The process by which a consumer decides to purchase a product or service isn't as cut and dry as a company would like. There's actually a lot of psychology involved. To fully comprehend how a potential customer arrives at the conclusion to ultimately make that purchase, it's important to understand The Buyer's Journey.
The Buyer's Journey is the three-step process every consumer goes through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. We explore this in detail on our podcast: Inbound & Down: "The Buyer's Journey"
For modern-day marketers, it's essential this journey is fully understood, and it's even more critical that content is produced to appeal to a buyer at every stage of this journey. In fact, according to a study by advertising research firm BIA/Kelsey, nearly 100% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase. This means if you're only producing content to try and sell a consumer at the decision stage of the journey (more on that in a second), you're missing out on entire sectors of potential customers.
This is because 96% of your site visitors are not ready to buy just yet. And even if they are inching ever-so closer to deciding, consumers are likely to consult search engines such as Google for follow-up research before eventually opening their wallets.
So, with almost all of your site traffic consisting of people who are surfing the web or conducting research to eventually make a purchase, why wouldn't you try to capture their interest, and build their trust, by educating and nurturing them along the way? Why not be the place where they can acquire important information and where they can purchase the product/service they desire?
Enter: Inbound Marketing.
Let's take a look at what The Buyer's Journey actually is:
The first stage of The Buyer's Journey is all about discovery. A consumer is aware they have a problem, but they're not quite sure about what the solution is. Additionally, they might not even know exactly what the problem is, either, but they're interested enough that they want to find out more.
A person in the Awareness Stage is going to search for some general, high-level terms in the SERPs (search engine result pages), looking for educational content that will help them more clearly identify their problem.
Awareness Stage content can appear in the following formats (among others):
- Educational Blogs
- Educational eBooks or Whitepapers
- How-to Videos
The second stage of The Buyer's Journey unfolds when the consumer has a solid understanding of how to solve their problem.
During this stage, they're going to be conducting much more specific research, wanting to weed through all of the different options, while searching for more solution-oriented content.
Consideration Stage content can appear in the following formats (among others):
- Data sheets
- Data videos
The third stage of The Buyer's Journey begins once a consumer is confident they've conducted enough research on solutions for their identified problem. Now they're ready to decide between the different companies they've found worthy of their business.
A person in the Decision Stage is comparing companies to find the best fit for them. They're going to be analyzing pricing, and will likely reach out personally for clarity or to obtain more specific information, including real-life case studies and product demos.
Decision Stage content can appear in the following formats (among others):
- Case studies
- Live demos
BONUS STAGE: EVANGELIST
If you create an evangelist, you're not only gaining a customer for life, but you've managed to build this relationship so thoroughly that this person will promote you and your business to anyone that will listen (for free!). And as we know, people place tremendous value on the recommendations of friends and family.
Evangelists believe so strongly in a company or product that they'll willingly advocate on the company's behalf, typically through endorsements on social media.
It's always a good idea to engage with your evangelist to show them you notice their efforts, whether that means reposting one of their promotional images, or offering them a one-time discount. Make them feel important (they genuinely are!), and they'll spread the good word for you in the best way possible: organically.
- It's important to understand The Buyer's Journey in order to produce content for each stage a consumer might be in when they visit your site.
- The Awareness Stage is dedicated to those top-level searches. Content should be solely educational, never promotional.
- The Consideration Stage should help a consumer further understand specifics about their problem, and possible solutions.
- The Decision Stage is when a consumer is comparing multiple companies in order to find the right fit for them. Build up your case studies and reviews.
- Evangelists are companies' best friends. Ensure proper nurturing, and you'll build these important relationships, producing customers that will voluntarily advocate for your products on your behalf.
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