Previously, I wrote a blog post about buyer personas and the importance of drafting these fictitious customer profiles. Another important concept is the buyer’s journey, i.e. the phases someone goes through before becoming a customer. In this article, I will explain why this matters so much and how to apply this concept yourself.
What is a buyer’s journey?
You will not be surprised if I were to tell you that not every visitor of your online store actually intends to purchase from you. After all, this is what you also notice in Google Analytics when looking at your online store’s conversion rate. Yet, we often focus ourselves on fruit hanging low, i.e. those that intend to buy. Losing non-buyers we consider a necessary evil. Which of course is a shame, because you will ‘lose’ 98 percent, given a conversion rate of 2 percent.
Who exactly are these visitors that do not make a purchase? The buyer’s journey provides insight. The buyer’s journey consists of three phases:
- Awareness - When the buyer’s journey commences, your visitors are not aware of two things: What is your company and, second, the fact that they need your product(s). Here is a simple example to illustrate this: The smartphone of a potential customer becomes slower after installing a variety of updates. He/she wonders what can be done about it. In this phase, 72% of the buyers use Google. Searches are usually conducted using common keywords and customer reviews, educational material and testimonials.
- Consideration - As soon as buyers have reduced their choices to a few companies, the search is resumed. In the consideration phase buyers know what their ‘problem’ is, but not yet how to solve it. They compare the companies incorporated in their shortlist. In this phase, customers will also contact sales staff members who can provide additional information. For an online store, these are also the contact moments that occur through live chat. In this phase, your online store’s content and contact opportunities are extremely important.
- Decision - Decisions are made in this phase. In the B2B market, other people might be involved as well. In the B2C market, customers will most likely decide themselves. The purchase process should be easy and pleasant for both markets. Therefore, ensure that customers can order easily and are able to contact you through live chat, if necessary.
According to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buyer’s journey is completed before customers get in touch with a sales department anyway. Marketing departments therefore play an important role in this initial 70%.
Why does it matter?
The buyer’s journey especially matters to B2B companies, because the purchase process often is more time-consuming and generally requires more nurturing. Yet it may also lead to new insights in the B2C market. In the latter market however, the customer journey is discussed more. The big difference between the two is, that the buyer’s journey may involve several persons and therefore different buyer personas, whereas with the B2C market a sale often only involves one single person.
Drafting buyer personas and buyer’s journeys (or customer journeys) matters, because customers have different information needs in different phases. By providing the right information at the right moment, you can hold on to more visitors and ultimately increase your conversion rate.
Relevant content for each step
The various buyer’s journey phases go together with several content types.
Because your potential customers are not aware of their ‘problem’ in this phase yet, it is important to create awareness. This may be done using the following content types:
- Research reports
- Informative content, for example, a knowledge base
Important key phrases are, for example, ‘problem with…’, ‘what to do when’ and ‘prevent…’.
In this phase, the ‘problem’ is known. Potential customers use the following content types:
- Expert opinion
- Video (tutorials)
Important key phrases are, for example, ‘seller of…’, ‘provider of…’ and ‘solution for…’.
In this phase, a decision about the required solution has been made, but the sale yet needs to be completed. The following content types play an important role:
- Product comparison
- Case studies
- Detailed product descriptions
- Live demos (B2B market)
- Trial versions (B2B market)
Important key phrases are, for example, ‘compare…’, ‘advantages/benefits/ of…’, ‘pros’, ‘disadvantage/ drawback of…’, ‘cons’ and ‘reviews…’.
Now that you know which content matters when, it is important to draft your own buyer’s journey. The goal is to direct your buyer personas from one phase to the next one. If, for example, you write a blog post for the awareness phase, make sure a call-to-action is listed at the bottom, targeted at the consideration phase.
Using marketing automation software such as Hubspot, you can easily configure these phases and measure whether your strategy is successful. Rest assured, even if you lack the budget for dedicated software, Google Analytics will already get you a long way.
Are you already working with buyer personas and buyer/customer journeys? Share your experiences in the comments below!