How To Create, Measure and Optimize the B2B Customer Journey
A prospect needs a SaaS solution for their company. They see your website, schedule a demo, and immediately buy the product. If only a customer journey was that simple, right? However, reality paints another picture.
Understanding your customer's experience through the different touchpoints they have with your brand is key to retaining them for longer periods. It’s vital to know how they’re being treated at different stages, but that means you need to track their journeys.
However, it’s tricky to effectively map every ad they clicked, demo they viewed one time, post they shared with colleagues, or the number of sales calls they spoke on. That’s typically what customer journeys look like but to backtrack these steps is an easier-said-than-done kind of situation.
Fret not, in this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about the B2B customer journey, right from creating a purposeful journey that your customers will remember, and one that is optimized for maximum satisfaction.
What is a B2B Customer Journey?
A B2B customer journey is nothing but a series of different touchpoints a customer experiences before, during, and after buying a product or service. The touchpoints could include being exposed to marketing materials online or offline, speaking to salespeople, getting on boarded as a customer, and even the post-purchase customer service and support.
Let’s say you want to invest in a project management tool for your company. An example of a B2B customer journey would go like this:
- You’d Google “Best project management tool of SMBs”
- You’ll probably land on ClickUp’s SEO-optimized blog on the best project management tools, along with free starter pack templates
- Because you signed up for the templates, the email campaign will begin. It’ll include the different ways to use ClickUp, short interactive product tours to give you a preview of the tool, and soon you’ll be tempted to sign up for the free trial,
- And before you know it, you’ll become a customer. The free trial offered so much value that you eventually converted.
That’s one oversimplified version of a B2B customer journey, mostly product-led.
Here’s how Gartner explains the B2B customer journey in the digital landscape:
As you can see, the customer journey is never linear because a buyer goes through several steps before purchasing a SaaS solution. This can range from reading online reviews on sites like G2 or Capterra to downloading a template or guide on your website. Hence, optimizing all the touchpoints of a customer’s journey is crucial to ensure they consider your solution.
Different Stages in a Typical B2B Customer Journey
A buyer journey typically spans different stages, and across channels. Everyone’s buyer journey is unique to their needs at a point in time, but, the bright side is that a typical B2B customer journey will include some common stages, which include:
We know it may seem complex at first, so here’s an explanation of the typical B2B customer journey with an example of Gong:
When a buyer becomes aware of their problem and begins to search for solutions, that’s when they first discover your brand. Let’s say the buyer realizes they must increase their revenue. They usually start by typing “best revenue intelligence tools” and come across Gong. This leads them to check out the homepage, where the tool’s clear-cut value proposition entices them to learn more.
This is where customers consider your product or service as a potential solution. Given that they’re also evaluating other tools, you must find ways to stand out from the sea of tools in the market. Here, the buyer can explore Gong’s website and try to learn more about the brand’s UVP and features. They also might use their interactive product tour to understand how the platform works.
How to stand miles apart from competitors? Offer your prospects a low-commitment, fastest test drive ever. When you offer interactive product demos on crucial pricing or landing pages, first, you’re catching them at the right time and second, you’re offering them value upfront, no questions asked, no time wasted.
Don’t take our word for it. Here’s how Upmetrics turned 22% of its viewers into signups and 12% into paying customers.
The buyer makes a decision and purchases the product or service that best fits their needs. In the case of Gong, they offer customized pricing for each brand and have prospects fill out a form. Another way Gong optimized this touchpoint is by showcasing social proof of why people choose their solution.
The buyer starts to use the product, goes through the onboarding process, and gets familiar with the tool by reading guides and watching demos. This is when they begin adopting the solution on a day-to-day basis. Gong takes a unique approach by releasing videos on how customers can use their platform to its fullest potential.
Here’s a video by Gong’s implementation manager explaining how they implement the platform in their organization:
Tech or customer support is a B2B customer’s best friend when they’re breaking in a new tool. In our example, customers can contact Gong’s support team or read academy articles. There are lots of ways to make this touchpoint more memorable for the customer, step 1 is to aggressively focus on shortening response times.
According to a study by Bain & Company, even a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25–95% increase in profits for B2B companies. Customer retention is a crucial part of the B2B buyer journey, and at this stage, buyers decide whether or not they’ll remain loyal customers and continue using your product.
Here are a few ways SaaS companies can focus on retaining their customers:
1. Personalized training material and product tours
2. Exceptional customer service by having a dedicated support team
3. Regular check-ins to understand how users find the product
4. Rewards and incentives such as loyalty programs and exclusive discounts
5. Collect feedback by conducting surveys
6. Upselling and cross-selling by offering bundled deals
The final stage is turning your customers into brand advocates. This involves users recommending the platform to their peers and leaving online reviews on forums such as G2. You can drive brand advocacy by incentivizing users to share the platform with others. Here’s an example of users recommending Gong on G2:
5 Major Differences Between B2B and B2C Customer Journey
While the B2C and B2B customer journey aren’t worlds apart, they do have their fair share of differences, which is depicted below:
The B2B customer journey is optimized to educate customers and build relationships, whereas the B2C customer journey is based mainly on emotional needs and brand perception.
This is why B2B customer journeys typically involve more touchpoints that enable companies to share their expertise and build a prospective client’s knowledge: website visits, webinars, whitepapers, case studies, sales consultations, product demos, etc. Thus, B2B companies must effectively map their customer journey and use a buyer-led sales approach to win more deals.
How do you Map a B2B Customer Journey?
Building a customer journey map gives your sales, marketing, support, and other customer-facing teams the upper hand, allowing them to generate more sales and retain more customers.
Here are the steps you must follow when mapping out your customer journey:
1. Define your buyer personas
We know that creating a good buyer persona is Marketing 101. However, you must create a separate buyer persona for each audience segment. Let’s say your platform caters to sales and marketing teams. Since both those buyer journeys are different, you must create separate personas.
When building out your buyer persona(s), you’ll need the following customer data:
- Pain points/challenges
- Buying behaviors
- Demographics: Age, location, gender identity, income
- Career information: Job title, company, industry, decision maker
- Interests: Hobbies, media consumption, favorite brands
You can conduct surveys on online forums or interview existing customers to gather this data.
2. Define the Touchpoints in Each Stage
Each customer journey touchpoint is a chance for B2B brands to influence a customer's perception about the brand, build relationships, and encourage them to purchase. Whether it is your website or social media account, analyze customer behavior and data to define the touchpoints you must focus on measuring and optimizing.
3. Prioritize Touchpoints
The average consumer journey today involves 20-500+ touchpoints. Of course, you cannot equally focus on all of them, so choosing which particular touchpoint–whether it’s going hard on outbound messaging or email campaigns–is crucial.
The way you prioritize your touchpoints again depends on two primary company goals because they impact your ability to stay relevant to your customers and in the market:
Increasing revenue: If your marketing and sales efforts are not making money, you might need to rethink where to invest your time and resources. For example, if your website isn’t converting, go for a website revamp.
Delivering a delightful customer experience: When customers are delighted with your product, it leads to high praise, referrals, and word-of-mouth marketing, and who doesn’t want that? Focus on improving customer experience by providing a seamless onboarding experience with interactive product experiences.
4. Establish B2B Marketing KPIs for Each Touchpoint
Now that you’ve prioritized your touchpoints, you must also measure your successes and failures. Every touchpoint has different KPIs, and here are the ones most commonly measured by B2B brands:
- Conversion Rate: Measure the percentage of prospects progressing from one touchpoint to the next. This can include moving from initial contact to lead, lead to opportunity, or opportunity to closed deal.
- Lead Generation Quality: Assess the quality of leads generated at each touchpoint. To gauge lead quality, look at metrics like lead-to-opportunity conversion rate and lead scoring.
- Response Time: Track how quickly your team responds to inquiries or requests at each touchpoint. Faster response times often lead to higher customer satisfaction.
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS): Survey customers after each touchpoint to gauge their satisfaction and likelihood to recommend your products or services.
- Customer Retention Rate: Measure how many customers continue their journey with your company after each touchpoint. High retention rates indicate effective touchpoints.
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Assess the long-term value of customers acquired at each touchpoint. Some touchpoints may lead to higher-value customers over time.
- Churn Rate: Monitor how many customers discontinue their journey at each touchpoint. A high churn rate may indicate issues at that stage.
- Sales Velocity: Measure how quickly deals move through the sales funnel at each touchpoint. This can help identify bottlenecks in the process.
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) and Engagement Metrics: Track the CTR for emails, ads, or other online touchpoints. Additionally, monitor engagement metrics like time spent on a webpage or the number of page views.
- Cost per Acquisition (CPA): Calculate the cost of acquiring a customer at each touchpoint. This helps evaluate the efficiency of your marketing and sales efforts.
- Lead Response Time: Measure how quickly your team responds to leads generated at different touchpoints. A faster response often leads to higher conversion rates.
- Content Effectiveness: Assess the performance of content assets at each touchpoint, such as whitepapers, videos, or webinars—track metrics like downloads, views, and shares.
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) Ratio: Evaluate the ratio of MQLs progressing to SQLs at each touchpoint. This shows the effectiveness of lead nurturing and qualification.
- Customer Feedback and Reviews: Collect and analyze customer feedback and reviews at various touchpoints to identify areas for improvement.
- Cross-Selling and Upselling Opportunities: Track the percentage of customers who explore additional products or services at each touchpoint.
- Customer Support Metrics: Assess the efficiency and effectiveness of customer support at post-purchase touchpoints. Monitor metrics like response time, resolution time, and customer satisfaction.
- Referral Rate: Measure how many customers refer new business to your company after interacting with each touchpoint. A high referral rate is a positive indicator.
- Pipeline Value: Calculate the total value of opportunities or deals in your sales pipeline at each touchpoint.
- Customer Onboarding Metrics: Evaluate how smoothly customers are onboarded at various touchpoints and measure time to value.
5. Automate As Many Touchpoints As You Can
Monitoring every touchpoint at every moment can seem tedious, so why not automate when you can? It can be as simple as an automated “thank you” email after purchasing the new solution or immediately capturing customer data when a prospect visits your site and fills out a web form.
6. Analyze Data and Improve
Now that you’ve mapped out your customer journey, it’s time to understand the touchpoints you must optimize. Collect feedback on the customer journey from new and existing customers and gauge if there are any specific areas where customers are consistently dropping out of the sales funnel.
Monitoring your customer journey will help you identify a pattern and rectify any mistakes you are making in your sales and marketing efforts.
5 Ways to Optimize the Experience at Different B2B Customer Touchpoints
Now that you know how to create and measure the B2B customer journey, optimizing your customer touchpoints is the final and most important step. Here are 5 ways you can optimize the customer experience at various touchpoints:
1. Offer personalised product demos
Buyers today are drawn to personalization because they want to feel like you understand their problems and that the product will solve their pain points. Sales reps today must provide a personalized buying experience instead of opting for a cookie-cutter sales approach towards everyone.
Personalized product demos are the best way for customer-facing teams to showcase the potential of a product and make a connection with their buyers. Storylane helps build killer product demos in just 10 minutes, giving your potential customers a hands-on experience of your product and driving user adoption.
Check out how Storylane helped Groundswell tailor personalized demos for different user personas.
2. Reduce Friction From Your Website
When a user visits a website and faces information overload, they’ll naturally click away. Remember that you want your customer journey to be seamless, so keep your website UI clean and with minimal CTAs.
Hirelevel caters to 2 distinct audience segments, but their website uses simple language to help both types of users easily navigate the site and find what they are looking for.
3. Create content that answers burning questions
Creating content isn’t something only the marketing team must handle. They must collaborate with sales and customer success teams to understand buyers' most common questions when investing in the product.
For example, you can ask SDRs the most common sales objections and answer them with your content marketing strategy.
Hubspot is the holy grail for most marketers and salespersons because they have the answers to everything under the sun regarding sales and marketing. Ensure your content answers your buyer’s search intent better than your competitors.
4. Weave in social proof throughout the buyer experience
You can launch a plethora of marketing and sales campaigns, but buyers rely most on social proof to make their decisions. Companies must focus on adding social proof during the customer journey. We recommend case studies and video testimonials. Online reviews from websites like G2 are also helpful in showing that a wide range of users love the product—especially end users.
Gorgias launched a testimonial in the form of a LinkedIn ad, which can compel potential customers into clicking the link.
5. Send out regular updates via email marketing
After offering a seamless product onboarding, you must continually interact with your customers and stay relevant. Announce any new product and feature launches, seasonal discounts, etc., to help them use your product to its fullest potential.
Keep the emails concise and clear without sounding too salesy. Here’s how Mailchimp offered its users early access to their website builder – giving them incentive to check out their other offerings.
It’s no secret that the B2B customer journey can be challenging to actually pinpoint, map, and plan for. But, armed with the right tools, knowledge, and a keen eye for data points, you can find out your customer’s path through the marketing and sales funnel and into the customer list. And focus on improving their journeys so they stay for longer, and so you can convert more prospects next time.
Storylane has helped 750+ B2B brands improve buying experiences and turn website visitors into customers. Book a demo today to witness the power of personalized product demos!
Q1. What are B2B touchpoints?
B2B touchpoints are all interactions where businesses connect with prospects or customers to build positive relationships with them and eventually drive conversion or retain them as customers.
Q2. What is the B2B customer success process?
The B2B customer success process involves understanding client needs, onboarding, providing ongoing support, and ensuring their goals are met for long-term satisfaction and retention.
Q3. How do you identify customers in B2B?
B2B brands can identify customers through research, prospecting, industry analysis, and lead generation. CRM systems and networking also play a crucial role in customer identification.
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