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How to Successfully Execute Customer Journey Mapping for B2B Manufacturers

By Eden Estabrook

A customer journey map can help you better understand and analyze your customer’s experience by outlining touchpoints and outcomes throughout the buyer journey. According to CMO magazine, organizations that track their buyer journeys experience a 50% increase in marketing ROI. In this blog, we will teach you how to think through creating a customer journey map for your B2B applications. Let’s get started.

Step #1: Create Your Buyer Personas

The first step in any customer journey mapping (B2B or B2C) exercise is to define your buyer personas. HubSpot defines a buyer persona as "a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers."1 Creating your buyer personas helps you better understand who your customers and prospects are and what’s important to them.

Most manufacturers typically define 3-5 different buyer personas that span roles across all levels of the organization. This nuance is perhaps one of the largest differences between customer journey mapping for B2B manufacturers vs. B2C companies. In the B2B realm, there are often many stakeholders involved in the purchase versus one consumer. Spending ample time in this stage and identifying where each persona is in the decision-making process, what impact they have on decision-makers, and the value of your product to their role is critical to effectively map their journey.

Robust buyer personas often encapsulate the following details about this semi-fictional character:

  • A picture
  • Name
  • Job title
  • Company type
  • Career background
  • Demographic information like age, income, gender, and where they live
  • Fears and pain points
  • Aspirations and needs
  • What their day-to-day life and interactions are like at the office

Don’t know where to start? Take your top 10-15 accounts and identify your main point of contact. Then define the characteristics above. Where you see overlap or similarities is where you start to identify your personas.

Well-funded marketers might choose to commission a survey or study in order to better understand their buyer personas. If this doesn’t apply to you, doing an analysis of your top accounts is a great low-budget option.

Step #2: Outline Your Buyer Stages

Now that you’ve identified your buyer personas, it’s time to outline the stages your personas go through from initial research to sale. Remember - you may have different stakeholders at different stages of the buyer journey. Make sure to account for when prospects bring in partners from other departments of executive teams to progress towards closing the sale.

To help you get started, here are a few stages that are typically used to represent a customer’s forward progression in the buyer journey:

  • Awareness – The buyer realizes he or she has a problem.
  • Consideration – The buyer starts to research solutions to his or her problem. Normally, this is where we start seeing other decision-making personas start to get involved.
  • Purchase – The buyer gets the necessary buy-in and decides this solution will solve their problem and is ready to purchase.
  • Post-purchase – The buyer decides whether he or she is happy with the purchase decision.
  • Loyalty - The buyer becomes an advocate of this particular solution to the problem, creating referral business or even re-purchasing the same product or solution or a new one from the same company.

While it’s great to use the stages above as a starting point, it’s important that you customize them to reflect your specific touchpoints, personas, and sales cycle.

Step #3: Map Out Persona Touchpoints

Whether they’re talking to a sales representative via live chat, looking at a product on your website, attending an in-person event, or opening an email newsletter, every time your customers interact with your brand is a touchpoint. Customer journey mapping for B2B companies starts when you dive into the mind of all of your personas and understand what their experience was like when they were engaging with those touchpoints. For example:

  • How did your customer get to the touchpoint?
  • Where did they go after they engaged with that touchpoint?
  • Did they move forward in the buyer journey and make a purchase?
  • If they didn’t purchase, then what prevented them from purchasing? Was it another persona that didn’t have information tailored for them?
  • What barriers and motivators does the buyer have at each stage and/or touchpoint?

Asking these tough questions and mapping out the potential different scenarios will help you identify opportunities to improve your customer’s experience by better understanding what information they need from you at different stages in the buying journey.

For example, once you know the stage-level barriers, create content or a specific experience to overcome those perceptions and send to prospects when they arrive at each stage.

Step #4: Visualize Your Customer Journey Map

Once you understand your personas, buyer stages and touchpoints (and all the intricacies), the next step is to visualize your customer journey map. You can use a customer journey mapping software, excel, or even a white board. The way you choose to visualize your customer journey map is completely up to you.

See below for an example of a visualized customer journey map:

Customer Journey Map for B2B

Customer Journey Mapping: A Critical First Step to a Successful B2B Marketing and Brand Strategy

Once you’ve mapped the personas, how they engage with your company during the buyer's journey, and what they need to move through the different stages, you are empowered to create customer-centric content and messaging that address their specific needs and educates prospects at each stage.

For example, if you’re looking to sell state-of-the-art industrial machinery, your primary persona might be the plant manager (or whatever role would be using the machinery on a daily basis). However, that plant manager might need to pitch the idea to higher-ups, such as the CFO, to obtain budgetary approval. Therefore, a piece of content that provides the plant manager with information they need to build a business case for the equipment to a CFO would be extremely valuable. A piece of content that explains how upgrading to the latest equipment has a significant ROI and dramatically improves a company’s productivity (and in turn, profitability) targeted towards the CFO would further support your marketing efforts.

1. https://blog.hubspot.com/marke...

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