HomeBlog The Four Elements of a Buyer's Journey Map

The Four Elements of a Buyer's Journey Map

June 08, 2016|Christina McKeon

  • As more b-to-b organizations adopt persona-based marketing, buyer’s journey mapping is increasing in importance
  • Multiple interpretations of buyer’s journey mapping are beginning to emerge, resulting in fragmented definitions
  • A buyer’s journey map contains four key elements: buying cycle, interactions, content and engagement

As many b-to-b organizations have shifted to persona-based marketing, it is only natural that we’ve started to see the first wave of interest in buyer’s journey mapping. A b-to-b company adopts buyer personas as part of an audience-centric transformation. Once it gets a taste of buyer personas, it realizes that it needs to operationalize those personas across the organization so multiple functions can benefit from those buyer insights.

Enter buyer’s journey mapping, whose purpose is to help organizations use those buyer insights to predict buyer behavior throughout the buying cycle. A well-developed buyer’s journey map informs campaign strategies for more effective execution of marketing and sales programs. Portfolio marketers are responsible for buyer’s journey mapping as part of their buyer expertise and should work closely with demand creation and marketing operations colleagues on development and implementation.

Given that buyer’s journey mapping is currently a hot topic, we’ve seen multiple interpretations of how a buyer’s journey map is defined and what it looks like. These interpretations are often fragmented or lack the correct orientation point. To help clients sort through the definitions, here are the four elements of a buyer’s journey map:

  • Alignment to the buyer. The first things to look for in a buyer’s journey map are an actual buyer persona and the buyer’s decisionmaking process. There should be a separate map for each buyer persona, and the map should start with the buying cycle. Don’t align to an internal Demand Waterfall® or sales cycle, as that will lead you away from the buyer and toward a go-to-market approach based on internal constructs. Don’t confuse historical touch analysis for the actual buyer’s journey map. Historical touch analysis is a good input for a buyer’s journey map for an existing offering, but it’s not a substitute for the map itself.
  • Interaction mapping. The buyer’s journey map should map non-human and human interactions across the entire buying cycle. That way, you know the type of information exchange required to facilitate each persona’s buying process. During an average buying cycle, b-to-b buyers have 12 to 18 non-human and human interactions, each of which needs to be accounted for in the buyer’s journey map.
  • Content mapping. This mapping details the content asset types and delivery channels preferred during each stage of the buying decision process. Best-in-class buyer’s journey mapping goes beyond identifying content that was consumed and includes knowing which content positively influenced the buying decision. Like interactions, each content asset type and delivery channel needs be included in the map.
  • Engagement mapping. Engagement levels peak at different points in the buying cycle, and it is important to know this information, along with the buyer persona’s level of authority. This input enables organizations to determine when to deliver the appropriate content and interactions to each buyer involved in the decisionmaking process.

Clients of SiriusDecisions’ Portfolio Marketing service have access to the brief “Creating Journey Maps to Enable Buying Decisions,” which contains the SiriusDecisions Buyer’s Journey Map Framework. This framework provides a best-in-class process for structuring b-to-b journey maps for each buyer persona for an offering. It’s how you ensure that your buyer’s journey map is leading you in the right direction rather than getting you lost.

Christina McKeon

Christina McKeon is the Service Director of Portfolio Marketing at SiriusDecisions. She has more than 20 years of experience in product and solution marketing, sales enablement, demand generation and social media. Follow Christina on Twitter at @ChristinaMcKeon.

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