Journey mapping. For some reason, it tends to carry the connotation that someone has to already be your customer for the exercise to be applicable. But that’s not true.
Journey mapping is a valuable exercise at any stage in your customer’s lifecycle, but I’d argue early-stage, top-of-funnel (TOF) engagements are the most important to get right. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, right?
In this post, we’ll dive into what journey mapping is, how to map your prospect’s TOF journey, and how to ensure you have the right people, processes, and technology to get it right.
According to Salesforce, customer journey mapping is, “the process of creating a visual representation of a customer’s interaction with your brand.”
There are many ways to do this. A good place to start is with the data you already have. Your CRM can provide a wealth of information about when and where your customers tend to interact with you.
Use your CRM to understand what the average number of touchpoints you have with a customer was before, during, and post-sale as well as which channels those interactions occur in (email, ads, social media, content, webinars, events, chatbot, etc).
From there, you can use tools like LucidChart or these Hubspot templates to start to sketch a picture of what a typical customer’s journey looks like.
There are a lot of benefits to mapping out your customer’s TOF journey. The most important is that, for most B2B brands, the TOF experience for the buyer is largely counter-intuitive to the way buyers actually want to engage with them.
The traditional customer acquisition model for B2B brands usually involves moving the buyer through a pre-prescribed funnel that works more for the brand than it does for their potential customer.
This can include buying ads to create awareness, distributing relevant content across various channels, and deploying BDRs to conduct outbound efforts (calls, emails, social touches) in order to try to push the prospect into the “buying mode,” often before they’re really ready to engage with an actual human.
This is a problem.
In today’s world, you’re not just competing with other B2B brands; you're competing with your customer’s experience with all brands. Instagram, Spotify, you name it.
To deliver a stand-out experience, you need to take into account the way people want to buy. David Priemer has an excellent book on this called, “Sell the Way You Buy: A Modern Approach To Sales That Actually Works (Even On You!)”
In today’s world, a one-size-fits-all approach to sales and marketing won’t cut it.
Creating an ideal experience for your buyer requires you to acknowledge that different people prefer to engage with brands in different ways. Often that does not include interacting with someone on the sales development representative (SDR) or sales team early in the process.
For more tips on how to create a customer journey map, check out our blog post.
When the team at SaaSOptics went through this exercise, they decided to route specific types of warm leads (mainly gated content downloads and webinar attendees) to SDRs based on their rules of engagement.
From there, the leads automatically route to a Salesloft cadence designed to suggest additional helpful content to the prospect based on the type of content they initially engaged with.
The primary goal of this outreach is not to book meetings. It’s to add a human touchpoint and leverage SDRs as subject matter experts to follow up with prospects by offering helpful resources.
SaaSOptics found that leads who were routed through this activation actually ended up coming back inbound to request demos at a later date. While SDRs weren’t generating meetings from these cadences, they saw much higher rates of engagement and conversion than they did with their previous lead follow-up strategy.
Cadence messaging and structure are routinely reviewed, tested, and iterated upon using Salesloft analytics to identify opportunities for improvement.
Through their CRM and other reporting tools, SaaSOptics is able to attribute pipeline and closed-won revenue directly to their TOF journey strategy.
According to Dave Kart, VP of Marketing at SaaSOptics:
“The biggest improvement that we saw from a metric standpoint was the number of opportunities that were being generated from the content marketing channel. On a monthly basis, we probably had 5-6x additional pipeline coming from this channel.”
Mapping your prospect’s TOF journey starts with understanding your buyer personas and their specific pain points.
According to Hubspot, “Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on data and research.”
For any one product your company offers, there may be multiple personas who could use it, and they’ll likely have a range of specific use cases for it. Ideally, you’ll have a product marketing person in your organization to help with this.
However, if you don’t, there are a lot of helpful product marketing resources out there that can help you develop buyer personas and map them to your product offerings.
Journey mapping exercises are best executed as a cross-functional exercise. There are a lot of stakeholders when it comes to TOF customer experience, so it’s important that multiple types of roles are represented.
As a general rule of thumb, I’d recommend you include people from demand generation, content, revenue operations, and sales development.
Each of these people plays a key role in executing your TOF strategy. Your content team creates engaging content for potential buyers while demand generation distributes that content in key channels and reports on engagement. Your sales development team nurtures and educates leads, and your revenue operations team oversees the technology needed to make all of this happen.
When attempting to understand how your buyers engage, it’s important to distinguish between your current state vs. your desired future state.
Just because you create content and distribute it through a particular channel doesn’t mean that’s the best way to do it.
A best practice is to repurpose content across multiple channels and see where certain types of content perform best.
Creating a competitive analysis on how your solution stacks up against the competition? Publish it as a blog, create an infographic, and write a social post. Let your audience tell you where they want to consume that kind of content.
It’s also important to understand where your different personas live. For example, sales and marketing people tend to have a heavy LinkedIn presence, but finance and accounting professionals may not be as active there.
Seek out communities, websites, Slack channels, and other avenues where your target buyer consumes content.
Need help with topic research? Check out SparkToro to understand what content your target buyer interacts with from other brands.
Once you’ve identified your buyer personas and how they typically engage with B2B brands, look at historical data to see where in the sales cycle people tend to engage with specific types of content.
It’s important to take a data-driven approach here because your hypothesis of how someone moves through your funnel may not align with how they actually do.
For example, you may hypothesize that people typically discover you on social media, then consume blog content or attend a webinar before eventually requesting a demo through your site. But if your historical data suggests something different, you need to take that into account when mapping out that persona’s TOF journey.
If you don’t have any historical data to glean insight from, you can always start with a hypothesis and then test that theory periodically.
The hardest parts of executing this strategy are proper lead assignment and achieving an even lead distribution for SDRs to follow up on.
This is the plight of demand generation and revenue operations teams everywhere.
You’ve probably experienced the pain of capturing leads in a marketing automation tool or spreadsheet and then having to manually import, scrub, and assign leads to reps.
This process is time-consuming and inefficient. It can take hours or days to route leads this way, and there are often no controls in place to ensure that leads are evenly distributed across the team.
That’s where Distro comes in.
Distro, our new product, is the easiest way to route and assign leads based on any object in your CRM. Creating routing rules is intuitive, and quality leads are instantly assigned when there’s a trigger event. This ensures no priority lead is left untouched in your CRM.
Curious about Distro? Learn more about it here.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to B2B marketing, and that’s a good thing. There are a lot of different ideologies on how to nurture leads effectively, and there’s room for all of them.
We hope you took away some helpful tips on why journey mapping is an important exercise to do when crafting your overall marketing strategy.
Journey mapping isn’t just for customers
Top of funnel engagements are your chance to make a good impression on potential buyers
Understanding your buyer personas is crucial for journey mapping
A cross-functional A-team will help you create your TOF journey map
Leverage historical data and market research to understand how your buyer personas want to engage with you
Test, report, and iterate on your strategy to identify opportunities for improvement
Emphasize speed to lead with the right lead routing or distribution tool