Disjointed customer experiences are limiting growth for B2B companies.
Across the B2B landscape, we see content being produced in an uncoordinated way, managed by different, siloed teams. When internal teams aren’t aligned around a unified message or story, customers experience confusing transitions as they move from one content silo to the next.
To remedy this content chaos, marketers must take ownership of the customer experience using a new model: the marketing-driven customer experience map.
The Buyer’s Journey Map: An Outdated Model
Currently, creating a buyer’s journey map is regarded as the best practice for managing the customer experience and the content that defines it. In this practice, the marketer defines the stages of the buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, purchase, etc.) and the goal of content at each stage (introduce prospect to new product, get reader to request a demo, etc.). You’re then left with a grid, meant to help categorize and plan content that speaks to a specific persona at a specific buying stage.
But when we think in terms of managing the customer experience, this model doesn’t fully support the needs of today’s B2B marketers.
While still a useful jumping-off point for theorizing customer behavior, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of the experiences available to your buyer as they research answers to their most pressing questions and look into your organization’s products and services.
The common buyer’s journey map model operates off of the presumption that there is one cluster of content, and one message per stage of the customer journey. This is precisely where the model must evolve.
To be customer-centric we must engage the customer with many different experiences, as our customers have various topics and issues that interest them. A new model is required that can handle the content volume and velocity in the Age of the Customer.
An Experience, Defined
Let’s begin our new model with a definition:
An experience is a set of content assets or touch points with a similar purpose: to move a customer persona from a set of questions to a set of conclusions.
Now let’s break down this definition, piece by piece.
1. Identifying Questions, Conclusions, and Content Assets
Content defines the entire customer experience.
A content asset can be a blog post, an email, or a video. It can also be a script used by an inside sales rep, or a presentation by a field rep. It can be a physical, in-person conference or event, a help article, or a “getting started” guide. Some of these assets make up the entire interaction with the customer (e.g. a blog post), while other assets guide the interaction that’s ultimately delivered by a person (e.g. a call script delivered by a sales rep).
Content defines the entire customer experience
In our definition of “experience,” the term “content asset” is expansive in its reference to every touch point and interaction across the customer life cycle. Therefore, an experience is a set of assets that share the goal of moving a specific customer from a set of questions to a set of conclusions.
If we think back to our Securita fable, a fictional organization struggling to overcome silos across teams and a disjointed customer journey, we can imagine how a B2B organization might define a cloud security awareness experience.
Experience: CIO – Cloud Security – Awareness
|How important is cloud security to my overall security profile? What are the best practice approaches I should take to managing cloud security?
|Cloud security is critical to my security profile, and only becoming more so. I understand the best practices to managing it and need to familiarize myself with how to operationalize those best practices within my organization.
This Securita “cloud security awareness experience” then might have the following set of assets:
- Video interview with experts on the state of cloud security
- Blog posts series on real life stories of failed cloud security
- Infographic on the current state of cloud security
- White paper on the most common challenges and approaches to cloud security, based on survey data from CIOs
- Case study featuring CIOs using Securita to support cloud security in their organizations
- Pitch deck focused on how Securita supports the most effective best practices to cloud security
2. Defining Experiences across Personas, Stages, and Themes
In the Age of the Customer marketers must meet the customer where they are—particularly early in the customer life cycle, when the customer is not focused on vendors but on their own business challenges. In this customer-centric posture, marketers must provide multiple experiences to engage the customer, requiring their customer experience model to go beyond the one-message-per-stage construct of the buyer’s journey map.
In the case of Securita, at the awareness stage for the CIO persona, they might have a cloud security experience, but also similar experiences for other themes such as big data security or mobile security. Here’s an example experience on modern security thought leaders for the CIO:
Experience: CIO Modern Security Thought Leaders
|Who are the thought leaders in modern security that I should follow to help guide my security strategy?
|Securita has provided me the list of modern security thought leaders. In being the centerpiece of modern security discussion, the “king maker” that defines the thought leader list, Securita itself is at the forefront the modern security landscape. The thought leaders have raised intriguing issues on modern security and I’d like to investigate how Securita might help me navigate those issues.
We could go on and on with how Securita creates multiple experiences to meet the customer where they are.
And it’s true: defining each of these experiences requires a commitment to a customer-centric approach to B2B marketing. But the effort is worth it. By understanding content you already have that speaks to specific customer experiences, you’ll be able to build a cohesive, consistent strategy across channels.
3. Evolving the Buyer’s Journey Map: The Marketing-Driven Customer Experience Map
Using multiple experiences, a marketing-driven customer experience map emerges that contrasts the one-message-per-stage buyer’s journey map. In this map, the awareness stage might include the various experiences:
This pattern of multiple experiences per stage continues as we go through the entire customer life cycle. This updated model, the marketing-driven customer experience map, accounts for the need to have multiple experiences across the customer life cycle.
A company like Securita, for instance, would have one customer experience map for each of its personas. Using these customer experience maps, marketers would be able to visualize and manage all content assets and also see how they fit into the customer life cycle.
Then, as you build out all of your experiences per stage, you begin to build a full-funnel customer experience map:
This concept—and going through the process of creating a marketing-driven customer experience map—takes B2B marketing beyond the one-message-per-stage model. It supports the creation and repurposing of engaging, effective experiences that drive business.
And customer experience does matter—it’s in the research.
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