by Carole Murphy
It’s no surprise that they buyer’s journey has changed drastically in the past few years.
Technology continues to move at a rapid pace, and marketing and sales executives have had to work tirelessly to keep up with consumer behavior shifts as a reflection of that technology. In addition, B2B companies aren’t able to market as easily through a retail storefront or a billboard, and have additional layers of complexity to consider when nurturing potential clients. At such a fast pace, how do SMBs keep up, let alone get ahead of the curve? Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when devising, or revising, your marketing strategy.
Buyers Want Answers – and They Want Them Fast
People can turn to Google to find the answer to almost any question, instantaneously. In the initial stages of re-search, fewer and fewer are looking up a phone number to call and ask someone questions directly (especially when that might get them a sales pitch they’re not ready for). And people don’t have to wait until they are sitting at their desk – smartphones give them the access to a world of information, right at their fingertips, anywhere in the world. This is actually an exciting thought, since the first step to a sale is attracting a potential customer. You may be able attract them very quickly by providing great information that they have full access to, anytime they wish. One key to consider is the investment of quality and organization of the information you provide on your website.
The most successful companies both optimize their SEO (search engine optimization) and provide more valuable information than anyone else in the top few results of the search. This is actually where the development of the relationship with a company begins. The relationship of a consumer with a vendor is reliant on the delivery of value in both directions, and when a company chooses to pro-vide value first, trust has begun to develop. When people are able to find all the information they need quickly, they can move through the marketing funnel more quickly and towards the sales funnel or direct purchase, depending on industry.
The Information You Send Them Needs to be More Personal Than Ever
Companies such as Amazon and Zappos have been hugely successful in capturing new customers due to a number of factors, and as far as the buyer’s journey, there are two that stand out: the complete embrace of technology, and customer relationships. Their online content is easy, even enjoyable, to navigate. This makes either browsing or finding a particular item, very easy. These companies also fully own the customer relationship. Their customers trust them and feel that they are being taken care of, above and beyond the purchase. But how do companies like these keep track of that relationship with their customers? How can a services company or a B2B utilize the same technology to develop an enjoyable research experience on their site?
You don’t have to be an online retailer to take advantage of what technology can provide your customers, but you do need to understand that people researching on behalf of their company are still reacting to cultural, social, personal and psychological cues and messages. Customers are looking for information, and they’re looking for information that is catered to them. Using technology to get to know your customers allows you to give them exactly what they’re looking for. For example, at Blytheco we rely on marketing automation – we are able to cater messages to our consumers and direct them to the resources on our site that are the most helpful for them. We’re able to learn about them at the same time, so we can be more knowledgeable when they do come forth looking for a more complex conversation. We can offer them information they didn’t even know that they were looking for, through invitations to live webinars and other events. Keep in mind that marketing automation is much more robust than an email platform that simply allows you to send a blanket email to all of your current and prospective customers. Marketing automation truly allows you to tailor your message to your audience, based on position, industry, interests, and more.
After a customer has made a purchase, it is extremely important to continue to nurture these customers and maintain the relationship. Part of the buyer’s journey includes the expansion of offerings to existing clients. Additionally, it is much less costly to retain clients than to acquire new ones. Your most delighted customers will also do some of the most valuable marketing that will never go out of style: word of mouth.
They Don’t Want to Talk Unless it’s on Their Terms
Because there is so much information bombarding any business person’s inbox, voicemail and television, try to keep in mind that while a customer wants the perfect information for them, sending them too much information could ruin your relationship, no matter how valuable the resource.
Truly harnessing the buyer’s journey requires the right message to be sent to the right person, at the right time. This may need to happen multiple times throughout that journey until a person is in a position to purchase and converts from prospect to customer. There is a delicate balance between sending enough information to remind prospective clients to keep yourself top of mind, and having that ‘unsubscribe’ button clicked due to too much communication.
Another recent successful strategy that many companies have taken advantage of is leveraging social media. Many times, if a search doesn’t originate on the web, it originates through social media sites. By fostering relationships through social media, you’re building trust in a way that is more difficult through a company site alone. It also adds the element of two-way public communication. This can be great for companies due to the fact that people trust their friends, peers, and other community members before they trust the business themselves. Ensure that everything is be-ing done to delight your customers, through the good experiences and the bad, because having poor customer remarks on social media can backfire quickly. And remember, any company can truly establish themselves through social media, regardless of industry.
The most successful companies today have invested heavily in marketing and in analysis of their current and prospective customer bases, in order to understand buying behavior and what it takes to attain and keep a customer for life. They remember to consider economic conditions and the general competitive environment when altering and tailoring their messaging strategies. Remember to educate the entire sales team (and other customer-facing positions as well) on marketing efforts in order to keep a clear, consistent message throughout the organization, both during and after the sales process takes place. Your company’s internal value chain will provide a new dimension of value to customers throughout the sales process and their life as your client.
About the Author
Carole Murphy, MBA and Certified Sommelier, is a Solution Coordinator at Blytheco with experience in the Hospitality Management, Food & Beverage, and Telecommunications industries. She currently works with both the Marketing and Sales teams at Blytheco to assist potential clients. Connect with her at www.linkedin.com/in/caroleamurphy.
Article reprinted from the Winter 2016 issue of Bellwether.
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