Let’s do a brief thought experiment, shall we?
For a moment, don’t think of yourself as a business owner, team leader, or executive. Think of yourself as an internet buyer, a customer on an imaginary buyer’s journey.
Think back to the last time you — not your customers — bought something online.
Did you immediately cart the first option that showed up in your search results? Fill out a form, call a number, or reach out on a Contact Us page on the first website you land on?
Didn’t think so. You, like some 96% of prospective customers in your target audience, weren’t ready to buy just yet.
The chances are that you took your time and headed to Google and social media to do some research.
Doubtless you hunted for discount codes or special offers to get a better price.
You opened up several tabs and compared different providers and options.
You read reviews or case studies and listened to testimonials of previous customers
Perhaps you also read a few blog articles, listened to a podcast or a webinar, or watched product comparison videos on YouTube.
And you did all that before making your final purchase decision.
And you are not alone: according to Salesforce’s 2017 Connected Shoppers Report, 79% of shoppers say they research products before buying in store, and 85% do research prior to making online purchases.
In fact, Salesforce also notes that by the time a customer reaches out to speak with your sales team, 70% of that customer’s purchase decision will have already been made!
We call this process the buyer’s journey and every single one of your ideal customers is somewhere on it.
What Is the Buyer’s Journey?
The buyer’s journey is the psychological process buyers go through before making a purchase decision online. The journey has three stages. First, buyers become aware they have a problem or a pain point. They then research potential solutions. Finally, they choose a solution.
Why the Buyer’s Journey Matters
Traditionally, companies used generic marketing that would only target what they considered as the ideal customer: the one that was ready to buy. Alternatively, they would deliver a take-it-or-leave-it sales pitch that offered little to no value to the prospective buyer.
This aggressive style of hard selling doesn’t work anymore. In fact, many forms of traditional sales like cold-calling, door-to-door sales, and events and trade shows, are no longer valid.
Outbound marketing has taken a back seat to inbound marketing as the preferred consumer’s choice.
To stand out in today’s market, you need a marketing strategy that delivers compelling content to potential customers at each step of the buying process.
It Builds Trust and Brand Loyalty
According to Salesforce’s 2020 State of the Connected Customer report, as much as 73% of customers expect businesses to understand and respond to their needs and expectations.
A further 62% expect companies to adjust their approach based on customers’ actions and behavior. However, only 47% believe that companies actually do that.
What does that mean for you?
Simply that if you offer your prospective customers personalized, targeted content types at every stage of the buyer’s journey, you’d be getting ahead of the competition — by a lot.
Technology has empowered prospective buyers to be more independent. Delivering custom content brings value to your prospects because many times, they’re the ones doing the research! This is the key to building trust and brand loyalty and ending up with satisfied customers.
When customers feel empowered, understood and nurtured, they buy more. More readily, more frequently, and are more likely to refer you to their family and friends.
It Guides Prospects to Where You Want Them to Arrive
If you force your potential buyer to do all the information gathering on their own, they may get distracted or discouraged — or someone else may get to them before you do.
In either case, the vast majority of people will abandon their research process halfway through and will not buy your product or service.
The whole point of leading prospects on the buyer journey is that you get to take them by the hand and then guide them every step of the way to the final destination: closing the sale.
That’s why you want to invest in inbound marketing and create informative, valuable content that will attract the potential buyer wherever they might be on their customer journey, from the awareness and consideration phase to the purchasing decision.
Pulling it together
Today’s customers are more independent than ever. They want to research and explore their options before they make a purchase decision. They will not be easily won over by pushy outbound marketing techniques and aggressive sales tactics.
You can use this to your advantage in your business.
Understanding how buyers navigate their way through the buyer’s journey, then providing valuable content that leads them to a sales decision, will put you miles ahead of the competition and help you convert more website visitors.
For more expert tips on how to use the buyer’s journey to plan your marketing content, check out this blog post.