B2B Buyer Journey: What Is It And How Does It Look In 2024

Marc Grewenig
January 30, 2024

Things can change fast in B2B, which revolves around the buyer's journey. 

The B2B buyer journey used to be straightforward, with clear steps from awareness to decision-making. In recent times, it's more like a complex, multi-dimensional labyrinth, where buyers navigate countless touchpoints, platforms, and interactions before making informed choices.

Do you know what is more? As we enter 2024, we're seeing significant shifts in this journey, driven by ultramodern technology, changing consumer behaviors, and a global market that's more connected than ever before.

According to studies, almost 80% of B2B buyers conduct extensive online research before engaging with a brand or sales representative. This figure highlights the importance of digital touchpoints and the growing influence of self-directed exploration in the B2B purchasing process.

A deep understanding of the buyer journey empowers B2B businesses to optimize their marketing, sales, and customer service strategies, making them more personalized and tailored.

This article will look at the several stages of the B2B buyer's journey in 2024 and the important B2B marketing trends influencing this process.

The New B2B Buyer Persona

Buyers' behavior has shifted (it squeaks cliche but is true regardless). The modern B2B buyer is marked by several distinctive characteristics that significantly influence their preferences and decision-making processes. 

Unlike the past, where one-size-fits-all approaches might have sufficed, today's B2B buyers want tailored and customized solutions that precisely address their unique pain points and challenges. 

Modern consumers are inundated with information and options. Amidst this abundance, they are drawn to solutions that clearly understand their needs.

The emphasis on personalized experiences reflects a shift in buyer expectations. 

But a personalized experience goes beyond simply providing a product or service – it involves tailoring the entire interaction, from initial engagement to post-purchase support, to align with the individual needs and preferences of the buyer.

So, invest time and effort in crafting detailed and accurate buyer personas based on market research, data analysis, insights gained from existing clients, motivations, challenges, and the target audience's goals.

We'll now look at a few of the critical shifts in modern B2B consumer-business relationships:

1) Preferential Shift to Online Channels:

Online channels have long been replacing traditional B2B engagement methods. For example, modern B2B buyers prefer researching and engaging with vendors through digital platforms. Businesses looking to win must have a strong online presence and effective digital marketing strategies.

2) Extended Sales Cycles:

B2B marketing involves multiple decision-makers, creating extended sales cycles. Hence, businesses must be ready to provide consistent value throughout the extended sales cycle to maintain engagement.

3) Importance of Reviews and Social Proof:

Peer reviews and social proof carry significant weight. B2B buyers rely on the experiences of industry peers to assess the reliability of a product or service, making online reputation management crucial.

4) Demand for Transparency:

Buyers now expect transparency in all business interactions, from pricing to product features. Clear and honest communication builds trust, and businesses open about their processes and values gain confidence.

5) Flexibility and Customization:

Buyers seek adaptable solutions that cater to their unique requirements, allowing them to scale or modify their purchases based on changing business needs. Being flexible is critical to providing customized solutions.

6) Value-Based Decision-Making:

B2B buyers emphasize the value proposition of a product or service. They seek solutions that address immediate needs and provide long-term benefits, contributing to the overall success of their organization.

With these shifts in mind, it's now more important than ever to understand customer touchpoints, pain points, motivations, and decision-making criteria at each stage. 

Phases of the B2B Buyer Journey in 2024

The B2B buyer journey in 2024 has undergone substantial evolution, shaped by technological advancements, shifting market dynamics, and altered consumer behaviors. 

This modern B2B buyer journey comprises several stages marked by distinct characteristics and interactions. Businesses that understand the B2B buyer journey will better connect, engage, and convert potential clients into loyal customers.

1) Awareness Stage

Every digital B2B buyer journey starts when potential buyers identify a challenge or an opportunity within their business operations. You can call it the "aha moment," which could be an issue with their operations, a tool, or the need to upgrade their processes. 

At this stage, buyers seek resources to help them understand, frame, and give their problem a name.

The key strategies you should consider are:

  • Personalized Content Creation. Tailor content that resonates with specific buyer personas. A great place to start would be creating educational content around common business problems and how your product is the solution. Nothing overly sales: just an invitation to start a conversation. Include this call to action in your blog posts, whitepapers, industry reports, etc. 
  • Value-Centric Approach. Highlight the value proposition early in the buyer's journey. One way to do so is to emphasize how your product or service resolves its pain points or optimizes opportunities unique to its business context.
  • Multi-channel Engagement. Use various channels such as social media, webinars, email marketing, and industry-specific forums. This omnichannel approach broadens your reach and touchpoints and ensures visibility across platforms where potential buyers actively seek information.
  • Thought Leadership and Educational Content. Build credibility within the sector through informative and educational material, like whitepapers, case studies, and expert opinions. They foster credibility and aid in building a relationship with potential buyers much faster.

The strategies above are the foundations for engaging buyers effectively in the awareness stage and lay a strong base for nurturing them through the consideration and decision-making stages. 

2) Consideration Stage

The Consideration Stage is a critical juncture in the B2B buyer journey. It's the stage where potential buyers move from recognizing a problem or opportunity to actively analyzing alternative solutions. It is when they start doing their online research, reading case studies, and asking connections for recommendations.

It highlights the importance of offering transparent and credible information to help potential buyers make informed decisions. They want to know the total cost of a solution, features, and limitations of the products or services.

As a business, it's paramount to position your products or services during this stage favorably. More is needed to showcase what's on offer. It would help if you crafted compelling narratives that resonate with the unique needs, pain points, and preferences of the discerning B2B buyer personas.

Here is a little secret: 

Your competitors are leveraging B2B buyer journey mapping techniques to gain deep insights into the needs and behaviors of their target audience as they adapt to consumer behavioral shifts. 

3) The Decision Stage 

The decision stage in the B2B buyer journey is where the rubber meets the road, and potential buyers are ready to commit. After going through the awareness and consideration stages, buyers meticulously analyze and compare different options. 

They weigh the benefits, features, and capabilities against their specific needs, seeking assurances that the chosen solution aligns perfectly with their objectives and can effectively address their pain points. 

With the rise of digitalization, B2B buyers rely heavily on online platforms to gather information that helps them make their final selections.

Mapping out the B2B buyer journey stages, particularly the decision stage, holds immense significance for businesses. It would help if you recognized the criticality of this stage. 

Your ability to tailor offerings, messaging, and marketing strategies to address buyers' specific concerns and queries in this stage, leading to better customer satisfaction and retention, hinges on understanding the intricacies of this phase.

Impact of Digital Transformation on the Importance of B2B Buyer Journey

With digitalization, B2B buyers now rely heavily on online resources (around 90%), social media, peer reviews, and other digital channels to assess potential solutions. And 80% of interactions between buyers and sellers will happen online by 2025, according to projections from Gartner.

These figures cannot be ignored. They are proof that technology plays a vital role in each phase of a B2B transaction.

Digital tools are numerous, ranging from search tools to social networking sites, web platforms, and Internet market hubs. They act as gateways, enabling consumers to explore products or services, compare options, read reviews, and gather information before purchasing. 

For example, the Google search engine has become the go-to starting point for consumers seeking answers or products. Businesses now optimize their online presence to rank higher on search engine results pages, significantly influencing consumer visibility and decision-making.

Additionally, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter offer opportunities for businesses to interact with their audience, distribute meaningful content, display products, and collect valuable insights from their users. These interactions personalize the customer experience, fostering trust and brand loyalty.

Technologies like customer relationship management (CRM) software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and collaborative platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams streamline communication and workflow within and between organizations. These tools enhance efficiency, data management, and decision-making, optimizing the B2B buyer journey.

Modern B2B Buyer Journey: The Importance of Aligning Sales and Marketing Strategies

Before now, sales and marketing teams operated independently, often resulting in disconnected messaging and inefficiencies.

However, there's been a shift in recognizing the critical role of aligning these functions to create a synchronized, impactful experience for buyers throughout their journey. This alignment ensures that both departments complement each other's efforts, fostering a seamless experience for potential B2B buyers. 

Aligning sales and marketing strategies offers several advantages, particularly in personalizing interactions across various stages of the B2B buyer journey.

When sales and marketing teams work in harmony, they can leverage data-driven insights and shared goals to craft compelling narratives that resonate with potential buyers. This alignment enhances brand perception, builds trust, and establishes a more cohesive brand image throughout the buyer's decision-making process.

Additionally, the modern B2B buyer journey often involves multiple touchpoints across various channels. A well-coordinated approach between sales and marketing allows for a synchronized engagement strategy, ensuring that the customer receives relevant and personalized communication at every interaction. A personalized approach not only addresses the specific needs and pain points of the buyer but also reinforces the brand's commitment to understanding and catering to individual requirements.

Beyond the customer-facing aspects, aligning sales and marketing strategies streamlines internal processes, fostering collaboration and communication between teams. Shared insights and analytics enable a more informed approach to lead generation, nurturing, and conversion. This collaborative effort ensures that both teams are working towards the common goal of driving revenue and achieving sustainable business growth.

The Role of Content Marketing in the B2B Buyer Journey

Content marketing holds equal importance for B2B companies as it does for any other business type.

Surprisingly, recent research indicates that only 72% of B2B companies maintain a blog on their website. This leaves a notable 28% of B2B companies without a blog, and consequently, without a robust content marketing strategy.

Here are 7 reasons you should have a content strategy in place:

  • Facilitates B2B buyers in making informed purchase decisions.
  • Offers a cost-effective means to enhance online visibility and rankings.
  • Generates enduring results for your business.
  • Cultivate strong connections with your target audience.
  • Captures and nurtures high-quality leads.
  • Showcases your products and services in an engaging, easily digestible format.
  • Positions your business one step ahead of competitors.

Effective sales content management involves curating and organizing content that aligns with different stages of the journey. It helps the sales teams access the right materials at the right time, empowering them to nurture leads and guide prospects through decision-making.

With Emlen, your marketing and sales team can have one shared content hub. As a result, you can find the right content at your fingertips every time and for every situation. Also, you can curate and orchestrate content super fast. See how Emlen can help.

B2B Buyer Journey: Data-Driven Insights for Enhanced Engagement

You can make a B2B buyer's journey better by understanding and predicting B2B buyer behavior. This is only possible through data analytics. 

Data represents a pivotal change in how businesses handle their marketing tactics. In essence, leveraging data-driven insights provides a personalized touchpoint within the B2B buyer journey. 

You can pinpoint specific buyer personas, behaviors, and preferences by dissecting extensive datasets. This comprehension empowers your sales team to tailor their communications and offerings precisely. The process becomes super easy when your team understands what resonates with distinct audience segments and their interests.

Beyond understanding past interactions, these insights offer a visionary perspective. You can forecast consumer preferences, anticipate market movements, and predict potential hurdles. A Digital Sales Room like Emlen can seamlessly provide the insights you need.

For example, by using Emlen, you get insights into which deals are hot on click-through rates, content consumption, interaction & engagement. All in real-time via notifications & in your CRM! 

In simple terms, you can see what content buyers like and don’t like, and based on that, you can predict your future sales interactions with other customers. 

Personalization in the B2B Buying Process

Personalization in B2B sales is just inevitable since B2B buyers have become conditioned to expect personalized communications.

B2B personalization primarily centers around catering to an entire business entity's specific needs, pain points, and preferences. It involves understanding the complex dynamics within organizations, identifying key decision-makers, and aligning offerings with their unique requirements.

If you are new to B2B personalization, here are a few best practices to follow:

  • Personalize your website content. This involves tailoring calls to action, categorizing content based on segmentation, persona, or stage, repurposing existing content, and using automation and personalization software to dynamically display content based on individual visitor characteristics.
  • Create highly targeted ads. Techniques like audience segmentation and UTM parameters can increase Click-Through Rates (CTR), but it's essential to personalize landing pages to match the corresponding ad. This ensures a cohesive and personalized experience for the B2B customer.
  • Create customer personas for hyper-targeting in B2B. Factors such as geographic location, seniority, position, pain points, industry, and company size should inform the development of personas. Tailoring ads to specific industries and unique business issues enhances the effectiveness of account-based marketing.
  • Implements one-to-one email personalization to increase transaction rates, revenue, and ROI. It's crucial to closely examine business customer personas to avoid sending irrelevant information. Utilize words like "now," "today," "free," and "new" to address specific pain points directly and use "you" and "your" for a more personalized touch.
  • Engage trending topics, starting conversations, and showcasing expertise on social platforms. Finding the platforms where the target audience is most active humanizes the brand and enhances B2B personalization efforts. 

Preparing for Future Trends

Looking ahead beyond 2024, the B2B sales landscape presents a fascinating terrain shaped by various factors. Technology, consumer behavior, globalization, and evolving market dynamics will likely be the primary drivers of change.

One of the most profound shifts will continue to be the accelerated integration of technology into the B2B buyer journey map. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation will redefine processes, making them more efficient and data-driven. 

It implies that businesses must embrace digital transformation comprehensively to remain competitive. Those investing in innovative technologies and agile infrastructures will likely thrive, while others play catch up.

Also, businesses must focus on enhancing user experiences, optimizing interfaces, and offering tailored solutions to meet changing demands.

Another crucial aspect is sustainability and ethical practices. The B2B buyer journey will likely see a continued emphasis on eco-friendly operations, ethical sourcing, and social responsibility. 

To stay ahead of the curve, you must adopt a proactive approach. Embracing innovation, fostering a culture of adaptability, investing in talent development, and forging strategic partnerships will be paramount. 

How can you stay ahead today? Start now to analyze your buyer's journey. See how we can help below:

Where emlen Stands in Analyzing B2B Buyer Journey

Many B2B businesses struggle with effectively understanding and optimizing the sales process. The culprit is often a lack of comprehensive insights into buyer behavior. This deficiency in understanding buyer behavior can lead to static sales content repositories that fail to engage buyers effectively.

Businesses with this problem often encounter difficulties in providing a seamless experience, and the lack of real-time insights hampers their ability to tailor their approach based on concrete data. Is this the case with your business?

Emlen empowers B2B businesses by providing a multifaceted approach to understanding and optimizing the sales process. Through its platform, businesses can effortlessly generate dynamic Digital Sales Rooms tailored to their audience and objectives.

One of the standout features of emlen is its ability to offer real-time notifications regarding buyer interaction and engagement within these Digital Sales Rooms. These notifications provide invaluable insights, allowing you to track how buyers engage with the content—whether they spend significant time on certain pages, bypass others, or even involve multiple stakeholders in the buying process.

You practically have your buyer's journey on the go.

Remember, the B2B buyer journey in 2024 is characterized by a harmonious blend of technological innovation and human-centered strategies. To navigate this intricate ecosystem successfully, you must synchronize your technological prowess with a profound understanding of your customers' needs, thereby crafting meaningful and enduring relationships that transcend transactions. Try Emlen and see what your buyers are doing.

Marc Grewenig

at
emlen