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Customer journeys: what they are, and why they matter for B2B and B2C companies

Show and Tell on Dec 8, 2021

Illustration person sliding into funnel

Customer journeys are the bread and butter of a great marketing strategy. Understanding your customers’ journeys allows you to tap into the world of your potential prospects. You get the inside scoop on what decisions they must make, challenges they face, questions that arise; you see the world from their point of view. And, as a marketer, it is your job to make sure that the processes you create actually help them.

Depending on your company’s business model, your customers’ journeys will vary. Whether you focus on business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), it’s beneficial to know the basics of journey mapping, and best practices when it comes to marketing strategy.

Basics of customer journey mapping

Customer journey mapping is an integral part of your overarching marketing strategy. It helps you navigate each step, or "touchpoint”, that prospects go through as they interact with your brand. From the first encounter with an online advertisement, to making a final purchase (and everything in between), creating this journey map will help you add value and better serve your clients in the long-run.

Customer intent

A customer journey involves more than just documenting the touchpoints prospects have between consideration and purchase decision. Behind the entire journey process lies customer intent, or the “thoughts directing a customers’ decisions or actions toward a particular purchasing event.” It is their in-the-moment purpose: “I’m going to buy a new jacket” or “I'm going to book this service”, for example. Customer intent is what marketers want to know and influence when it comes to online efforts. They want to understand the thought processes that prospects go through to make their final purchasing decisions.

In physical stores it's easier for business owners to understand this process because they are there in-person to pick up on the social queues, ask clarifying questions, and provide answers to these prospects. In other words, they can quite literally see the journey happening in front of them.

Online, however, this process isn't as simple to see – but is still possible to track. For example, if a potential customer immediately moves from your homepage to a specific category or product page, that triggers to you that they are looking for a specific product/service.

Micro moments

Micro moments
Source: Think with Google

Think with Google breaks down digital customer intent into 4 main categories, or "micro-moments". They’re the moments when customers turn to their device – usually a mobile smartphone – to take action on whatever they need or want right now.

There are 4 micro-moments:

  • I want to buy.
  • I want to go.
  • I want to know.
  • I want to do.

Each of these micro-moments is loaded with intent, context, and immediacy. And, armed with their mobile device, the customer journey is vastly different than it was when customers stood right in front of you. Because users can act on any need at any time, the customer journey has been fragmented into many micro decision-making moments (hence the term, micro-moments) at every touchpoint.

B2B vs B2C customer journey mapping

While the overall process to customer journey mapping remains the same between business-to-business and business-to-consumer businesses, there are a few main differences that marketers need to be aware of:

  • Level of involvement
  • Length of customer journey
  • Target personas

Level of involvement throughout the customer journey

Generally speaking, B2B companies require more involvement due to longer, more complex cycles. For example: If you're a manufacturing business trying to sell equipment to small shops or construction companies, there are likely more stakeholders in the decision-making process. Perhaps due to Board of Directors, multiple levels of management, budget constraints, etc.

In contrast, businesses that cater to B2C clientele usually have less involvement throughout this process. Which isn’t to say that they aren't as interested or involved in the purchasing decision; rather they will likely have less barriers to making the decision itself, making the overall process simpler.

Length of customer journey

As mentioned above, in B2B models the entire customer journey is generally a longer and much more complex process. Businesses that sell directly to consumers don't have to wait on multiple decision makers or gatekeepers to get things done in a timely fashion.

Target personas


B2B companies will have multiple buyer personas that they are targeting – meaning that they will also have multiple customer journeys that need to be tracked. That said, B2C companies will also likely be targeting multiple personas; the difference is that B2B companies focus on additional profile attributes. Aspects like demographics, psychographics, and buyer motives are all included – but B2B buyer personas also include "firmographic" attributes such as business objectives, roles, challenges, and pain points for the personas they are also trying to target.

Tailoring the customer journey

Now that we understand how B2B and B2C customer journeys differ, it's important to remember that in order for us to market successfully to prospects, we must tailor our customer journey maps accordingly. Think with Google suggests the following model to add value to these journeys:

Be there.
As a marketer or business owner, you must actively anticipate the micro-moments for users in your industry and commit to adding value in those micro-moments. In other words, be there when it counts.

Be useful.
Relevancy is integral to addressing your prospects needs, so you must be useful in the moment and connect users to the answers that they’re looking for.

Be accountable.
People in today's day and age are, well, impatient. Mobile users want to know, go, and buy swiftly. Your mobile experience has to be fast and frictionless – after all, they’re called micro-moments for a reason

Differentiating the type of customer journey that you are curating will help you design a better overall experience for your customers. If you have any questions about navigating your customer journeys, we're here to help.