Inbound marketing focuses on creating value for your customers to help build relationships and nurture leads. It's key to understand the concept of The Buyer Journey to ensure you don't miss out on any opportunities to engage and delight your potential customers as they begin their journey with your business.
What is The Buyer's Journey?
The Buyer's Journey (also sometimes known as a customer journey or a purchase journey) is the process a consumer goes through before committing to buy a product/service. It is essentially the path to purchase, that details the different steps/stages a customer goes through before buying. By understanding the different stages your business is then able to maximise opportunity at every point.
What are the Stages of a Buyer Journey?
There are three main steps or stages to the buyer journey: Awareness, Consideration and Decision.
The first stage is the Awareness stage. The customer becomes aware they have an issue or problem that they want to solve or realise a goal they want to achieve. This may be a new problem or it may be an issue they are only now realising is a problem so now needs a solution.No matter how they've got to the realisation; the end goal is to now achieve something. The customer will then want to start gaining more information, potentially via a search engine, on how to tackle the issue and progress further.
The second stage is Consideration. This is when the customer is now committed to researching the issue and investigating potential solutions to their problem. This is more in-depth than just gathering information, it is looking actively into solutions and considering the offerings available from different businesses before making the final decision on what to purchase.
Then, the final stage is Decision. The customer has decided on buying something but still deciding on what specifically they are going to buy. The customer is undertaking the last steps of the decision making process, they know they want a solution, and they've began to narrow it down, it's just making that final decision before buying. This could be informed and influenced by reading customer reviews or talking to the sales team.
What are the Benefits of Outlining your Buyer Journey?
Not all prospects need or want the same approach to help convert them to customers and not all prospects are at the same stage of their purchasing decision making process. The buyers journey helps you understand the different stages of buying from the customer's perspective, and then you are able to tailor your content accordingly. So by outlining and understanding the buyer journey, you enable yourself to have a more in-depth and focussed approach to understanding how and why a potential customer would interact with your brand from discovery to the point of purchase. Then from understanding those interactions, you can adapt and optimise your content offering to ensure you engage with as many customers as possible and ultimately grow your sales and business.
HOW CAN YOU APPLY THE BUYERS JOURNEY TO YOUR OWN MARKETING STRATEGY?
Once you have an understanding of the buyer's journey that can then start to influence your marketing strategy. Not all customers have the same needs, and the needs will change and develop over time, so a one size fits all strategy approach isn't going to work. The marketing strategy needs to be flexible, adaptive and have both the customer and the end goal in mind.
The first stage is the initial realisation that there is a problem. Sometimes this can be a problem that the person wasn't aware was an issue. No matter whether it is a new or pre-existing issue, this is the point to start engaging with a customer, not trying to immediately sell a product. The main goal of content at this stage is to begin developing a relationship with the customer, engage with the customer and begin the awareness of your product, this could be blogs, social media or checklists. Short form video content is also a great tool for awareness, highlighting an issue and then featuring a product.
Short form content can be a great tool for both the awareness and the consideration stage, take a look at our blog to get started with short form content.
This stage is where the customer has settled on wanting to overcome their issue or wanting to achieve their goal, so is now doing additional research to decide the best way to move forward. This is where a business needs to demonstrate why their solution is better than their competitors, what is the USP of your service compared to everyone else? This is the stage where you are trying to achieve new leads. The content at this step tends to be educational as well as engaging, such as case studies, blogs and product feature videos.
This final stage is then all about landing the sale. By successfully completing the awareness and consideration stage, the lead has been nurtured to move from prospect to customer. At this point the content should be demonstrating why your solution gives the best value for money. This stage is focussed on achieving sales, the content needs to be more product focused and factual, such as infographics, product pages and free trials.
Now you are ready to implement your own buyers journey to your business to maximise your marketing potential. Remember, it's not just the buyer journey alone that should influence the marketing strategy. Make sure you are considering other elements when designing your marketing plan; consider your buyer personas, do some competitor research and consider the potential friction points for your clientele. Inbound marketing enables your business to provide the best experience to your customers and ultimately maximising the potential for growth and opportunity.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Wellmeadow produce The SME Growth Podcast, focusing on techniques and methods SMEs can implement help drive their business growth. We've already published an episode focussing on the concept of the buyer's journey and how to implement them, have a look at the episode now:
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