When Mapping the B2B Customer Journey, Your Mission Given is Data-Driven

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You wouldn’t expect to arrive at your destination without following directions. So why would anyone invest in B2B digital marketing without a roadmap?

The reason so many fall short when it comes to data-driven marketing is they lack direction. And social media engagement, website usage, email marketing data are the digital breadcrumbs you use to find your way.

In B2B customer journey mapping, your first order of business is making sure you’re accurately tracking how people consume your data. If you’re using a service like Shopify, that means you need to track sessions across subdomains in the same account in order to measure the path visitors take between your website and your Shopify subdomain as one session.

It also means you should be using Google Tag Manager to run Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Hotjar in your domain and subdomain. That way, you can track the path tp purchase, regardless of how it transpires.

If you want to make sure you’re getting the absolute most out of the data you are collecting, you’re in the right place. 

Thanks to my friend John Wall, a partner at Trust Insights, I’m going to break down what data-driven marketing is, how machine-learning may or may not influence the path to purchase, and how you can use data to create a B2B customer journey that drives sales. 

Or you can listen to my interview at the top of this post and hear it straight from him.

A quick lesson on data-driven marketing

What is data-driven marketing? Data-driven marketing is a method that uses data from customer interactions to:

  • Enhance the customer experience, which basically means making it easier for people to get what they need from your website. Online, ease-of-use drives adoption.
  • Optimize marketing performance, which is focusing on how quick your site loads on desktop and mobile. Google penalizes sites that load slowly, so it’s important to make sure that’s not getting in your way.
  • And increasing revenue, which is about targeting the right customer, in the right place, at the right time. This is sometimes called a target audience, which is a kind of tacky expression, since it plays off a hunting metaphor. SimilarWeb and Talkwalker are tools you can use to find customer-rich environments.

“Data can show which programs are the most successful…and what terms are trending at what times so that you can time your content and your advertising to take advantage of it,” says John Wall.

It is worth noting, though, that the amount of data you have at your disposal can vary. 

With small B2B companies, you may not have enough traffic to collect a lot of data. Larger scale companies and most B2C brands are using machine learning to find insights, but that requires a big enough data set to be statistically relevant. Small companies can accelerate the acquisition of user data by buying traffic through paid media.

And we’re only just beginning to integrate data from the internet of things, which are devices with GPS tracking that are tethered to the web.

In his best-selling book AI Superpowers, former Google China President Kai Fu-Lee writes, “Smart Finance’s deep learning algorithms don’t just work too obvious metrics, like how much money is in your WeChat wallet. Instead, it derives predictive power   from data points that would seem irrelevant to a human loan officer. For instance, it considers the speed at which you typed your date of birth, how much battery power is left on your phone, and thousands of other parameters.”

As the amount of data points we have to work with grow exponentially, charting the B2B customer journey manually is no longer feasible.

“It would take a human months or years to dig through data that a good model can churn through in 20 minutes.” 

Once you consider the data and chart your course, it becomes data-driven marketing when you leverage those insights to increase the number of prospective customers you connect with, build relationships with and qualify as a sales accepted lead

And data-driven marketing doesn’t end after you’ve handed off the lead to sales. Nor does it end after you’ve finished one campaign. 

The B2B customer journey is a continuum. 

Improving the customer experience to drive product utilization and retention through customer success programs are part of that loop.

The idea is to circumvent churn and generate recurring revenue.

Give the process plenty of time

Take a lesson from American folk hero John Henry. He tried to beat a steam-powered rock drill with his bare hands — and died doing it.  

The lesson: embrace, don’t resist, new advancements (or data) — lest it hinder your company’s growth. 

And remember that the process of data collection is cumulative. So focus on long term goals. 

This is how you’ll be able to slowly optimize all of your marketing funnel stages.

How to use data for a more effective B2B buyer journey

If you’re looking for a digital marketing transformation, you need a way of tracking each person as they move through the marketing funnel. The need to be able to see where they enter your site and the path they take to optimize the path to purchase.

You use analytics platforms like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Hotjar and Screaming Frog to capture the data and a CRM or customer data platform to collect all those touchpoints on customer records.

If you want more on which option is right for you, read my Beginner’s Guide to Vertically Integrated vs. Best-of-Breed Software.

4 Steps to Mapping the B2B Customer Journey

  1. Look at the customer’s path

“Where they are coming from, how long it takes them to get there, and how much you had to spend to get them along that pipeline,” are the key measures you should be monitoring, says John. 

Where they come from could be search, social, referral, email, or unknown. You can’t double down on what’s working or pivot from what’s not if you don’t have that data.

  1. Make sure your data is clean 

Ensure the data is accurate by checking your statistics against the actual customer journey, and the actual customer journey against you data. Different analytics packages may report different  results so look for similarities in how your data trends. If one of your data sets is deviating significantly, check it out and make sure the data is accurate. And make sure you’re interpreting the data accurately too.

“Was that an unsubscribe or a click through?” asks John. If you’re recording unsubscribes as click throughs, that’s data-misgiven.

Or if you’re tracking email responses to measure the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign, are you discounting for autoresponders?

  1. Make problem-solution oriented content

If your B2B content marketing doesn’t answer your prospective customer’s problems, you might still have an engaging website, but it’s not going to get found by leads who enter your sales funnel. 

The idea is to use the data to attract the right people, and once they get there, to optimize the path to purchase. So lead magnets to convert visitors into discovery calls, product demo and pricing requests. 

Don’t fail to phone or email. Let them complete their mission on your site without having to leave your site. Ease-of-use drives conversions too. 

Anticipate your visitor’s needs. 

Digital marketing is kind of like housekeeping’s turn-down service at 5 star hotels. It’s just on your website instead. 

So fold down and place a virtual chocolate mint on the bed sheet. 

On your website, that translates into a solid content marketing strategy.

  1. Don’t waste good money on bad efforts

One of the very first things you should be doing is using data to see what isn’t working – and stop spending money on it. 

When people come to your site from social media, how long do they stay? How many pages do they visit? What percentage joins your email list, books a call or makes a purchase? How does social traffic compare to organic search traffic?

And how much time are you investing in social vs organic search optimization, referral traffic and email marketing?

See which traffic converts best on a percentage basis and reallocate your digital marketing resources accordingly.

Conclusion

Don’t just collect multiple data points for the sake of having data. Without analytics, big data is just noise.  So map out your customer journey to increase leads.

Follow the steps in this article to avoid the pitfalls and effectively optimize the path to purchase against hard data.

If you’re still feeling unsure about how to approach data-driven marketing, let’s talk

These are types of conversations I like to have most with B2Bs, because they lead to a-ha moments, which are always fun to behold.

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