• Buyer’s journey maps are an invaluable tool to identify buyers’ patterns of interactions, content consumption and engagement
  • The buyer’s journey map is a guide – not an exhaustive list of actions – that must be accomplished for a prospect to become a customer
  • Demand creation and portfolio marketing should align on the key signals that identify where someone is in the buyer’s journey and recommend the next best action

I have a fantastic travel agent – yes, a real, human travel agent! – who has helped me plan and book many trips in recent years. She is a travel wizard and loves putting together lists of ideas and places to visit. As we go through the planning process, we narrow it down to the best options depending on where I’m going and the mood I’m trying to capture. Looking for relaxation? Spa packages and days on the beach! Want to get out and see the world? Cycling tours and excursions! 

Even though my agent’s lists are extensive and well researched, they’re never meant to be a required list of activities I must do in a specific order to get the most out of my trip. The same can be said about buyer’s journey maps. Buyer’s journey mapping identifies buyers’ patterns of interactions, content consumption and engagement to help B2B organizations align campaigns to how buyers want to buy. The buyer’s journey map is not an exhaustive list of actions that must be accomplished in a specific sequence so a prospect becomes a customer.

black stoplight on red with background of bridgeThe problem with thinking about a buyer’s journey map as a linear set of interactions that a buyer must go through before they buy, or as literal program architecture in systems, is that buyers are always in control of their journey. Not everyone begins their journey at the same place, or goes through the buying process at the same speed. The map should be used as a guide to ensure organizations are anticipating where a buyer might go and what they might want to see or learn when they get there.

Therefore, the owners of demand creation program plans must align with their counterparts in portfolio marketing to identify potential signals from prospects and determine the next best action. Some possible signals could include:

  • A potential buyer has a lengthy, in-person conversation with a colleague about solving an internal challenge.
  • A small committee is organized to  research and narrow down the options.
  • Members of the committee visit a solution provider’s Web site and actively download and consume content that is normally associated with later stages of the buying process.

In these examples, two of the three actions happen outside of any trackable system. These contacts may be new to the solution provider, but because of all the internal research being conducted, they are already deep into their decision to purchase when visiting the solution provider’s Web site. According to the signals, the solution provider should consider placing these individuals into a program to help them justify their decision and make a selection instead of assuming that because they are a new contact, they must be in the early stages and require early stage education.

Additionally, the solution provider should take this as a signal that multiple contacts from the same organization are engaging at the same time. This information is helpful for sales if or when the opportunity progresses. The identification and tracking of buying groups is a cornerstone of SiriusDecisions’ Demand Unit Waterfall™.

If the buyer’s journey map is considered program architecture, organizations miss a critical opportunity to listen to and respond to buyers’ needs in thoughtful and timely ways. The process to create persona-based programs that leverage buyer’s journey insights is an evolution. Here are three things organizations can do today to become more audience-centric:

  • Assess the current state of buyer’s journey maps for key personas and identify any gaps.
  • Interlock demand creation and portfolio marketing early in the demand creation program planning process to align on goals and the best possible design, including the identification of key signals.
  • Create a process to conduct program and tactic diagnostics after a program has run its course to determine success. These insights can be used to improve future program planning and shared with portfolio marketing to update, iterate and validate buyer insights, personas and journey maps.

SiriusDecisions may not be able to help you plan your next vacation, but if you are interested in learning about how to leverage buyer personas and buyer journey maps within demand creation programs, read more about our Demand Creation Strategies service.