Awareness. Interest. Decision.
These are steps taken by consumers when purchasing products or services.
It’s a journey. Sometimes. it happens quickly. Sometimes, it takes weeks or months.
A key part of understanding how customers make purchases is knowing how they progress through the different stages.
A prospect’s needs and interests have to be effectively met at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
It means having the right content and information at the right time to keep prospects engaged and moving down the sales funnel.
Here’s how the buyer’s journey could look like (note: here’s a blank version of the template).
Let’s look at the different stages to get a better sense of what’s involved.
Early in the buyer’s journey, a prospect discovers and learns about the different options that could solve their problems or meet their interests.
This is top of the funnel activity in which a consumer is gathering and sifting through information about the various products based on benefits, features, customer service and price.
This can involve a lot of research, most which could happen online. Some of the key marketing and sales pieces at this stage include Websites, videos, infographics, social media and blog posts.
This information educates, engages and entertains. While your products are showcased, it is also important to provide thought leadership and industry insight to establish brand loyalty and trust.
During the awareness stage, consumers are likely not ready to pull the trigger on a purchase but, if possible, you want to collect information and email addresses using marketing automation tools, surveys, and content downloads
You can also retarget consumers on Web sites and Facebook to promote your brand or service in different places.
As a consumer gets a better handle on their needs, they will start to focus on particular products and identify their most important needs or questions.
They’ll do more research and compare different products. At this stage, marketing and sales activities could involve briefings, demos, Webinars, eBooks, sales sheets and ROI calculators.
Here is an ROI calculator created by Statflo, which sells customer relationship management software to wireless carriers and retailers. It quickly shows a different type of prospects the financial impact it software can make.
With their research completed and the different options explored, a prospect will create a short-list of potential suppliers and products. For corporate purchases, they will get approval from management and decision makers.
At this point, a prospect is getting closer to pullet out their wallet so they need to be convinced they are making the right decision.
They want to align themselves with suppliers whose products they like and will deliver value. In being so deep in the sales funnel, consumers can be nudged over the “goal line” through marketing such as testimonials and case studies, as well as trials and demos.
While the traditional buyer’s journey concludes with the decision stage, it is important to keep customers [people who paid for your product or service] engaged with your brand on a regular basis.
After all, it took time and effort to attract them as customers so why not have them stick around. Staying in touch with customers reminds them about the benefits your product delivers and how much you value them as customers. Happy customers can also become advocates and evangelists, as well as powerful and authentic marketing and sales agents.
One of the ways to make this happen is encouraging customers to share their stories and your marketing campaigns, and give them easy ways to promote our brand using tools such as social media. They can be sent monthly newsletters that include stories – e.g. case studies and videos – about the success other customers are having with your product, which can be shared on social media.
A customer’s stories can also be part of your marketing campaigns. Airbnb, for example, has a quarterly magazine featuring stories about its customers’ travel adventures.
Bottom line: To know how your customers make purchases and how you can move them down the sales funnel, developing a buyer’s journey roadmap is a no-brainer.