We often hear about the importance of the customer journey when it comes to B2C, but B2B is a different animal, and thus, it requires a different approach. The B2B SaaS customer journey is considerably more involved, and it often requires a multi-pronged approach that’s seamless, expertly executed, and tailored to meet the needs of customers and businesses.
That might sound like a tall order to fill, but it’s possible, and in this walkthrough, we’re going to show you how it’s done.
The 3 Stages of the B2B Customer Journey
Like B2C, B2B customers go through a customer journey. All customers go through the same basic stages of:
- Awareness – The user realizes that your brand exists.
- Consideration – The user is looking at your brand as an option to help solve their company’s problem or issue.
- Conversion – The user has decided that your solution is precisely what they need and moves forward to become a customer.
There are a variety of steps that can be taken within each of these stages as the customer moves through your funnel.
And, unlike B2C, B2B SaaS products are often sold at a much higher price point, so you’ve got your work cut out for you to get from stage one to stage three. Users need to consult with multiple decision-makers, do their research, and compare and figure out which option suits their needs. To that end, you need to develop a reliable and measurable plan to nurture them through a long process that can take months or even years.
First Step in the Journey: Awareness
To sell your SaaS to B2B customers, they first have to know that you exist. Getting started is perhaps the hardest part of this process, but also the most rewarding.
Write High-Quality Blog Posts, Frequently
The first tactic we’ve found to pay off in terms of B2B SaaS marketing is to continue to write frequent, high-value blog posts.
Now, it’s important to note that these posts have to be centered around a solid theme. That’s not to say that they need to be strictly about the exact same thing, but to illustrate, let’s say that you’re selling a software solution that improves business communications. Your blog could, for one month, be centered around methods to improve productivity.
Next month, you could concentrate on improving writing and grammar in business communications. In our own case, we write half of our posts on industry news to help position ourselves as thought leaders, while the other half is focused around case studies that bring value and legitimately help our users benefit.
The more frequently you do this, while maintaining a high quality in your posts, the more your traffic will grow. Google will also see your solution as a definite contender among your competition and thus rank your site higher as well.
But blog posts aren’t our only secret weapon here. And they’re by no means the only tool you should use as you help users along the B2B SaaS customer journey.
The Crossroads: Consideration
Once awareness has been established, the next step along the B2B customer journey is consideration. This can seem like an uphill battle, because not only are you fighting to get enough customer mindshare for your own SaaS, but you’re also working to present yours as the only logical alternative without seeming too sales-y.
One of the ways in which we did this was not by following the same standard of “giving away a free e-book or white paper” as so many marketing sites will advise, but rather by creating a self-selection quiz, which lets people essentially segment themselves and then displays a result that’s specific and relevant for their needs.
You may think that conversion rates of 1?2% are good benchmarks to shoot for, but when you’ve got a tool that’s getting anywhere from 20%?40% conversion, it’s easy to see how this kind of solution has allowed us to pull ahead of our competitors as well as provided users with what they perceive as a better, unbiased answer as they compare different choices.
Optimizing for the Long Sales Cycle
B2B sales cycles are often long and may have the user circling back around a couple times to look at a solution, go back and compare, look again, do some more research, and become aware of other options. It’s more like an elegant dance than a straight shot from beginning to end.
With B2B SaaS, you’re going to concentrate on the one major metric that matters: monthly recurring revenue. You grow this by not only attracting new users but also by retaining current ones. This means continuing to improve on your core services, adding on new, relevant services and, perhaps most importantly, getting and listening to feedback from your customers.
That’s right. Customers are literally telling you what they want and what they’ll pay for. And while it’s true that B2B SaaS has less churn overall (because it’s often too much of a pain to uproot and change systems), that doesn’t mean customers are staying because they’re satisfied. The minute a competitor comes along with a better solution that’s easier to set up and provides better support, your own customers will jump ship.
That’s why you need to not only make the product as easy to use as possible, but also extend its usefulness, and be ready to provide helpful, proactive support.
Stitch Together Your Customer Journey (Because It’s Different for Every Company)
If you’ve searched “B2B SaaS Customer Journey,” chances are you’ve gotten lots of templates as a result. These might seem helpful on the surface. But there’s one major drawback, which is that they don’t take into consideration that every customer, while he may go through the same funnel, goes through different touch points to get there.
That means having a consistent approach, tone, voice, style and way to measure those actions and stitch together your customers’ journeys piece by piece, while looking at the individual steps as well as the whole. That means taking the time to personalize each stopping point as much as possible, including:
- Product usage
- Brand perception afterward
Marketing automation can help with some of this, but beware of using it as too much of a crutch. Now, more than ever, people are actively researching customized solutions ? things that are personalized for what they view as their unique problems or issues. The more you can help them solve these issues (and make a great impression while doing it), the more your solution will rocket to the top of the list.
Throwing a wrench into the process is that people don’t always know what they want. They have some ideas, but listen to their feedback and determine their motivation behind their request for certain features. By implementing things that make the underlying process easier (and then communicating it clearly and concisely), the customer will discover that it is indeed the thing they always wanted ? they just didn’t know how to tell you so!
Arriving at the Destination: Conversion
Congratulations! Your product has stood out, and you’ve got the order. This is what all your hard work thus far has led to. Now, it’s important to note that your work still isn’t done. All the while you’re optimizing and improving your funnel, you’re collecting actionable data. That means it’s time to look at the information you’ve gathered, and don’t be afraid to analyze it and pivot if you need to.
The fact is that no two SaaS companies are the same, and no two businesses have the same customer base, no matter how similar they may be. What works stunningly well for one may cause conversions to tank for another. This is precisely why there’s no “B2B SaaS Customer Journey Map” that’s going to fill in all the blanks for you. Nor is there a formula that you can copy and paste for instant success.
Once a conversion happens, you’ve got to live up to all of those promises and showcase those features. Keep listening to feedback, incorporating it, refining and improving. Keep the customer delighted continually, and you’ll have a customer for life. The moment you stop innovating is the moment a competitor swoops in and carries off your prize.
Of course, you don’t want to add in new features and changes just for the sake of having something new to add. You’ve got to keep product/market fit close-at-hand. A product that tries to be all things to everyone isn’t going to do any good for anyone, which is why it’s better to be narrowly focused, but exemplary at what you do.
What Happens Next?
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into understanding the customer’s journey when they’re deciding on a B2B SaaS product. But, no matter what specific industry you’re in, which target audience you cater to, and how your product matches up to the competition, understanding the user’s journey is paramount.
Knowing what they need (as well as what they don’t know they need) and being able to present it to them in a way that’s easy to learn and easy to use will make their decision easier. Continuing to improve the SaaS by listening to feedback and implementing core features will grow your MRR while attracting new customers and shifting you further and further ahead of your competition.
Finally, following up with customer service that truly exceeds expectations will complete the user experience cycle and create a fiercely loyal customer base. That means not only walking with them on their journey, but being such a good guide that they recommend you to others and are further convinced that their decision to choose your service was a smart one.