The buyer’s journey… this is one of my favourite subjects. As a marketer, this topic hits home because, well, it’s a big part of what I do each and every day. Really, it is the basis for everything I do. The customer journey funnel is where I determine what the customer is thinking and doing at each part of the buying process, and knowing this allows me to tailor content appropriately to help move the customer through the funnel from a qualified lead to a sale.
At TPM we write a lot of content, you name it, we have created it. Blogs, white papers, eguides, all are a huge part of the customer journey and consumed via a variety of digital platforms. Our goal is to understand our customers’ needs so we can provide information that can help them on their journey to finding a solution to their problems. The majority of our customers are B2B, so the common theme we hear from our customers is how to sell more cloud and hosting.
67 percent of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales.
That’s why my job as a marketer is exciting, as I get to interact with the customer throughout the entire journey. The customer need at each stage of the funnel will determine the content that will be of value to them, and this is what my team will develop. We help our customers connect with their customers through content and use their funnel to qualify leads.
So what does the Customer Journey Funnel look like? There are three stages:
This stage is when the buyer acknowledges and communicates signs of a problem or opportunity. She is in research mode and looking for vendor neutral information to help identify the problem. For example, “My website traffic is low, what is wrong?”
This stage is when the buyer has outlined and named the problem and opportunity. She is looking to understand all available approaches and methods of solving her problem or opportunity and is researching the alternatives that are available to solve the problem. For example, “People aren’t finding my site because my site isn’t search engine optimized and ranks low with search engines.”
At this stage, the buyer has defined her strategy and is researching content to make a decision. She will have a list of vendors and will be narrowing down her list to make a purchase decision. For example: “I need to find a company that can help me optimize my site for performance and SEO.”
You can guide the conversation by providing your potential customers with information that satisfies their needs at each stage of your funnel. A seamless buyer journey will build trust and will increase the chances of conversion.
88% of consumers research before they buy, consulting an average of 10.4 sources.
The customer journey is continuous, if your customers aren’t ready to buy from you the first time, they might be later on. By nurturing them through the funnel, you increase your chances of converting them to customers.
30-50% of B2B leads are not ready to buy when they first inquire about a business, but about three quarters of these leads will become sales ready within 12 to 18 months.
Before we dive into ways that you can utilize your funnel to generate quality leads, let’s look at how your content helps both demand generation and lead generation.
What is the difference between demand and lead generation?
Demand Generation is creating demand or interest in your product. For example, when content is used to build the brand, so your customer thinks of your company when choosing a product and/or service.
Lead Generation is the act of collecting specific info about potential customers, turning them into sales leads. These leads will receive content from you which will help build trust and hopefully turn to a sale.
Demand and lead generation is done through three media types: Paid, owned and earned media. Your content strategy should integrate all aspects of media.
Paid media – Traditional advertising
Owned media – Website, social and email marketing
Earned media – Organic sharing – media relations, influencer outreach, content
For the purposes of this blog, I will focus on earned media and the content that you can use to transition your customer to a lead.
How a Customer Journey Funnel Qualifies Leads
What steps can you take to provide your customer with a seamless journey through the funnel?
Define your target audience, buyer personas and qualified leads
The very first thing you must do is determine who your buyer personas are. Make sure that marketing and sales are both on the same page as to whom the target market is as well as any performance goals. Identifying who your customers are is your first step to transitioning customers through the funnel, turning sales targets into qualified leads and ultimately conversions. Why? If you know who your customers are and what their needs are, you’ll have a better chance of providing information that they will want.
Measure audience behavior
Now real-time analytics make it possible to determine your buyer’s interests in real- time, while they are on your site. You can find out what they are interested in, what motivates them and how they consume content. This will help you provide them with the right content at the right time.
Provide your customer with the right content at the right time in the right channel
Depending on which stage your customer is in will determine what content is best suited for them. You should aim to have your potential buyer understand what you do and know how your product and service will help solve the problem.
93% feel interactive content is effective at educating the buyer and 88% feel it differentiates from competitors
What content is best for each stage?
Conduct a content audit to see what content you have developed and map out each piece to each stage. You can use an excel spreadsheet to map out your content inventory and determine what resources you have for each stage and for which buyer personas. This will also help you identify where you lack content. Hubspot has a great content audit template that I find very useful, check it out here.
What content works best?
At this stage the buyer acknowledges and communicates signs of a problem or opportunity. The customer will be looking for content that should help them understand their problem, such as:
- White papers
- Research reports
- Analyst reports
At this stage, the buyer has outlined and named the problem and opportunity. Provide the potential buyers with comparison eguides and videos on how they can solve their issue. Content that works best at the consideration stage:
- Comparison eguides
- White papers
The buyer has defined his/her strategy and are researching content to make a decision. This stage requires information on your company, such as case studies, product shell sheets and demos to make them see that you are the best solution for their problem. Content that works best for the decision stage:
- Vendor and product comparison
- Case studies
- Product literature
67% of buyers say customized content helps them make better purchase decisions.
Measure your content engagement, respond and alter for better conversions
Once your content is mapped out throughout the customer funnel, take a step back and see how it is working for you. Identify how many people abandon your funnel at which step so you know what needs to be tweaked. Things you should track include:
- Time on onsite
- Content downloads
- Account creations
- Newsletter signups
- Social media engagement- New followers and which topics perform better
- Leads and conversions
If something isn’t performing well, maybe the content isn’t answering the customer question at that stage. Ensure that your content does the following:
- Appeals to your buyer personas
- Answers questions they will have at that stage
- Provides a solution to the problem the buyer person has
Return non-conversions to the top of the funnel by nurturing
If a lead won’t convert, it’s not over yet. These non-converts could possibly be potential sales one day. Continue to provide them with the content they require and repeat. Guide them and nurture them back through the funnel process.
79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance.
But it’s worth the wait!
Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
The more educated your buyer is on your product, service and industry, the more likely he will be to purchase from you in the future. The continuous nurturing of a potential customer will ensure that the customer’s question is getting answered, moving him towards a conversion.
Beyond the conversion
Nurturing your customer throughout the entire process, will provide an exceptional experience for this customer, now and beyond the conversion. Doing so, provides good quality leads, good customer relationships, growing conversions into brand advocates. Once they are a customer, make sure that you make them a customer for life. Whether it’s by continued exceptional customer service or a customer loyalty program, word of mouth is so important for repeat purchases and referred purchases. People who love your brand will sing your praises for you.
Client Case Study
Cloud Spectator approached us in November 2014 and asked us to market their new report to a greater audience, beyond the hosting and cloud industry. The report was their annual comprehensive industry benchmark; an analysis of 10 of the top cloud IaaS providers.
What did TPM do?
As with all engagements, we went through a process of understanding Cloud Spectator’s business model, their goals, and revenue streams, as well as the condition of the current market. Then we did the following:
- Determined their buyer personas
- Redesigned the cover of the report to add an additional perceived value to the piece
- Defined a target long tail keyword phrase as “cloud vendor benchmark 2015 pdf download”
- Created a landing page optimized for our keyword phrase
- Sent previews of the report to bloggers and news outlets
- Prepared an email campaign and sent it to their small list of subscribers
We did not spend a SINGLE dollar on PPC or any other advertising.
What were the results?
- The campaign was launched on January 5th and in the first few days after the report was released, not many leads came in.
- On January 12th, an industry publication picked up the report and wrote a blog post on it. That provided us with a big boost of leads.
- Another publication picked us up in mid-January. More leads.
We compiled the results on May 25th, providing 20 weeks of data from January 5th, and the results were:
- 3,430 views of this one page
- 919 submissions to download the report; a 26.5% conversion rate, industry standards are about 10-15%
- An average of 30 leads per week and 120 leads per month, previously they were averaging less than 30 leads per month
- 18% of the total leads were organic when we first released the report in January
- By May, 77% of all leads were coming from organic search
- The landing page has ranked #1 since January for our keyword “cloud vendor benchmark 2015 pdf download”
- Cloud Spectator now ranks #1 for “cloud benchmarking”
- We have successfully knocked their competitor from this position
- We continue to update the leads with new reports and helpful information about cloud fit and benchmarking, as they move along the buying journey.
If you have any questions about the customer journey funnel or need help creating content for your funnel, contact us, we’d love to chat. Determining how you can provide your potential customers with the right content at the right time is what we do. Contact us today to learn more about how Total Product Marketing can help you.