By Drew Cohen
Originally written on June 10, 2016. Content was updated March 8, 2018.
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What is the buyer’s journey? It is the journey buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service, and it consists of three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Analyzing the buyer’s journey through the inbound marketing lens allows marketers to conceptualize the path of a prospect as a framework. The result? Persona-targeted content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. (Of course, this means you need to have buyer personas in place to begin. Click here if you haven’t defined your buyer personas.)
Let’s review what you as a marketer can include in each of the three stages to move potential buyers closer to a potential purchase:
At this stage, a potential buyer is just realizing a want or need for a product and/or service. They are most likely entering search terms in Google to clearly understand more about what it is they are looking for. This is where an effective SEO strategy plays a key role in your marketing plan. If you can answer questions from your personas and position your content appropriately, you’re putting your organization’s content in a great position to convert. Ask yourself questions such as where your buyers go to educate themselves and what questions they typically ask.
Most potential buyers in the Awareness stage are seeking information to answer questions or resolve pain points they may have. It is important to note that at this stage of the journey, the information should be fairly neutral with limited, if any, sales jargon or positioning of the specific organization (e.g. a market infographic). To be an effective marketer, it is important to recognize this type of consumer mentality and cater your marketing communications to provide solutions, ideas, and purpose to what it is they’re interested in. A few top-of-the-funnel content offers to consider:
- Educational content in blog posts
- E-guides and e-books
- White papers
- Industry research/analyst reports
Additionally, you should consider using keywords such as prevent, troubleshoot, or improve within your Awareness stage content. This will help attract more leads by providing valuable content that is positioned to address their specific pain point.
With a clearly defined goal or challenge and a commitment to address it, the Consideration phase is about a buyer’s evaluation of different methods that are available to them. At this stage, you are still delivering critical, informative information to help your buyer make the best possible decision. Here are some examples of content offers you should provide to qualify your lead for the decision stage:
- Product comparison guides
- Expert guides
- Live interactions: podcast or video
Within these communications, use keywords like provider, service, tool, etc. Ask yourself what categories of solutions your buyers investigate, and how they typically educate themselves on these subjects. Use this information to help craft content offers.
At this point in the journey, a buyer has decided on a solution category. They have a strategy in place to address their pain point, but are still deciding on a specific tool or vendor. A buyer may spend significant time researching documentation, data, vendor reviews, and other materials to make them feel confident about their decision.
Content offers at this stage may include vendor/product comparisons, case studies, and free trials.
Key terms to include are compare, pros and cons, review, and test. This aligns with their decision-making process and positions your content as a resource, not a hard sales pitch.
Don’t Overcomplicate Things
Understanding the journey that your various personas go through is critical for any marketer. However, overcomplicating your content offers is a mistake that I see a lot of organizations making. Put yourself in the position of the consumer you want to speak to and ask yourself if the content is truly a resource, or if it is a hard sales pitch. If the content doesn’t offer value and help them reach a potential resolution, you’re putting yourself in a difficult position to succeed.
With proper inbound marketing tactics applied to each of the three buyer’s journey stages, you’ll be able to make content available through the appropriate channels. When you are building out your buyer’s journey, make a point to speak to your sales team. They have a unique perspective since they are speaking to prospects and customers every single day. Remember: the main goal of the buyer’s journey is to take advantage of a more customer-centric philosophy to better position your company for addressing the needs of your target audience.
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