Demand Generation Guide: The Buyer Journey In 2021
Introduction To The Buyer Journey
Demand generation marketers have a variety of performance goals they need to reach. Goals are measurable and thus to understand goals we surveyed over 100 marketers, many of whom have strong backgrounds in demand generation.
We find that across varying company sizes, as estimated by budget size, there is wide diversity in the number of metrics used to measure performance. Some of these metrics are top-of-the-funnel, e.g. cost per lead and total leads, while others are bottom-of-the-funnel like revenue or opportunities.
There are numerous metrics demand marketers are responsible for. As they progress through their careers and to different organizations they must understand how to measure a variety of indicators and metrics.
These metrics span the entire buyer journey, so being familiar with each is important.
Let's now take a close look at the buyer journey.
Buyer Journey: The Problem Awareness Stage
At the early stages, the buyer has no need or awareness of your product or service. Some demand generation marketers are responsible for creating a need and expanding an audience. These marketers must be able to tell compelling stories to grow awareness and shift opinions. They must be able to create a need where none existed before.
There are a variety of ways to do this. It starts with brainstorming and narrowing down a compelling story to "bring to market." Prior feedback is important, whether this is through a focus group, survey, or simply an internal pitch.
Next, bring your story to market through PR, influencer marketing, and blogging. The goal is virality, a message that causes some controversy, or a new perspective that bonds your target group together. It's a lot like politics in that demand generation marketers must instill a strong sense of identity or emotion.
To measure the success of this first stage of the buyer journey track anonymous visitors from first-touch to lead creation. This is done with full-funnel marketing in mind. With full-funnel marketing, you focus on the entire journey and using every platform and tactic that works for each stage.
To understand what works track engagement of qualified traffic. Using an attribution product enables you to track which referral sources, paid media ads, and owned content generated leads and marketing qualified leads. To build problem awareness demand generation marketers need to get insights from the channel level all the way to the keyword level.
Let's move on to the next stage of the buyer journey. Once your audience is made aware of the problem they'll begin to do research and making sure they find your solution is the focus of the next section.
Buyer Journey: The Solution Awareness Stage
Building trust is the main goal at this stage of the buyer's journey. While content is a big driver here, so too are techniques to make sure that the content is findable. These techniques include outreach to influencers, link building, paid promotion, and on-page SEO.
Taking a full-funnel SEO approach can be a critical part of success for the Solution Awareness Stage.
Tracking content performance will help you develop the content that works and less of the content that doesn't.
Once prospects start discovering your content it's important that you begin identifying and qualifying them. You can nurture leads by providing content upgrades such as invitations to a webinar, a downloadable resource, or a free tool.
To track landing pages we use a Form URL report which tracks form fills to pipeline and revenue.
Buyer Journey: The Solution Consideration Stage
Whether you're selling in B2B or B2C the buyer must be convinced that your product is the right choice. Persuading these prospects requires an understanding of how trust is built. One of the "Laws of Persuasion" is the law of social proof whereby trust is built when people rely on the decisions and perspectives of their peers. This means reviews and analyst relations is highly important for succeeding at the Solution Consideration Stage.
Prospects need to see your product as the best in the industry and often times this requires a higher authority and social proof to validate this.
Partnering with analysts and encouraging positive reviews on outside websites is the main focus area for demand generation marketers who focus on bottom-of-funnel conversions.
Customer quotes, positive reviews, and case study videos are all examples of content. And account-based marketing tactics like company level targeting on LinkedIn's paid social media advertising platform and mailers are examples of tactics used to convert prospects at the Solution Consideration Stage.
Other tactics include:
Twitter tailored audiences
Adwords Customer Match advertising
Blog content that mentions or cites target accounts' and contacts' social media handles
Highly personalized email sequences
Invite target accounts to field marketing events
Buyer Journey: The Vendor Evaluation Stage
The last leg of the journey is here. At this stage of the buyer journey in B2B, the prospect is working with sales reps and account executives. But that doesn't mean the marketer's job is over. Using industry knowledge marketers can assist sales by providing competitive industry information, e.g. vendor comparison of features/offerings. They can also improve the messaging in sales or pitch decks based on evolving knowledge of buyers and the market.
Marketing messages change and those messages need to be consistent across the entire buying experience, from brand discovery to sales calls.
Marketers can also find success in this area by setting up platforms for sales and prospects to meet face to face. This can be done through a virtual conference call.
We've covered the entire buyer journey and as a demand generation professional, you'll be involved in all stages in your career. With a firm understanding of the marketer's role at each stage, it's time to take a closer look at best practices for tactics and metrics in demand generation.
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