5 Steps to Mastering Your B2B Demand Cycle

September 9, 2014

In my last post, I explored how marketing, now more than ever, needs to help keep our brands, messaging, and content in front of the right prospects early and often throughout the long B2B purchase process, as prospects are waiting much longer before reaching out to sales.

To play a major role in influencing our target prospects during that long buy process, we must first think differently about what this buyer’s journey looks like. In many ways, viewing it as a “demand cycle” can be a useful framework for getting a handle on how to focus and resource the marketing effort. The beauty of the demand cycle is that it enables B2B marketers to view the buyer’s journey more holistically than they could with the more traditional, linear path. After all, a prospect’s journey should not really have a “start” and “end” point, but rather be more of a “lifecycle” as they move from leads to customers to repeat customers, and as marketing then leverages insights along that journey to improve the overall effort.

With this new framework in mind, here are five new ways to impact the evolving B2B buyer’s journey:

Five Ways to Impact the Evolving B2B Buyer's Journey

Step 1: New Audience Targeting

Spending efficiently to reach your target prospects early in the buy process is now within reach of any B2B marketer. Fast-evolving channels like display and social advertising enable precision targeting. In B2B, that means being able to narrow your spend against the business profiles that matter. When it comes to measuring success with new audience targeting, avoid using direct response-centric metrics. When you reach prospects early in the buy process, they’re likely not ready to sign up for your free trial or fill out your “contact sales” form. Therefore, measuring program success early in the demand cycle based on CPLs, lead volume, or direct pipeline contribution doesn’t make much sense – but metrics such as brand lift, targeted website traffic, and targeted website engagement do.

Step 2: Anonymous Audience Nurturing

Now that you’re investing wisely to reach the right audiences early in the buy process, and hopefully starting to drive them to your website and landing pages, the key is to give them a great reason to provide their email address by providing helpful content.  Since 95% of your website visitors will leave before converting, nurturing them through display and social advertising is the way to bring them back.  Analogous to the nurturing you’re likely doing against known leads that you’ve captured in your marketing automation system, today you can apply the same segmentation and nurturing rigor to your anonymous website visitors through display and social ads.

Step 3: Known Prospect Nurturing

Once you have people filling out your web forms, your marketing automation system can take the hand-off and kick off email nurturing. But, the key is to break out of the inbox. Since 80 percent of your known leads are not opening your email (on a GREAT day), you need to apply a multi-channel nurturing approach including email, social, and display. This is how you “wake up” your leads database wherever they go online, and accelerate more of them to MQL status and into pipeline.

Today, available technology even puts within reach the ability to synchronize your display and social effort with your existing email nurturing programs, so that prospects are simultaneously receiving consistent messaging and offers wherever they choose to consume content online.

Step 4: Customer Education & Upsell

You’re now closing more business with the leads you’ve captured. Yet, a huge opportunity still remains as you look to master your full demand cycle. Specifically, applying the same nurturing rigor that you’re using to educate prospects to your existing customers to grow the business. Scale your customer-facing teams by deploying a customer-centric nurture program built on a foundation of thoughtful segmentation and content to educate them, make them more successful, and lead them on the path to embracing more of your solutions.

Step 5: Optimized Targeting, Message & Content

Closing the demand cycle loop requires getting a handle on all of your valuable marketing data. Our teams are inundated with program performance data, web analytics data, pipeline data, and all forms of transactional prospects and customer data that we can use to optimize how we target our programs, creative and content. But the shear volume and range of data can be paralyzing. The key is to always be making forward progress. An approach that’s worked for my team at Bizo is to just start by asking the few questions that matter most, and then like a dog on a bone, go after the data insights needed to do better tomorrow. As the saying goes, doing better doesn’t mean having to do perfect.

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This post was originally published on the Bizo blog. In July 2014, LinkedIn + Bizo joined forces to build the most robust B2B marketing platform available to marketers. To learn more, check out David Thacker, VP of Product at LinkedIn’s announcement blog post.

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