It’s a tough world in sales and marketing, with so many companies aggressively competing to be the “loudest”. But what if marketing to buyers throughout the sales process could be simpler and less painful for both parties?
The hard truth is that there really is no “one size fits all” solution to capture all of your target audience. However, by breaking down the buyer’s journey marketers can better understand how to help buyers at each step of the way.
Let’s find out what we can learn from each step of the buyer’s journey.
The simplistic approach
As mentioned earlier, there really is no one size fits all buyer’s “guide”. Just as your product or service is unique, so is each buyer and their needs.
However, fundamentally, the buyer’s process is consistent:
1. The buyer recognizes and identifies a problem.
You wouldn’t be searching for a new couch if your dog hadn’t chewed his way through yards of leather, or if your friend hadn’t spilt that glass of red wine on the beige cushions.
It is important you create attractive, optimized content around this idea. Blog pieces, press releases, videos and social media posts are all content your buyers can engage with at this stage of awareness. Make sure you are addressing the buyers’ pain points.
Protip: Your marketing content should be more focused on the buyer and their pain points – not your company and your product. Nothing sells like the word “you”.
2. The buyer searches for possible solutions
Once a buyer identifies a specific problem, they begin to educate themselves on possible solutions.
Your buyers at this stage are often surfing Google for informative material, reviews and testimonials.
Make sure your content is optimized to answer any questions relevant to your product or service, and even how your product holds up to other alternatives, to help guide your buyers in their research.
It helps to understand the language your target audience is using to describe their problems, and how they are choosing to educate themselves. If you are both using the same language (i.e. “buyer intent” words), you’re more likely to fall on their radar.
3. The buyer makes a well-informed decision
The buyer will need to validate that the research and information collected are accurate, and in addition, decide how your product measures up next to other similar products.
Financial decisions, especially a large-scale B2B sale, for example, are often vetted by multiple members and layers of an organization. As a marketer, it is imperative that you have content to capture all of the decision-makers. This is why reports often help seal deals.
Protip: Have whitepapers and guides readily available on your website. Making this material harder to find may sway a buyer’s decision in another direction, and even make your company seem non-transparent.
Case: The world was shaken and economies shattered with the introduction of cryptocurrency. Even without any advertising, they became the highlight of the decade. Why? Because the buyers now are highly informed.
Map your content to each step of the buyer’s journey
Part of benefiting from the buyer’s journey as a marketer comes from understanding what buyers are looking for at each step of the way, and how to best market to them at each of these steps.
BONUS: Here is how I write my content based on various metrics and insights such as BCG, Hofstede and more!
For example, if your buyers have not yet pinpointed exactly what their problem is, there’s a good chance they’ve navigated to one of your landing pages through a general search on a search engine like Google.
This is a great opportunity to engage those users by “asking” and answering specific questions to help them understand their problems and the solutions you provide.
Make sure your landing pages are keyword optimized and have appropriate CTAs (calls-to-action) that prompts your users to fill out a survey, ask a personalized question, call you, or sign up for your newsletters to stay informed, for example.
If a buyer has already recognized a problem and is comparing solutions, they are probably engaging with more technical and informative content such as pricing and features pages, technical guides and whitepapers.
Marketing automation tools are your friend!
Marketing automation tools can be extremely helpful when implemented throughout the buyer’s journey.
Consider tracking what content users are downloading at the beginning of their awareness phase, for example, and how users’ interest changes at each stage. Take a look at how one company used a simple automation tracker to increase sales by 40%.
Social media automation tools also help drastically increase your online presence, in turn increasing buyer awareness. So take advantage of the multitude of platforms at your fingertips. Even LinkedIn can’t be ruled out, with its strength in professional networking.
Make their journey easier
It’s not enough these days to simply understand the buyer’s journey – it falls on marketers to make their journey easier.
Expert Opinion: Ali Din, ADP’s VP of Product Marketing, points out –
“We are often rushing to build out a buyer’s journey, identify the personas and then map content along the journey. But it isn’t enough to have the buyer’s journey identified. It’s imperative that you assess the “jobs” that B2B buyers are trying to complete in the journey and find ways to reduce friction in the journey.”
The best way to understand the sales cycle is to ask! Set up a sales engagement tool and perhaps offer an incentive for submissions.
Asking could help marketers understand how users are searching for information, the language they are using to do so, and any pros and cons they may be weighing about your product.
This allows marketers to help their buyers identify problems, choose viable solutions, and reinforce their decisions, creating a mutually beneficial relationship and most importantly, customer acquisition cost.
Himaan Chatterji (founder: Chaturworld.com) is a B2B freelance content developer and a full-time digital nomad working with SaaS brands around the world to create a web of interconnected long-form actionable resources. When not on his desk, he indulges in Latin dancing and reading altered perspectives on the mundane. @HimaanChatterji