Forget the Funnel: B2B Marketing Using the Customer Life Cycle
Out with the old, in with the new. Gone are the days when B2B buyers take a linear path to purchase products and services. The customer now has more choices, more information and more influence than ever. Because of this, Forrester says todays businesses must become customer-obsessed because the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge and engagement with customers.
Marketers, Welcome to the New Age the Age of the Customer.
It may be tough, but you can let go of the traditional marketing funnel and bring in the new circular customer lifecycle, with guess-who in the center of it all
In the past, your goal as a marketer may have been to push prospects from the top of the funnel and out the bottom to nurture them into becoming loyal customers. Today, buyers actively pull information from various resources that are helpful to them, may jump quickly from one stage to another or move back and forth between them, can be brand advocates even if they havent purchased your product and can be influenced by other options even after theyve purchased from you.
In The B2B Buyers Journey Grows Up; It’s Time For Your Approach To Grow Up Too, Sheryl Pattek of Forrester provided these high-level recommendations:
- Put the customer at the center of marketing thinking. Align with the ways customers now make purchase decisions and build relationships with their vendors.
- Map the B2B customer lifecycle to define your marketing strategy. Your marketing efforts must help customers navigate to their final purchase destination with relevant content targeted to the questions they are looking to answer at each stage.
- Adapt to changes in B2B customers behavior. Have an in-depth understanding of customers behaviors and needs. An initial trigger by a potential customer should kick off a series of marketing and sales activities that focus on driving specific and observable buyer outcomes.
What’s Retargeting Got to Do with It?
Now, as you take this new customer-obsessed approach and put data about your customers behavior to use, how do you deliver the right message to them at moments that will most effectively influence their decisions, throughout the life cycle? Interestingly (so we think!), many audience targeting and retargeting solutions fit well in the mix.
- Get discovered. As people are educating themselves on vendor options, for example via search engines, your company can become top-of-mind when you show ads to people who are already looking for information related to your products or services. Consider search retargeting to reach this audience during the discovery phase.
- Use your customer profile to target audiences. Based on what you know about the customer, including demographic and geographic data, their interests and behaviors, you can display ads to potential buyers that resemble your customers. Use third-party data to reach a new audience with an audience targeting campaign.
- Furthe,r educate your website visitors. With site retargeting and FBX, remind your valuable prospects who are evaluating your company that you have more information they may find helpful. Perhaps they were on a form page ready to download an eBook, or visited a certain blog category. Your ads can specifically call out that information to spur more interaction with your brand.
- Engage your email subscribers. CRM Retargeting gives you the ability to extend the conversation with your audience through retargeted ads, even if theyve never opened your emails or only skimmed your content.
Take a real-life example of one of ReTargeters customers, a B2B SaaS company offering workforce wellness programs. As part of a rebranding initiative, we used data the company had gathered across numerous customer touchpoints to run a retargeting campaign aimed at increasing brand awareness. With a well-defined target audience — companies that had demonstrated a particularly strong interest in the well-being of their workforces — we used Site Retargeting, CRM Retargeting and Email Retargeting to display ads that informed potential buyers of their offerings. This initial effort successfully created awareness and drove large volumes of users back to their website, generating leads and building a large audience for future retargeting and customer engagement programs.
Todays marketing has become more complicated, no longer a straight path to purchase. Customers are armed with an abundance of information and resources, interacting with your brand, influenced by a variety of sources, taking their own path and moving at their pace through the different stages of buying. Are you using in-depth knowledge about your customers to address their needs and build positive relationships throughout the customer lifecycle.