Wednesday, April 1, 2009

5 steps to a more honest view of buyer interests

I was talking with Stefan Tornquist the other day while we got ready for a video webcast with On24 (see the webcast here). We spent some time discussing one of the results from an interesting survey that MarketingSherpa did on buyer transparency.

Sherpa had asked the question "How often do you provide accurate information during registration?" of 2,700 technology buyers, in the context of events such as webinars and virtual events. The results were very interesting.

Data such as name and email were generally provided in an accurate manner, with around 70% of respondants always providing accurate information and another 20% sometimes providing it. However, beyond that, the prospects' likelihood of submitting accurate information plummetted. For Job Title, only 53% said they always submitted it accurately, and for company size it dropped further to only 40%. Although information such as readiness to buy, or main area of interest, was not studied in this survey, most marketers would intuitively suspect that it would be significantly less accurate than even Job Title and Company Size.

This challenge underscores the importance of observing what prospective buyers do, rather than just what they say, in understanding them as a buyer.

  1. Map your buyer's buying process and understand how each buyer progresses from education through to vendor discovery, validation, and purchase.
  2. Understand your marketing assets, and map each of your marketing assets into the "buyer's toolkit" so you can understand where each is applicable in the buying process.
  3. Define areas of your website that also map into this buyer's toolkit, allowing you to understand how web activity best maps to buying stage and area of interest.
  4. Add in search activity to give you an even more refined view of buyer interest and intent. Understanding what questions each prospective buyer is asking gives you a much more accurate view of their stage in the buying process.
  5. Present the information on each prospect's true area of interest, or stage in the buying process to your Sales team in the environment that they are most comfortable in - their CRM system.

There is no way to guarantee that your insights into buyers' roles, interests, and industries are accurate. However, if you look at their digital body language to see what they do, and what they show interest in, and use that information to augment what they fill out on web forms, you will have a clearer picture of their interests than through web forms alone.
Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
Come talk with me or one of my colleagues at a live event, or join in on a webinar


Chris said...

What's the name of the Sherpa study? Have a membership and would like to read the details.

Steven Woods said...

great question - Stefan said that the chart was from a study they conducted with KnowledgeStorm called ‘Connecting through content’ – the three publicly available parts are available via KnowledgeStorm’s site.
If you're having trouble finding them, he says to give him a call directly - ping me if you need contact info.