All your customers that have entered an agreement with you have in one way or another gone through a buyer's journey. All the way from the awareness stage to the decision stage, by passing the consideration stage along the way. At some point he or she has realised they have a problem, found a potential solution and chosen you as the supplier. What happened during the journey? And what possible points of contact did you have?
What Is a Buyer's Journey?
A buyer's journey is a framework that recognises a buyer's progression through a research and decision process, that ultimately led to a purchase or order, by downloading different typeds of content from your website. You need to provide your leads with relevant content at all stages, as well as blog articles tied to each premium content (PDFs, whitepapers, guides, etc.)
Time spent during the process of going from A to D (in this case) may vary a lot depending on the organization. First, and foremost, it depends on your business model (B2B/B2C) but also the product or service you provice as well as the customer.
The most important thing is not to concentrate too much on why things don't fall into place the way you were thinking it should, but rather on what could have influenced the fall out. Trends? Changes to relevant regulations that drives the sales process to shorten? Other times, the reason could be time consuming procurements or other complex reasons that may cause the sales process to be extended.
The 3 Phases of The Buyer's Journey
The buyer's journey has three phases/stages: awareness, consideration and decision.
During the first stage of the buyer's journey - an issue or problem is discovered. It could be as simple as realising you have a cold, or that my computer starts making weird noises. The visitor will be using symptoms as their search phrase, as they are not yet looking for a solution. This is one of many reasons why blogs and content discussing the symptoms are crucial.
- Blogs are the most common type of content in the awareness stage - for good reason. It is informative content, not experienced as pushy, that is found through a simple Google search (if SEO optimised!)
- Video makes your visitors stop and look. Simple how-to videos, documentaries or branding videos are the most common.
- Premium content, such as white papers, checklists, infographics and shorter guides.
- Social media is your company's chance to prove yourself as thought-leaders and/or fun people. You know which position you like to take, and what fits with your brand. Create a network by being transparent. And follow the 10-4-1 method.
It is time we start presenting the solution to your visitors/leads' problem. We are still not talking about the solutions that YOU as a supplier can provide, but all solutions available. Your computer is still making strange noises... should you buy a new one? Try fixing it yourself? Or turn it in to an authorised service provider?
Content is key and it is time to turn your visitors into leads. Blogs and premium content, equally. It is time for us to get to know our visitors - what they like, favorite keywords, how they found us and who they are. The easiest way to do this is by securing some personal information about them by offering relevant content and hide it behind a form of some sort. As soon as we have an email adress, the cookies on your website will do all the work collecting data.
- Blog, blog, and blog a litte more! Start thinking about how you can introduce your solution to the visitors and leads, which topics are interesting for them to read about, and conduct a thorough keyword analysis before you start writing.
- Webinars, seminars & small events can be successful concepts during the consideration stage, since it will engage the participants and have them interact with each other. Invite customers as well, and have them engage with leads.
- Whitepapers/guides written by experts - comparing solutions. But be aware - it is not yet time to discuss potential service providers!
- Video. Recordings from webinars/seminars/events or videos presenting solutions to a specific problem. Just as in the awareness stage, there are different types. Be creative!
It is finally time for the visitor to make a decision! In addition, it is time for you as a supplier to step up your game and win the fight! When your lead reaches the decision stage a decision in regards to which solution is best has been made, and the hunt for the best fit supplier begins.
What makes your product or service stand out? Price? Quality? Support? Warranty? Find your best arguments, and communicate it!
- Free demo. Are you a SaaS-company, or do you provide any other type of service? A live demo (physical meeting, or through a web call) or a free trial will interest leads if it is a good fit. Trust your product or service to meet the high expectations of your leads.
- Customer(/ambassador) stories! Your ambassadors are your best sales channels. Word of mouth is everything. Having one of your customers taking the time to stand in front of the camera, or in writing, telling the world about how great your offer is, and how much it has helped his/her company is priceless.
- Supplier comparisons. What makes you the best at what you do? Compare yourself to other suppliers. Dare to take your space, and tell the world why you are the greatest choice.
Decision stage also means we can make our forms longer, asking for more information than just an email address and a name. We are providing them with value, and their currency is personal information.
How Do We Identify A Buyer's Journey?
Short answer: workshops!
Conduct a workshop and carefully write down all the premium content you currently have, plan on writing and what is missing. Determine which ones belong together, and which stage of the buyer's journey they belong to. Use a whiteboard to visualise the different journeys. One journey answers one question, for (usually) one buyer persona.
One journey is a great start!
The standard recommendation is for each premium content to have at least 8-12 blog posts linking back to it. In the name of SEO, and SERPs. This means, each whitepaper, guide, customer story, video, etc. should be promoted through your blog. And have your colleagues share content through their social channels!
I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it is. No doubt about it. But this is not about making it all happen in a week, or a month. Maybe not even in a year. It is all about having a long-term plan when creating the next buyer's journey.
We created a guide to make it all easier for you to make this long-term plan with the right templates just for you.
Disclamer: the e-book is currently only carried out in Swedish, but keep your eyes open -- we plan on launching an English version.