The Three Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
Depending on the product or service that a buyer is considering, there may be many steps on their journey from initial consideration to purchase, but all of these steps can be placed into three primary stages that occur throughout the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and decision.
The initial stage of the buyer’s journey is awareness. At this point, they will have decided they have an opportunity or challenge that they want to pursue. It is identifying these problems or issues that will initiate the need to obtain a product or service. Buyers also will often prioritize the importance of their goals or needs.
It is during this stage that a salesperson will want to connect with the buyer to provide them the information they are looking for and answer the questions that will turn them from a stranger into a lead. In the world of content marketing, this will be the time that the buyer is performing Google searches, interacting with a company’s social media platforms, reading its blogs, and possibly engaging with its website. At this point, content should help customers identify or relate to a problem that they may be having or present them with a goal they want to achieve.
The next stage in the buyer’s journey is known as consideration. At this point, a buyer will take their now clearly identified and defined goal or problem and make a mental commitment to finding the solution or tools that are necessary to achieve the goal. This process of consideration can involve researching available products or solutions to find out more about them.
It is at this point that the salesperson or company representative will answer the question, “Why choose us?” The company will still be identifying visitors and trying to convert them to leads, and this is typically the stage where a lead will become a qualified lead. Content at this stage will often discuss the features and benefits of a company that can make it the best solution for solving the addressed problem or achieving the desired goal. Content can educate and inform, but it should always supply information that the customer will consider valuable for their problem or goal.
The final stage in the buyer’s journey is when the qualified lead becomes a customer of the company. At this point, the buyer has weighed the pros and cons of their options and has reached a final decision on their problem or need.
Now the buyer will be viewing such content as company product pages or information on how to contact the company to complete their purchase. This is the time for salespeople to focus on timely engagement and personalization. Content at this stage should be informative about the cost and process of becoming a customer, as well as answering final questions about the decision process.
How to Use Your Content to Guide Buyers Through Their Journey
Image via Flickr by DigitalRalph
Since each stage of a buyer’s journey is an essential step in converting visitors to return customers, your content should be designed to help transition them from one stage to the next. To complete the buyer’s transition, you will need to utilize your content to help attract them, engage with them, convert them, and in the end, delight them.
To help a buyer start their journey, you will need to use your content to attract them to your company’s website, blogs, or social media sites. An important thing to consider when crafting content for the attraction stage is that you create content that will draw in customers that will be a good fit for your product or service. Content should identify problems or issues that are common concerns for your target customer base and help provide them with valuable content that can give them the answers and help them to solve their problems. The goal at this stage is to turn the searchers into repeat visitors.
This is the stage when you continue to bring your visitors back to your site through social media links, backlinking from blogs, or through sharing content. Through repeated engagement, you are proving to your prospects that you can provide valuable information about the product or service you are offering and can become a trusted source to answer their questions and help solve their problems. Content during this stage should include links to your website and have strong calls to action to entice your readers to engage in more interaction with your site, such as through email sign-ups or following on social media.
During conversion, you will use previous interaction with your site and content to identify qualified leads and turn them into customers. At this point you know the customer has shown interest and realized they are a good fit for your company, so you will want to provide content that provides personal interaction with them to close the deal. This type of content should be much more persuasive, acknowledging the customer’s need or problem and offering your product or service as a solution. This can be done through information forms, email marketing, or content encouraging the customer to contact the company for more information.
An important thing to realize is that your engagement with your customer is not finished when the sale is completed. Companies rely not only on repeat business but also on good reviews and recommendations from happy customers. So even after you have closed the deal, it is important to continue to engage with your customers through content to keep them coming back as well as to encourage them to share with others their positive experience of your company. This type of content can include such things as follow-up email marketing, survey forms, and providing them with content they will find valuable for future purchases.
Use your marketing content to help guide your buyers through every stage of their journey. Help your company bring your buyers from awareness to delight and make them repeat customers for life.