The “Buyer’s Journey” refers to the typical process buyer’s go through when purchasing a product or service. It consists of three stages:
Marketers refer to these different stages often, because each stage falls coordinates with a different part of the sales funnel. Organizations see the best results when they distribute content that meets the customers wherever they are. Understanding the three stages goes a long way toward helping you identify and create customized content.
Awareness Stage (Top of funnel)
At first, the buyer might not even KNOW he has a need. He may be just beginning to realize he has a problem, and is gathering info and researching to understand and identify the problem.
He’ll likely Google it, so search terms/keywords are important. They should be general terms that would be searched, not necessarily your company or specific product names. At this stage, he many have never even heard of your company.
Marketer’s Job: At this stage, your content should focus on the buyer’s pain points – NOT on you or your company. Address typical questions that a buyer might have, using targeted keywords. It should be educational. Information (blogs, white papers, industry info) should provide helpful information that buyers are likely to search. Use targeted keywords. An automation software can help you track what the potential customer reads or downloads, so you can begin to gather information on them and move them through the sales funnel.
During the Awareness Stage, you can begin to create awareness of your company/product/service, but DON’T PITCH YET. Your job here is to gain trust and establish yourself as an industry expert and generate new leads.
Consideration Stage (Middle of Funnel)
At this phase, the buyer has identified his problem and narrows his research. It’s probably still online, but now he is searching for more specific material. He’s likely comparing the pros/cons of each potential approaches/vendor from all aspects and reading reviews. He’s gathering info.
Marketer’s Job: At this stage, you’ll want to provide specific information. Data sheets, expert guides, webcasts/podcasts or targeted blog posts are helpful. You can also take the data you’ve collected on the prospect so far ans use it to your advantage by tailoring conversations, emails, demos and other marketing messages. For example, you may want to focus on the ROI or potential revenue increase if you sell a high dollar product that needs executive approval.
Decision Stage (Bottom of Funnel)
By now, the buyer has done his research and is ready to make a decision. At this point, factors such as time to implement and customer support are often critical.
Marketer’s Job: Now is the time to focus on your product/service/company. Product info, case studies, testimonials, a live demo may be useful here. Or perhaps offer a free trial? Your content should focus on your competitive advantages and what sets you apart. For example, if you’ve learned through data collected that time to implement is an important factor you can focus on your strength in that area.
Meet Them Where They Are
The length of the buyer’s journey varies depending on the product/service, cost, company structure/approval process and more. Some buy cycles are long ,taking months or years while others are short, taking place that day. But no matter the length of the buy cycle, the buyer’s journey is applicable to almost all industries.
Bottom Line: To be effective, customize your marketing messages to wherever the buyers are in their journey. Someone just starting to research a problem is looking for different information than someone who already has management approval and is ready to purchase. By segmenting and providing them what they need, when they need it, you’ll generate more leads and see better close results.
For more information about the Buyer’s Journey or for questions on how to customize and segment your marketing messages feel free to contact us. adWhite provides free inbound marketing consultations and would love to discuss your business and specific needs.