Imagine receiving an invite to the party of the century, and being at a loss of what to wear. Immediately you take your car to the mall and begin to wander from store to store, each competing for your patronage. The latest fashion trends have pointed you to the direction of denim, but each store has their own brand personality, ambiance, prices, and comprehensive styles, so now you have to evaluate as many options as possible before you make your purchasing decision. This is called the Buyer’s Journey, and this shopper’s process is exponentially moving toward an online platform as many stores are mobilizing. But unlike the typical suburban mall, the internet has unlimited shopping options; Therefore in order to capitalize on the Buyer's Journey, you must know who your consumer is, and what stage they are in their decision process, as the proper content and communication can turn a lead into a customer.
The buyer’s journey is far more intricate than a simple transaction. There are three stages of research which the consumer goes through before making a purchase; The Awareness Stage, The Consideration Stage, and the Decision Stage. Presenting the right informational and visual content to the consumer, and knowing how to communicate to your audience is what will keep you in the competitive realm when they are browsing among similar products or services. Of course, the buyer’s journey from business to business or business to consumer is drastically different – from the tone of voice to content presented on the website. Like Cinderella’s glass heel, the content strategy is unique to each individual business, and will not universally fit every company inbound marketing initiatives.
Before the potential customer comes across your company, they first have to acknowledge a problem or challenge they are facing. This is the awareness stage, it’s where a company has an opportunity to present their information – if they know what their consumer is looking for. This can be strategically done through SEO and Google Adwords with keywords relevant to your product. Think of what the consumer would type into Google: “Comfortable Jeans for Women” if you’re a B2C business, or “Eco-Friendly Denim Production” if you’re a B2B.
- The awareness stage is where the customer tries to find a solution for a problem.
- Businesses are more likely to be aware they have a problem, so their searches can be more specific as a casual consumer takes on a less specific, “just browsing” approach.
After the customer is aware they have a problem, they transition to the Consideration Stage, or as I call it, The Investigation Stage. They have narrowed down to their question or concern to a single scope of focus, and are researching the internet for various vendors. The content you present on your interface heavily indicates how legitimately the consumer will pursue your company. Having an efficient and navigable UX will increase the chances of retaining the attention of the customer long enough for them to find the content they’re looking for.
Knowing the demographics of your target market frames your scope of communication.
- If the consumer is a millennial female looking for jeans, an E-Book isn’t a valuable source in the buyer’s journey. Instead, focus on blogs which discuss inspirational fashion trends, highlight customers reviews, and bring the attention of credible sources endorsing your product in order to build trust.
- Make sure you emphasize why your product solves the consumer's problem. For example, highlight that these jeans are affordable, comfortable, and stylish. Explain why you're better than your competitor.
Businesses, on the other hand, require more convincing than an average consumer, as a large and uninformed transaction may pose as a financial risk.
- Landing pages leading to product trials and e-books with significant insider information are essential in the conversion process for companies. The form should contain questions relevant to the sales representative, including the consumer’s email, so they would know how to approach the business.
- The download should hold valuable consumer information or advise which would increase the reader's trust in your company.
- Once the potential client has filled out a landing page, the workflow email should come into play as to acknowledge their interest in your product, and to stay in contact with the user in the future.
Finally, the decision stage is where the lead has completed their research process and is ready to convert into a customer. Although the company has won the attention and curiosity of the client, the journey doesn’t necessarily end there. Whether the company is b2b or b2c, customers are always looking for the next best thing, so it is up to the company to remain front and center of their attention.
- The company should send out strategic emails, highlighting promotions, newsletters, and relevant customer information pertaining to their interests as to maintain a constant point of contact.
- Being aware of company trends, and what competitors are doing is key to staying progressive and competitive and will continue retaining the attention of your customers.
The Buyer’s Journey is more than a marketing strategy; it gains customer loyalty because it solves a problem instead of framing an impersonal transaction. The proper content essentially nurtures strangers into believers. Knowing your customers' purchasing intent means you know your customer’s interests, which can dramatically increase sales. Using inbound marketing to cultivate the Buyer’s Journey simplifies and presents valuable information relevant to what the company needs to know when marketing to a customer. In other words, everything is under one hub- it allows the client to frame their brand persona, and create individual content that pertains to which stage the consumer is in their journey. In all, we use inbound marketing to attract the attention of the buyer, strategically present information to them, and continuously engage with the consumers on social platforms including email, in one simple portal.