Ever wondered how to set up a content marketing customer journey for your B2B brand or business? In our latest article, we’re sharing insight into what a customer journey can look like, and how content marketing can help lead your prospective clients through to conversion.
Customer journeys are the steps that a prospective new client or customer takes, that ultimately leads them to buying from your business. They are often also referred to as sales funnels or marketing funnels, and they will usually evolve out of your marketing strategy.
A key part of your marketing strategy *should* be to identify your target market, including their pain points. Pain points are the things that keep them up at night. The problems that they need to solve, and the frustrations in their day-to-day lives.
When we’re talking about B2B (business-to-business) brands, your marketing strategy will likely identify the types of businesses / industries that make ideal clients for you, and their size (number of employees and/or annual turnover), their location, and most importantly – the job titles / roles of the key decision makers within those companies.
When we talk about customer journeys for B2B businesses – we’re talking about how we find those key decision makers, how we connect with them, and then how we lead them from cold connection through to a sale.
Content marketing’s role in the B2B customer journey is to lead them down that path step-by-step using marketing collateral and materials that specifically address those pain points. Those frustrations, those things that are keeping them up at night – your customer journey will be feeding them through videos, whitepapers, case studies, articles and how-to guides that address these frustrations and show them the solution that will make their life easier.
In this article, we’re sharing a sample B2B customer journey that utilises content marketing, social media, and email marketing to lead prospective clients down the purchasing path. But before we get into that, here are some facts to help paint a picture about why content marketing for B2B brands is so important in 2022.
Mind-blowing B2B Content Marketing Stats:
There has been a lot of research that has come out in recent years regarding B2B brands and their use of content marketing and other digital channels.
So here is a breakdown to help you wrap your head around the current situation:
- According to Salesforce data, the average Lead-to-Close length is 102 days
- According to Gartner Group, in a typical company with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buy decisions
- 9/10 B2B buyers say online content has a moderate to major effect on purchasing decisions
- 84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions
- 84% of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral
- 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information from a series of articles versus an advertisement
My Take-Aways from the Mind-Blowing Stats:
My takeaway from this information is that content marketing – both in the form of social media, and blogging/article writing – has the potential to play a huge role in the decision-making process for B2B brands.
Yes, getting a referral or meeting someone at an event or conference is a great first step – after all, 84% of B2B sales are beginning with a referral. But with 102 days from lead-to-close, it is going to take a lot more than a smile and handshake to seal the deal these days.
Content marketing and social media allow you to connect with the other 6 people on your contact’s decision-making team. And content marketing allows you to keep feeding the decision makers relevant content and information. You can help them solve small problems, learn new skills and understand the problem (and your solution) better by drip feeding them content over that 102 day period. You’ll stay top of mind while getting to share your expert knowledge and skills with them, leading them one step at a time towards closing the deal.
So, keeping that information in mind, here is a sample B2B content marketing customer journey to help you understand the framework and logic that goes into strategic content marketing.
Example B2B Customer Journey:
Step 1: Register for an event and connect with other attendees BEFORE the event
I bet you thought this was going to start with networking and meeting new people at face-to-face events. But if you’re really serious about setting up a funnel or customer journey then you should be doing a bit of groundwork before you just turn up to the event on the day.
Head to the event website and see who is presenting. If it is a conference, look for what brands/people will have exhibitions, or who is partnering / sponsoring the event. If there is an attendee list available, jump on that.
Find as many people as you can who will be attending the event, and start connecting with them on LinkedIn 2-4 weeks prior to the event. Don’t just cold-connect; send them a little message explaining who you are and why you’re connecting with them (spoiler alert: it’s because you’re both attending the same event and it would be nice to know a few people ahead of time). Tell them what you’re most looking forward to at the event, and end the message with an open-ended question, asking them what they are most looking forward to.
Doing this groundwork ahead of time is strategic for a number of reasons:
- Some of these events have thousands of attendees and finding the right people to talk to can be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. If you’ve started connecting with people and starting the conversation earlier, you might be able to tee up a couple of coffee catchups, or get a feel for who might be most relevant for you to connect in person with.
- In the lead up to the event, you can post strategic content – content that is relevant to the event or that ties in nicely with some of the presentations. If you’ve been having some good conversations with people in messages, you can tag them into the post and ask them for their opinion, or if they have further insights they can share. Maybe tag the presenter that is going to be talking about a similar topic at the upcoming event, and mention that you’re excited to see what they have to say and their insights.
- Not only will your new connections be able to see your content, but you’ll be able to see theirs. Take note of what people are posting, and use it as conversation starters when you meet the people in person. “Hey John, we’re connected on LinkedIn. I saw that piece you posted about XYZ last week, it was great, really helped me solve a problem I was having with ABC.” Showing interest in their content, their opinions, and what they have to say will help build connection with them and help them warm up to you.
Step 1 Example
Debbie is a Business Development Manager for a professional services company that provides administrative solutions for businesses in the building, construction, and related industries. The decision makers in their target audience companies are generally in back-of-house roles such as finance and accounting, reception/admin, sales/marketing and operations. The pain points of these decision makers are usually around productivity and efficiencies, and Debbie’s company solves these by providing streamlined solutions for systems and processes.
Debbie is attending the upcoming AIHRAH conference where she hopes to connect with businesses in the air-conditioning and HVAC space.
In the lead-up to the event, she connects on LinkedIn with all of the presenters, exhibitors and publicly listed attendees. She sends them the following script:
My name is Debbie, I’m from Administrative Solutions 4U. I’m attending next month’s AIRAH event and I noticed you’re exhibiting there, so I thought I’d connect. I’m really looking forward to seeing John Parson’s presentation about operational efficiencies. Are there any other speakers or presentations you’d recommend I check out?
Hope to see you there,
Over the next couple of weeks, Debbie makes a point of posting relevant content to her LinkedIn feed, such as case studies and testimonials from existing clients in the HVAC sector, and the results that Administrative Solutions 4U achieved for them.
Step 2: Attend the event, meet all the people, take all the photos
At the event, make sure you exchange business cards with everyone you meet, and try to snap a pic of you and them as well. When you exchange business cards, ask them if it is ok if you add them to your newsletter list.
Don’t post too much at the event – focus on meeting people and creating meaningful connections; you’ll have plenty of time to post after the event.
Step 2 Example
Debbie attended the event and over the space of 2 days met with 60 people, all from different companies. She took dozens of photos – of the people she met, their exhibition stalls, presenters, and speakers. She has collected 50 business cards.
Step 3: Event Follow-up
Make sure you put the morning aside the day after the event to give you plenty of time for your follow-up activities.
You’re going to connect on LinkedIn with anyone you’re not already connected with and send them a message about how great it was to meet them yesterday. Anyone you took an image with; you’re going to privately send that image to them so that they can use it (and tag you) in any post-event social media posts they publish. And you’re going to start working on your post-event content which will revolve around your key takeaways from the presenters, and the impact those takeaways have on your prospective clients.
Step 3 Example:
Debbie is now working through the business cards she collected and connecting with anyone who she wasn’t already connected with.
It was really lovely chatting with you at the AIRAH event, thanks for sharing your industry insights with me. I took a couple of pics of us and your stall (attached), I thought you might like them for your social media posts.
Hope to keep in touch,
0452 499 136 / Debbie@as4u.net.au
She has also created a database of people she connected with at the event and has loaded the list into her CRM or email marketing platform.
Step 4: Outreach & Staying Top of Mind
You’ve probably already got some systems, processes and marketing materials set up for this next step – if you don’t, now is the time to start putting that together. It is resource-intensive, but if done right, is an investment in your marketing and sales that will pay off time and time again.
The goal in this step is to feed your new contacts into your established marketing funnel, where you feed them strategic content that helps build connection, brand awareness and ultimately – brand loyalty.
This will look different for every business, but it might include automated welcome emails and links to evergreen articles, whitepapers and video tutorials, personalised recommendations or invites to upcoming events or webinars.
What you’re trying to do is drip-feed your new connections all the information that they need to close the deal. Whether that is case studies that they can forward onto the other members of their decision-making team, or videos that provide further insight into how your business operates will depend on the product or service you’re selling and your target market (this is where having a comprehensive marketing strategy that identifies your target audiences and their core pain points comes in handy – because then you can craft your content accordingly).
As we covered in the stats section of this article – B2B customers are taking an average of 102 days to convert. That’s over 3 months. If you’re not touching base regularly with your prospective new client during those 3 months, they’re likely to forget about you. You want to be sharing content with them every couple of weeks – either via social media or email marketing – that keeps reminding them how awesome you are, and how much impact you could have for their business.
It sounds like a lot of work – and it is a lot of work to get it all up and running. But if you’re creating evergreen content (content that is timeless and ageless), using templates for your email / messaging communications, and using automation in as many instances as possible, you’ll get to a point where it all runs in the background like clockwork. You’ll be freed up to attend as many events and conferences as possible, and keep feeding as many new connections and contacts into the marketing sales system as possible.
Step 4 Example
Debbie’s automated systems help her stay connected with her 50 new prospects. Once added into her email software, they are automatically sent the following emails once every couple of weeks:
- Welcome to Administrative Solutions 4U
- 4 Fast Tips to Streamline Your Back of House
- Case Study: How we helped Sunny Coast Air Guys save $3,000 per month on admin
- Free Trial: 14 days free trial for eligible businesses
- Meet the Team: Our Founding Story
- This quick trick will save you 4 hours per week!
- Video Testimonial – hear what our happy clients have to say about us!
- Giving Back to Our Community: Meet our Charity Partners
- 3 Free Tools That Will Change the Way You Do Business!
- Learn how Administrative Solutions 4U can reduce your overheads
- Our Commitment to a Sustainable Future
- LIMITED TIME OFFER: Try Before You Buy
In between the emails, Debbie is logging into LinkedIn and sharing any relevant industry articles with her new contacts, and commenting / engaging with any content that they share.
She finds that there is reasonable drop-off / unsubscribes from her automated email journey in the first few weeks, but those who stick around, generally sign up for the free trial or request a quote after the 5th or 6th email. They then close the sale within 2-4 weeks of receiving the quote.
Within 4 months of the AIRAH event, 12 of the 60 connections Debbie made are now clients, on a monthly retainer of $1,000.
Content Marketing Solutions:
Setting up a customer journey using content marketing is hard. It is resource intensive and takes a lot of time to create all of those blogs, whitepapers, videos and case studies. But it is an investment in your business. The research shows that business customers are consistently using content marketing to make their purchasing decisions, so if your business isn’t producing content that can be shared throughout your networks and online channels, then you are potentially missing out.
We speak about this a lot at BeKonstructive Marketing, but content marketing is a slow burn. It doesn’t generate sales overnight like advertisements for e-commerce brands targeting consumers does. It works best for businesses and brands who are targeting life-long customers, not one-time buyers. It partners well with businesses that have strong business development processes, that feed prospective clients into the funnels, and have the resources to include human touchpoints as well as digital.
Because at the end of the day, we all know that referrals are the best type of lead, and humans buy from humans – content marketing is a tool to help your referral travel from initial contact through to final sale.
If you would like more information about BeKonstructive’s content marketing solutions or would like to organise a free initial consultation to discuss how content marketing might be used in your B2B business, please get in touch.