Online shoppers typically take their time before hitting the “buy” button in today’s digital landscape. Consumers want to research and find the best solution to their problems with many available options. The time before making a final purchase can be surprisingly long: anywhere from 5 minutes up to a year or more! This process is referred to in digital marketing as the buyer’s journey.
In this article, we’ll map out the buyer’s journey from beginning to end, with tips on engaging and convincing your customers in every stage.
Why is the Buyer Journey Important to Know?
Long before ever making a final purchase, your potential customer starts by seeking a solution to the problem they have. They are either looking for answers to a question or comparing your product or service with a handful of competitors. Ultimately, they will choose the company that impresses and helps them the most. Many digital marketers fall into the trap of only marketing to people who are ready to make a purchase. In reality, every stage of the buyer’s journey requires distinctly different marketing strategies and attention.
By being in the right place at the right time, your customers will come to you naturally – which is the beauty of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing provides value for the buyer at every point of the buyer’s journey. Understanding where your buyer is in their journey can help you provide the information that will be of the most value to them.
The 3 Stages of the Buyer Journey
The buyer’s journey is broken down into three stages, each describing the state the buyer is in as they progress toward making a purchase. These are known as the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage.
In this stage of the buyer’s journey, the buyer has become aware that they have a problem. They’re uncomfortable with the situation, and they want to find a solution. They’re looking for information to better diagnose the issue’s root and how to solve it.
An example of a Google search query by someone in the awareness stage is “Why is my dog being destructive?”
At this stage, the buyer has figured out their exact problem (ideally because of your help). They’re now determined to find out all the different ways they could solve their problem by conducting careful research on the topic.
An example of a consideration stage Google search query is “How do you keep your dog mentally stimulated?”
In this final stage, the buyer has deciphered how they can solve their problem. They start a list of the companies that provide that solution, narrow their selection, and make their final purchase decision.
An example of a decision stage Google search query is “Where can I buy a chew toy for my dog?” or “Best dog chew toys”
Providing Value At Each Stage
How do you ensure that you give value to your potential customer at every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey?
By offering quality content that’s tailored to each stage. When your content is aligned with the buyer’s searches during their journey, you’ll position your company as the go-to resource on the matter and as the product as the best solution to their problem.
Targeting Tips for Each Stage
It is important to craft your strategy around where your prospect is in the buyer journey. Here are some tips you can apply to each stage when marketing.
In the first stage of the buyer’s journey, the buyer will seek information on their problem. They’ll most likely conduct their search through a Google search. Your goal is to be one of the top results for their Google search. You can achieve this through search engine optimization or ‘SEO.’ In the awareness stage, the best type of content to offer the buyer is long-form informational content. Some examples are:
- Blog posts
- Informational eBooks
- Educational webinars
- How-to videos
Let’s use the example of the buyer having an issue with their dog being destructive. When the buyer types in a Google search for “why is my dog being destructive,” a blog post on your website might come up as one of the top results for those SEO keywords.
When the buyer reads through your blog posts and finds the information genuinely helpful, you position your brand as a trustworthy resource they can turn to for help. This is an ideal way to open a relationship with the buyer that will be the start of something valuable to you both.
Now that the buyer has researched their problem and clarified what it is, they will begin to search for solutions to that problem. They’ll start to weigh up possible solutions by what will have the most effective results for the best price.
Your goal in the consideration stage is to stand out from the competition as the perfect solution to their problem. To do this, you should provide high-value content showing the buyer your brand is trustworthy and reputable. Some examples of content for this stage are:
- Helpful tools like calculators or price quotes
- PDF brochures about your product
- Expert guides
This stage would look like this for the destructive dog’s owner. The buyer will now be researching “how to keep a dog mentally stimulated,” With the help of SEO, they’ll come across a blog post, infographic, or eBook guide on seven ways they can achieve this. Of course, your product or service will be one of those seven ways.
Now it’s the final stretch – the buyer is ready to make a purchase. By this stage, your brand has consistently made a good impression on the buyer, so you’ll be on their shortlist of their prospects. Your goal in the decision stage is to show them clearly why you’re the best choice. Some examples of content to offer in this stage are:
- Product reviews
- Incentives like a free item
- Product demos
- FAQs / Testimonials
- Discount Coupons
Now that the dog owner is ready to buy a chew toy for their pup, they find an exceptional deal advertised on your website that gives them a second toy for free. This tips the scale in your favor, and the buyer chooses to buy the product from your company.
Do You Understand The Buyer Journey?
Developing content for each stage of your buyer’s journey puts you at an advantage over your competition. By offering value at every touchpoint, your brand will stand out as an obvious choice among the competition – and you’ll see your conversions skyrocket. A proper content marketing strategy is the key to seeing success!