Many of us have heard of the statistic that supposedly indicates that the majority of the buyer’s journey happens before a buyer contacts us. It’s been used as a reason to invest in digital marketing to provide the insight that buyers demand. We’ve written about this myth since 2013. SiriusDecisions data shows that the reality is that buyers want a fairly even mix of human and non-human interactions, including in the education phase (the SiriusDecisions Buying Cycle has three phases: education, solution and selection) to help them answer their questions about why they should change.
As marketers, we often confuse digital interactions with non-human ones. A non-human interaction is just like it sounds – an interaction where there’s no human on the other side of the interaction, like a website search or an online demo. The human interactions we typically think of are speaking with a sales rep or attending an in-person forum.
However, there are also interactions that take place digitally, but with a human on the other side. For example, a vendor-hosted webinar, one of the most preferred human interactions in the education phase, takes place online, but the buyer can ask questions and the vendor is able to respond to those questions. Another example is an online chat function. In both of these human interactions, the discussion may happen entirely in writing through digital means, but the live nature of both means that both the buyer and the seller can engage in a meaningful discussion that can go far beyond reading text on a website.
For buyer’s journey maps to be effective, they need to reflect the buyer’s need for a variety of interactions, both human and non-human. As marketers, we need to understand that full buyer’s journey and prepare to deliver a variety of interactions to give buyers what they want. Digital, non-human interactions are important, and we should absolutely be delivering those interactions. Building buyer-centric websites with messaging that addresses buyers’ questions, and writing blog posts or creating videos that provide content the way a buyer wants to receive it can be extremely powerful tools that help buyers move through their journey. But we shouldn’t forget that need for human interactions and must look for ways to help our buyers interact and engage with us in as many ways as we can support.
To learn more about how portfolio marketing can build buyer’s journeys to be leveraged in demand programs, check out our latest webcast “Activating Persona and Buyer Insights for Demand Creation.” For SiriusDecisions portfolio marketing clients, leverage “The SiriusDecisions Buyer Insights Toolkit” to find out how 23 personas and verticals prefer to interact in the buying process. And for everyone: Remember to include human interactions throughout the buyer’s journey to move your prospect from the first interaction to the deal closing!