The buyer’s journey report

Learn how buyers buy and what you can do to be top of mind

Much of the buyer’s journey happens behind closed doors. So how do you find the buying behaviors that are traceable and make them work in your favor? Intent can’t tell you everything, but layering buying behaviors, from multiple sources lets you know when someone’s in-market, how close they are to buying, and how you can make sure you’re top of mind while they’re looking. To test this theory, we mapped the buyer’s journey.

Using technographics, we found any company that installed HubSpotStripe, or Shopify, over a 90-day period. From there, we analyzed nearly 1,000 companies to find the relevant intent signals each company showed in the 90 days leading up to installation. Those intent signals include engaging with competitors, custom keywords, hiring relevant roles, or attending events. From there, we used the timeline from the first sign of intent to install and the different intent signal types to visualize the buying process.

How does buying intent change from beginning to end? How does what you’re selling impact buying behavior? Are competitive signals further in the buyer’s journey? And what can marketers do to turn data like this into a competitive advantage?

To measure the trends, we split the buyer’s journey into 4 stages. Each stage makes up 25% of the buying cycles. In other words, if the visible buyer’s journey is 100 days, Stage 1 is days 1-25, Stage 2 is 25-50, and so on.

The buyer’s journey as seen by intent

Across nearly 1,000 companies a few trends were universal:

  • Action-based intent increases by 60% from Stage 1 to 2, 36% from stage 2 to 3, then drops heavily in the final stage of buying.
  • Competitive engagements peak approximately 80% of the way through the buying cycle.
  • Most signals peak then fall, except competitive signals which continuously grow.
  • Hiring is prioritized about 60% of the way through the buying cycle.

Key findings and what to do about them

52% drop in Stage 4 but competitive signals grow

Third-party intent across the public web drops by 52% in the final stage of the buying cycle. But competitive signals are stronger than ever. Why?

By now, buyers have narrowed down their picks. Instead of hiring, reading content, or interacting on social, they’re likely meeting with vendors, chatting with colleagues, and getting approval internally. This reduces the number of visible activities.

What to do with this data:

As time goes on, reach buyer’s with more direct channels like email marketing and outbound sales.

Prioritize competitive, value-based messaging with social proof or comparison charts.

Pay close attention to first-party channels if third-party signals start to slow down.

Why Stripe has 4x the competitive engagement

Buyers looking for Stripe engage with competitors 4x more than buyers looking for HubSpot. There are a few potential reasons:

  • Decision-makers for HubSpot have likely used them or a competitor before and have a preferred option. Even if they do research, there are two prominent brands in the space.
  • There’s less commitment involved when evaluating Stripe compared to evaluating a CRM. If one doesn’t work out, it’s easier to switch or take the trade-off of less functionality for a lower price compared to a bad CRM choice that could lead to months of work.

What to do with this data:

Create visuals that help buyers visualize their workflow before buying, helping you stand out and set expectations for once they’re set up.

Complex implementation and competing with big brands? Focus on your unique difference and use intent signals to tailor messaging to the value that matters most to buyers.

Pay closer attention to first-party channels if third-party signals decrease to check if buyer’s are still looking.

Buyers take 32 actions before buying

Out of 32 intent signals:

  • 24 are custom keyword engagements
  • 4 are competitive engagements
  • 3 are hiring signals
  • 1 are event attendances

Keep in mind, this number varies depending on your market. HubSpot had more signals than Stripe for example. And it’s based on third-party intent across the public web. Combining this with sources like first-party intent or review site data, you’ll get even more visibility. However, that doesn’t mean these numbers can’t play a role in your strategy.

What to do with this data:

Create marketing automation to engage warm accounts as they start showing intent. Tailor messaging to what buyers specifically engage with.

Automate the creation of ad audiences so as soon as buyers enter the market, they start seeing your name. Use targeted search ads to be first on the list as they do research.

Build intent into your lead scoring to pass leads to sales as they are warmed up across marketing channels.

46% of hiring happens in the third stage of buying

Hiring plays an important role in buyer intent. Companies spending the resources to grow a team often need new tech to set them up for success. Whether new teammates have tools they love from a previous job or a brand new team is being built, tech installs are almost inevitable.

If a company is expanding its SDR or BDR team, they likely need sales engagement tools. If they’re building out a content team, they might need to add or update their CMS. The trick is catching this and getting there first.

What to do with this data:

Create hiring-based content. An onboarding checklist, guides to setting and tracking goals, a compiled list of relevant people to follow on LinkedIn. These build awareness, get your name circulated internally, and place you top of mind once they’ve hired.

Monitor when fit companies are hiring for relevant roles. Factor this into lead scoring, use it as personalization, and even create marketing drip campaigns tailored to companies actively hiring.

What Else?

Shedding light on the dark funnel, finding the impact of brand and implementation risk on competition, and seeing the timeline of the ebbs and flows of buying behavior are the shining stars of this data.

But, there are other stats that are either a) helpful, or b) just fun to know.

  • 10x hiring signals were shown for HubSpot vs other technologies
  • 51-200 employee companies are the bread and butter across techs making up 28% of all pre-install intent
  • 97% of installs happened on December 20th making it the biggest install day
  • 42 companies installed tech on December 25th

Ready to see how Foundry Intent, our all-in-one platform, captures buying behavior where it happens, at the contact level?