When talking about inbound marketing, terms such as buyer’s journey, buyer persona, content offer, CTA, landing page, conversion rate and leads go together like ice cream and sticky toffee pudding. With inbound marketing, your efforts are focused on who you’re talking to (your buyer personas), and this is super important.
A close second in order of importance is the buyer’s journey. Understanding the buyer’s journey means you’ll have the right foundation for the messages you craft for your buyer personas.
But what is the buyer’s journey? And most importantly, how does having a buyer’s journey help you?
Let’s go back to the masters. HubSpot defines it as:
“The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service.”
Unpacking the buyer’s journey
Looking at the graphic above, the buyer’s journey comprises three stages: awareness, consideration and decision. At each of these stages, your buyer persona will have different wants and needs — and your aim is to talk directly to those.
Don’t have your buyer personas yet? Read more about buyer personas now!
Here’s an example: Joanne’s company has tasked her with setting up their social media accounts. The company has never used social media but wants to keep up with the times.
Joanne isn’t a social media manager; she works in the marketing department, however, this is where top management thinks this should live.
Joanne will now enter the buyer’s journey — she has identified a problem or opportunity and needs to find a solution. She is in the awareness stage. In the awareness stage, Joanne knows that she needs to set up social media accounts for the company. But she has loads of questions:
- Which social media accounts will work?
- How much effort does this require?
- Should I set them up with my personal details?
- Which social networks should we avoid?
So, Joanne heads to Google, and searches for ‘how to set up social accounts for business’/ ‘which social accounts do businesses need?’ — she wants to educate herself to make the best decision. Joanne finds ebooks, research reports, blog posts and white papers about these topics.
Once she has read through them and understands better why social media accounts are necessary for businesses, she is ready to move on to the consideration stage.
Joanne now knows how to address the problem she’s experiencing (the literature helped a great deal!), and wants to find out more about best practice and how to set up all the accounts. She heads to Google again and finds how-tos and step-by-step videos. She also finds some FAQs that help her with some of her questions.
But Joanne is only one person, and she is strapped for time as it is. After reviewing all the information, in both the awareness and consideration stages, she realises that some of the content was from a content marketing agency. She remembers filling out some basic forms to download ebooks and reports. So, she googles this agency to see how, or if, they can help solve her problem.
Joanne now enters the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. She finds the agencies’ rate cards and offers for free consultations. Happy days! These agencies offer solutions to her problem, and she gets into contact with the ones that had the most relevant and helpful information.
Eventually, Joanne decides to go with one of the agencies, based on their rates, and value-added services, to set up and manage her company’s social media accounts. Her company is happy to pay the fee for professionals to handle this, and it takes the pressure off her.
Through the awareness, consideration and decision stages of the buyer’s journey, Joanne managed to make sound decisions based on the outcome of each stage. She managed to properly identify her problem, educate herself, and decide on the best solution.
This was just an example of the buyer’s journey to explain how the stages work and what might lead to certain decisions. Different scenarios call for different types of content to present to your buyer.
So, what content can I create to help my buyers?
Valid question! There is specific content you can create for the various stages of the buyer’s journey, and here are some examples to help you get started:
You don’t need to have ALL this content available. Businesses differ. And markets differ. But you can help potential buyers make informed decisions by offering what they need at the right stage in the buyer’s journey.