Marketers: Why you should get to grips with buyer behaviour

Marketers: Why you should get to grips with buyer behaviour
James is Director and Co-Founder at Kingpin Communications, a ‘technology to business’ agency focussing on clients in the B2B technology sectors. Before founding Kingpin in 1997, James was Advertising Manager at TPD Publishing, followed by DBMS Magazines.

(c) Katalin Kondoros

Today’s ever busy ‘always on’ landscape means there’s never been a more important time for marketers to get to grips with buyer behaviour.

It’s a must if their products or services are to be successful. Failure to acknowledge the buyer journey makes it near impossible to sell anything particularly when it comes to B2B audiences.

Customer tracking technology often focuses on specific touchpoints. However, if marketers are to attain the depth of understanding required, they need to turn their attention to the full journey. Marketers need to know what customers bought, who recommended the purchases and where they conducted their research.

It’s a complex process, with anywhere between five and ten decision makers involved, but it’s one marketers need to understand. Those that can successfully identify buyer behaviour are in the best position to more effectively target their audience.

Taking insights beyond data

Data has been a hot industry topic for years and while data informs marketers of the what and how, it doesn’t provide the full picture.

Data tells marketers what consumers are looking at, what they’ve purchased, how they’re their research is performing and whether or not they’re looking at competitors.

But, one thing it can’t tell you is why they’ve made a purchase. The only way to unearth the reasoning behind buyer motivation and purchase is by having open conversations and speaking to them, whether that be through phone calls, forums, live chats, or other means.

Marketers need to take time to make a conscious effort to be present and at the forefront of buyers’ minds

This helps marketers build a one to one rapport with customers providing real insights into their buyer habits.

It’s always been important to look at data and beyond. However, thanks to increased access to greater volumes of information, there’s never been a more beneficial time to focus on purchase intention and motivation.

The industry was based on customer lists if we look back over marketing in the past 20 years. Now we have the luxury of accessing those in real time, and knowing more valuable information than ever before.

The purchase value scale

There’s no denying the buyer journey is complex. There are huge variations depending on the value of a particular purchase. Low value purchases are often triggered via a basic ‘need-buy’ pattern (if someone’s run out of deodorant, they’ll buy a replacement with little thought and usually no prior research, for example).

This journey is very transactional, and doesn’t necessitate the same level of engagement as a high value investment.

When we look at purchases at the other end of the value scale, an individual begins by recognising the need for a specific product or service to solve a problem or fulfil a need. They then proceed to complete detailed research, sourcing the information they require and evaluating alternative options until they come to their decision and proceed to make the purchase.

Marketers need to take a personal approach which encompasses every channel for these high value purchases. Whether it’s inviting them to a roundtable or meeting face-to-face for a coffee – everything needs to be personalised.

Recognising this process is essential for anyone making marketing decisions.

The complexity of the buyer journey necessitates that marketers consider the complete buying cycle, rather than just the individual purchase decision, when it may well be too late to influence a decision.

Collaboration is key

If a marketing team is to succeed, it needs the support of a collaborative sales team. A strong working relationship helps each team better understand the unique attributes of a product or service, and their advantages in comparison to competitors.

57% of all buyer research is done before an individual contacts a company, which is 100% influenced by marketing.

Traditionally, the role of marketing was to encourage demand and sales would be responsible for closing the deal. Now, the process is much more collaborative.

Teams can help each other highlight the unique attributes of a product or service, the advantages in comparison to competitors, and potentially an introductory trial or personalised agreement.

Once this working relationship is in place, marketers have the best opportunity to ensure they’re visible in the buying journey.

Keeping up with the competitors

It’s a harsh reality that marketers who don’t look at buyer behaviour risk lagging behind their competitors that do.

If we assume 50 purchases will convert from 1,000 leads – having an idea of profiles can be the difference of finding those 50 with the highest likelihood of conversion first, rather than sifting through hundreds before getting to the ones you want.

Marketers need to take time to make a conscious effort to be present and at the forefront of buyers’ minds from the moment they recognise they need something. Once you’ve done that, and cracked the most influential information sources, you’re well on your way to success.

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