Here’s the thing most marketers and entrepreneurs usually take for granted – the Buyer’s Journey. No actually, I think the problem is a lot of them – especially the news ones and wannabes do not even realize that there is a very important concept called the buyer’s Journey and it is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service.
Yes! In fact, the purchase process is a journey, and consumers advance through the different stages and so the buyer’s journey is that framework that acknowledges your target audience progression through the different stages leading up to purchase — from looking at your website for the first time, to subscribing to your email list and reading your emails over a period of time, to talking to a sales associate and figuring out whether to buy from you. On the marketing/sales angle, it is referred to as the ‘Sales Funnel’.
The idea of the funnel is that your pool of potential customers grows smaller as it moves towards its first transaction with your business.
At the top of the funnel, there are a great many people who will become aware of your brand (often seen as the first step in the conversion process). The middle of the funnel is smaller, as there are fewer people who’ll actually consider paying you for your products or services, and the bottom of the funnel is even smaller, as many of the folks who consider paying you will end up deciding not to. The three parts of this funnel are what constitutes the buyer journey.
AWARENESS STAGE → CONSIDERATION STAGE → DECISION STAGE.
Your mission as a marketer and or business owner is to guide potential customers towards eventual conversion. It is your job to give them the fuel to move them along the process toward a purchase.
What is this Fuel? CONTENT!
As cliche as this may sound at this point, it remains fact that Content is Key – King (Key & King). Yes! I said it and fortunately, the internet has made it easier to engage customers at the various stages of their journey using content marketing. The key is to create and distribute contents (in case you haven’t realised yet, content marketing is way more than just creating awesome content, you need to learn how to distribute it rightly too) bespoke to the different stages of the buyer’s journey, so your target audience can relate and content with your brand no matter where they are or what they are thinking.
If all you do if create and distribute awareness stage content then your conversion rate would be low as you won’t be able to connect with those in the consideration or decision phase, same also, if all your content is CTA inclined and thus right for those in the decision stage, then random and potential customers may never connect with you.
Thus, let us explore the different stages, learn what it means to your potential customer and what content is suited for them.
Stage 1: Awareness
Here is your largest addressable qualified audience. At this stage, your potential buyers maybe not even be in the market to buy from you yet. They are most likely just surfing the internet, doing what interests them – looking for answers, resources, education, fun.
Thus your goal as a marketer or business owner is to create brand awareness. You should subtly try to educate them that there’s even a problem to be solved.
– Content Focus: Promotional Contents that drives awareness through great storytelling (Inspirational, Entertaining, Joy-inducing, Funny). Your ad creatives (Images and Videos) must be broad!
– Channels: Social Media, YouTube, Display Advertising.
Stage 2: Consideration Stage
Those at this stage have some commercial intent. These are people doing heavy research on what particular product or service (brand) is a good fit for them. They are most likely surfing the internet for answers to specific questions, research data, opinions, and insight.
Your goal at this stage is to create top of mind awareness in your target audience so that they can begin to associate you with the solution they desire.
– Content Focus: Educative Content like Case studies, Blogs, Resources, Demos, Testimonials that drive consideration (inform & Inspire Action). This is the time when you want to supply them with content that helps them evaluate you and your products.
– Channels: Search Engine Marketing & Optimization (Blog, Website), YouTube.
Stage 3: Decision Stage
Those people here have lots of commercial intent – they are the big fishes. Hehe! These people are already sure they want that particular service or product and are just thinking of how to go about it and if you’d actually be a great fit. They are most likely searching for your contact information, pricing et al. This is where you make your final pitch.
Your goal is to get them to make a purchase!
– Content Focus: CTA-driven content that guides them through a seamless transaction/sign up process and drives actual conversion.
– Channels: Email Marketing, SEM, Display Advertising (- Awesome Landing Pages!)
Extra Stage: Retention
Once you’ve got those customers, your goal is to keep ’em. For your business to scale, your one-time buyers have to become retainers – repeat customers, you need your fans to become brand advocates and content marketing helps you with that too.
While Content here would focus on Support, Care, Return Discounts etc, your channels are going to be more intimate – one on one, thus Email Marketing, Social Media, SMS & Calls.