People are always looking for a secret formula for success in marketing. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula, but the closest concept to one is the “Buyer’s Journey.” Part psychology, part common sense, the Buyer’s Journey is the identification of the stages of the thought process of a buyer from realizing a need to getting a solution to that need and sometimes beyond that.
Why the Buyer’s Journey is Important
Understanding the stages of the Buyer’s Journey and using this knowledge in your marketing and day-to-day operations of your business will make it easier to:
- engage individuals just getting to know about your business and keep them engaged throughout the buying process;
- ensure they get the information needed at the right point of the buying process;
- know when to “sell” at a point when the person is ready to make a decision;
- keep the customer engaged after purchase to maintain loyalty and get referrals.
The Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
There are different names for the stages of the Buyer’s Journey, but it is important that you determine how these are relevant to your business so that you will use them consistently in marketing and other communications and points of contact with prospects and clients.
The main three stages of the Buyer’s Journey
- Awareness – Prospect realizes that an Objective or Challenge exists and researches and gathers information to clearly identify the Objective or Challenge more specifically and accurately.
- Common Types of Content: ebooks, white papers, case studies, editorial
- Consideration – Prospect has clearly identified the Objective or Challenge and researches and gathers information to identify possible Solutions.
- Common Types of Content: videos, webinars, podscasts, comparisons, case studies, infographics, expert guides
- Decision – Prospect reviews the details of the identified Solutions (including price and value) and selects a Solution and a Provider. (For this stage, I picture the user with a credit card in her hand!)
- Common Types of Content: Product/Vendor Comparisons, Demos, Case Studies, Testimonials, Demos
I add two more stages to ensure customer loyalty and maximize referrals:
- Post-Purchase – Buyer gathers information on getting the most out of the purchase and any required steps to take.
- Common Types of Content: Guides, manuals, “how-to,” email follow-ups, requests to connect on social channels, review/referral requests, potential up-sell details, “Rewards Club.”
- Re-Purchase – Buyer becomes Prospect again for ongoing sales, whether relevant to the initial purchase or a new Objective or Challenge.
- Common Types of Content: email follow-ups, special offers for returning customers, outreach at milestones (anniversaries, etc.), updates on updated or new Solutions that may be of interest, and other relevant offerings.
How to Use the Stages of the Buyer’s Journey in your Digital Marketing
- The design and layout of your website, social media profiles, and email templates (including your day-to-day emails) should reflect and take into consideration the stages of the Buyer’s Journey.
- In your marketing campaigns, develop content for each stage or the specific stage relevant to the campaign. Use language, as well as carefully planned layout and navigation, to move the buyer forward through the stages. Leave the more “salesy” language for the Decision Stage. In the Decision Stage, don’t distract from making the purchase with irrelevant or wordy information that may be better in the Consideration Stage..
- The most effective email marketing campaigns follow the stages either based on actions taken by the buyer or a logical timeframe for the stages. Automated email marketing campaigns can be highly successful and save you time.
- Ensure your CRM, mailing list or other application used to track leads and customers has a way to indicate the stage so that you can deliver content and communicate most effectively.
Using the Stages of the Buyer’s Journey to Improve the ROI of Pay Per Click Ads
In Search Engine Optimization (SEO), when determining which key phrases to target, we consider the “intent” of the user by how the search is formed. A user that searches “buy a Tesla” appears to be intent on making the transaction to buy a Tesla (transactional intent) versus a user that searches on “types of electric cars” who appears to only be researching (informational intent). For SEO, you must ensure that the language on the page uses the phrase you are targeting. In many cases, the intent is in line with the stages of the buyer journey.
This is even more important if you use Pay Per Click advertising (PPC). You may choose to bid on phrases with informational intent if you are looking to build leads, but if you are looking to make sales and have a strong ROI for your campaigns, bid only on phrases with transactional intent; thereby targeting users that are in the Decision stage of the Buyer’s Journey.
Get started Using the Buyer’s Journey in your Digital Marketing
- Determine the Stages of the Buyer’s Journey and how they are relevant to your business.
- Review all the aspects of your digital marketing and ensure that they are relevant to and making the most of these stages.
- Enter your details below to get a link to our tool, Develop Content Ideas for The Buyer’s Journey.