Buyers' Intentions - It's Beyond Simply Solving Their Problems
According to the latest Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising Outlook from Dun & Bradstreet, 88% of B2B marketers say they should be focusing on their customer experience (CX). Much like how B2C marketers have shifted focus towards brightening the way their customers feel about their experience, B2B marketers are starting to catch up. This customer-centric shift has led to the introduction of new tools for automation & personalization as well as new methods for capturing data about customers’ behavioral interactions.
However, although the experience you deliver to your customers - in both B2B and B2C - is absolutely critical to long-term success, should we as marketers still think of it as a differentiator? In other words, if everyone’s customer experience is flawlessly designed and delivered based on expertly refined data analysis, it feels like that has kind of become a must-have… not a unique value-add. I think marketers need to go deeper.
As marketers, an exercise in understanding our buyer’s intentions is the next frontier.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it is still imperative to understand your buyer’s journey and deliver value at each stage. It’s a must-have in the fabric of successful SMBs. Maximizing the value of your thought leadership content, chatbox conversations, website messaging, email marketing campaigns, and more is an important ever-evolving initiative for marketing teams.
But, what if instead of crafting all of our marketing messages around the experience a buyer expects, we went one step further to understand the intention of our buyer? And, I'm not just talking about purchase intent; the probability that a consumer will buy. I'm talking about the underlying inner reason fueling their decision-making.
Let’s look at an example...
For example, let’s think about a tour operator in the travel space. Let’s say “Tour Operator XYZ” offers luxury, customizable 10-day group trips to Bhutan. It would be wise to develop digital marketing materials around their core pillars of value, like:
the unforgettable moments that their travelers will experience on the trip
the expert tour guides who will become like family to their travelers
the luxury accommodations and white glove service their travelers will enjoy on each step of their journey, etc.
There are many aspects of the traveler's experience that this tour operator could highlight in their efforts to win their business. Segmenting the messaging & the perspective of these marketing pieces based on traveler personas and destination profiles would be even better!
However, could these assets have an even greater impact if they were tailored towards a traveler’s intention? The short answer is, yes.
Still, we can’t jump into a person’s mind to understand what they’re actually thinking when they interact with a particular message or piece of content (and hopefully we never will… because that’s totally creepy). But, I think there’s room to uncover clues to a buyer’s intention through laser-focused moments of interaction in the customer experience - a practice that is widely under-leveraged. In fact, a recent Hubspot study found that a whopping 42% of companies don't survey their customers or collect feedback. Yikes!
If you aren’t collecting feedback from you customers, start. Right now.
How to ask your customers for feedback
As with any new endeavor, there will be a period of trial & error time in rolling out a plan for gathering customer feedback. In keeping with our “Tour Operator XYZ” example, here are some questions to think about in taking a first stab at building a customer feedback loop:
the medium (a digital online survey? a conversation with their guide? a phone call?)
the timing (before their trip? during their trip? immediately upon their return?)
the questions (which questions will you ask them to best uncover their intention?)
The personal stories your customers are willing to share will only go as deep as their trust in you and your brand - which will be a direct result of how they felt about their customer experience. If you’re able to deliver on that then it will be no surprise when your customers go deep with their feedback. In the case of “Tour Operator XYZ”, they might discover their travelers’ intentions include crossing an item off their bucket list, regaining their freedom after a divorce, connecting with their spouse, seeing a new country, or seeking spiritual clarity.
Intentions are personal. The methods for extracting them from buyers and then thoughtfully leveraging that information in future marketing initiatives will differ from B2C to B2B. Still, in many ways this doesn’t have to be so complicated. To better understand your buyers and what makes them tick, just ask them. Then when you have your answers, align your top-of-funnel marketing efforts to best resonate with their intentions.
For more on this or to just get to know each other, drop me a line!