What is the buyer's journey?
The days of the boiler room hard sell are over. People don't want to be prospected or closed. They want to discover information about their problem, a solution to that problem and later learn about your company. And they want to do it all at their own pace. Remember that nearly 2/3 of a buyer's journey is done before they even meet a sales person.
Helping people get from "Do I have a need?" to "I'm happy with this decision" is what we call the buyer's journey. Let's take a closer look at the stages in that journey and what you need to know about them.
Stages of the buyer's journey
There are a lot of different versions of the stages of the buyer's journey and it can vary by company especially between B2B and B2C companies, but the overall idea remains the same. Like most things in life, I tend to like a more simplified version and this one is from Hubspot.
This is where the buyer begins to identify the challenge or opportunities they want to pursue. Is it something aspirational, like having a certain type of product to fit into a particular social group, or is it an actual problem that they want to solve?
It's important at this stage for you to begin to think about how the buyer may want to educate themselves about this opportunity or challenge.
- Is it at events?
- Company websites?
- Comparison shopping sites?
- Industry reports?
You also need to consider what the consequences of inaction are. By that, I mean if the buyer makes no decision, what happens? This helps you understand how they may prioritize addressing this problem and what you can do to ensure that it is a priority. After all, no decision is a decision as well.
Types of content:
This isn't the time for a hard sell and anyway the customer hasn't even contacted you yet. Content should be focused on your buyer's pain points and not your specific product or brand. According to Pardot's State of Demand Generation, at this point, nearly 72% of buyers will turn to google to begin their search.
The first stage of research usually begins with general search terms, so SEO optimization is crucial. Buyers are usually looking for educational material from websites such as blogs, e-books, checklists, infographics, educational webinars and customer reviews, so you need to make sure these types of resources are readily available on your website.
At this stage, the buyer is now aware that they have a problem or challenge and has decided they want to address it. Now they'll begin to evaluate different criteria on how to address the issue. Here you'll want to consider answers to questions such as:
- Where do buyer's go to educate themselves about the different categories of solutions?
- What are the pros and cons of those categories and how does the buyer perceive them?
- How and where do buyers begin to make comparisons between different solutions?
It's typically at the end of this stage that buyers will reach out to sales people to finalize their comparisons. A great way to impress the customer is if Sales uses the information such as what the buyer has looked at or downloaded on your site in order to tailor the conversation.
Types of Content:
Here is where the comparison begins between different categories of solutions as well as different vendors. This is the stage where you begin to talk about your solution to the buyer's challenge or opportunity. Content such as product webinars, case studies, fact sheets, FAQ's, analyst reports and product demos can help your buyer understand your specific value proposition and solution.
Also remember that 70% of buyers return to google 2-3 times during this stage (Pardot's state of demand generation). So having a good content library filled with valuable resources is important.
This is the moment we've all been waiting for. At this stage, the buyers have already decided on a solution for their issue and have shortlisted several vendors. This is where you need to clearly demonstrate your differentiation from the competition and by this time the buyer must understand why your solution best fits their needs.
Types of Content:
Here, the buyer needs a final nudge to buy from you and having the right content at this stage can dramatically increase your conversion rates. Some examples of great content would be ROI calculators, free trials, live demos, in depth case studies and customer videos.
Mapping your content strategy, and sales process to your buyer's journey can help not only increase the number of leads you are generating, but also increase your conversion rates during the later stages of the sales process.