How This Growing ABM Practice Addresses Everything from Churn to Live Event Drop-Off During Journey Optimization
Once upon a time, the buyer’s journey was linear. The B2B marketer could anticipate their prospects’ stages, and sometimes even nudge them through what was a fairly predictable process. But that’s no longer the case. Today’s buyer is self-directed, picking and choosing their own journey. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood?
Because today’s B2B buyer can and might take both of them.
This unpredictability is why B2B marketers find journey optimization so compelling. As the state of ABM and marketing automation continues to mature, marketers understand that listening closely to the signals a prospect is exhibiting on their journey and providing the content and messaging relevant to those signals will speed the way to better business outcomes. Yet, despite this intellectual enthusiasm, an institutional commitment to journey optimization can seem like a daunting undertaking. Many marketers are stuck at “go.”
Marketers know undertaking this process requires a considerable amount of time to review, plan and execute—consulting detailed data insights to deliver the right message and content assets to prospects across a mix of digital channels at the right time and cadence on their journeys. And as businesses have become more complex, it may seem challenging to align internal stakeholder interests, set strategies and activate.
So on one level, journey optimization is a powerful strategy—one that leads you to listen to your prospects as they move through various stages with your brand, and then deliver marketing messages based on where they are in the buying process and how they’re interacting with your content, your brand, your ads and so on.
But to move from theory to practice and really understand the value of adopting a journey optimization strategy, I find it helpful to break down the journey into specific cases and how to optimize for them. Understanding these use cases and how journey optimization can solve for them helps you understand the relative value of potential business outcomes.
Keeping Your Customers: Churn Mitigation
Let’s look at churn mitigation.
Consider this scenario: a B2B marketer (we’ll call him ‘Gus’) knows his company has relatively high per-customer acquisition costs. Gus’s sales cycle is usually between twelve to eighteen months. He is spending thousands of dollars to acquire a user and then the customer often says, “I’m not going to renew in year two.”
Gus is frustrated. His company is likely spending a disproportionate amount just to acquire new customers, but the lifetime value of that customer fails to exceed that acquisition cost.
Ultimately, Gus is just burning through money.
What can Gus do to retain his customers and even expand their business? Gus needs to actively listen to his customers. He needs journey optimization. Whether Gus knows it or not, he’s already halfway there. His CRM instance already knows when a customer’s contract is coming to an end; it’s up to him to act on it. Now’s the time to deliver an outbound digital strategy that reinforces original reasons why his customer purchased.
Gus also can identify if customers are realizing the value of their contracted products/services, as product usage statistics can be sent back into the CRM, and if not, determine how to deliver the right feature or benefit focused content, the right series of ads, to encourage full utilization. Then, when renewal time comes around, they’re already in the mindset of saying yes, as opposed to saying, “Guess what? We have issues, and we’re not going to renew.”
This application of journey optimization flips the concept of nurturing on its head. Typically, you nurture a lead before they buy. This would be an approach to nurture an existing customer before renewal time to increase its likelihood.
Live Event Optimization
Next, let’s take a look at another valuable use case: Live Event Optimization.
Let’s say that Claudia, an Event Marketing Director, has spent a considerable amount of money to sponsor a high-profile event, complete with a marquee trade booth. All of Claudia’s executives and sales teams are attending. There’s a steady stream of people stopping by her booth, and Claudia and her team are scanning badges all week long. Usually, those scanned badges flow right into a marketing automation system and everything gets handled en masse.
But Claudia is smart. Her journey-optimized approach allows her to be more thoughtful about the handling of these leads. Rather than just nurturing and treating all of them the same, Claudia can automatically segment the most highly valued accounts based upon her ideal customer profile. She can bucket them by their annual revenue or if they’re one of her key target accounts. Any of the data points that already exist in the CRM and Marketing Automation systems can factor into this as well.
Claudia uses the same approach for her webinars. Let’s say she had 500 people registered for her a webinar, but only a hundred of them show up for the live broadcast. For a less savvy marketer, this is nothing short of a disappointment. But Claudia considers this a great opportunity to re-engage or nurture the four hundred that didn’t attend the webinar. Now she can drive them back to her site to view the on-demand version.
Claudia knows that a 500 person webinar registrant list does not equal a 500 person lead list, so she can’t calculate the cost per lead by basing her figures on the number of registrants. Her cost per actual attendee is the true price tag, and it is much higher than the cost per registrant. Journey optimization allows Claudia to turn those registrants back into attendees by reminding them about the content they missed, driving them back to her archived webinar and lowering Claudia’s effective cost per attendee.
There are numerous use cases beyond those mentioned here that show us the possibilities, should we lean in and take a more thoughtful approach to nurture at all stages with specificity and personalization to maximize lifetime value and outcomes. But, suffice it to say, gone are the days of throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping something sticks. Marketers now can serve up a piping hot dish of house-made rigatoni at exactly the right time, to ensure a long and prosperous relationship.