If you want to see better results in today’s online marketplace, it’s vital that you use targeted content. In fact, leads who are nurtured with targeted content show a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities.
The way in which you segment your customers and buyer personas will vary, depending on the industry. However, all businesses should keep the buyer’s journey in mind as they start to design their marketing initiatives. In this post, we’ll talk about why the buyer’s journey is so important and what each stage looks like. Plus, we’ll discuss where your website fits in and how you can optimize it.
Why the Buyer’s Journey is so Important
The digital age has changed the way that consumers and business owners research and buy products and services. Before the internet, if you wanted to learn more about a product, it was often hard to find information without going to a physical store or reaching out to a sales person. For instance, if you wanted to buy a new vacuum cleaner, you would need to go to the store to look at your options, find out about different features, and compare prices.
The buying process could be even longer for business owners who needed to research products or services for their own business. For example, if a business needed to find a company to design packaging for their new product, they would have to speak with salespeople from several different companies before being able to make an informed decision.
Today, most of the buyer’s journey takes place online. In fact, recent surveys have shown that 67 percent of the buyer’s journey now takes place digitally. Both consumers and businesses can thoroughly research the solutions they need, sometimes without ever contacting sales. In today’s digital marketplace, when a consumer or business does reach out to a salesperson, they are already informed and close to the point of making a purchase. Bill Ross, CEO of Linchpin SEO, a Wake Forest Web Design Company
As a result, businesses need to keep the modern buyer’s journey in mind when developing marketing content. By having content in place that helps you meet your buyers where they are (online), you can help give consumers the information they need to make a purchase.
If you market to every prospect with the same messaging and materials, conversions will be far and few between. That’s why the buyer’s journey is such a critical part of the conversion process. To generate more high-quality leads, you need to create different content and offers based on where prospects are coming from, their needs and wants, and what level of interest they have in your brand. – Andy Beohar, Chief Inbound Marketing Strategist at SevenAtoms Inc, a San Francisco Inbound Marketing and PPC Agency.
The Basics of the Buyer’s Journey
There are three basic stages in the buyer’s journey: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. During each stage, the consumer exhibits different behaviors and looks for different types of content to get the research and information they need to move on to the next stage.
The awareness stage takes place when the consumer has realized that they have a challenge or opportunity. They’ve begun to express symptoms of this issue and want to learn more about it. At this point in the buyer’s journey, the consumer needs neutral third-party research that can help them better identify their problem or area of opportunity. They turn to educational content such as editorial content, expert blog posts, white papers, eBooks, and research reports to better understand what they are facing.
During the consideration phase, the consumer has defined their issue or opportunity and they are looking for solutions or options for solving the problem or taking advantage of the new opportunity. At this stage, consumers want to do as much research as possible to better understand all the methods and approaches to their challenge or opportunity. The content that appeals most to those in the consideration stage is expert guides, comparison white papers, live interactions, podcasts, and videos that help them identify potential solutions.
The decision stage is the last step in the buyer’s journey. At this point, the consumer will decide on a solution, strategy, approach, or method to solve their challenge or take advantage of a new opportunity. To make a final decision, the buyer will research and consider supporting data, documentation, endorsements, and benchmarks. At this stage, live demos or free trial downloads can go a long way in helping the consumer decide if a product or service is right for them. They may also look at case studies, vendor and product comparisons, and product literature.
Where Your Website Fits In
Websites encompass all stages of the buyer’s journey. Though consumers look for different types of inbound marketing content depending on where they are in the buying process, prospects can come to the website at each step of the journey. In fact, websites are one of the main ways your brand can help move prospects down the funnel. That’s why it is vital to ensure that your website provides the type of content that prospects need during each stage.
Many pieces of awareness level content may exist on your website already, such as your blog or resource library. The website content itself helps provide a lot of great consideration stage material as it explains your offering and approach to solving your customers’ biggest challenges. Again, customers will return to your website during the decision stage to look at case studies, compare pricing, or sign up for a free trial.
Optimizing Your Site for the Buyer’s Journey
Since your website plays an integral role at each stage of the process, it’s important that you optimize your website for each step of the buyer’s journey. You will need to design your website so that it is easy for visitors to find the content that relates to their stage. This means making the navigation simple, intuitive, and clear. Use the navigational toolbar and sidebar call-outs to ensure that visitors can find exactly what they’re looking for when they land on your site.
One way to help guide prospects from one stage of the buyer’s journey to the next is through clear calls-to-action (CTAs). Where you place the CTA will depend on the type of content you are delivering. For instance, you might use a CTA at the end of a blog post or video guiding the viewer to another piece of content that offers more in-depth research for their consideration. When it comes to longer pieces of content that are targeted toward buyers in the consideration phase, you might include a CTA that invites them to sign up for a free trial or download a demo.
Here are some general tips for creating effective CTAs that gets users to move through the funnel:
- Craft a CTA that is clear.Visitors should know exactly what you want them to do next. For instance, “Sign up now for a free trial” leaves no doubt in the user’s mind what their next logical step is.
- Use active words. Using active verbs will motivate the visitor to take action, helping move them to the next stage of the buyer’s journey. For instance, “Download our new eBook” is more effective then “Here is our new eBook.”
- Make it easy to take the next step. Not only should you be clear about what you want the user to do next, but you should make it as easy as possible for them to move through the funnel. Use links and buttons to display your CTAs so that users can easily proceed to the next step of the buyer’s journey.
It’s important to note that businesses need content for every stage of the buyer’s journey for each buyer persona they target. This means that if you have multiple buyer personas, you will need to carefully consider how each moves through the buyer’s journey and what they look for along the way. If possible, make it clear on your website where each persona can get the information that they need. For instance, if you offer solutions for both SMBs and large businesses, be sure to differentiate where each can go to get the content that is targeted to their needs and interests.