On average it takes 8 touchpoints to make a sale, according to several online studies.
However, this feels like a very simplistic answer to what can be quite a complicated question. After all, what counts as a touchpoint? Is 8 a realistic number, considering how cluttered online channels like email and advertising are?
And should you simply give up if a sale hasn’t closed after 8 touches (which could very well result in a missed opportunity)?
How many touchpoints do different leads require before a sale?
While 8 touchpoints might be a valid average, the number of actual touchpoints a sale requires can vary between 1 – 50 depending on the buying stage.
- Inactive customers only need 1-3 touches on average
- A warm inbound lead will need 5-12 touches
- Whereas a cold prospect can require 20-50 touches
As you can see, the answer to the question of “How many touchpoints before a sale?” is unfortunately not that straightforward. And, depending on your industry, product, or customer, it might not even be relevant at all.
Rather than focusing on an exact number of touchpoints, it’s more useful to take a look at the research and best practice, and come up with some guidelines specific to your buyers, and the journey they take.
I’ve uncovered the most relevant research on the topic, and in this article, share the most important findings – as well as some tips on how you as a marketer can make each touchpoint as meaningful as possible.
So, let's dive in and explore the world of touchpoints and how they impact the buyer's journey. By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of how to create effective marketing touchpoints that lead to conversions.
The studies that have identified 8 as the required number of touchpoints for a sale tend to see touchpoints being largely sales-driven. So, while phone calls, prospecting emails, LinkedIn messages, and trade show interactions count as a touchpoint, marketing tactics such as newsletters, email funnels, and webinars do not.
What’s more, they also define the endpoint as a conversion, rather than an actual sale. This could be a meeting, conversation, demo, or a trial – meaning you may still be a while off from a final sale.
And so, while many businesses might find 8 a nice, tidy number of touchpoints to commit to, the reality is far more nuanced. In sales performance leader Jeb Blount’s book, Fanatical Prospecting, he suggests that the actual number of touchpoints can vary widely depending on the customer’s familiarity with the brand:
- Inactive customer: 1-3 touches
- Familiar prospect in buying window: 1-5 touches
- Familiar prospect not in buying window: 3-10 touches
- Warm inbound lead: 5-12 touches
- Somewhat familiar prospect: 5-20 touches
- Cold prospect: 20-50 touches
In short, sticking to a hard-and-fast rule of 8 touchpoints doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for most businesses, who are likely to be using a combination of marketing and sales tactics as touchpoints, and who will be encountering prospects with varying levels of familiarity with their brand.
Now, let’s take a look at what exactly counts as a touchpoint in B2B.
A touchpoint in marketing and sales refers to any point of interaction between a customer or potential customer and a brand, product, or service. This interaction can occur through a variety of channels, including email, social media, phone, in-person meetings, or website visits.
Touchpoints can be initiated by either the seller or customer. Examples of touchpoints in marketing and sales include:
- Advertising or promotional materials that a customer sees or hears
- Website or mobile app visits
- Emails or newsletters received by the customer
- Online content consumed by the customer, such as webinars, white papers, or blog articles
- Sales calls or meetings with a representative of the company
- Social media interactions, such as comments or direct messages
- Customer support interactions, such as chat or phone calls
Each touchpoint offers an opportunity to engage with the customer, provide valuable information, and build trust and loyalty. Effective marketing and sales strategies aim to create a seamless and consistent customer experience across all touchpoints, from the first interaction to the final sale and beyond.
So, can a simple marketing touchpoint really be that powerful? On its own, probably not – but cumulatively, absolutely. Here’s a personal example – you’ve probably had something similar happen to you.
Being a mother of two little girls, I follow a ‘momfluencer' who lives in the same town and also has two children. Although I don't consider myself an avid Instagram user, I found myself getting a sneak peek into her life, family, and hobbies every day, unintentionally.
Then, one day, as I stood at a bus stop, who happened to show up? You guessed it – the momfluencer.
I was about to give her a warm greeting, as I would with any friend I casually ran into – before realizing that she had no clue who I was.
And here I was, ready to invite her for a coffee and a chat!
In sales and marketing, that’s a little like how touchpoints work. Before someone becomes a customer, touchpoints – regardless of who they’re initiated by – help a prospect get to know and trust a company better. And each touchpoint can bring them closer to a sale.
And you’re not only building up trust. When you first reach out to a customer, they simply might not be ready to buy. But with touchpoints, you can at least give them a subtle reminder that you exist, so that one day, if they are ever ready to buy, they’ll have your name in mind.
So touchpoints can help to build awareness, as well nurturing customers closer to a sale.
I’ve taken a look at multiple studies, and the data supports this:
- Demand Gen Report found that 62% of B2B buyers consume three to seven pieces of content before connecting with a salesperson
- Rollworks found that 77% of B2B buyers would not even speak to a salesperson until they had done their own research
- According to Forrester, 82% of customers view five or more content items from the winning vendor before making a purchase
So, multiple touchpoints are crucial in getting customers to convert. These touchpoints should start early – even before sales teams are involved. And that’s where Marketing can step in.
Marketing strategies differ among businesses, but there’s one universally-accepted rule: they should be built according to the buyer’s journey, whatever that might look like for your business.
In 2021, Demand Gen Report conducted a survey of hundreds of business-to-business (B2B) executives, and came up with a “typical” buying journey in the B2B world. Our infographic illustrates the individual stages of it:
Each of these stages represents an opportunity for businesses to create a touchpoint to help influence the buying decision. For example:
- In the research stage, you can increase the likelihood of being found by optimizing your website for search (SEO), and running search ads on Google and other online channels. In fact, the above study found that 56% of respondents started their research via web search
- To get shortlisted as a potential provider, you could offer a lead magnet (such as a webinar, ebook or whitepaper) in exchange for registration. This can help to establish you as an expert in the field, and pave the way for further one-on-one email nurturing via your B2B email marketing software
- To help prospects collect pricing information, you could offer search-optimized pricing tables, calculators and cost comparisons on your site. Since you have their email address captured from stage 2, you could also include this information in email campaigns to mid-funnel prospects who have previously expressed interest in this kind of information. (The above study suggests that this is a key touchpoint, with 65% of respondents stating that easy access to pricing information helped to influence their decision)
- To influence other decision makers within the company, you should offer authoritative, insightful content that’s easy to share (e.g. is not gated, and can be shared via social media or email). It could also be useful to offer resources and templates to help the prospect build a business case
- To help prospects evaluate whether your solution would fit with existing partners, you could offer case studies of other businesses who have done something similar
- Now you can offer white papers and independent industry reports written by experts in the field.
- Testimonials and reviews from peers in the community help to provide impartial, third-party perspectives
- Stage 8 could be where your sales team contacts the prospect to schedule a demo or meeting
- The final stage could be a sales-led stage focused on closing the sale, which is likely to comprise multiple one-on-one interactions
Of course, your buyers’ journey might not be exactly the same. What’s more, it’s not always linear, and buyers might skip a stage, or even go back and forth between stages.
Nevertheless, with 80% of respondents stating that a vendor’s content had a positive and significant impact on their buying decisions, each stage offers a chance for marketers to “meet” the customer with a touchpoint that can help to bring them closer to a sale.
As we can see, marketing teams have a key role to play in creating touchpoints, and nurturing buyers toward a sale. This can help to ease the burden on time-pressed sales teams, whose efforts should be focused at the bottom of the funnel on converting hotter leads.
The key, of course, is personalizing content to make these marketing interactions feel more like a one-on-one conversation – even if they’re not. That means that email nurturing campaigns need to be tailored according to prospects’ interests, pain points, and buying stage (which any decent marketing automation software should let you do).
Some businesses take this a step further, creating entire campaigns that are fully personalized to an individual account. In account-based marketing (ABM), marketing and sales teams create thought leadership pieces and value propositions that are tailored to each account they target (and in some cases, to individuals within that account).
A joint 2022 study by Momentum ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance found that 72% of businesses that implemented ABM programs found them to deliver higher ROI than other types of marketing. The tactics they identified as being the most effective included:
- Account-specific content and thought leadership
- Email marketing and newsletters
- Executive-to-executive relationship programs
- Paid social media
- Webinars and virtual events
- Targeted digital ads/retargeting
- In-person events
- Paid search
Even if your business isn’t implementing ABM, there are a few learnings here that you can apply to your own campaigns: namely, that content should be as personalized as possible, and that you can use a combination of tactics and channels to create effective touchpoints.
A 2022 survey of B2B buyers by Demand Gen Report also uncovered some interesting insights into which content formats work best at specific stages of the buying process:
According to this, infographics and blog posts are most useful at the beginning of the buying journey, while webinars and white papers are most effective mid-journey. At the end of the buying process, there is a sharp drop-off in the effectiveness of these marketing tactics, suggesting that this is the point at which Sales should take over.
There’s also evidence in support of getting sales teams involved earlier. According to research by the RAIN Group, 71% of B2B buyers want to hear from sellers early in the buying process – specifically, to help with generating new ideas to benefit the business. So, it always pays to offer this option in all your marketing touchpoints – a simple call-to-action for a meeting in a marketing email or at the end of a blog article could very well do the trick.
To use touchpoints effectively in order to convert buyers, you and your marketing team can take the following steps:
Not all your leads will become buyers, so it’s important to be able to identify those who are most likely to convert. Coming up with an ideal client profile will be key to helping you create touchpoints that hit the mark.
Start by gathering data on your existing customers, as well as potential customers, to learn about their demographics, interests, behavior, and preferences. This information can be collected through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and online analytics tools.
Once you have collected customer data, analyze it to identify patterns and trends. Look for commonalities among your most loyal and profitable customers, such as age, gender, location, buying habits, and interests.
Then, use the data you have collected to create buyer personas, which are detailed descriptions of your ideal customers. A buyer persona should include information about the customer's demographics, needs, pain points, goals, and preferences.
Now that you know who your ideal customer is, identify all the touchpoints where your target audience interacts with your brand. This could include the website, social media, email, offline events, customer service, etc.
To identify the touchpoints, you can use tools like Google Analytics to track website traffic and behavior, social media listening tools like Hootsuite to monitor brand mentions and engagement on social media, and customer service tools like Livechat to track interactions with customers. This will give you a better understanding of how your target audience finds you, and how they are engaging with you.
Once the touchpoints are identified, it is important to understand the buyer's journey and the role each touchpoint plays in the conversion process. This helps in creating a relevant message for each touchpoint.
Think about the different stages of the customer journey, from awareness to purchase and beyond. Consider how your ideal customers behave at each stage, and what messaging and marketing channels are most effective for reaching them.
You can use tools like customer journey mapping software like Smaply, allowing you visualize and analyze the different stages of the customer journey. You can also use CRM platforms like Hubspot, which provides a centralized view of the customer's interactions across different touchpoints, allowing marketers to understand how they are moving through the funnel.
The messaging across all touchpoints – whether that’s your website, email, lead magnets, or other content – should be consistent and in line with your brand's positioning. This creates a sense of familiarity and trust in the buyer's mind.
Make sure this messaging highlights your business’s expertise in the area, as well as speaking directly to the buyer’s pain points.
To help create a consistent message, you can use email automation software like GetResponse or ActiveCampaign to create and automate email campaigns, ensuring that messaging is consistent across all emails sent to the customer.
Marketers can use data to personalize the experience for the buyer. At the very top of the funnel, this could be as simple as running paid search ads or using retargeting. But further down, this includes sending thought leadership around topics they’ve expressed interest in, recommending solutions based on their browsing history, and providing them content around the stage they’re likely to be at in their journey.
Again, this is where your marketing automation software will come in handy, allowing you to send personalized emails based on customer behavior.
Each touchpoint should have a clear call-to-action (CTA) that guides the buyer toward the next step in the conversion process. This could include signing up for a newsletter, downloading a whitepaper, registering for a webinar, or requesting a meeting.
Here, it’s a good idea to use landing pages that are optimized for conversions (there are several landing page builders, like Unbounce, that can help you do that). You can also use sales funnel software or marketing automation tools to create and manage lead nurturing campaigns, ensuring that each touchpoint has a clear CTA that moves the customer toward the next stage of the funnel.
It will be important to measure the effectiveness of each touchpoint and optimize them for better results. This includes tracking metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and engagement rates.
You can get these insights directly from your email service provider or marketing automation platform. You can also use analytics tools like Google Analytics, which provides detailed insights into website traffic and behavior, allowing marketers to identify areas for improvement. Finally, there are also A/B testing tools like Optimizely, which lets you test different variations of web pages and CTAs, ensuring that they are optimized for maximum conversions.
By following these steps and using the appropriate software and tools, you’ll be well-poised to create touchpoints that offer prospects a seamless and personalized experience, and convert them into buyers.
Finally, working with the sales team is a crucial step in the process of using touchpoints to convert buyers, and is something you should be doing at every step of the way. In order to effectively convert leads into customers, you’ll need to work closely with your sales team to ensure that the messaging and touchpoints being used align with the sales process and goals.
Here are some ways that you can work more closely with your sales team:
- Communication: Marketers and sales teams should regularly communicate and collaborate to ensure that they are aligned on the target audience, messaging, and the overall sales process. Regular check-ins and meetings can help to ensure that both teams are on the same page and working towards the same goals.
- Sharing data: Both teams should have access to the same data and metrics to help them understand the effectiveness of each touchpoint in the customer journey. Sharing this information can help identify areas for improvement and allow for data-driven decision-making.
- Collaborative strategy: Marketers and sales teams should work together to develop a cohesive strategy that takes into account the entire customer journey, from lead generation to conversion. This includes identifying the appropriate touchpoints, messaging, and tactics to be used at each stage of the sales process.
- Feedback: Sales teams can provide valuable feedback to marketers on the effectiveness of touchpoints in converting leads into customers. This feedback can be used to refine and improve the messaging and tactics used in future campaigns.
The number of touchpoints required for a sale is a common question for many B2B marketers and sellers. But focusing solely on the number of touchpoints can be misleading. The quality and relevance of each touchpoint are just as important as the quantity – if not more.
In this fast-paced digital world, consumers are constantly bombarded with marketing messages from various channels. That's why creating personalized and relevant touchpoints that meet their needs and preferences is crucial.
How can you do that? By using data-driven insights to tailor your campaigns to your target audience, and to design a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints.
Instead of zeroing in on a specific number of touchpoints, focus on designing campaigns that send the right message to the right lead at the right time. This increases the chances of conversion. Of course, you can't control a buyer's journey and which touchpoints they'll encounter, but you can pre-empt what they're likely to be looking for, and design your campaigns accordingly.
In short, don't get too caught up on the number of touchpoints. Instead, focus on creating quality and relevant touchpoints that meet your audience when they need it. And don't forget to work closely with your sales team to ensure that your touchpoints align with the sales process and goals.
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21 Sep 2023 – Infographic added
15 Sep 2023 – Small correction
This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.Our Methodology