage your prospects in the process. Marketers can offer multiple CTAs to allow prospects to be in the driver’s seat of their buying process.
Rather than assuming the next right step for a prospect based on the type of content they’re consuming, offer multiple CTAs within content or on landing pages to allow prospects to tell you what they need.
Information gleaned from choices made by prospects can be be used to build additional steps in nurture campaigns, as well as inform future sales conversations once prospects are ready to engage.
Both B2B marketers and buyers find themselves in a difficult position. However, marketers can prioritize their prospects’ evolving buying preferences through segmentation nurturing, and dynamic CTAs. By making these changes, marketers can improve the prospect experience and drive improved ROI on their efforts.