The Hitchhikers Guide to a Buyer’s Journey

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The Hitchhikers Guide to a Buyer’s Journey

The Answer is 42.

Have you heard the term: buyer’s journey or customer journey? What exactly is it? It is essentially the journey or logical path that a potential customer will go through to making a purchase. In web marketing and digital marketing, that journey can get a little tricky!

The ideal lifecycle of a buyer’s journey consists of four key stages: awareness, justification, consideration, and decision. If we analyze the journey by segmenting each stage, we can determine what formats of content are the most suitable.

A caveat to accomplishing this is ensuring you have defined your buyer or customer personas. After defining them, you can quickly materialize a content strategy that will work well.

Haven’t defined your buyer personas? Check out this post about creating perfect buyer personas.

An effective content strategy is one that has tangible outcomes in mind. Marketers must plan, execute and analyze their content strategy vigorously. Yet, statistics reported by Curata say that 70% of marketers don’t have a consistent content strategy.

Before you can even begin to carve out a content strategy, defining your buyer’s journey is paramount!

Let’s jump into each stage and the various marketing strategies that fit them to convert your prospects into buying customers.

Buyer’s journey stage 1: Awareness

Awareness

“We know you guys exist, we just don’t have any use for you right now.”

The prospect is discovering your product or service but has no real need or can not afford it. They may have stumbled upon you from a news article, a recently-published press release, or via paid Google advertising.

Half of shoppers spend at least 75% of their total shopping time conducting online research. (HubSpot

72% of buyers turn to Google during awareness stage research; 70% return to Google in consideration stage research. (Pardot)

Check out more statistics about customer behavior here.

The awareness stage of the buyer’s journey is at the top of the marketing funnel and during this stage, it is important to have the right content for when your prospects actually find you.

In high-ticket industries like finance, the awareness stage may not be as clear-cut. Prospects tend to be far more informed and laymen’s jargon may be off-putting.

Keep sales or hard-sell messaging to a minimum here. Prospects are seeking answers to challenges or are simply researching options. Neutral content reigns supreme here!

Additionally, consider using terms like prevent, troubleshoot, or improve within the awareness content. This type of content is intended to directly solve their challenges.

Knowing your buyer persona is the key between smoothly pushing them down the journey or turning them away.

Tactics:

  • Infographics
  • News articles
  • Magazine articles
  • Third party web
  • Advertising

Buyer’s journey stage 2: Justification

Justification

“We are realizing that we need and can justify the cost benefits.”

The justification stage is when your potential customer realizes he may need or want the service or product that you offer. They may have experienced hurdles, financial losses, reduction in employee count, etc. or saw a success story or whitepaper about your product or service’s benefits.

The justification stage entails providing your prospect with informational and product-specific content that highlights key benefits to users.

86% of senior-level marketers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to create a cohesive customer journey. (Salesforce)

Using the challenges and problems your buyer persona might be having is the key cog in creating content that is intended to ease their worries.

Content creation should follow an 80-20 rule. Meaning 80% value and 20% selling. Provide your prospects with as much value as possible, going above what competitors may be offering through quantifiable results or actionable tips. Culminate or sprinkle in 20% of product references and demo/contact redirections. Be subtle!

Tactics:

  • Blog posts
  • Success Stories
  • Whitepapers
  • Fact Sheets
  • Remarketing ads
  • Email marketing
  • Value-adding webinars

Buyer’s journey stage 3: Consideration

Consideration

“We are looking to buy a platform or product similar to yours.”

Within the consideration stage, prospects have decided they would like to begin shopping around for the best solution. The chips are down on the table at this point. Prospects arrive at this stage from automated/personalized emails, customer articles and blog posts, etc.

76% of B2B buyers prefer to receive content unique to their buying stage. (Marketbridge)”

The consideration stage is an opportunity to introduce the prospect to the smaller details about your product, service, expertise, etc. Showing how your existing clients have fared and benefited from your service is key here.

Focus your content on the unique selling proposition of your products. What elements of your product are industry-leading? What features are innovative and beneficial to your clients? How seamless is the implementation or on-boarding?

Tactics:

  • Demo email
  • Customer articles
  • Customer blog posts
  • Testimonials
  • Dashboard or product demos
  • Product Webinars
  • (B2C) add to cart

Buyer’s journey stage 4: Decision

Decision

“We have decided to purchase your product.”

Your prospect wishes to purchase your product after they saw how your product and service stands out above the competition. They wish to establish legitimate contact with a sales representative or purchase your product.

Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20%. (HubSpot)

In B2C or eCommerce, the decision stage ends at checkout and payment. In B2B, the decision stage does not mean you are necessarily home free. Your sales representatives are still responsible for closing the sale and the channels in which you facilitate this can be important. [/vc_column_text]

Tactics:

  • “Request a demo” call to actions on product pages or emails
  • General contact forms on product pages or emails
  • Warm calls
  • Site visits
  • (eCom) Checkout

Conclusion: don’t panic, keep it organic.

Understand the buyer’s journey, print it out and hang it in your office. Keep in mind that a prospect can jump backward and forward sporadically throughout the entire journey as their business objectives change. The key thing to remember is that you remain neutral when needed, and drip your sell assets slowly.

When you approach a specific campaign, reverse engineer the types of content for each stage by thinking about how the prospect will receive it at that stage.

Gaining client and customer data through surveys or your sales representatives is a great way to define what content brought them to you. Don’t be hesitant to ask your customers what content was effective in your buyer’s journey. What won them over? Be creative

Thanks for reading!

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5 thoughts on “The Hitchhikers Guide to a Buyer’s Journey

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