Explore – B2B Interactive Marketing Overview

Understanding typical customer needs, the right content to produce and how to get customers and content together during the Explore Phase.


Prospective customers know they have a problem but don’t know how to solve it.

What they need…

To define their problem and requirements for a solution.

To pick a general approach to solving their problem

You can learn more about how to understand your customers’ needs in the How-To Guides section.

What they’re thinking…

  • I’m stressed out. Under pressure by their employer to find a solution to their problem.
  • I’m overwhelmed. Confused by the many options—different approaches, solutions and vendors—to choose from.
  • I need (unbiased) help! Definitely don’t want to be “sold” at this point.
Prospects begin their journey filled with a mixture of hope, uncertainty and skepticism in regards to possible solutions as well as their decision to pick the right one.


The right display content to meet customer needs in Explore.

In the Explore phase, prospects are looking to learn about the different approaches to solving their problem.

Help them now by giving them:

  • A broad landscape of potential approaches
  • The pros and cons of each approach
  • Validation of your approach by sharing success stories, testimonials and third-party experts.

Map It Out

Guide prospects by mapping out their buying journey using these tools:

  • Assessment guides to assess their current situation and what to measure
  • How to get there. Steps they need to take to find the best solution.


Key interactive marketing activities to connect customers with content in Explore.

Prospects Won’t Come to You

B2B prospects will look elsewhere online (not on your site) to do their research in the Explore phase.

According to B2B buyers, the best source of online content researching products and services are:

    • Professional associations and online communities (47%)
    • Industry organizations and groups (46%)
    • Online trade publications (41%)
    • Seminar and workshop sites (41%) and
    • Trade show sites (35%).

Source: 2013 CMO Council study

Be the Beacon: Guide Prospects to You

Reach them through different marketing channels
Identify prospects and deliver content through other non-commercial online sites. Develop relationships with trusted sources (industry groups, online trade publications, professional organizations, etc.) and syndicate content on their sites, engage in online conversations, and/or advertise.

Caution: Tread carefully. Due to recent changes in Google’s algorithm, paying for advertorials or “native advertising” can hurt you from an organic search perspective. If you are paying for your content to be on other sites, be sure you:

  • Have the other webmasters use a rel=”no follow” so that those links don’t pass PageRank
  • Ensure that your content on those sites is clearly disclosed as promotional. Learn more.

Educate the unaware. Some prospects are a step behind others, not even realizing that a potential solution to their problem exists. Help these folks by reaching out during their daily routine via display advertising or email marketing to them to let them know you have the resources to help them out.

How To Find Them

  • Leverage advanced targeting in display advertisements and email marketing
  • Don’t worry if they don’t direct click to you. These can still play a supporting and important role in eventually guiding prospects to your site.

In all B2B Marketing (ads, emails, search), don’t overextend at this stage. Make prospects aware of content that can help them. Resist temptation to push pitches for your brand or generic brand messages at this phase.

In Google’s words: “High-quality sites, not links, are the best way to improve search rankings.” You’ll learn more when you get to the Organic Search page.

How to Be Found

  • Typical phrase search queries during Explore stage include:
    • question regarding how to solve a problem
    • queries are non-branded and long-tail
  • Make sure your content aligns with thought-leadership key phrases
  • Use Paid Search to ensure full coverage