The buyer’s journey is an important framework for marketing strategy — but what does it look like? How are buyers getting from step one (“Do I have a need?”) to a justified decision? How can marketers harness this knowledge to create campaigns centered around the customer lifecycle?
We’ve all heard this popularly-quoted statistic: that 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales (SiriusDecisions). Marketers and sales reps alike are having to adjust their strategies to cope with these changing consumer practices. But what can they do about the 70% of the buyer’s journey that they’re missing out on? What are buyers doing during this time? And how can a tool like marketing automation help marketers keep pace with their buyers?
The Buyer's Journey
This interactive infographic takes a look at all of the stages of the buyer’s journey, from awareness to decision, to help marketers understand what their buyers are doing, and how they can help their buyers move from one stage of the sales cycle to the next.
At the beginning of the buyer’s journey, your buyer is most likely unaware of two things: your company, and the fact that they have a need. At this stage, buyers are grappling with the following question: “how do I know if I’m interested if I don’t even know you exist?”
As a marketer, your job at this stage is to create awareness of your product, service, or company, so that your buyers begin to understand what you do, and how you can help them. Content should be focused on your buyer’s pain points — not your product or brand.
Make sure that these types of resources are readily available on your website. Consider using a marketing automation tool to begin tracking content downloads and collecting prospect information. While you’re not ready to start your sales pitch, it’s never too soon to start gathering insight into your prospect’s preferences.
Once your buyers begin to realize that they have a particular pain point, the research begins. For 72% of buyers, they’ll turn to Google. The first stage of research begins with general search terms as buyers explore the options at their disposal. Buyers are usually looking for educational material, customer reviews, and testimonials at this stage.
As your buyers get further into their research, they’ll begin to understand which criteria do and do not meet their needs, allowing them to prioritize their questions during product demos. At this point, buyers can begin to eliminate vendors who don’t provide the functionality or service that they’re looking for, narrowing their focus to just a few competing companies.
Educational content like white papers, analyst reports, and industry reports are going to be critical at this stage. Build out a few simple lead nurturing campaigns to gradually deliver this content to prospects who have provided their information via a form completion. Remember to lay off the heavy sales pitch; this stage is all about building trust with your prospect and establishing your company as a credible source of information.
produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. -DemandGen Report Tweet This
Once buyers have their choices narrowed down to just a few companies, they’ll return to the research stage again. According to Pardot’s State of Demand Generation report, 70% of buyers return to Google at least 2-3 times during the course of their research, diving even deeper into each company’s specific offerings to see how they can address their particular pain points.
As your buyers continue their research, you can adjust their scores in your marketing automation tool to further qualify them and keep track of their growing interest.
At some point in their research, buyers will begin doing in-depth comparisons of each vendor that they’re considering. This is the stage where they’ll start reaching out to sales reps for further inquiries or personalized product demos, so that they can really drill down into the features that matter to their teams.
As buyers begin to self-identify, sales reps can use the information that has been collected by their marketing automation tool, like prospect activities and social profile information, to tailor their conversations to each individual buyer.
Before getting too close to decision time, most buyers will have to secure buy-in from upper management. Any purchase that involves a monetary investment is going to require sign-off by c-level execs, so your buyers are going to begin focusing on content that contains information about pricing, ROI, and the bottom line to justify their expenditure.
When creating content for this stage, remember to speak the language of the C-suite. Drop the marketing-friendly phrases (like “creative new approach” and “cutting-edge technology”) and focus on the big picture (think “increase revenue” and “return on investment”).
when they are ready to buy, they’ll find you. -DemandGen Report Tweet This
Once your buyers have the support of upper management, they’re ready to select a vendor and make a purchase. At this point, they’ll start thinking about preparation, implementation, quick start costs, and customer support — the final items that will determine which solution best fits their needs and budget.
It’s finally time to get brand-specific with your content! When it comes to bragging about your particular product, nothing speaks louder than the experience of your current customers. Have a number of case studies and customer testimonials on hand to show prospects what others have achieved by choosing you, and how positive their experience has been.
Finally, after days, weeks, or months of research, your buyers have selected a vendor and are ready to purchase. It’s time for paperwork, set up, and implementation. But just because your buyers have made a purchase, their work isn’t over. Most buyers will continue to research best practices, implementation guides, and more to make sure they’re ready to hit the ground running with their new tool.
Remember that content isn’t just for your prospective buyers. Consider creating a drip nurturing program for your customers with helpful content on the more advanced features of your product and tips for using your product more effectively and efficiently. If you can help them see more value from your product, they’re far more likely to remain your customer when renewal time comes around.
This is the stage that every company hopes their customers enter after making a purchase. If everything goes according to plan, and your buyers are happy with where they’ve ended up at the end of their journey, they can become a valuable marketing resource. Customer evangelists, who can speak positively about your product and the experience they’ve had with your company, are a powerful resource — and one that companies should work hard to cultivate.
Let your brand evangelists become the driving force behind your word-of-mouth marketing. As one of the only forms of marketing that comes from the customer, not the company, word-of-mouth marketing can be especially persuasive. That’s why happy, satisfied, and informed customers are one of the best marketing investments that companies can make.
It is 6-7 times more costly
to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. -White House Office of Consumer Affairs Tweet This