As a marketing manager, a key function is to engage your customers, and establish a successful relationship for your brand with them. A good way to understand what they're looking for, and what they want from you and your brand, is to map out the different stages of the ‘Buyer’s Journey’.
Charting out the customer’s behaviour and researching the internal andexternal factors that influence their actions can really help you plan your marketing strategy.
But what motivates a sale? And how can you help in facilitating the sale? By mapping the buyer's journey, you’re aiming to understand this process - and put it to use.
What is the buyer’s journey?
As the internet, social media, ever-changing analytics, and new mobile devices upend the work of marketing, it has had a definitive impact on customer behaviour. Since we greatly rely on the internet to reach our target audience, we need to recognise that the need for a number of marketing touch points with our audience has grown exponentially.
With all of these touchpoints to cover, there has never been a great need for a framework to list the various factors that influence a buyer’s actions. The framework for mapping this process is known as the ‘buyer’s journey’ or ‘customer’s journey’. The process of assessing what information should reach a potential customer at what time, the level of information they need and through which channels, can be deduced by studying what happens when a buyer needs an answer to a problem.
Simply put, mapping the buyer’s journey is a list of questions that you must answer, which give a solution to any scenario that the buyer may face along their journey towards buying from you. If the questions are not answered well enough, then you could see the buyer's journey stall or even come to an end.
Understanding the buyer’s journey
Mapping the buyer’s journey in sync with the sales funnel will help you create a strategy that's in tune with what your potential customers want. It also helps in determining the right social channels - where those potential customers are reached. In broad terms, the journey can be charted like this:
The four main stages involved in creating the buyer’s journey
|Awareness Stage||The buyer at this stage has become aware of his/her needs||Answer their queries – Blogging, social media content. Getting as much as information out there!|
|Consideration Stage||Here, the needs of the buyer are defined & the buyer is committed to take action.||Providing product/service information in detail, to give various options & benefits listed out.Creating a trusted bond!|
|Decision Stage||The buyer has decided on a solution and is looking to move forward.||Lead is created for sales or a consultation leading to a sale.|
|Research Stage||Keeping into contact with the buyer and making a regular customer.||Social media, Emails targeting the buyer to share their views about the product/ service.|
Customising the buyer’s journey
Early on the buyer’s journey, your customers are not necessarily aware that they need a solution to a problem they may have. Here, you introduce the solution that you have to offer, for example: a new diet, which fits comfortably within their lifestyle, or a table fan during the heat of summer. This creates the awareness within the customer’s mind that a solution exists for what they might possibly need.
The next stage, the consideration stage, is where the customer looks at what products are available in the market and compares his options. For this stage, you need to provide suitable information on the various products or service you have on offer, highlighting the uniqueness and benefits to the customer. Promoting ‘what makes your solution unique’ gives the customer a reason to choose your solution over your competitors' - for example: a money back guarantee, free shipping or annual warranty etc.
In the third stage – the decision stage – it is quite important to build the customer's trust, to proceed along the journey. You might want to provide information such as case studies, testimonials, reviews, recommendations and blogs. Customers today tend to do their own research and comparisons before deciding upon which path to take, so it’s paramount that these are part of the information package you make available to them.
The final research stage is to gather information post-sales and keep in touch with the customer, with a view to retaining the customer as a regular shopper. Example – sending a small questionnaire to learn what the buyer thought about the sale. A written review or a quick phone review rating the service provided could also help you in a future case study, for example.
So how do you make the best use of these resources to promote your company’s message to the customer?
Most of the sales process today happens without a salesperson ever being involved. Customers have access to a vast array of resources to help them reach a decision, such as review sites, blogs, e-books, downloadable whitepapers, videos and social media sites. Statistics say that the buying process is now two-thirds online, one-third sales, which means a massive 67% of the buying process takes place digitally (source: Sirius Decisions).
During the buyer’s journey it is crucial that you have a well-defined content strategy, and a clear message reaching the customer at each stage, which helps build credibility and deepen the trust with your customers. The secret recipe for your perfect marketing strategy is when you’ve got your content strategy and your sales funnel in tune with your buyer’s journey. You'll be providing the right type of information at the right time, so that the customer is engaged with what is on offer and would like to learn more.
Build out your journey based on your industry
You can map your buyer’s journey according to your business; it just works slightly differently for a B2B process to a B2C process. The buyer’s journey will always reflect certain industry norms, to which you can add your own business's values, creating a personalised plan.
Ultimately, though – ‘Content is King, Content is Queen’- from the initial awareness to the final research stage your content should addresses every query, roadblock or obstacle a buyer might possibly face. Developing relevant, timely content can help in structuring informative and effective communications for your buyer's journey.
At the end of the day, the purchase decision rests in your buyer's hands. But your aim is to cultivate leads by providing fresh, relevant and interesting content for your would-be customers - ideally, well enough to result in a loyal customer!
If you would like to speak to us on how to target your customers, contact us on 01202 788333.