How To Cut Your Customer Buying Journey In Measurable Pieces

For the ones that read my blog on a regular basis know that as from the start at Exact I introduced our own customer buying journey blueprint. It gives us guidance with regards to all kinds of definitions within this journey such as leads, media channels, lead types, that helps to speak the same language within marketing but also outside our own department. Every year during the budget rounds it’s time to further refine the model. Special attention this year for the hand over of leads between marketing and sales.Special attention this year is for the hand over of leads between marketing and sales. A hot topic every year but good to analyse and see in collaboration with sales where to improve. Since we integrated two business units with each other this creates opportunities but also challenges. We just started to adopt the Demand Waterfall by Sirius Decisions but also realized this has only impact on a small part in our customer journey.

Customer buying journey

As mentioned we are in the middle of refining the model but I can already tell in which areas we adjusted given the latest insights we gained. The good thing is that thousands of leads during the year flow through this model so we are building a sound database of customer buying journey data that helps us to further improve.

Let me explain the model illustrated above. No rocket science but there is a lot in it. Most important is that all marketeers within our team know this model and practice it. Whether we are allocating costs to certain campaigns aimed at audiences through paid online channels or creating content for specific programs and campaigns, we always know within which part of the buying journey we are working on. Utmost important to remove white spots and noise during conversations.

Most important is that all marketeers within our team know this model and practice it.

Utmost left the media channels we publish our campaigns. Paid online, paid offline and our owned channels. In every stage of the buying journey these media channels can be used to target an audience and serve a relevant message. We split the journey into 3 different parts. Top of the funnel, middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel (from left to right). To keep it simple:

  1. Brand Awareness is about building a reputation around your brand according to the values we live as a company. Top of the funnel.
  2. Product Awareness for us is about identifying interest in the value propositions we offer. Extremely targeted and ultra relevant however still a softer message. Challenge is to connect the Brand and Product Awareness layers with each other in terms of media channels, content and measures.
  3. Leadgen for us is about ‘asking for the order’, identify buying intention. With this I mean make people download, attend a webinar or sign up for a trial. A Marketing Qualified Lead that we can follow up and further qualify. Our bottom of the funnel. Challenge here to connect the Product Awareness and Leadgen layer with each other.

Brand Awareness video

Product Awareness

This part of the buying journey is managed by our Demand Generation teams. An interesting part of the journey where we try to identify within audiences if there is an interest in our offerings. Making use of the retargeting pools generated by our Brand Awareness campaigns but also prospecting on look-a-like audiences based on CRM data. Basically we start to register behavior and engagement towards the different messages we publish across multiple media channels. Right now within the Google networks with tools like Google Analytics 360 and DoubleClick we are able to get very close to the truth.A challenging job but also extremely interesting for all members within the Demand Generation scrum teams. How to create a video which identifies interest and whether the contact is within the Wholesale or Professional Services branche? And once determined how to convert into a visit on our website, recognize this contact and based on behavior only show Wholesale or either Professional Services content. Just a simple example but give the broad scope of the team and line of thinking we are building our campaigns. Measures for these type of campaigns are:

Especially the last one is an interesting one. Running campaigns across different online and offline media channels makes this extremely difficult. Having a solid attribution model in place is key. Right now within the Google networks with tools like Google Analytics 360 and DoubleClick we are able to get very close to the truth.

Product Awareness video


Also this part is managed by the Demand Generation scrum teams. This is where we go for the order and try to convert as much as possible into Marketing Qualified Leads. Example are videos, banners etc. with for instance a call to action ‘sign up for a 30 day trial’. If visitors fill in the trial form a Marketing Qualified inquiry is automatically generated. With intelligent forms and pre-populating the company name field in real time with Dun & Bradstreet data we try to limit wrong or invalid data as much as possible. However still manual handling by either marketing or sales is required to convert the MQi into a MQL. An MQL means that mostly within marketing our Lead Development team with Business Development Representatives will start to nurture and qualify these leads into a SQL. Measures for these type of campaigns are:

In total we generate more than 37.000 MQLs a year. You can imagine that Marketing Automation to it’s full extend for us is utmost important to have a scalable and flexible marketing engine.

Leadgen video

SQL criteria

MQLs are qualified by our Lead Development team. For some type of MQLs for certain products we directly forward to the sales team. For instance bookkeeping trials are directly forwarded to our inside sales teams. Many others we start to nurture against criteria we agreed with the sales organization. These are criteria like:

  1. Available budget
  2. In contact with the DMU
  3. Determined the time frame
  4. Needs based solution fit

Once the team has qualified the MQL according to the criteria above it becomes a SQL and will be forwarded to the sales organization. They will start to run a check whether the lead indeed meets all criteria and if this is the case, they accept and it becomes a Sales Accepted Lead. This is probably the most difficult part of the journey. Having a system in place with different levers so we can jump into specific needs from sales or changing market circumstances. This part for me now gets the most attention since I see lots of room for improvements here. Measures in this phase:

The MQL and SAL part of our journey we have some great benchmark data from Sirius Decisions which shows us where it makes sense to further improve and pay attention to. In my next blog I will further dive into this topic.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation for us is crucial. Basically we try to recognize behavior of people how they engage with our campaigns. Than based on this data try to create meaningful ultra relevant touch points across the different phases in the buying journey. We fully adopted the Google Marketing Cloud and try to hook up paid platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as much as possible into this ecosystem. The level of personalization we can apply is really amazing. Also will spend a specific blog on this topic. It is the ability to create many many segments automatically and push personalized messages to these contacts with a ultra relevant experience on our website once they visit us. We are not there but with the teams are striving to this ultimate goal every day.


It took us more than 5 years to get here. In other words it is not a walk in the park. Many peers ask me where to start. Well about the customer journey definitions you have a great starting point now. Having online expertise on board I would start with immediately. Hiring external agencies in many cases you can not avoid but I have learned that you can’t outsources your challenge or problem unless you understand it yourself and you know which way you want to go. Make small steps and try to create an atmosphere of fail often and fail fast. In today’s world you need to act fast. Adopting scrum to become agile would be my other recommendation.


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