How to convert more leads into customers with the buyer's journey
by Lucy Seymour on 24 July 2019
The Hero's Journey. It’s central to all the greatest stories: Goldilocks going into the forest; Bilbo leaving The Shire; Odysseus going on his epic adventure around the Aegean Sea. Journeys are a part of the human condition.
So what about the buyer’s journey? If you’re a marketer, understanding the buyer’s journey is central to your content creation and subsequent conversions. If you don’t know where a prospect is on their journey to becoming a customer, how do you know if the content you’re giving them, the solutions you’re offering, and the language you’re using is going to capture their attention?
We hope this post clarifies each stage of the buyer’s journey for inbound marketers, and helps you target your content in a more streamlined, productive and effective way.
We are all on various stages of the buyer's journey. Every time you consider a new purchase - from where to eat for lunch, to which paint to use to decorate your bedroom - you're on the buyer's journey. Whether you're entering it at the awareness stage, are choosing between options at the consideration stage or are ready to hand over your cash at the decision stage, you are somewhere along this timeline.
As HubSpot simply puts it:
‘The buyer's journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service.’
The journey consists of a three-step process (and the names for each stage fortunately follow in alphabetical order to help you memorise them!):
When the buyer realises they have a problem, they start to express their symptoms.
For example, you might feel like you’ve got an illness coming on and start to type your symptoms into Google. You don’t know what your issue is yet, just that you’ve got a tight chest, a dry cough and can’t stop sneezing.
At this stage, a buyer is keen to give a name to their problem, to answer the question "what is wrong with me?" It’s only once they have this knowledge that they can move onto the next stage in their journey.
Once the buyer defines their problem, they can begin researching options to help them solve it.
For example, they’ve found out that it sounds like they’ve got sinusitis, caused by hay fever. They have the reassurance of giving a name to their problem, but don’t yet know how to fix it.
At this stage, their research turns from identifying the problem, to considering all of the available approaches for resolving the issue – in this case, the different medications, herbal remedies and lifestyle choices the buyer could make to avoid hay fever symptoms.
Finally, the buyer chooses a solution. The buyer has decided upon their course of action and the solution that best fits their needs and tastes.
For example, the buyer has decided they need to take non-drowsy daily tablets, plus a nose spray.
At this stage, they know the product they’re after; the buyer now needs to whittle down a list of providers based on things like cost, speed of recovery, side effects etc. until they settle on their final product or brand.
In order to cover every possible buyer, you need to have content which directly aligns with these three stages in the process.
So what does this mean for the content you’re creating at the Awareness Stage? Here are a few more points about how to talk to your Awareness Stage buyers when creating content and interacting with them.
Examples could be:
During the Awareness Stage, you need to establish your brand as a reliable source of information to the buyer. If you create a gated lead magnet to help them – something of real value which will help them learn more about their situation – your business can immediately follow up their email submission with information that will nurture them towards the next stage of the Buyer’s Journey.
Top tip: Don’t even think about mentioning your brand and solutions in your content for this stage – it’ll seem way too pushy for customers who haven’t even fully identified their problem yet. This content needs to focus on pain points and giving a name to their concerns.
A buyer may come to you already at the consideration stage: they know their problem and are now researching the various solutions. Your content focus will change accordingly.
Top tip: When writing content for the Consideration Stage, don’t be too me, me, me. This isn’t an opportunity to start ramming your brand down the buyer’s throat and wax lyrical about all the fantastic things your product does. It’s still too early for that: if you start talking about your product in depth, you’re going to scare them away.
What you can do is offer your business’ category as ONE of the solutions, as well as mentioning a load of other options. Keep the net as wide as possible to help them; don’t push them down one route before they’re ready.
You might have moved your buyer along the buyer's journey, or a new buyer might come to you at the decision stage. When a prospect is at this point, you can start talking to them a lot more directly about your product.
Examples could be:
Top tip: In this stage you can be a lot more direct. Name your brand, name your models or packages, feature quotes from influential people at your business, and include plenty of links to product pages for customers to find out more: this isn't the time to be a wallflower!
Because a buyer could be joining you at any stage of the buyer’s journey – or you could be moving them along to the next one with each piece of content – it’s essential you have inbound marketing campaigns that cater to every phase of the buyer's journey.
If all your content is Decision Stage, you'll come off far too forcefully and scare away potential customers. Likewise, if all you do is talk about pain-led issues and never mention the solutions, your content will seem too vague to ever encourage a purchase. Ensuring your blog has a balance of articles – targeted at each of your buyer personas – will ensure a joined up process and greater sales success.