Table of Contents:
What is the Buyer’s Journey
The Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
Buyer’s Journey vs. Customer’s Journey
What Is the Buyer’s Journey?
The general goal of every business is to attract consumers and turn them into customers. The process that a consumer goes through before they make a purchase is known as the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey has become a lot more complex over the years, especially since the advent of Internet. This is because consumers no longer rely on businesses to hold their hands and to guide them through their buyer’s journey. As a result of digital media, consumers can now navigate much of their buyer’s journey on their own. This also means that everyone’s buyer’s journey is different.
The buyer’s journey is the process a consumer goes through to research a product and to come to a decision to make a purchase. The buyer’s journey typically begins when a consumer realizes that they have a problem but don’t know what the solution to that problem is. For example, maybe they’ve stained their white carpeting with wine. They don’t know what the best solution is for getting wine stains out of their carpeting, so they will begin doing research online.
This research usually begins with a simple search on Google or other search engines. They will read up on possible solutions through articles and blog posts or view videos on the subject. Through this research, they will learn what products can help solve their problem. They will read up on the different products offered by different brands. The buyer will look into those brands to determine how reputable they are based on a variety of factors. They may contact that brand directly, download a free offer, or sign up to an email list through the course of their research. This is the process that the entire strategy of inbound marketing revolves around, which is why it’s so important that you understand what it is and why it’s important.
Read our article: Inbound Marketing Works. Politics Proves It.
The Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
The Buyer’s Journey is the 3 step process that someone goes through leading up to a purchase decision, comprised of an awareness stage, consideration stage, and decision stage. In simpler terms, the Buyer’s Journey is the consumer’s procedure before buying a product or service.
At this point, you would begin building a relationship with the customer by nurturing them through the sales funnel. At the end of the sales funnel, once they’ve reached the end of the buyer’s journey, they will make their decision and choose a product to buy. This process is split into three main stages:
As technology advances, the amount of research done prior to making a purchase increases. Because it is so convenient to search for questions and concerns on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, people are becoming more cautious in their purchase decisions and want to be absolutely sure that they make the right choice. That’s why it is a marketer’s job to help this consumer and lead them through the “Buyer’s Journey”.
During this stage, the buyer realizes that they have a problem. They will begin doing research to figure out exactly what their problem is and what the cause of their problem is.
At this point, the buyer has defined their problem and its cause and are doing research into the possible solutions to their problem.
Now is the time to strike. The buyer now knows what the solution to their problem is and are comparing products or services as well as different companies to identify the best solution.
Before you can start presenting one of your products or services as a solution, the consumer needs to know what their problem is. Otherwise, they’ll have no need for your solution. During the awareness stage, consumers know they have a problem but they don’t necessarily understand. They will likely be doing very general searches on Google and other search engines. They are attempt ing to learn more about the problem that they are dealing with.
Identifying the Problem
A consumer might notice that their current computer isn’t running properly or is having obvious problems. They are likely going to begin doing some basic research. For example, maybe their computer keeps freezing up. They may look up things like:
- Why is my computer freezing?
- Does my computer need repairs?
- How to fix my computer?
- Do I need to replace my computer?
You will want to make sure you create a range of content that addresses the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. This content should be optimized for SEO using keywords that your audience will use in their searches during the awareness stage. Keep in mind that during this stage of the buyer’s journey, you’re not attempting to sell anything. Rather, you are merely trying to attract potential customers.
Creating Blog Content
Short-form blog content that’s highly focused on identifying the problem will be particularly helpful since it will be easy for consumers to scan. For example, if you were to create content addressing a consumer’s issue with a freezing computer, you might publish blog articles such as:
- 5 Reasons Your Computer is Freezing
- How to Prevent Your Computer From Freezing
- 5 Signs Your Computer Needs Repairs
- 5 Signs You Need to Replace Your Computer
The awareness stage of the buyer’s journey is where you attract new leads to your brand and provide helpful content. This content can help inform them about their pain points. It’s only once you’ve addressed the awareness stage that you can begin to present potential solutions to your audience, which is where the consideration stage comes in.
Keywords are the driving force behind “search” and are probably the most important aspect of being discovered on search engines like Google.
For example, it may not seem like there is a huge difference between the search terms “pet toys” and “cat toys.” But when you break down the search results, “cat toys” is searched for over 60,000 times in a month, while “pet toys” is queried barely over 6,000.
This means the company selling “cat toys” is being seen almost ten times more than a company selling “pet toys.”
By planning your inbound marketing strategy around relevant keywords, you can ensure that your company is more likely to be discovered.
As Americans start to download ad blocking software to their browsers, the effectiveness of advertising on websites is declining. Considering that click rates for these ads were already very low, it probably won’t be long until websites no longer include ineffective advertisements.
Instead, marketers are looking to increase the amount and the quality of content found on a website to help drive traffic and sales.
And while keywords and social media are avenues to your content, the content itself is your brand’s inbound foundation. Without a rock-solid foundation, inbound isn’t nearly as effective nor efficient as it could be.
With content, which includes blog posts, social media posts, downloadable offers, and even webinars, your brand will become a thought leader in your field.
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Calls-to-action or CTAs are those buttons on almost any website that say, “Hey! Click on me and something cool will happen!”
The unsung heroes of inbound, CTAs set out to accomplish exactly what their name implies: make a user take action on your website.
Depending on what goals you have for those user actions, CTAs can be as simple as a “Download Now” button placed at the end of a piece of content to an elaborate half-page visual beauty asking users to sign up for a new webinar series or download your latest ebook.
CTAs truly are the first piece of your lead generation efforts since they’re the first action a potential lead takes to dive deeper into your content. As a result, your brand’s CTAs should be attractive and focused on capturing potential leads. Of course, having quality CTAs means having quality offers to back them up which is where your creative and inbound team marry to create something truly unique. Targeting those CTAs to specific buyer personas or existing customers is a crucial consideration for creating a great CTA as well.
Want to find out how to optimize calls-to-action on your website? Read here.
The consideration stage of the buyer’s journey follows directly after the awareness stage. Once a consumer has a better understanding of what their pain point is as well as of what the potential causes of their problem are, they will begin searching for solutions. It’s during the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey that they will begin to explore their purchasing options.
At this point, you will want to explain what types of solutions will help with their specific problems as well as what their options are and present your products and services as a potential solution.
Let’s say the consumer has decided that they need to replace their current computer, which keeps freezing. They already know that they need to replace their computer and why they need to replace it. If you’re selling brand new computers, then you’ll want to present content that helps provide information that will help guide them to making the right purchase. They may have questions that include:
- How much do new computers cost?
- What kind of computer do I need?
- Should I buy a new or used computer?
- What brand is the best brand?
Content that addresses these questions is going to help consumers make a more informed decision about their purchase, thereby helping to get them closer to making a purchase.
You will want content on your site that specifically addresses the consideration stage for consumers who have been doing research on your site from the beginning of their buyer’s journey. However, this content will also help attract consumers out there who already know what their problem is and are performing research for potential solutions from the get-go.
The decision stage of the buyer’s journey is the last stage, the stage in which you close the sale. However, there’s still work to be done. Although the consumer has decided on a solution by this stage, they have yet to decide on a product or service or the vendor that they will purchase from.
During the decision stage, the customer will be doing research into the products and services that they are considering as a solution to their pain point. They will also research vendors that provide those products and services to determine if they are trustworthy. For example, if the consumer has decided to purchase a new computer, they may be looking to answer the following:
- The pros and cons of different brand computers
- The type of warranties offered by different computer vendors
- The expected lifespan of different computer models
Creating Reasons to Choose Your Company
Last, but not least, give consumers a reason to choose your product or service over another brand. You can do so by offering a free trial of your product or service or a free consultation. This way they will get in touch with you. Services like Netflix and Amazon offer free 30-day trials. People jump on the chance to take advantage of such services for free and often end up purchasing the service in full at the end of their trial as a result.
The decision stage of the buyer’s journey is the third and last stage. You’ll want to encourage consumers to choose your company’s product or service by not only promoting your products and services, but also by informing the consumer about your products and services as well as about your company. The goal is to convince them that they can trust your brand. It’s also to show them that your product or service will meet their specific needs more so than any other option out there.
Buyer’s Journey vs. Customer Journey
You’ve probably heard a lot about consumer lifecycles and the different terms used to describe said lifecycles, such as buyer journey and sales funnel. They can be a little overwhelming and a little confusing. You might even wonder why some terms seem to describe the same thing, such as buyer journey and customer journey. Don’t be fooled–the buyer journey is very different from the customer journey and it’s important that you know what the difference is. The following is a breakdown of the buyer journey vs. the customer journey.
The Buyer Journey
As we’ve previously discussed, the buyer journey makes up the stages that a consumer goes through up to their decision to purchase a specific product or service from a specific company. This includes the awareness stage, during which they realize that they have a problem; the consideration stage, during which they identify the solution to their problem; and the decision stage, during which they decide what product or service is the best solution to their problem.
The Customer Journey
During the buyer journey, the consumer doesn’t become a customer until the end of the very last stage (the decision stage). However, your relationship with your customers doesn’t end the moment they’ve made a purchase. The real success of a business depends on return customers, after all. This is where the customer journey comes into play.
During the customer journey, you should focus on further developing relationships with your customers through regular engagement. Building relationships will help to increase trust in your brand, which, in turn, will improve customer retention.
Once you’ve managed to build that loyalty, you’ll be able to nurture that customer into a brand ambassador. Consumers tend to trust other consumers much more easily than they trust companies, which is why brand ambassadors offer so much value. Keeping all of this in mind, the following are a few tips to help you nurture your customers through their customer journeys:
- Initiate engagement following purchases – It’s important that you initiate contact with customers as soon as possible following a purchase. Many businesses use automation to send emails thanking customers for their purchase and even recommending similar products (in an attempt to cross-sell or upsell).
- Send them relevant content– Continue nurturing your customers by sending them emails with content that is relevant to their engagement history (including their purchases and website behavior). The content you send should be informative and should help improve their brand experience. For example, tips on how to use the product that they purchased or general content relevant to their purchase.
- Request and listen to feedback– Send your customers surveys or request that they leave reviews. Listen to what they have to say. Customer feedback is valuable to improving your business and can help you improve your relationship with your customers as well.
- Reward referrals– You can encourage your customers to become brand ambassadors by implementing a referral program. For example, you can offer a discount for every customer that they refer to you.