Q. I keep hearing the term “Buyer’s Journey” as I research marketing strategies around the internet. What is a buyer’s journey and what do I need to know about it?
The Buyer’s Journey is one of the foundational principles of inbound marketing, and is based on the quite obvious fact that while not everyone is at the same place in their research, browsing or purchasing decision, they do take a very similar path towards their moment of decision.
The stages of the Buyer’s Journey
The Inbound Methodology Applied to the Buyer’s Journey
Each of these stages of the Buyer’s Journey has a corresponding technique in the inbound methodology. When you map your methodology to the Buyer’s Journey, you provide the right information to your prospect at the right stage in his psychological readiness to interact with your product.
When your prospect is in the attract phase of the buyer’s journey, he is just beginning to realize that he has an itch that needs scratching.
Let’s create a fictional prospect named Al. Al is the owner of a small business and he likes to stay on top of industry trends. He has several newsletters that he reads every so often, when he gets to them, and a few blogs that are delivered to his inbox daily or weekly. Everything is going smoothly in Al’s business right now, and he isn’t aware of any needs.
Until…he opens a blog post from an email sent to him by Joe. Joe manufactures parts for older gizmo machines. For some reason, Joe is passionate about gizmos, and he sends out useful information weekly about the repair, maintenance and acquisition of gizmo machines. When Al reads Joe’s newsletter, he begins to wonder whether all his gizmo machines are, in fact, running properly. Al clicks through several other blogs on Joe’s site and files the info away in the back of his mind.
Walking across the manufacturing floor one day, Al notices one of his original machines out of operation. His foreman describes the problem, and instantly Al remember’s Joe’s blog post describing just this problem. He heads back to his computer and pulls up Joe’s website for some serious reading.
Al is now in the convert stage. He is aware that he has a problem — a broken gizmo machine — and he suspects that Joe has an answer for him. In addition to Joe’s site, Al will do a few more searches, this time more directed and pointed. He will be searching for machine repair, machine replacements and sources for gizmo machine part replacement. While Joe’s blog is only one of the sites that Al researches, it was also the first. And Joe had more information than the others. At this point Al downloads a parts and pricing PDF and prepares to make his decision.
Once your prospect has done his research, he is ready to make a decision and move forward with his engagement. This is the moment when your sales team needs to be miraculously present and available to help the prospect with whatever information he still needs. Having marketing automation software that alerts you when your prospect has opened your email or is downloading detailed information will make this possible.
Al receives an email from Joe’s company offering a money-back guarantee on gizmo parts, consultation regarding installation, and a convenient 15% discount. Al is now ready to commit to buying his gizmo machine part, and connects through a link in the email directly to Joe’s sales team. His sale is closed in a very short period of time, given that he already knows exactly which gizmo part he needs, how much it costs, and has watched a video on how to install it. Both Joe and Al are happy with their transaction, and Al is now a fan.
But the Buyer’s Journey doesn’t end with the close of the sale. Good companies, companies that are commited to nurturing long-term relationships with the clients, continue to delight their customers long after the sale is in the history books. Joe continues to send Al useful information about other machines that Al may use in his business, and even offers to replace a small part for free when Al calls to talk to him about tweaking the performance of his gizmo machine. The part cost Joe pennies, but it earned him a raving fan. Al thanks Joe on both Twitter and FaceBook, and tells others about Joe’s great service at the next trade show he attends. Al is delighted.
How to Use the Buyer’s Journey in your Inbound Marketing
If you are running inbound marketing campaigns, you want to keep the Buyer’s Journey at the top of your mind. As you plan your editorial calendar, you want to use creative content for your business that matches each stage of the Buyer’s Journey: awareness, consideration and decision. Make sure you have general interest blogs and eBooks for those casual browsers, as well as in-depth product descriptions and videos for buyers who are moving closer to the decision point. And don’t neglect those loyal customers who have kept your business growing! Plan some creative content for them, as well, and send it to them unasked.
The secret to great inbound marketing is the art of making sure your prospect finds just the right piece of information at the very moment he needs it. Want to give content mapping a try? Download this chart that will help you map appropriate content to each stage of the Buyer’s Journey.