Written by Edwin Thompson
The web has empowered both the buyer and seller. Fundamentally, it changed the tools people use to educate themselves about problems, research possible solutions, and identify options to solve those problems. Although it may seem as though the web has shifted all the power to the buyer, the seller benefits from a certain level of transparency as well – particularly into the buying cycle.
A typical buying cycle looks like this:
1. Awareness: The moment when the potential buyer realizes he could or should be doing something differently, or that something new and potentially better is available.
2. Education: He looks for possible ways to solve that problem.
3. Identification: He identifies a few options that meet the need.
4. Selection: He weighs the costs and makes a selection.
5. Purchase: He purchases (or not).
Hint: As the seller, you probably won’t be there at the moment of awareness, unless you created it. When someone drops a brick on their toe, that’s the ah-ha moment one realizes the need for foot protection or steel toe shoes. You get the idea.
The power of web marketing is the ability to see where someone is in this cycle and then respond appropriately. For example:
1. Awareness: Someone drops a brick on their foot.
2. Education: Search terms aren’t specific - “protective footwear” or “heavy duty boots” or “orthopedic surgeon.”
3. Identification: Search terms include “acme brand boots,” “steel toe boots,” “Kevlar boots” or more specific terms.
4. Selection: Search terms include “Size 10.5 Acme Brand boots” or “Black Steel Toe Boots.”
5. Purchase: The search term might be “Best price on Acme Brand Boots.”
Each stage in the buy cycle should have its own campaigns and be based on someone’s interaction. With each campaign the lead record should be updated to indicate the appropriate buy cycle stage. Content must be crafted based on specific data needs at each stage – whether it’s through email or through a content management system and dynamic content.
Those with long sales cycles need to be able to collect this information, store it, and make it visible to the sales organization. By itself, each interaction has little value unless someone fills out the contact form. By putting together a history, sales can see how a prospective buyer is progressing along the buying cycle.
While this seems simple and you are probably doing some level of this, the challenge with the web is the plethora of vehicles, program types and media options. When you combine that with other marketing initiatives such as events and email, the ability to track the combined set of activities and interactions is vital to getting an accurate picture.
The power of the web is the ability to create a two-way dialogue. While sales have given up control of the information, they gain greater insight into buyer behavior and very targeted web marketing programs designed to support their efforts. Admittedly, most companies have not yet made this sort of commitment to providing visibility into web marketing and buying cycles for their sales teams. For the moment, the power of the web is still in the hands of the buyer.
About the Author: Ed Thompson is Director of Demand Generation for The Pedowitz Group (TPG), a thriving revenue marketing agency. Recognized for balancing creativity with technology, Ed has spent the last 10 years of his career working for B2B technology companies helping them bring new products to market and generate revenue. He has won several Awards including Sales 2.0’s “Best Sales 2.0 Management” and Silverpop’s “Engaged Marketer” both a result of the Marketing Automation infrastructure Ed helped develop while at Brainshark.
His 25-year career began working with Advertising Agencies and publishing companies developing direct marketing solutions for advertisers. During his 10-year career with The Boston Globe, he served as Art Director to create new publishing vehicles, and led the efforts to create one of the first publications to utilize a fully digital pre-press process.
Contact Ed:[email protected] Follow Ed on Twitter: @EdtheWebGuy