Unknown Facts About Buyer’s Journey In Digital Marketing
The buyer’s journey is the process a consumer goes through before purchasing a product or service. This process can look different depending on the industry or product you are related to but generally has 5 mains stages from awareness to retention.
When you target an audience, you have to consider wherein the buyer’s journey this audience sits. Do they already know your product? Have they tried it before? Have they ever purchased from your competitor’s brand? What do they think about your brand and product? What are the pain points that would prevent this audience from purchasing your product?
Understanding the context around your audience and the elements needed to move them down the funnel is critical for a successful digital marketing strategy. Their place in the buyer’s journey will influence the media you chose to communicate. Think about these questions and try to understand precise decision-making processes that influence the consumer. Each product category or service will have their own priority that customers focus on before making the purchase decision. The idea is to uncover these insights and use them in your content strategy in order to move your audience to the next stage.
You should aim to create your own buyer’s journey based on research, adding precision to the general model we are going to see in the next few slides. This is deeply rooted in the inbound methodology, i.e. how to attract a highly qualified audience by providing the necessary tools for their decision making process.
The buyer’s journey generally is divided into 5 stages: awareness, interest, consideration, conversion and retention. There are many models out there that are also valid, some with fewer stages, but globally they all focus on the three main consumer touchpoints: being aware of your company, researching how your company fits in their life, making a purchase decision, etc. Each stage comes with its own challenges and goals that will drive a marketing strategy.
1.Awareness: Communicate a benefit, tell them about a brand, product, event or offer.
2.Interest: Increase emotional engagement.
3.Consideration: Bring your company to the forefront of the choice.
4.Conversion: Convert intent into action.
5.Retention: Make the consumer feel special and increase recommendations.
Positioning your consumers on any of these stages will also require the understanding of their needs and motivations, which is achievable through in-depth psychological and behavioural research. In the next few slides, we will see an example of a consumer going through each stage of the buyer’s journey, providing a better understanding of how each stage involves the consumers and the company.
The Awareness stage represents the moment where the consumer becomes aware of a problem he/she wants to solve in his/her life and perceives your product ad as a potential solution.
In this stage, marketers should focus on creating visibility and recognition. This is a critical stage for new products, brands or added benefits to an existing product. This stage will focus on getting your product out there, implementing it as part of a broader scope of existing solutions for an issue.
In this example, our consumer Mary is not satisfied with the state of her hair. Maybe she saw an advertisement for a shampoo attracting attention to split ends, or maybe she has a friend with healthier looking hair than hers and also wants to be able to enjoy rich, glossy and fabulous looking hair. At this stage, understanding where this need emerged from will help know what your product can actually bring.
There is a difference in building a strategy for consumers whose motivation comes from confidence issues about their physical appearance and beauty than one from consumers with hair-related conditions that will need a more medical approach. Solving for the awareness stage is one of the most expensive, it relies mostly on repetition, scale and developing new content that will match the consumer’s motivation and need. Achieving awareness requires being present in the places consumers look for solutions. At this stage of a consumer’s research, 72% will turn to Google for answers.
- Why is the consumer trying to solve his/her problem?
- What is the root of the problem?
- Where will they go to find solutions?
- What solution can your company bring?
- How does your company’s solution fit into the consumer’s knowledge and lifestyle?
The Interest stage represents the moment when the consumer is looking for options that will help solve his/her problem.
During this stage, consumers will look at possibilities and prioritize what they need and how to find a solution to meet that need. For instance, they might look at different shampoo, brands, and compare price, ingredients, features, and packaging of the shampoo. They will prioritize their research around one or multiple criteria, ex: finding a shampoo that is low in price but one with natural ingredients.
At this stage, the consumer will have a selection of products in mind but will need more information and experience to make a decision. This is a quest for knowledge that, in the digital marketing landscape, translates into reading reviews, blog articles, social media and ad product websites in order to gain as much information as possible. We can consider that this stage is influenced by earned media, as the consumer will turn to peer recommendations to scope solutions to their problems.
Now, consumers are active and open to finding new content, this is a great stage to push your content out organically, send well-timed marketing emails and develop relevant articles that attract that interested audience. These consumers are what we call prospects who can be turned into leads. They are showing interest but haven’t yet actively engaged with your company. The goal is to engage them emotionally, by appealing to their needs.
The consideration stage
The Consideration Stage represents the moment when the consumer knows about your brand and thinks it is a good fit for their needs or what they are trying to achieve. They may have other brands in mind, but your company is in the top 5 possible choices. A more aggressive approach is needed from the marketing strategy in order to strengthen the relationship with the consumer and prove the brand’s value through content, testing, promotions, and staying relevant.
The consumer might have decided to follow the brand on social media and subscribe to a newsletter to get more information that could influence their choice. They have shown interest by taking these actions and are waiting to be convinced. At this stage, your product is compared with a selection of your probable direct competitors. This is where differentiation will play a major role in decision making. You need to answer some questions for the customer: why is your product better, what is the added value, how difficult is it to buy your product, what is the level of effort involved in using your product, what are previous customers saying about your product, is your product used by any trusted sources, such as influencers or friends?
In our example, Mary may have 2 or 3 brands in mind that meets her needs, they could repair her hair, be low in cost and use natural ingredients. These products and brands are slightly similar with different positioning and Mary is trying to learn more about the quality of each. She will browse their website, follow them on Instagram, look at reviews on Amazon and consult her favourite beauty blogger for more insights. The influential factors that help her make a decision at this stage might be any of the following; a special collaboration with her favourite artist, an aspect of the product that impacts on the environment, and seeing lots of content related to one brand.
At this stage, the inbound strategy makes even more sense because if it is correctly realized, the brand or product will organically occur in the consumer’s search and social media feeds. But using all 3 types of media, owned, earned and paid, will yield even stronger results, using an influencer’s voice and retargeting consumers that have previously shown interest.
The Conversion Stage represents the moment when the consumer is ready to buy your product, has done his research and based on their needs and motivations, has decided that the product is providing the best solution for their problem. At this stage, the consumer has not yet paid for the product or service and the role of the marketer is to create a point of contact to drive the conversions. This is generally achieved with targeting and re-targeting, promotional offers, and creating a sense of urgency. Thanks to analytics on website, social media, and marketing emails, marketers can gather data that will qualify a lead for sales based on actions taken.
If we take our example, Mary has read reviews online, asked her friends, went on several brand’s websites, started following some products on social media. Recently, she went on the website of product X, selected a few products, added them to her basket and saved it, but didn’t convert. She came back to the company social accounts and product pages a couple of times during the week.
These clues give marketer information that she is actively considering the product and might be ready for conversion. As a result, it might be a good idea to send a marketing email reminding her of the product she left and offer a promotional code for her first purchase that will be valid for the next few days. Another tactic can be to use social media retargeting capacities on Mary’s social media newsfeed, showing relevant ads that showcase the product and the brand.
The Retention Stage is often overlooked and is a key stage for ensuring reoccurring revenue and creating a group of active brand advocates. Once the consumer has used the product and is satisfied, it is crucial to provide added value and create a real relationship. This, on one hand, delights the customer that will feel special and part of the brand’s community, on the other hand, this encourages repurchase and thus additional revenue from an existing customer.
From a cost point of view, it is more cost-effective to retain existing customers and encourage re-purchases than getting new leads that might only be at the awareness stage. In this stage, you are addressing an already convinced consumer that thinks your product is great for them, but you still need to keep them satisfied and create a desire to come back to your product.
This is achieved by many tactics like content development, special promotions, events, newsletters, community management, etc. If we look at our example, Mary has purchased the product after seeing a retargeted ad on Facebook. She used the product through her hair, which became much healthier, posted on social media about her experience, and is currently happy with the product’s promise. Her purchase might last her a month or so, thus the brand over this period of time has to ensure that her next purchase if only to renew the product, will be within their product range.
The brand can send a post-sales message to thank Mary, giving her a voucher for additional purchases and also provide content about other products she might like. The company could also use research to understand what other buyers in their community have bought and if Mary fits any existing buyer personas that could provide extra information. If they know that she visits the blog often, they can set up a lead flow to subscribe her to their newsletter and use smart content to show relevant articles.
Today with digital marketing, the retention stage can be extremely rich and relevant based on all the information gathered using online analytics. The more you know about your customers, the more you will be able to provide additional value to them and delight them, not only with your product but with your brand experience and personality.
Now your take on this article…
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