The B2B buying journey – stop trying to control it

As B2B marketers, we often get caught up in controlling the B2B buying process because we treat it as a linear journey, with predefined touch points. We often try to control what content we deliver, when in the journey, as we chart the paths we’d like prospective customers to follow.

The reality is that this inside-out approach is less effective – we need to shift to a realisation that every purchase in a B2B journey that a prospect goes on is unique, and it’s our job to enable them to pursue that journey in their own way, and provide them with the information that helps them make informed buying decisions.

In addition to helping buyers make informed decisions, it’s our role to help them make decisions quicker. In realising that clients don’t follow a linear process, we need to understand that they access and engage with content which resonates with them at that particular point in time, even if this means that it is from an earlier stage of a different funnel. We therefore need to look at ways to facilitate this cross-navigation between stages and funnels in a unified experience, as opposed to us trying to control what they see, at what time and stage.

A programme approach in B2B buying

At Demographica, we call this a programme approach, which in simple terms is not defined by time as opposed to the more common campaign approach which has a defined start and end date. A programme view may be made up of several marketing funnels, with varying content themes and objectives, however with the programme view, users are able to access this content at any time, allowing them to self-navigate through the buying journey.

In order to enable a programme view, the marketing technology types and the architecture informing their build need to be aligned with this approach. For example, the lead scoring model, which scores a lead informing the ideal moment for sales to get involved, should be developed across multiple funnels and not on a per funnel level. This will allow the lead score to reflect a comprehensive view of the prospect rather than on a per campaign or funnel level.

Personalisation of B2B content

One marketing technology type which can play a major role here is website personalisation, such as Personyze. This provides the ability to provide users with content recommendations using a combination of predefined recommendations and which is overlaid with machine learning. The beauty with using this type of technology, is that it takes into account the interests and behaviours of the audience, learning which content combinations best result in reaching the organisations goals. This allows users to define their own journey, as opposed to the journey being defined based on assumptions.

It is important to note that for this approach and technology types to be effective, users need to be provided with a wide variety of content at a single point in time. This will increase the chances of providing content which resonates with a specific user, increases the rate at which uses will move through the journey as well as provides the machine with more information from which to learn, ultimately making better and more relevant content recommendations.

This approach is therefore often developed over time, but what is very important is to have this approach in mind from the beginning, so that the content, the user experience and the technology architecture are developed with this lens.

With this approach, we can help users make informed buying decisions, faster and more freely, rather than sending them down a path that we think is best for them.

Read here our thoughts on allowing the customer to create the buying journey.

This article, written by Alon Fittinghoff, originally appeared on BizCommunity. The piece has been slightly edited for SEO purposes.

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