Customer centricity is at the heart of successful business. Delivering value to buyers at every stage of the customer journey drives sales conversions and retention. This, however, is easier said than done — especially in the case of B2B customer journeys.
The B2B customer journey consists of several touchpoints — each with its unique influence on customer experience. These touchpoints can be divided into 5 broad customer journey stages. This blog explores each of these customer journey stages to eliminate any friction or pain points that may be limiting conversions.
But first, a brief introduction to the customer journey:
The B2B sales cycle involves several stakeholders and touchpoints across campaigns, social media, organic efforts, offline events, and more. A customer journey maps out these various interactions to track how and why prospects become paying customers.
Given that B2B sales cycles tend to be lengthy, non-linear experiences, it can be challenging to accurately map without the right tools and frameworks. Learn more about customer journey mapping here: The Complete Guide To Customer Journey Mapping.
As previously mentioned, customer journeys can be broken down into five broad stages.
The 5 stages of the customer journey are:
According to Gartner, only 17% of a customer journey is spent in direct conversation with the vendor. The remaining 83% takes place through independent research and internal deliberation. Hence, it’s important for businesses to distribute relevant value at each stage of the journey — even outside discovery sessions and demo calls.
For example, at the Awareness stage of the customer journey, buyers are starting to learn more about their pain-points and the use-cases they’re looking to address. It wouldn't make sense to target this set of audience with bottom of the funnel assets like comparison articles because they’re only just growing awareness about their problem and possible solutions. Instead, this material may be more relevant to buyers at the Consideration stage as a comparison article will help weigh the pros and cons between alternate solutions.
The following sections explore each of these customer journey stages — and highlights what content assets are likely to resonate best with audiences at different stages.
The Awareness stage of the customer journey is when prospects discover your brand and product. This can take place through various channels — social media, brand campaigns, SEO, word of mouth, etc.
At this stage, these potential buyers know little about your work. Hence, it’s important to share educational information about what you do and how you do it. The objective here is to capture the interest of ideal clients by showcasing that in fact, your business understands the pain-points and provides the right solutions.
A few great assets to use during the Awareness stage are ToFu blogs, e-books, and podcasts. For one, this provides helpful information about the pain points your audience is looking to address. For another, it helps your brand stand out as an authoritative source in this field.
Once high-intent prospects conduct their preliminarily internal research, they shortlist a handful of solutions to pick from. Unlike B2C or D2C transactions, B2B deals involve buying committees with professionals from a wide range of departments. Hence, a successful deal involves ticking the right boxes for several stakeholders. Your product needs to be budget-friendly, user-friendly, and tech-friendly in order to close the deal.
Accordingly, the Consideration stage of the customer journey is where competition starts to heat up. Prospects are weighing your offering against that of alternatives in the market. Prices, reviews, features, and limitations are pit against each other to see which solution comes out on top.
This is the make or break stage for most deals. Companies need to showcase why they’re stronger options with more value to add to customers than their competitors. It’s vital to step back and assess whether you’re positioned in a favorable manner.
A few questions to ask here would be:
At this stage, it’s important to highlight why your product outshines the others with relevant case studies, product webinars, FAQ documentation, and more.
To buy or not to buy? This is the question in the Decision stage of the customer journey.
After the awareness and consideration stage, prospects will narrow their search down to a couple of options. Here, most B2B SaaS companies offer two approaches to help buyers make their purchase decision:
This is the real deal. Prospects have the opportunity to interact with the product and sales reps to reinforce their learnings from previous stages of the customer journey.
Apart from demos and trials, social proof is crucial to conversions at this stage. Peer-to-peer recommendations, case-studies, and customer reviews help prospects answer the “why you over the others?” question before finally choosing to either purchase or skip a product.
If you customers have made it this far, you’re definitely doing something right. Still, a number of marketers and sales folk believe that the job is done once the deal is won. Customer retention, however, is just as important in the long run as bringing in new revenue. In fact, retaining customers works out to 5-10 times less expensive than acquiring new ones.
The customer journey continues long after the contract is signed. To ensure sustained renewal, companies must ensure that customers receive constant support and value from what they’re paying for.
The product itself is one of the most important, albeit overlooked, touchpoints along the customer journey. Building loyalty through excellent customer service and product development is key to customer satisfaction. This can be measured through surveys and customer interviews.
Finally, we arrive at the fifth, and arguably most challenging stage of the customer journey. There’s no better endorsement than happy customers who are willing to advocate the value that the product brings to the table. However, customers will voice their satisfaction only if they’re truly convinced and satisfied.
A few touchpoints to lay along this final stage of the customer journey include:
Before exploring how Factors.ai helps track and optimize the customer journey from awareness to advocacy, let’s highlight a common point of confusion for marketing teams.
Often, sales and marketing teams conflate customer journeys and sales funnels. Sales funnels involve objective steps of conversions from awareness to deal won. For example, a common sales funnel in SaaS involves steps from web sessions to demo booking to opportunity creator to deal created to deal won:
Customer journeys, on the other hand, aren’t as clear-cut. Different buyers behave differently along each stage of the journey. Some may spend several weeks researching different products in the awareness or consideration stage. Others may simply jump ahead to a demo call without any research at all. Hence, customer journey stages provide a rough framework to classify the average behavior as they progress from visitors to prospects to paying customers.
Mapping out the B2B customer journey is no easy task. Given the wide range of touchpoints across online and offline channels, it helps to use a tool that tracks and analyzes journeys automatically.
Factors.ai connects data across several sources including ad platforms, website, and CRMs to deliver a complete view of the customer journey. Users can track and analyze how prospects are interacting with campaigns, email outreach, webinars, website assets, and more before finally converting to customers.
Additionally, Factors connects the dots between marketing initiatives and pipeline to prove which efforts are driving bottom line metrics. For one, this helps improve resource allocation towards what drives results. For another, this helps marketing teams quantify their ROI and impact on revenue.
There are two key ways in which Factors.ai helps track the customer journey across campaigns, website, and CRM:
1. Account timelines
Account timelines map out account and user-level touchpoints in an intuitive, interactive timeline. This provides deep insight into how target accounts are interacting with your brand. Here are a few questions you can answer with account timeline:
2. Path analysis
Path analysis is similar to account timelines in that it provides an intuitive overview of buyer behavior across the customer journey. The difference is that path analysis provides this visualization at an aggregated user level to see high-level patterns and trends. Here are a few questions you can answer with path analysis
These analysis techniques in turn help with retargeting campaigns, personalizing sales pitches, and optimizing marketing efforts based on what’s driving results. Ultimately, this results in friction-free customer journeys that drive conversions and pipeline.
And there you have it! A brief overview of customer journey stages — and how Factors.ai can help track each stage from awareness to advocacy. If you’d like to see Factors.ai in action, book a personalized demo here!
Get the latest best practices in Marketing Analytics
delivered to your inbox. You don't want to miss this!!