We all know it’s important to understand your potential customers. How they think, the answers they seek, and the path they tend to take to find a solution. Because audiences can vary widely based on industry, understanding your buyer’s persona is the start of developing the buyer’s journey. Only by understanding their unique process, becoming aware of their problem, considering solutions, and deciding on the right solution can we create a truly effective inbound strategy that best supports our buyers’ journey.
Your buyer’s journey can look different depending on your industry, business model, product, pricing, and audience. Some B2C customers, for example, spend very little time in the consideration stage. On the contrary, B2B customers tend to require far more nurturing, engagement, and relationship development before a purchase is made. It all depends on your business. Regardless, your approach to creating your buyer’s journey should be the same. That all begins with understanding your buyer persona and developing each buyer’s journey stage around that intent. Let’s explore the different stages in the buyer’s journey!
Let’s start with the first stage, the awareness stage. The awareness stage is when your prospect is experiencing a problem or opportunity. They’re doing research to more clearly understand and name their problem. The awareness stage does not mean that they are aware of your business. At this point, they are just aware that they have a problem. If your prospect was to walk into a store or use a search engine now, they’re using terms like “troubleshoot”, “issue”, “resolve”, “risks”, “upgrade”, “improve”, “optimise”, or “prevent”.
Other than defining their challenge or opportunity, your prospect is also deciding whether or not this should be their priority. In order to fully understand the awareness stage for your buyer, ask yourself the following questions:
How do buyers describe their goals and challenges?
How do buyers educate themselves on these goals or challenges?
What are the consequences of inaction by the buyer?
Are there common misconceptions buyers have about addressing the goal or challenge?
How do buyers decide whether the goal or challenge should be a priority?
The terms that you insert are the phrases or keywords that your buyer persona would use to describe the awareness stage. This allows your brand to establish yourself as a reliable source of information to the buyer, and allows you to immediately follow up with information that will aid them.
The consideration stage is arguably the most critical point in the buyer’s journey, as this is where the prospect starts eliminating solutions that aren’t a good fit. At the consideration stage, your prospect has now clearly defined their problem or opportunity. They’re committed to researching and understanding all available approaches or methods to solving it. This isn’t where they are considering your business. They’re considering the different solutions they have to solve their problem. Blogs are a great way to attract attention to your website, but they lack the personal engagement side of marketing and sales that nurture relationships. This kind of engagement is necessary, especially for people at this point of the buyer’s journey. At this stage, your prospect uses solution terms like “provider”, “service”, “supplier”, “tool”, “device”, “software”, “solution”.
As buyers evaluate the different approaches or methods available to pursue the goal or solve their problem, ask yourself:
How do buyers educate themselves on the various categories?
What categories of solutions do buyers investigate?
How do buyers perceive the pros and cons of each category?
How do buyers decide which category is right for them?
At this point, you aren’t inserting your company name yet. But you might be inserting terms that you use to describe the solutions that you provide. This research will help your buyer decide on their solution and move into the decision stage!
The decision stage is where your prospect has decided on their solution strategy, method, or approach. This is where they might be compiling a list of all available vendors and products for their solution. At this point, they’re researching to whittle down the list and ultimately make a final purchase decision. They might decide on the one that best meets their needs. Or they might go with the solution they find first. Here, they’re using relevant terms like “compare”, “versus”, ”comparison”, “pros and cons”, “benchmarks”, “review”, or “test”.
Questions you should ask yourself to define the decision stage:
What criteria do buyers use to evaluate the available offers?
When buyers investigate your company’s offering, what do they like about it compared to alternatives?
What concerns do they have with your offering?
Who needs to be involved in the decision?
For each person involved, how does their perspective on the decision differ?
Do buyers have expectations around trying the offering before they purchase it?
Outside of purchasing, do buyers need to make additional preparations such as implementation plans or training strategies?
Content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
A few things to note – prospects, sites visitors or leads might interact with you for the first time in any of the buyer’s journey stages. But you need to be prepared for each and every stage. So by taking the time to empathise with your buyer and thinking about what they need, you increase your chances of securing customers who are the right fit for your business. This will translate into a higher retention rate, as well as loyal customers. If the buyer’s journey is a critical part of building out your content strategy, you might be now asking yourself, what content is appropriate in each stage of the buyer’s journey?
It all comes down to what your content is about and how it’s positioned. Is your content focused on the problem your buyer persona is experiencing? Well, that would be an awareness stage piece of content.
If your content is more about the solution to a problem, then it would be a consideration stage piece of content.
And as for the decision stage, that’s when you begin to create content about your product or service.
As you can see, you want to be creating content for all of the different stages of the buyer’s journey. You can determine where your piece of content fits into the buyer’s journey based on the topic, not the format. If you don’t have an intimate understanding of your buyers, conduct a few interviews with customers, prospects, and other sales people at your company to get a sense of the buying journey.
Do this and develop a buyer’s journey, and this process will have the greatest impact on your customer relationships, fuelling your inbound strategy, and helping your business to grow!