Making a purchase is no longer the same as what it was in the past. These days with the advent of the internet, and with the e-commerce landscape in general. We now have so many more roadblocks as well as other factors that may impede our potential customer before they consider spending their money on our products or services.
The Buyers Journey is a storyboard that has been developed by marketers and has been refined by inbound marketing. It’s an important framework for any internet-based marketing strategy these days.
There are many stats and figures telling us how much of the buyer’s journey is completed prior to the customer even visiting your website to make a purchase. The last time I looked the number was roughly 70% of the buyer’s journey was taking place prior to this point, if this is even close to being true, then that’s a lot of sales you are potentially missing out on!
So how do we get to ourselves in front of the buyer from the start of their journey?
We have to look at the buyer’s journey in the form of a lifecycle, this way we can break down the lifecycle into three main stages.
These stages are:
- The Awareness Stage
- The Consideration Stage
- The Decision Stage
Let’s have a look at each of these stages in closer detail, so we can see how, where and why our customer will make decisions on their journey, and how we can market to each of these stages to guide them deeper down the sales funnel.
In the awareness stage the of the buyer’s journey the buyer is usually unaware of a few things.
- Your company
- Your product or services
- They have a need to be fulfilled
The Awareness stage is all about Identifying Needs and building trust. Not about introducing your product or services.
In this stage, we need to tread carefully, as the buyer has not really formulated what they require. Potentially they know they have an issue, symptom, problem or opportunity.
They are generally focused on identifying the problem or symptom at this stage and are usually in a non-vendor based research mode, looking for information and content, rather than somewhere to buy a solution.
Build Trust with Good Content
At this stage, we can feed them reports, blogs, eBooks, expert content as well as educational content. Anything that can help do 2 things:
- Gives them a clear definition or name to their problem or opportunity
- Starts building trust that you are an authority on the subject matter at hand.
Educational content focused around highlighting the risk, prevention, troubleshooting, upgrading, improving, resolving and optimizing is great at this stage as it really develops the trust in your content and if your content is good they will either return to look at it again, or continue reading and researching other blog post or eBooks on your site.
Keep an eye on what people are clicking on, reading and downloading will allow you to see trends. A good way to do this is by using a marketing automation tool, like Hubspot.
The Short List
As your buyers go deeper down the rabbit hole with their research, they will begin to see what does and does not meet their needs, allowing them to start eliminating possible vendors who are not providing the solutions or services that they need or are looking for, this is where the consumer tends to narrow their focus on just a few companies.
So they now have a few companies, selling similar services or products. This is where the development of trust can pay off. If your content offers and educational material has been of an awesome nature, prior to introducing your product then you have really set the stage for what is to come.
The consideration stage is the research stage with one main difference. The buyer now has a clearly defined need. This is where the buyer is trying to understand all of the available approaches and has now narrowed their list down to a few companies.
They will most likely delve deeper into how these competing companies’ offerings will address their particular issues at hand, or pain points.
Comparing Apples to Apples.
Somewhere in this stage, the buyer’s research will lead them to start doing more in-depth comparisons, maybe requesting a product demo, looking for webinars, or even reaching out for a sales rep for a deeper understanding of our product or service so they can continue to access if it will meet their needs.
This is where marketing automation software is very handy, it can not only identify possible leads and allow your marketers to start nurturing them, it can also give your sales team a lot of useful information and see exactly how the buyer has been interacting with your content while they research.
You also need to look at not only the fact that the offering meets the needs of the buyer but also look at its ROI for the buyer, so make sure your content has case studies, whitepapers, expert guides as well as possibly live demos, webcasts etc.
Remember your pitch/ content will need to change here depending on whom you’re dealing with, or who is going to sign off on the offering. If you’re dealing with middle to upper management then adjust your offers to something they can use, to warrant the purchase.
In this stage, we look at the most import part of this journey. The buyer has so far become aware of a need, defined that need and is now after researching solutions or approaches, is at the stage of selecting a vendor or product for purchase.
If you’re selling a service your buyer is most likely looking at elements like preparation, implementation, start-up costs and customer support or if it’s a product then possibly setup and customer support.
This is one of the best times to have branded case studies, testimonials, as it will show the experience of you current customers. It’s a great time to show them the positive experience and outcomes you have had with your customers. This again helps build trust in not only your solution but now also your brand.
Most people would think the buyer’s journey is at an end, once the buyer has purchased the offering. There is a lot of evidence that suggests that the buyer will continue to interact with your company in the form of additional research, guides, best practises, even visiting forums and other community-based groups to make sure they are using the service or product to the best of their ability.
This is an opportunity! We can look at post-purchase nurturing in the form of helpful content around using the offer or making advanced user guides.
Try and develop content around adding value to their purchase, after all, you want them to be around when they want to upgrade or renew in the future?
The decision stage is also the delight stage. If you delight the buyer in both the pre and post-sales process you can exceed their expectations and deliver a seamless experience! Then you have the potential to create a customer evangelist, who will sing your praises by promoting your brand via word of mouth and social media.
So inform, educate, satisfy and then delight your customers! As they can be your best marketing investment!
Another way to delight your clients is to be active on social media. Choose the platforms that suit your business and be available for customer questions and support.
These are also great places for happy customers to review and speak about your brand as well as places to publicly help customers with frustrations and issues.
This again builds trust and a loyal client base. We have a series of blogs articles on which social media platforms are the best for your business and how to set them up, check it out here.