This is the fourth post in our Inbound Marketing 101 series intended to help B2B marketers boost brand visibility and generate better leads for their sales teams to convert into customers.
How do you turn a stranger into a customer? The secret lies in the buyer journey.
But what’s the buyer journey? We’re glad you asked.
Because when you understand the buyer journey, you understand customer behavior—allowing you to broaden your reach, generate quality leads and close more deals.
The buyer journey is how buyers get from problem to purchase.
Buying process. Purchasing funnel. Path to purchase. Buyer journey. All are names used to describe how your ideal customer advances through the purchase process.
The buyer journey encompasses every action a buyer takes before making a purchasing decision and is comprised of three stages: awareness, consideration and preference.
In other words, it’s how your customers get from “Do I have a need?” to “Yes I do, now what?” to “I need [your product/service].”
In the awareness stage, your customers know they have a problem. While they have identified the symptoms, they haven’t yet identified the cause.
In the consideration phase, this vague knowledge becomes a clearly defined need and they begin looking for potential solutions.
Buyers in the preference stage are ready to make a purchase having identified a solution—your product or service!
Give buyers the content they need, when they need it
Your customers are out there actively searching for products and services that solve their problem. It’s your job to provide them the answers they’re looking for.
The buyer journey can help you do that.
The buyer journey serves as the ideal framework for your inbound marketing strategy.
Instead of creating content that pushes your products and services, you can pull customers in by creating targeted content that moves them through each stage in the buyer journey.
Traditionally, marketing has placed the majority of their focus on the awareness phase. But awareness alone isn’t enough to close the deal.
Today’s customers are in charge of their own journey and are making purchasing decisions with or without your help.
When you use the buyer journey as a marketing tool, you can proactively create content that puts you (and your products and services) in front of your customers at precisely the right moment.
Each stage requires a specific type of content.
Why? Because certain content is more relevant to buyers at different stages in the buyer journey.
Buyers in the awareness stage are in discovery mode, so educational content like blog posts and eBooks help them identify they have a need.
Once they move into the consideration phase, how-to guides, checklists and webinars help them define their need and begin to identify solutions.
In the preference stage, buyers have made a decision and want validation of that decision in the form of case studies, testimonials and demos.
Here’s an (overly simplified) example:
If your company sells ovens to bakeries, you might produce a blog post about why ovens that actively circulate hot air are necessary for even baking.
Once your potential customers are aware they need a new oven in order to bake the perfect cookie, you provide them with a checklist outlining the top ten features every bakery oven should have and why.
Then you present them with a testimonial from a customer saying how buying your oven improved the quality of their baked goods and increased their sales. And voila! Customers are clamoring to buy your ovens.
Make the journey work for you
Using the buyer journey as part of your inbound marketing strategy delivers distinct benefits:
- Better insight: The buyer journey allows you to anticipate your potential customers’ content needs and provide them with the right information at the right time.
- Quality leads: When you produce the content your buyers want, when they want it, you don’t have to struggle to find your buyers. Your buyers will find you.
- Increased sales: The buyer journey allows you to create content that pulls your buyers from identifying a problem to making a purchase.
Understanding how your customers make a purchasing decision is critical to the success of your marketing and sales teams.
Other posts in the Inbound Marketing 101 series:
- B2B Inbound Marketing: Get “In” With Your Target Customers
- Persona Based Marketing: Get In Character So You Can Sell More Stuff
- B2B Inbound Marketing Strategy: 5 Steps To Get Started
- 4 B2B Marketing Tactics to Attract More Visitors to Your Website
- How to Generate More B2B Leads From Your Website
- B2B Lead Nurturing: Build Relationships With Future Clients