Making a purchase in a brick and mortar store is an inherently visual experience. Customers typically look through a number of items, spot something they need or want, and put their hands on the product before deciding to buy it. The modern B2B buying journey, on the other hand, is much more complex.
The B2B buying experience primarily takes place on the web rather than in person. And, B2B products are often technical solutions rather than tangible items the buyer can touch and see. To make the buyer’s journey engaging and immersive, B2B marketers must rely on a wide variety of visual content.
The B2B buyer’s journey is made up of several distinct stages—and buyers in each stage will respond differently to different types of visuals. Therefore, to effectively nurture buyers through the sales funnel and provide them with a rewarding purchase experience, you must tailor your marketing visuals to each stage of the buyer’s journey. And today’s blog post explores just that!
How do visuals enhance the buyer’s journey?
It’s no secret that visuals are a vital component of any modern marketing strategy. In fact, 51% of B2B marketers say creating visual assets is a top priority (source).
The reason for this is simple—visual elements like videos, images, and infographics are inherently more engaging than written text. And, visuals can help prospects retain information quicker and more consistently. Consider these statistics:
- 59% of B2B executives would rather watch a video than read text (source).
- When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of it three days later—but if an image is paired with that same information, people retain 65% of it three days later (source).
- People follow visual instructions 323% better than written instructions (source).
As previously mentioned B2B purchases are complex and multifaceted— to simplify the process, modern marketers must rely on visual elements to communicate more difficult concepts.
How to Leverage Visuals Through the Buyer’s Journey
Now that we’ve explored the importance of visuals as part of the buyer’s journey, let’s get into specifics. In this section we break down the different stages of the buyer’s journey and discuss the different marketing visuals that align with each stage.
A prospect in the first stage of the buyer’s journey isn’t aware they have a problem yet. They aren’t actively researching products. To nurture these prospects through the buying cycle, you’ll need to leverage engaging visuals—without promoting your product or solution just yet.
Key visuals: B2B buyers in the pre-awareness phase won’t respond to visuals that showcase your product simply because they aren’t looking for such a solution yet. Instead, create brief, digestible visuals like short video clips, images and infographics that can be shared on social media and other marketing channels.
Example: A marketing executive at a healthcare startup encounters an infographic about market intelligence on Twitter. They mostly skim over the post, but one particular detail sticks out—market intelligence helps you keep an eye on your competitors. The prospect begins to think about their own marketing strategy, and starts to recognize that his company doesn’t have a system in place for ongoing competitive analysis.
Now, in the awareness stage, your prospect is beginning to recognize they have a problem. But, they still have more to learn before they decide to make a purchase. If you want to accelerate your prospect to the next stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll need to educate them. During this stage of the buyer’s journey you must provide more information about common paint points and inform them of any possible solutions.
Key visuals: During this part of the buyer’s journey, your prospect is seeking information about a specific problem. For this reason, they will likely respond to more specific videos or images that elaborate on their pain points. At this stage, you can influence the prospect by creating a visual representation of their pain point. Keep in mind, it’s still too early in the buying journey to start incorporating visuals of your product.
Example: The same prospect from the previous example begins to perform research on their problem, and starts with the company that posted the infographic—since it’s fresh in their memory. They watch a video on the company’s blog which depicts a business that doesn’t perform competitive analysis as a person walking in the dark, unable to reach their destination. The video triggers a sense of urgency in the prospect, and they sign up for an in-depth webinar about the benefits of market intelligence.
At this point, your prospect has a better understanding of their problem and is ready to find a solution. As your prospect conducts research to find a product or solution that meets their needs, you must incorporate the right visuals into your marketing materials. Effective use of visuals during the consideration stage is critical to closing deals.
Key visuals: Include videos and images on your website and product showcase pages that demonstrate your product in action. Because B2B products are often complex, product videos help the prospect visualize how the product will apply to their business and various use cases. In fact, people are 85% likelier to buy a product after viewing a product video (source).
Example: The prospect from the previous two examples has performed extensive research and concludes they must purchase a market intelligence tool that specializes in competitive analysis. They visit several websites but only one stands out due to its in-depth videos. These videos demonstrate all of the product’s key features and show how easy the platform is to use.
After a prospect makes it through the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, they’re ready to make a purchase and have identified the company or companies they consider to be the best buying option. In this final stage of the buyer’s journey, you must address any lingering concerns or questions.
Key visuals: Testimonials and case studies often provide the final push that cements a prospect’s confidence in your product. Create visual testimonials that feature your buyers discussing the results they’ve seen since buying your product. Video testimonials help prospects envision the success they will have as a result of purchasing your product.
Example: The prospect has chosen the market intelligence software that best fits their needs. They watch a video compilation of customers talking about how this tool has grown their business. This makes the prospect eager to make the purchase so they can see similar results. The prospect gets back in touch with the sales rep they’ve been working with to move forward with their contract.
It is estimated that 84% of communication will be visual by the end of 2018 (source). For marketers, visuals don’t just make collateral more appealing—they genuinely have the power to influence a prospect’s buying decisions.
But, timing is everything when it comes to the B2B buyer’s journey. You must follow the prospect carefully along their path to making a purchase and offer targeted material along the way. If you create distinct visuals for each stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll create a more satisfying customer experience. And, as a result, you’ll convert prospects into customers faster.
For more marketing tips and best practices, check out the following articles:
- Predictive Intelligence and the Future of B2B Marketing
- 5 Campaign Optimization Tips for Better Email Marketing
- 4 Essential Marketing Roles for the Modern Marketing Team