The Buyer’s Journey Demystified by Forrester

buyersjourney

As marketers we’ve developed many of our marketing strategies and tactics around the most popular “truths” of the buying journey.  Two examples of these truths include:

  • “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.” (CEB)

  • “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.” (SiriusDecisions)

However, to what extent are these statements in fact true? And if they are not 100% true, how should that influence the current course that we’ve taken from a marketing strategy perspective?

Lori Wizdo of Forrester did a nice job responding to these questions during a recent breakfast briefing entitled “Mythbusting 101:  Insights into the Tech Buying Journey.” Here are a couple of Lori’s more salient points on these myths, including my personal takeaways (Lori’s comments are in quotations):

  • The funnel is dead?

    • Lori was quick to point out that contrary to what some folks say, the funnel is not dead. “Marketing has significantly improved their nurturing process, with 22% more campaigns launched than in the past, four or more touches of leads within the nurturing cycle, and execution of lead scoring. There is more early funnel activity, and greater impact by marketing on the sales funnel; however, we are not where we need to be.”

    • Lori is right-on here. Marketing has made great strides over the past 20 years[infographic] towards their impact on the customer creation process. As part of this maturity process, we are now at a stage where we can tap into the power of technology, coupled with process of course, to fine tune our messaging and communication at the lead/contact level instead of at a segment level.  As Lori puts it, “we need to leverage the new physics of lead-to-revenue management to enable marketing qualified leads to become customers and advocates.” This topic is more thoroughly presented in “The New Physics of Lead-to-Revenue Management.”

  • “57% of the purchase decision is already complete before the customer even calls the supplier.” (CEB)

    • This one we’ve all heard, and we don’t hesitate to bring it up in our presentations and treat it as the unquestionable truth. However, as much as we use it to stress the importance of marketing along the buyers’ journey, we still must not discount the impact of sales in the buying process: Forrester research indicates that the conversation with sales reps is still a strong source of buyer influence. Lori showed a nice chart from Forrester’s Tech Marketing Navigator practice (formerly Strategic Oxygen which was acquired by Forrester in 2009) in which “vendor sales in person” is identified as an important influencer at an early stage of the buying process.

    • Just to be fair and balanced, SiriusDecisions does a nice job of setting the record straight about this type of statistic in their blog post, “Three Myths of the 67 Percent Statistic.”

  • Should individual personas be a guiding light for your marketing strategy?

    • “For the B2B buying process, there is typically no single buyer . . . it’s a team; therefore, individual personas aren’t as important. There is no ‘average’ buyer. In fact, individual personas are almost irrelevant for B2B marketing. What you need to do is profile the buying team as a whole based upon your own assessment of the buying team’s journey.”
    • I really like Lori’s thought process regarding the need to evaluate the buying team as an entity when developing your marketing strategy and tactics. We’ve thought about this in our marketing team as we evaluate the buying team as part of the sales process; however, we haven’t quite formalized a “buying team profile.” This is something we’ll definitely need to look into for our organization. However, I’m not quite ready to give up our individual personas quite yet. These personas help our team connect with our buyers, and focus on their personal and professional needs as we develop and execute our content marketing strategy.  Developing individual personas can also help with your content marketing crowdsourcing process.
  • Build it and they will come. . .and when they do, get as much information from them as possible.

    • Lori reviewed each phase of the buying process, providing specific examples of do’s and don’t alongside some good Forrester statistics:
      • Discover phase: “Don’t chase away your prospects. Too many companies’ landing pages are still collecting too much information at the early stages of a relationship.”  (e.g., long lead forms to complete)
      • Explore Phase: “Content is the currency for B2B engagement.”
        • There’s no doubt that marketers are moving full-steam ahead with the content marketing movement: Curata’s recent survey of 500+ marketers indicates that 71% of marketers are increasing their investment in content marketing in the coming year. However, as Lori pointed out:
          • “54% of much of the material marketers are developing is useless.”
          • “66% of content is more focused on style than substance.”
          • “Getting the right customers/prospects to view the content is marketer’s greatest challenge.”
        • Two areas for improvement identified by Lori to improve this situation are:
            1. Resources pages: “Don’t align your resources pages by format of content. Instead, put it in terms of value for buyers to help guide them through journey.” (e.g., focus on desired outcomes and specific personas)
            2. Website analytics: “Design your site to speak to buyers and buyer needs; use on site behavioral targeting; increase site stickiness with targeted content.”

Overall, this Forrester breakfast briefing proved to be time well spent.  I’m looking forward to attending Forrester’s upcoming Forum for Marketing Leaders. Can’t attend the forum? See what other content marketing events are taking place this year.

 

Interested in more insights from content marketing experts? Take a look at our content marketing expert video series to see how you can overcome content challenges and shape up your strategy; or check out our eBook entitled “How to Feed the Content Beast” to learn about the basics of content marketing and curation.

If you’re looking to ramp up your content marketing efforts and provide more value for potential customers, request a free demo of Curata to see how curation could complement your created content strategy.

michael@curata.com'

Michael is the CMO of Curata. He is responsible for Curata's marketing strategy and all related activities. Michael has over 25 years of marketing and sales experience, having successfully launched and sustained three start-up ventures as well as having driven innovative customer creation strategies for large technology organizations. (e.g., IDC, Kenan Systems, Prospero (mZinga) and Millipore). Michael received his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as a BS in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MS in Engineering from Northeastern University.

  • Mark Cirillo

    Hi Michael, thanks for this helpful post. I don’t doubt that a great deal of marketing content misses the mark because it doesn’t adhere to the principles you outline here. I’m curious about the stats on useless (54%) and style vs substance (66%). Do you know Lori’s source for these?

    • Meg_Sutton

      Hi Mark – The source for the stats is Forrester’s 2012 Buyer Insights Survey with a base of 418 business decision makers at B2B companies.

      • Mark Cirillo

        Thanks for the reference Meg.