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Understanding the Buyer’s Journey: The Decision Stage

It’s time to wrap up our mini blog series on understanding the buyer’s journey with the final — and arguably the most exciting — stage of the buyer’s journey: the decision stage.

Over the past few months we’ve covered the awareness stage and the consideration stage: the questions, roadblocks, and content needs that your buyer is experiencing in these stages, and what you, as the marketer, can do to help them and effectively move them on to the next stage.

Now it’s time to talk about how you can help your buyer as they make a final decision and close the deal — and how you can continue to enhance their experience beyond the point of purchase. Let’s break down the three final phases of the buyer’s journey.

The Selection Phase

Buyer’s situation: Great news! Your potential buyer has secured the support of upper management, and they’re ready to select a vendor and make a purchase. At this point, they’ll start thinking about the full spectrum of their customer experience: preparation, implementation, quick start costs, and customer support — the final items that will determine which solution best fits their needs and budget.

How you can help: You know how we’ve advised you to keep your content as vendor-neutral and as thought leadership-focused as possible up until now? Well, this is the moment to crush your competition: it’s finally time to get brand-specific with your content and prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that your solution is the best one for the job. So what kind of content are buyers looking for at this stage? 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.

The Purchase Phase

Buyer’s situation: 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 even once your buyer has made the purchase, it doesn’t mean their work is over. Your buyer needs to see positive results from their investment — some may even be responsible for proving to upper management that their investment has paid off. So 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.

How you can help: Keep in mind that your content shouldn’t just focus on prospective buyers. Consider creating a few drip nurturing programs for your current customers, like a starter-kit drip walking them through basic best practices of major features as they implement, or a drip with ‘pro tips’ on the more advanced features of your product and shortcuts 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.

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

The Evangelization Phase

Buyer’s situation: That’s right—the buyer’s journey doesn’t end once they’ve made a purchase, and they shouldn’t fall off your radar either. Evangelization is a phase 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.

How you can help: 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. Proactively work on building a relationship with your customer, reach out to ask for feedback regularly, and make sure they feel like they are a driving force behind improving the product to better fit their needs. Even if this added effort initially seems time-consuming or unnecessary, don’t forget that happy, satisfied, and informed customers are one of the best marketing investments that companies can make.

So there you have it: the complete buyer’s journey, with tips and best practices on how marketers can facilitate this journey. Want to see a more comprehensive and visual layout of the buyer’s journey? Check out our interactive infographic, Understanding the Buyer’s Journey, for more information and some great additional resources.

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