Rather than thinking about a traditional B2B marketing funnel and the message brands want to push to customers at different levels, what if we aligned where customers are in educating themselves about issues and the problems they face in learning about the market or their challenge? We at W2O have evaluated thousands of B2B audience interactions to develop a behavior-based model of the customer journey. We know audiences don’t follow a neat, linear path, so by examining actual behavior they demonstrate in social and digital, we learn more about how audiences interact with each other and with brands, what factors influence their decisions, and how to measure and talk to them in precise and accurate ways. It’s so much more accurate and predictive than demographics or titles could ever be.
For example, if a customer is very early in identifying a problem, they tend to exhibit behavior that shows they are struggling to understand what information is helpful and what isn’t. They might not even know any brand names yet, let alone which brands are the best or relevant for their needs. According to Google Research, 71% of all business decision makers start their research with a general category search that contains no brand names at all. Chances are, they aren’t even sure what to call their problem in formal parlance, so they are looking for help getting specific on terms and language.
As they learn more about their own situation, audiences behave in a more comfortable manner, parroting messages from brands and products, using the same language that brands push. Audience member’s searches, posts and questions in forums start to demonstrate that they see conflicting opinions about getting to the ‘right’ answer, and they start asking more questions. At this point, audiences start looking for other people with similar issues who have solved their problems. Rather than a category-level search on the web, they turn to forums with more specific questions, look to the media for reviews, and find peers they can trust for deeper opinions and examples. Brands can create advantage with easy-to-find cases and examples and through strategic influencer engagement at this solutions level.
And support after the sale is critical – implementation challenges and service teams are vitally important to developing a positive, long-lasting relationship with your audiences. The very same teams that are responsible for making the solution work within an organization are the same teams most likely to be the ones sought out for case studies and proof by the audiences in the earlier research phases. You need them to talk about the great experience they had with your team, and to help answer the questions for your next customers looking for solutions.
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