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Reading Your Buyers' Digital Body Language: A How-To Guide

by Steve Woods  |  
May 12, 2009

Marketing has undergone a fundamental change over the last decade. More buyers have moved online to educate themselves on the market and available products, and our ability to guide them through a "sales process" has diminished.

Today's buyer is in control, has access to numerous high-quality sources of information, and goes through a "buying process" at his or her own pace.

This transition means that our sales teams are no longer required as a conduit of information. Industry websites, vendor sites, blogs, social media, and search all make the required information readily available and, by doing so, leave the sales representative out of the room.

As a result, it's impossible for the sales rep to read a buyer's physical body language to understand what aspects of a message are of interest and determine whether the prospect wants to move forward.

Marketing teams must therefore instead read a buyer's digital body language—his or her Web activities, email responses, search activities, and engagements in events and demos—to understand what messages are working and where each buyer is in his or her buying process.

To understanding a buyer's digital body language, marketers should focus their actions on four main areas: communication, sales alignment, data management, and marketing analytics.

Below are tips for how to use digital body language to improve your efforts in those key areas and reorient your marketing efforts around a buying process rather than a selling process.

1. Communication

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Steve Woods is cofounder and CTO of Eloqua (, a provider of marketing-automation technology. He is the author of the book Digital Body Language and also writes on the topic at his blog (

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