How To Optimize Buyer Journeys with Nurture Programs

Buyer journeys and buyer personas garner a lot of attention and press today, from analysts and vendors jockeying for positions to be thought and technology leaders on topics focused on the buyer. But has the average user of marketing automation and/or CRM actually mapped out a buyer journey? Have they really sat down and mapped out a detailed buyer persona? Does the average Joe even know why these are important? I’ll save you the suspense and tell you: probably not.

But if these terms are so important to B2B marketing success, why are most users of marketing automation and CRM not doing enough to understand, define, map and leverage these important tools and metrics?

Most marketers are mired in getting their technology house in order. This includes getting the fundamentals of processes like lead scoring, nurture programs, and sales and marketing alignment defined and functioning that they have not yet graduated to some of the more esoteric processes and metrics such as buyer persona mapping and buyer journey mapping.

If you fall into this category, that’s OK. You’re going to be alright! You are not alone! Frankly, you need to get the A’s, B’s and C’s down before you move on to the T’s, U’s and V’s. But be aware, you do need to start thinking about this sooner rather than later. Here’s some practical tips to help you get started.

First, let’s define buyer journeys. Personas is a topic for another day and blog post.
A buyer journey is the steps someone goes through in evaluating your product or service. It can typically be classified as having three to five steps. Different people will use different words and amounts but most will agree on these as being universal.

  • Stage 1 – Awareness
    This is how buyers become aware of your company/product. This is predominantly an online activity that is initiated by the buyer using online search.
     
  • Stage 2 – Comparison
    The buyer finds you and begins a comparison of your solution over competing ones. Again, in many cases, this is driven by the buyer, online, with no interaction by your sales team.
     
  • Stage 3 – Engagement/Purchase Decision
    The buyer is now directly engaged with your sales team and is actively evaluating your solution and pricing. This is almost always human-to-human interaction.

Understand that today’s modern B2B buyer is a DIY specialist. They do lots of the things salespeople used to help them with, by themselves, online, with little or no expected or desired interaction from your sales team. It’s the nature of a populace that has grown to rely almost exclusively on search, social and web as a means of self education. Once you come to accept this immutable fact, you can now settle in on crafting campaigns with marketing automation that will bring buyers into the fold much quicker than if left to their own devices.

Here are three tips to help you gain more control and understanding over the buyer journey:

  • Cast A Wide Net
    You want to put your best foot forward so now is the time to get together a high value asset such as a white paper, benchmark study or eBook. If you are content poor at your organization, then you need to beg, borrow and steal to get budget to create a killer asset. Once you have it, put it behind a landing page with minimal questions – name and email will suffice to start.

    Once you have the landing page created cast a wide net with PPC, social, email and sponsored ads. You want to pull in as many people as you can to this asset and begin a conversation with them. High value, educational content typically brings in individuals who are early stage.
     

  • Nurture Early Leads
    Once you’ve captured them via the landing page, begin a rotating process of sending a follow up email (usually with a complementary asset) and trigger an alert to a sales person when someone opens/clicks the follow up emails. This alert or even CRM task should encourage sales to make a telephone outreach to further qualify the person. Additional details gathered during the call will help determine how far along they are in their buy cycle.
     
  • React to Sales Cues
    If sales makes contact, set a workflow with your nurture program that keys in on the lead status in CRM. Sales can change a lead status to say “remarket”. This will tell marketing the lead is too early on in their process and needs further nurturing. Marketing may then pick the lead back up and place them in a longer term nurture program and watch their interactions.

This simple process is enabled by marketing automation systems that are deeply integrated to CRM. It’s a relatively simple and straightforward program that will help you bring in a high amount of prospects, quickly qualify for buy stage and react to what sales tells you about the prospect from their calls. Done well and industrialized, this type of program/process will maximize qualified leads over the long haul.

 

Homepage image via Shutterstock

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