Buyers’ journeys have been around, and understood, for quite some time. However, every time a new market emerges or a new company forms, relearning the potential customer’s buyer journey is imperative.
How can you properly market your business and reach potential buyers if you have no idea about their unique needs and roadblocks? And, if you can’t properly market to potential buyers online, how will your company succeed when today's B2B customer averages about 12 online searches before buying?
We are entering a time where B2B and SaaS companies both new and old are creating solutions to address every conceivable business need. With the rise of “smart” technology in all aspects of business today, the momentum of this industry is at a constant upswing and will only continue to increase from here.
B2B and SaaS marketing is complicated enough -- use this article as a reference rather than making the trip alone!
The Steps of a SaaS Customers Buyer's Journey
The typical SaaS customer journey mimics other industries, but there are some key differences in the way customers carry out each step. Here are the 4 steps:
- (A hidden -- and sadly forgotten -- fifth step)
Step #1: Awareness
The Awareness stage typically begins with the customer recognizing a problem in their work life that they would like to address. Additionally, they identify whether the problem is a priority or not.
For example, a restaurant owner realizes their POS (Point of Sale) systems are lagging and crashing frequently. It’s impacting the efficiency of their day-to-day operations, so they identify the need for a new system as a priority.
In this stage, it’s important for your business to have a strong understanding of the problem your product solves and the market you’re serving. This will help make sure you’re able to target customers in this stage in the right place, at the right time.
During this stage, potential customers will likely use search engines to learn about alternative software. As a result, make sure your business is up-to-date with its SEO best practices and ranks on page 1 of Google results for relevant research terms.
As noted by Inturact, there are a few questions you should ask yourself to fully understand your buyer’s Awareness stage:
- How do buyers describe their goals or challenges?
- How do buyers educate themselves on these goals or challenges?
- What are the consequences of inaction by the buyer?
- Are there common misconceptions buyers have about addressing the goal or challenge?
- How do buyers decide whether the goal or challenge should be prioritized?
Step #2: Consideration
The next step in the SaaS user journey is Consideration. During this stage, the customer has established that a problem needs solving. The time has now come to begin searching for a solution.
Let’s continue using the same example of the restaurant owner with the failing POS system. During the Consideration stage, the restaurant owner would research various companies who offer improved POS systems with a scope and price that meets the owner’s needs. Methods of research may include internet searches, e-books, advertisements, word-of-mouth, etc.
On matured markets, you’ll find lots of people (regardless it’s B2B or B2C) are at this stage. During this stage, your business begins competing with all other businesses that offer the same, or similar, solution.
The strategy you choose to differentiate yourself from these businesses will determine your success. For example, you could offer cheaper, more reliable, better, faster, etc. The content marketing strategy you create should guide readers toward this conclusion, but should remain educational, not sales-y.
Step #3: Decision
This is the last step before the buyer actually purchases your product.
Once the SaaS buyer enters the Decision stage, they have evaluated and considered their options and chosen a type of solution (i.e. trying over-the-counter medication instead of calling Teladoc. If you’ve done your marketing strategy correctly and methodically, your business will stand out as the best solution.
So in our restaurant example, the owner has researched a few POS system options or other troubleshooting alternatives. They have weighed the pros and cons of each option and determined which would be the best fit. The restaurant owner has made their decision, which would likely result in the purchase or subscription of a new POS system.
Step #4: Retention
As buyers enter the retention stage, they are now considered customers. At this point, the B2B/SaaS sales and marketing teams should shift efforts from trying to acquire the customer to trying to retain them. In fact, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
To retain customers, ensuring they’re satisfied with the product/service is crucial. Maintaining contact with the customer and demonstrating your ability to provide timely support, updates, and troubleshooting helps build relationships. For example, your company could reach out and offer:
- Training courses
- eGuides & eBooks
- In-App (or In-Site) messages personalized to the customer
- Email campaigns
Acquiring a new customer benefits your business in the short-term, but retaining happy customers will benefit your business in the long run.
Step #5: Advocacy
So, you’ve acquired the customer, made the sale, and continued correspondence. Now, let your hard work result in some free advertising for your business.
Did you know one of the most successful forms of B2B and SaaS advertising is still word-of-mouth? Especially in high-risk industries like health care, buyers are much more likely to trust the recommendations of friends, family, and trusted colleagues.
It’s simple -- provide A+ service to your existing customers. These customers then turn around and tell their friends and industry peers about their experience. People facing similar problems will then be more inclined to reach out to you and inquire about your products and services.
You’ve just earned a lead without spending any money!
Every B2B marketing strategy should include at least a small amount of time and effort for acquiring customer testimonials, creating referral programs, and posting positive customer reviews on social media.
Mastering the SaaS Customer’s Buyer Journey
Understanding the four main steps of the SaaS buyer’s journey (and fifth hidden one) is imperative to the success of your marketing efforts. Although complicated, the SaaS market is simplified when you master your buyer’s journey, and create content around it accordingly.
To learn more about successfully defining your buyer personas, download our free e-book: