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MARKETING TIPS FROM THE PROS
buyers journey

Understanding the Buyer's Journey

Mar 03, 2016 Karen Cummings View all posts by
Karen Cummings
inbound marketing, buyer journey

Are 100% of the visitors who come to your site on the same stage of their purchase decision? Of course not. So how can we address those stages and ensure we're moving everyone along to becoming customers? First, we must understand what the buyer's journey looks like.

At the most basic level, the buyer's journey is the steps consumers take prior to purchase. According to the Corporate Executive Board, more than 60% of a purchase decision is made prior to talking with a sales rep from your team. Unfortunately for you this could mean that you are missing out on a lot of potential business by not providing these consumers with the information they need before they take the step to contact your team.

On the bright side, there is a solution! And that solution is to provide your audience with the appropriate content for each stage of this journey. However, creating content for your inbound marketing strategy, requires a few steps in order to be successful. First, you must clearly understand your personas (or ideal target audience) and secondly, you must understand the different stages of the online journey. 

Defining Your Personas

A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations and concerns. Through surveying, interviews and research, you can begin to develop your buyer personas to identify what they value and how your solution fits into their daily lives.

With this information, you can then begin to create content and marketing messages that address their pain points, values and introduce your solution.

The 3 Stages of the Buyer's Journey

To successfully launch your inbound marketing plan, you must also have an understanding of the stages of the buyer's journey. While your buyer persona profiles will help you and your team clearly understand and speak to the demographics, values and pain points of your ideal customer, the buyer's journey will help you utilize the information available to us regarding consumer decision-making and purchase behavior.

Awareness

In the awareness stage consumers have realized that they have a potential problem or opportunity and have expressed the symptoms of this realization. While they may not necessarily understand what their problem means or what solutions are available to them, they are actively researching the problem or symptoms themselves. Example: my revenue cycle is extremely lengthy, I'm not receiving payments quickly enough. Where is the break in my system?

Consideration

In the consideration stage consumers have clearly defined their problem or opportunity and have accelerated beyond problem-based research into solution-based research. They are now interested in understanding all of the available approaches to solving their defined problem. Example: My charge collection and processing is taking 3x longer than it should! What are my options for reducing the duration of this step in my process?

Decision

In the decision stage the consumer has defined their problem and now also their solution strategy, method or approach. However, they are still researching the options they have available to them and comparing the pros and cons of each choice in order to make a final, informed decision. Example: I can hire an additional billing employee or utilize a better charge capture system. A better charge capture system would require some changes to be made, but it integrates with my existing system and it would both save me time and increase revenue.

Addressing Each Stage with Content

Now that you understand the stages, in order to optimize your inbound strategy and online content, you must provide information for each of these stages. In general this content should look something like: 

  • Awareness: Educational content, blogs, expert content, e-books, research reports
  • Consideration: Comparison white papers, webinars, videos or expert guides
  • Decision: Vendor comparisons, case studies, demos or trials

Check out this handy Buyers Journey Tool from HubSpot for a printable version of the types of content you should be providing at each stage of the buyers journey.

 

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Karen Cummings

About The Author

Karen Cummings

Karen founded her first inbound marketing agency in 2011 and has been passionately delivering high-impact strategies & plans for health & wellness brands ever since.

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