As digital sales mature the buyers’ journey becomes more and more complex. Gone are the days when somebody walks into a shop looking to buy a raincoat, the sales assistant shows a suitable assortment, and the customer chooses the one that ticks all the right boxes and buys it. Today’s digital marketplace is cutthroat and if you are not up to speed with sales techniques you may end up going out of business.
This applies to both the B2B and B2C markets.
In the digital world we live in, it has increasingly become the buyer’s market. Today, customers have every conceivable piece of information at hand, in the form of their smartphone, tablet, PC or other devices that are connected to the Internet.
This allows them to get all the information they want about companies and products that they might be interested in. This means that the effect of traditional marketing is no longer as great as it used to be and today you will have to look at online marketing with a different lens than before – it is not necessarily you who must seek out the customer, but rather the customer who seeks out you.
If the content is not relevant, current, engaging and inspiring, then customers will quickly browse the next website in the list in the Google search.
It’s about meeting the customer’s expectations of you – and this is where the digital customer journey comes into play. Once this has been mapped, you are aware of what your customers’ expectations are at the individual steps in the buying process.
Today, 80% of the purchase decision is online before customers contact the company
Getting to know your Personas
Personas let you see things from the customer’s perspective.
To map the digital customer journey, it must be done based on a persona. “A persona is thus a description of a fictional user. A user who does not exist as a specific user but is described in such a way that the reader recognizes the description and believes that the user exists in reality.
Typical content in a persona:
- Personal information
- Actions / Jobs
- Pain-points / frictions / concerns
- Quote from the person who “hits the spot”
Tools for Persona
The tool we would recommend for developing Persona is Xtensio: https://xtensio.com/user-persona/
Tip: Make the person relevant and be specific!
The Digital Journey
It is important to understand the digital journey.
One of the reasons is that your company’s employees are on the same page when it comes to understanding the customer. By clarifying the different steps in the purchasing process, and making it clear what the expectations are of the customers, you will be much better at meeting these expectations.
The digital customer journey must be able to bind all activities together so that they support each other naturally through all steps in the purchasing process and weave a common thread in the customer experience from start to finish.
The digital customer journey is the starting point for all relevant and personalized communication with the customer online; both on web, mail, social, display etc.
What are the Journey Stages?
The Journey consists basically of 3 phases; Awareness Stage, Consideration Stage, and Decision Stage.
The big challenge is content
The digital customer journey starts right from the moment the customer recognizes a problem or a need. Once someone is aware of a problem, they start looking for a solution. Already here you can start with content marketing, and help customers become wiser about their needs, and help them along to the point where they discover for themselves the need for your products and services.
This means that you as a company must take into account the bigger picture and get a bigger understanding of the customer – not just as a pure buyer but as someone who is reading about issues similar to their own and how others have dealt with it. So it is important to include information that can be helpful in a broader context, e.g.
Types of content:
- Blog posts
- Updates on social media.
- 5 reasons why you will never find a competent IT employee (Recruitment)
- 5 reasons why you burn out as a manager at work (Management)
- 5 clear signs of stress in an employee (HR)
These articles should then hit the target audience that is most likely to be able to identify with the content and their own situation. So, they need to be shared and advertised on Facebook, LinkedIn and other relevant sites. Of course, they must also be published on their own media and optimized to rank highly in the search engines.
Even before customers have started looking for specific products, you can snatch them from under the noses of the competitors. And in the eyes of customers, you are perceived as an expert who can make them wiser about their problem and help them further to seek a solution. And the solution, of course, is just a click away, and then you have them on their way to the next stage.
With marketing automation software, you can put your marketing on autopilot and at the same time still see everything that all your leads do on your website. You can see which pages they visit and when they visit.
You get tracking on what they do and get an overview of the digital footprint they leave behind. So, you collect a large amount of data about your leads, their behavior and get a deep insight into what they find interesting. Nowadays, data gives you the upper hand over your competitors.
The days when sales and marketing were two separate silos are over. With marketing automation, you streamline the process between salespeople and marketing. Marketing automation means that the sales and marketing department collaborates to acquire more customers and becomes able to retain more.
The marketing department should concentrate on adding subscribers to the newsletter and generating leads. These leads will then be nurtured, by automatic emails which will warm up the lead according to their purchase motivation. As the lead gets hotter and hotter, they will be measured with Lead Scoring. Lead Scoring means assigning a score to a lead, depending on what buying signals they displayed on your website.
By collecting data about each lead’s interests and needs, you get the opportunity to tailor your communication to each lead, based on exactly what they find relevant and interesting.
Your communication will be much stronger, and far more relevant to the recipient.
Now we can respond and interact with this person using email automation every time they visit our website, when they download a white paper or request the demo. The key is to make the most of automating this activity and build up a picture of the lead’s interactions so that a salesperson can be notified when the prospect and buyer intends to buy.
“Intends” is a very important word here. If we know the intent of the future customer then we can influence this journey towards the sale at just the right time.
This is a double-edged sword because:
- It saves valuable sales time – the salesperson is not involved in the buying journey in the early parts of the pre-sales process when the prospect is doing their research on the product and comparing with other options;
- When the salesperson does contact the prospect, it is exactly the right time, i.e., when they are ready (intend) to buy.
This sales and automation management can be run using LeadScoring. You can set it up (or we can help you) and you basically create a “sales machine”.
Closing the sales on hot leads
An important stage in the journey is when the prospect becomes a “Hot-lead”. This is where a lead goes from needs recognition to searching for solutions.
This is reflected in the behavior on the website, where the engagement becomes more intense, because a lead is now trying to educate him/her-self and find the solution they need. They read more on product pages and try to get an overview of possible solutions.
Important: at this point, the lead does not necessarily contact the company to get an offer. Before that, the company have to pass the qualification stage – this is happening more and more online today. What we do in this phase is capture the attention and engage the lead.
Therefore, the website must be optimised with content that provides a good shopping experience, where customers can read different types of content from news, reviews, cases, best-practice, product descriptions, guides and checklists.
When a lead becomes a hot-lead, it is important for the company to respond with sales effort.
It is often a time-limited window where a lead needs to talk to the sales department before going into action and buying. It is this type of lead that will be very receptive to get a direct personal call. This call can move the lead towards choosing the company’s product.
The big challenge is timing.
The big challenge in marketing today is getting the timing right. Hitting the sweet spot that is totally in synch with the customer journey. If the customer is still considering his options and researching the market, it will rarely make sense to push with a sale, this can in the worst case put the customer off so much that they change their mind about buying or buys from a competitor.
Often it is the company that hits the lead at the right time that gets the order. Therefore, it is important to focus on the buying process and be interested in identifying when a lead becomes a “hot-lead”.
Good salespeople seek to create a relationship built on trust with their consumers.
This trust is created by being understanding and listening to the prospect. If this is to be done on a massive scale, a Customer Insight and Automation system must be set up to collect and process individual-oriented behavioral data.
Your leads leave digital footprints when they interact with your website.
Footprints that all reveal something about the individual visitor’s interests in your company and its products. This means that with every click your website visitors makes on your website, they actually tell you where their biggest buying motivation lies.
It can help you communicate purposefully to the right recipients, at just the right time in their buying cycle.
Clear digital buying signals
- Opens sales emails
- Clicks on links in emails
- Downloads of files in Offers
- Reads product descriptions on the website
- Reads reference cases on the website
- Numbers of visits to the website
By tracking each lead’s customer journey you can make sure the timing and messages in your communication is a perfect fit.
Lead Scoring assigns each page a number of points according to how much it reveals about whether a lead is in the market. Thus, points are collected while navigating around the website and it is used to calculate lead score. The more points, the longer the lead is in the buying process.
Your leads build a lead score by moving around your website, opening emails or downloading files. By assigning a lead score based on the behavior, you can form an accurate and realistic overall picture of how close a lead is to a buying decision.
For example, you can give a score of 1 when the lead visits the front page, a score of 5 when the lead visits prices. This gives you the opportunity to use your website as an active sales tool that gives you handy data that you can use in your B2B sales!
Unfortunately, over 90% of visitors disappear without trace…
Hopefully, you have captured the visits in a lead tracking software like WebLeads which shows you all the B2B visitors to your website and which pages they viewed. Having this information already puts you in a better place.
Now, depending on the customer you can find key personnel and contact the appropriate person to establish where they are in the buying cycle. If you are lucky you might call them at precisely the moment when they are ready to buy and being an adept salesperson you close the sale straight away!
For many businesses this approach is adequate. However, it is labor intensive and there is another way which reduces the toll on sales time. A more efficient way is to encourage the prospect to become part of your prospect list and it works by actually giving the prospect something that will be useful for them for free and all they need to do is enter their contact details and agree to be contacted.
A Continuous Cycle
The story does not end there though. Unless your new customer unsubscribes just after the purchase – and you should not give them cause to do so – then they remain in lead scoring as a current customer, you will see when they visit the website and they will be scored if they start to show interest in any new products. If this does happen then your system will respond accordingly – let’s imagine that the customer’s company previously bought a subscription for a data storage system and sometime after the sale they visit the page streaming services, the lead scoring system can automatically send them an email which gives some useful information about types of streaming and quality of streams – information relevant to the page they were looking at.
It depends on your business activity and resources available which level of sophistication you go for in managing the digital buyers’ journey. In 2021, doing nothing is not an option. Whether it be a Lead Gen engine like WebLeads or a sales and marketing automation system like LeadScoring choose a solution that will keep a steady flow of leads growing your business.