Understanding the various stages of your buyer’s journey is crucial for developing an effective marketing strategy, regardless of whether you’re involved in B2B or B2C sales. Prior to making a purchase, your prospective customers undertake a series of steps or stages that help them determine who they should buy from.
That journey could begin with identifying that they have a problem or could start with them actively seeking a solution to their problem. It will involve them evaluating their options and ultimately deciding who to trust and what to buy.
Understanding your buyer’s journey and having effective targeted marketing for every stage is vital for your business to stay ahead of the game.
It’s All About the Customer
To win a sale, you now need to understand and be sympathetic to the problems your buyers are facing. Stand in their shoes, so to speak, and help lead them to the realisation that your product or service is the best solution to that problem—the Problem-Solution Formula.
By understanding this process on a more personal level, you can make sure that you communicate on the right platform, at the right time, and with the right message.
Before we look at that in more detail, let’s first take a more in-depth look at the steps taken on the buyer’s journey to better understand how to utilise this process in our marketing effectiveness.
What is the Buyer’s Journey?
Technology has sped up this journey in some instances, especially regarding B2C sales. Still, for the most part, the buyer’s journey has five stages. Remember, your buyer’s journey and connection with your business doesn’t finish once they purchase from you. On the contrary. Their experience with your products or services will help them to decide if they want to purchase from you again and, indeed, if they would like to recommend you to others.
What Is The Awareness Stage Of The Buyer’s Journey?
This is where your buyer begins. Your buyer could find themselves in a couple of different scenarios at this stage of their journey. They may be in the initial stages of discovering a problem they cannot solve independently. They may be looking into new opportunities for their business and need to outsource. They may have set new goals that need outside resources to be completed. At this stage, they will begin their journey and start to research topics and solutions that will help them with their ‘problem’.
What Is The Evaluation Stage Of The Buyer’s Journey?
Once the buyer has identified they have a problem and has fully committed to solving that problem, they find themselves in the evaluation stage. Here they may have found you – and your competitors – online, and are evaluating their options. Which solution will be best for them? Which company can get them closer to their goals, perhaps in the shortest time? Although they are getting closer to making their final purchase decision, they are still looking for alternatives.
What Is The Decision Stage Of The Buyer’s Journey?
This is the stage where you want your buyers to choose your products and services. There is still some consideration before they make the final decision, however, they will have narrowed their choices and will be looking at the finer details to help them finalise their selection.
What Is The Retention Stage Of The Buyer’s Journey?
YES! Your business got the purchase, but that doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, the final stage of your buyer’s interaction with your company. If they are happy with their purchase, you should look to encourage further investments. If they are unhappy with their purchase, address this problem and offer another solution that suits their needs better.
What Is The Recommendation Stage Of The Buyer’s Journey?
Suppose the buyer is satisfied with their purchase, perhaps brought from you again, and is now a loyal customer. In that case, they may feel comfortable recommending your business to others. This is invaluable marketing and speaks volumes to other buyers just starting their journey.
Effective Marketing Tactics for the Buyer’s Journey
Now that we understand our buyers’ journey, how do we get in front of them at the right time, place, and with the right message?
Let’s look at the buyer’s journey again from a marketing activity perspective to identify how to do just that.
Just as your buyers have more access to information, you as a business have more access to tools with which to connect with your buyers at the various stages of their journey.
Here are a few ideas you can incorporate into your marketing strategy:
Your buyer is at the beginning of their journey, and you need to get on their radar – you may even be the one who highlights to them that they have a problem that needs solving in the first place. So how can we reach them at this stage:
- Social Media – we all scroll (more than we like to admit 😉) on social media – many times without a specific purpose, but other times to find detailed information about products, hints & tips or online reviews. This could be the first touchpoint for you and your buyer.
- Advertising – Contact people you think will be interested in your products or services with tailored advertising. This is where knowing who your ideal buyer is, is essential.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – make sure your online content is optimised for people searching for solutions your business provides.
- Retargeting – remind visitors to your website that you’re still there and ready to help them.
- PR & Radio – cast your net wider by getting your business’ message out in press releases and radio broadcasts.
Your buyer is looking more closely at you and your business. Here are some of the things they may be looking for:
- An easy-to-use website where they can quickly find the answers they need.
- Testimonials from previous customers about your product or service
- They may even find you through a blog on your website that discusses their issues and how to solve them.
- Or, perhaps they might seek you out “in real life” through your store or stand at a trade show or event.
This is the final stage before they purchase, so you want to make sure that things run as smoothly as possible at this stage:
- Again, ensure your website is easy to navigate and they have a good experience.
- Make sure your pricing is transparent with no hidden charges.
- Once an item is purchased, ensure your packaging is on brand, and your delivery is on time.
- If your buyer has any follow-up questions or concerns after purchasing, make sure they can contact someone in your organisation as quickly as possible
Keep your buyers interested in you and your products. Ensure they remain loyal customers by utilising the following:
- Rewards Schemes
- Exclusive newsletters for customers only
- Personalised emails that check in on how they are doing
- Cross-sell and up-sell additional products that may further assist them
Even with the best of intentions, we can all forget to write that review we promised, or we can overthink time has passed. Try using some incentives to help your buyer want to promote and recommend your products:
- Referral Programmes
- Loyalty Discounts
Tracking your ‘Path to Purchase
Once you have established clear and successful touchpoints, it’s important to measure their performance to ensure they remain successful. As the marketing landscape changes, so too will your tactics and messaging. This could depend on the time of year, the purchasing stage your buyer is at or the relevance of your messaging as time passes. Remember that each buyer’s journey is different, and so is the time they spend on it.
Tracking your buyer’s path to purchase will also help you to see where you may have gaps in your communication with your buyer. It will also give you insights into what’s working well – what web pages are they visiting most, are they opening your emails, and have they contacted you about your product or service? Why did or didn’t they purchase it?
I hope this article has given you a better insight into the various stages of the buyer’s journey and has helped to highlight how we as businesses need to target each step differently. If you’d like to discuss your buyer’s journey in more detail or some of the tactics I have discussed here, please get in touch. I’d love to chat with you!