These days, it’s foolish to think that customers will watch a TV ad and immediately trot to the store, bank card in hand. The buyer's journey is a lot more complicated than that, and on average 81% of customers do some online research before spending a cent.
In fact, there’s no highway from marketing to sales; it’s become a complicated journey with many pit stops on the way. With this in mind, sales cycles lengthened by 22% last year alone. People pad their purchasing with as much information gathering as possible - and knowing and using this is the key to a successful marketing campaign.
Inbound marketing methodology segments the research that takes place into three distinct stages: awareness, consideration and decision, and says that mapping content along each stage will gently and naturally nurture your broader audience into leads and, subsequently, customers.
- Awareness: Knowing you have a problem, but not sure exactly what it is, let alone how to solve it.
- Consideration: Aware of what the problem is, but not sure what the best, most appropriate solution would be.
- Decision: Of the possible solutions, which one is best for me?
Put another way, by online service provider ecwid: ‘If you can map this journey, you can create content that will place you front and center when customers look for solutions. This way, instead of pushing your products, you can successfully pull customers in by helping them through each stage of the journey.’
Buyer personas - a semi-fictional representation of your ideal client - help create and frame each step of the buyer’s journey by looking at the concerns and hurdles each buyer persona faces on the road to purchase.
Imagine you, as a consumer, are looking to buy a new car.
You’ll start with basic research online, with awareness stage questions and Google searches for a car. For example: ‘How do I look good at work?’,‘How can I save time in the morning?’ or ‘Where can I save money?’ - these tap into broader concerns the buyer persona specifically has.
Consideration stage questions would be more specific, and start drilling into the crux of the question. In this stage, you would be asking, ‘What car can take me on family holidays and keep me looking good at work?’
Finally, decision stage questions would be looking at car specs, model comparisons and car reviews.
Creating content to answer these questions helps your consumer, and, through a targeted and tracked inbound marketing campaign, leads to higher sales and more satisfied consumers overall. The buyer’s journey not only guides your customer on their path to purchase, but helps your marketing team create a campaign that speaks to them about their problems and how you can help solve them.
Your customers are always on a journey to purchase; make sure it leads them to you.
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