The buyer’s journey for any company is critical for gaining new customers and growth.
The process must be intimately understood to improve marketing efficiency and drive sustainable revenue growth. Optimizing the stage of the buyer is tactical; shifting organizational processes, culture, and mind-sets to a journey orientation is strategic and transformational. Journey-based transformations are not easy, and they may take years to perfect. But the reward is higher customer and employee satisfaction, increased revenue, and lower costs. Delivering successful journeys brings about an operational and cultural shift that engages the organization across functions and from top to bottom, generating excitement, innovation, and a focus on continuous improvement. It creates a culture that’s hard to build otherwise, and a true competitive advantage for companies that get it right.
Every buyer’s journey begins with a content marketing plan, because consumers now value self-service research. On nearly any topic, consumers prefer to do their own research rather than call upon a salesperson to assist them.
This means you need to create content for every stage of research that your customers go through. If you don’t, your audience will find other educational resources and potentially drift away from your company.
STAGE 1 – AWARENESS STAGE
Goal of the Stage: Attract & Capture Leads
Leads: They have a problem and are looking for answers or information to help them with the problem.
The Awareness Stage involves your target customer (Buyer Personas) before they identify the solution to their problem, and sometimes before they realize they even have a problem to begin with. At this stage, your prospective leads aren’t doing research with the intention of purchasing anything from you. Instead, they’re simply looking for answers, entertainment, or information! Approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy, according to HubSpot. Once your buyers begin to realize that they have a particular pain point, the research begins. Almost three-quarters of buyers will turn to Google. The first stage of research begins with general search terms as buyers explore the options at their disposal. Buyers are usually looking for educational material, customer reviews, and testimonials. Educational content like white papers, analyst reports, and industry reports are going to be critical at this stage.
Stage Strategy: Create a targeted, well-planned landing, sales page to get conversions (user email addresses). Drive traffic to these pages with Paid Search, Social Media, Social Media Ads, and Organic Content. The traffic should be targeted at your Audience Persona, which you have identified to be your targeted, most valued customer.
Consider These Questions:
What are their concerns and pain points?
What reason would they have to end up on your site?
What do they need to know to move to the next stage?
At this stage, prospects haven’t heard of your business or solutions, so you’ll want to target keywords and topics around a persona’s interests, challenges, and responsibilities. Content should be focused on your buyer’s pain points — not your product or brand.
For example, Close.io is a CRM tool for sales teams. But if sales managers aren’t looking for that specifically, they can attract readers anyway with content about general problems sales managers have, like onboarding new hires.
Content Delivery Summary: Information on how you can help their problem.
Content Options: White papers, E-book, Infographics or Other Free Content.
Make sure these types of resources are readily available on your website. Consider using a marketing automation tool to track content downloads and collect prospect information. While you’re not ready to start your sales pitch, it’s never too soon to start gathering insight into your prospect’s preferences.
Difference between B2B and B2C to keep in mind through buyer’s journey:
B2B: A longer decision-making process, a greater number of involved stakeholders, a lengthier relationship, a smaller lead pool, and a different type of product knowledge
B2C: A shorter decision-making process, one person makes the decision, a shorter relationship and a larger lead pool
STAGE 2 – CONSIDERATION STAGE
Goal of the Stage:
Nurture your Leads
They are deciding and actively looking for a solution
In this stage visitors have identified that they have a problem and are considering solutions and solution providers. Build out a few simple lead-nurturing campaigns to gradually deliver this content to prospects who have provided their information via a form completion. Remember to lay off the heavy sales pitch; this stage is all about building trust with your prospect and establishing your company as a credible source of information. You don’t necessarily have their email address yet.
Stage Strategy: Make sure all content includes a call to action. Website CTAs for the consideration stage should aim to capture emails or phone numbers, a way to move the relationship forward. One strategy would be to retarget your website visitors. This has happened to you, for instance, when shopping for a pair of new shoes on a website, then a few days later you notice that website’s banner ad of that specific shoe you were looking at on a different website. This is called retargeting and it is very effective in the consideration stage, because consumers are “considering” buying a new pair of shoes, for example.
Another example would be if a lead visits your pricing page, you might then send them a coupon code 24 hours afterwards if they haven’t bought anything. These bonus offers and content pieces — along with their promotional content and landing pages — not only give you an “in” to contact prospects again, but they increase your digital footprint for search engines and other top-of-funnel activities. They also provide more opportunities to establish expertise and trust with prospects considering putting parts of their job or business in your hands.
‘Considering solutions’ refers to the broader answers to a problem, for example, a startup may be looking for ways to reduce customer cancellations (problem). Possible solutions would be to create better tutorials, provide more monthly bonuses, or to use a better customer support platform.
At some point in their research, buyers will begin doing in-depth comparisons of each vendor that they’re considering. This is the stage where they’ll start reaching out to sales reps for further inquiries or personalized product demos, so that they can really drill down into the features that matter to their teams.
Content Delivery Summary: Keeping your brand in front of them, educating them more on your brand and how you can help with their problem and potential purchase decision.
Content Options: Case Studies, Live Product/Service Demos, Videos, Retargeting, Podcasts
STAGE 3 – DECISION STAGE
Goal of the State: Convert users into Customers
Leads: Buying your product or service – deciding to purchase a particular solution.
In this stage visitors have identified they need to purchase a particular solution, but are still trying to validate their decision and compare the competition. Once your buyers have the support of upper management, they’re ready to select a vendor and make a purchase. At this point, they’ll start thinking about preparation, implementation, quick start costs, and customer support — the final items that will determine which solution best fits their needs and budget.
Stage Strategy: Highlighting the elements that make your product or service the obvious choice is the secret to creating great comparison pages. Try to stick to the facts, and make the comparisons clear and easy to digest by using visual elements such as tables and graphs.
It’s finally time to get brand-specific with your content! When it comes to bragging about your particular product, nothing speaks louder than the experience of your current customers. Have a number of case studies and customer testimonials on hand to show prospects what others have achieved by choosing you, and how positive their experience has been.
Content Delivery Summary: Educate them on why you are the company for them to choose, show them the value and current customer success stories.
Content Options: Sales Webinars & Demos, In-Person Meetings or Events, Customer References, Testimonials, Free Trials, Discounts, Tutorial (Videos)
Buyer’s Journey Conclusion
By crafting your content to address what a potential customer is looking for at each stage, you can:
- Attract more traffic
- Seamlessly guide visitors from having a problem to buying your solution
- Attract visitors who are at the end of their journey and ready to buy
Marketing automation has become a hub of marketing intelligence, tracking each individual buyer’s journey from their first touch point to their final sale, providing an in-depth view of the 70% of the buying process that traditionally occurs in the dark, beyond the firewall of traditional marketing and sales programs. Marketing automation overcomes this firewall – it’s the science and technology that enables marketing and sales to streamline, automate, illuminate, and measure the modern buyer’s journey through the purchase process.
Benefits of Marketing Automation and assisting with the Buyer’s Journey: Email Marketing, A/B Testing, Lead Scoring, Business Intelligence (Track who is on your website), CRM & Analytics/Reporting