The concept of a linear purchase funnel from awareness to purchase isn’t realistic for B2Bs today – most everyone agrees on this. With so many digital and social information sources outside the company, prospects start the purchase process though various channels and at different points on the path to conversion.
Marketing’s challenge is to create tools and messaging that will educate and motivate this diversity of prospective customers. No small feat! Folks we’ve spoken with are still adapting to new customer behavior.
Before digital media, each phase of the purchase funnel may have aligned strongly to a specific channel. Trade shows and mailings might have mapped to awareness, while conversations with a Sales rep mapped to decision and action. Marketing strategies could be centered on channel. But today most channels are purchase-funnel-phase agnostic – a customer might refer to your website or blog at multiple points in the purchase process.
We’ve seen one successful Marketing strategy, “bite-sizing”. Rather than structuring fixed activities to move prospects through a purchase funnel, Marketing parses illustrations of the value proposition into bite-sized mini-messages. Bite-sized messages require limited prospect investment to absorb, so they are useful at both early and later stages of the purchase process.
Qwest has a great example of bite-sizing. The company takes customer video testimonials and breaks them into short clips. They’re posted online and can be sorted by client industry, size, business need etc. Early on in the purchase process, clips could demonstrate credibility to prospects. Later in the process, a prospect can learn about problems Qwest has solved for customers (problems the prospect may not have realized they too have). My colleague Anna wrote about Qwest’s approach to video testimonials a couple months ago.
Do you use bite-sized content in the purchase process?
(Creative Commons photo by Flickr user Darwin Bell)