What is the buyer’s journey?
A buyer’s journey is the process a buyer goes through, which eventually leads to a purchase. Each customer is unique and has a different reason for why they purchase a product or a service, but a majority of them go through a similar journey.
For B2B teams, the buyer’s journey can be a long,drawn-out process, and often buyers complete 50% to 70% of the journey before they get in touch with a vendor.
Does this mean that you, as a brand or a company, don’t have control over the majority of your buyer’s journey? No, that’s not true at all. Even if a big part of the buyer’s journey happens before they contact you, it’s possible to influence them from the start of the process and lead them towards the end where, if everything goes well, they will convert into a sale.
This is why it’s very crucial that you fully grasp this journey and what goes on in each stage to understand your customers – why they buy and how to make them buy
3 Stages of the Buyer’s Journey.
Like any process, a buyer’s journey is composed of steps or stages. These stages - awareness, consideration, and decision - represent the different mindsets of your buyers that affect how they buy and what they buy in a big way. Let’s discuss each of these stages below:
Sometimes, buyers are not aware of their needs, until they see a product or a service that addresses a particular problem. Other times, they identify symptoms but haven’t yet identified the underlying problem. Yet other times, they’ve zeroed in on their problem, but aren’t aware of the solution.
We can say that all these scenarios demonstrate the buyer’s “unawareness”. At this stage, your job is to make them aware: they have a need, this is what they need, and you have what they need.
The awareness stage is where you create the first impression, and it’s important that it leaves a positive impact on your buyer so they will remember you throughout the buyer’s journey. When you create awareness, you shouldn’t focus on your product, service, or brand. Instead, emphasize the challenges that they are experiencing and how you can help them.
Once the buyer becomes aware of their problem, they enter the next stage of the journey in which they explore and research -- a lot. In the consideration stage, as high as 80% of the buyers will turn to Google. It goes without saying that your website should be searchable, if not ranking high on the search results page, and that you have a strong online presence.
They will be looking at things like a list of features or services, white papers, case studies, customer reviews, pricing and even blog articles. They will consume as much information as they can about your brand and compare you with others that offer similar solutions. What you put out on the internet should always answer the questions that your potential customers may be asking. For example, if you know that they will compare you with another company, it would be good to have that comparison table on your website, highlighting your strengths and the things that the other company doesn’t have.
It would also help tremendously if you know exactly what they want to know. You can do this by analyzing how they interact with your brand and understanding their ‘pageviewing’ behavior on your website and other content channels. Once you know what they are most interested in, you can now place the right content, at the right time, where they will most like look for it.
Demos and free trials are also a great way for the buyer to get to know your product better and for you to convert them from an unknown visitor to an active prospect.
Just remember that it’s too early to make a sales pitch at this stage so your intention should always be to help, to provide useful information, to establish your brand or company credibility, and to instill trust in your potential customers.
By the time they reach the decision stage, it’s likely the buyer has narrowed down their choices to a few vendors. They already know almost everything they need to know about each brand and have carefully weighed the pros and cons for each company. This is where your positive brand reputation should standout.
What will help you secure the sale in this stage is to strengthen the good points you’ve already established in the first two stages. Focus on the case studies and ROI reports that resonate well with the buyer and highlight testimonials of existing clients’ that belong to the same industry.
Another thing to consider is to make sure that you have removed all the barriers that will block the buyer from making the purchase. Ensure that the process of purchasing is as frictionless as it can be. Buyers can also get cold feet, especially if it’s a substantial investment, so reassure them by creating a clear and detailed summary of what they’re getting in return.
How to Create a Buyer’s Journey Using Marketing Automation?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, a B2B’s buyer’s journey is often a long process and it usually starts before you even know about it. However, by using marketing automation you can map out your buyer’s journey and create touchpoints to help you track where they are and connect the right information to their current need at the right time.
Here are a few examples of how you can build your buyer’s journey with marketing automation:
Create your buyer persona. Identify who are your potential buyers based on their personal attributes, buying behaviors, preferred channels, etc. What are their pain points? What are the challenges they are facing? What will make them react to stimuli?
Build a complete funnel for each significant persona-pain point combination. The funnel should focus on the problem, how the persona feels about it and how you can help.
Promote these funnels through different channels: social media, online ads, guest blogs, webinars, etc. Just remember that you should promote the right content on the right channel based on the persona you are targeting.
Tag each funnel so you can track where your leads are coming from. In some marketing automation systems, this means creating and assigning a campaign to each funnel.
You can also blog about your persona’s pain points. Anticipate the questions they might ask and answer these questions in your post. All blog posts should at least have a subscription form so readers who are interested to know more can sign up.
To maximize your awareness campaign, you can serve retargeting ads to those who engaged with your content but didn’t take any action on your website. It’s one way of keeping your brand on top of their minds and bringing them back to your website with the intention of converting them into leads eventually.
Make sure that your website is complete with all essential information about your product or service, as well are your company or brand. All the pages should be optimized for the right keywords to give them a good chance of appearing in the search results once the buyer starts their research.
When thinking about topics to write, put yourself in the shoes of your buyer. What information are they looking for? What keywords are they using? Where are they in their research process? Try to think further ahead and ask questions that they are not yet asking but will probably be interesting to them. On the flip side, you can also highlight your brand’s strongest features and think of scenarios where they can provide the best solution to your buyer’s problem.
When you start writing, produce content based on the buyer’s intent and what they want to achieve at the end of the article.
Identity important pages that signal the buyer’s intent and add a lead generation form on all of them. Using your marketing automation system, you can tag these pages so you can use them as triggers for automations or as a way to assign attributes to your leads, making it easier for you to segment and qualify them later.
Furthermore, identify all related pages on your website and use them to create a path of complementary content and make it easy for the buyer to navigate through these pages. Likewise, after they sign up on a form and based on where they signed up from, redirect them to a thank you page that links to a few related pages on your website. The goal is to make the buyer visit multiple pages on your website in order for you to have an insight into what kind of information they are looking for.
You can also reverse-engineer your conversions to have a clearer picture of your buyers’ behavior on your website. Looking at the pages they visited, forms they signed up on, etc. can help you recognize the crucial touchpoints that led to the conversion.
Once you have a better understanding of their interests, put them into dynamic lists and add them to appropriate nurturing sequences based on the information that they are interested in. It’s important to note that their interests can change over time which makes the dynamic features of your marketing automation really useful in putting the right leads to the right segment.
At the appropriate time, encourage them to book a free demo or take a free trial. This will enable you to start a deeper conversation with the buyer and develop a more customized approach to offering your product or service.
Majority of what happens during the decision stage involves personal interactions between the buyer and salesperson– You should keep communication lines open, remove any barriers, uncertainties, and ambiguities, and reinforce your offer to the buyer
More often than not, how the buyer’s journey ends is a cumulative result of all the interactions and experiences the buyer had with your brand through the whole process. What you did during the awareness and consideration stages can and will affect your buyer’s decision.
Even if the decision doesn’t go in your favor now, if the buyer had a positive experience with your brand during their buyer’s journey, they will remember you and can still end up as a customer later. You can set up a reminder to contact them again after 6 months or so, to check how they are doing and to assess if there’s an opportunity to win them this time, especially if their chosen vendor fails to live up to their expectations.
Customizing and automating your buyer’s journey is a lot easier with the right mix of marketing automation solutions, proper implementation, and technical and strategic support. Feel free to contact us if you want to build a buyer’s journey that creates meaningful interactions and overall positive experience for your potential customers.