Behavioral Data “Breadcrumbs” Are Changing Marketers’ Relationship to the Buyer’s Journey


“The onus is on marketing leaders to integrate intimate knowledge of customers into marketing activities that serve the needs of customers as they move through the process of picking their ‘first choice’ vendor.”

– Forrester Consulting


Prospective buyers are leaving footprints. Digital footprints. As in, vast amounts of untapped behavioral data. Yet according to a recent whitepaper from Silverpop and Forrester Consulting, few B2B marketers (only 17%) consider themselves to be experienced practitioners of behavioral marketing.

Despite the fact that “buyer behavioral data remains the greatest untapped marketing asset,” according to this report less than half of marketers surveyed capture and consolidate customer behavioral data in a single database.

Why the hesitation to get behavioral?

To dive into using behavioral data for B2B marketing requires a radical shift in our understanding of the buyer’s journey, and marketers’ roles within it. As we all know, B2B businesses have spent large amounts of time and money to shape marketing tactics around the current understanding of buyer’s journeys, making change a reluctant undertaking.

While each company uses different terminology, a buyer’s journey traditionally follows four stages. IBM, for example, uses: learn, solve, compare, purchase. Traditionally, the role of B2B marketers was to mirror these four stages, working to move buyers along the funnel through stage-specific content. With product information, reviews and news so readily available via the Internet, today’s buyers are moving themselves along their path towards purchase.

Indeed, as the report notes: “…buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey prior to reaching out to the vendor.” Suddenly, a marketer’s role has shifted from teacher to influencer—pushing out content that persuades rather than informs.

As marketers, we can no longer ignore that potential buyers are leaving billions of data crumbs offering precise insights into when they’re going to buy, what they’re going to buy, and the value of the potential purchase. In capturing and leveraging this behavioral data, B2B marketers have an unprecedented opportunity to deliver exactly the brand content that a consumer seeks when they need it most—personalizing and targeting marketing to get prospects to purchase.

Targeted Marketing

Take the behavioral data plunge

There are significant and measurable results to using behavioral data to guide marketing strategies. Forrester Consulting found that a higher percentage of behavioral marketers grew revenue faster than planned (53% versus 41% of non self-identified behavioral marketers) and contributed more than half of the sales pipeline (20% versus 11%).

Today, as marketers compete for limited attention, behavioral data is the key to targeting the right people with the right content at the right time.

And here’s the great news: Big data technologies have given rise to solutions that allow marketers to capture the data they need in order to predict sales and optimize marketing. Just be sure that you’re working with a solutions provider who is able to aggregate behavioral data—the more channels the better.

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