A common mistake in digital marketing is the “cold sell,” when companies ask customers to spend lots of money in their first interaction. A negative experience at any step in the sales process—poor customer service, a lack of clear information—could sour their relationship with your brand.
Targeted digital advertising offers a powerful tool to build relationships with customers more likely to buy more and more often— nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, according to Marketo. A clear understanding of the buyer’s journey can help you target the right customers at the appropriate moment to ensure they have a seamless, fulfilling experience with your brand.
The buyer’s journey refers to the path the customer takes from the first time they become aware of your business through their evaluation process as they decide whether or not to make a purchase. The buyer’s journey is shaped by the accumulation of brand touchpoints, or interactions with your brand. The ads, Tweets and conversations with sales representatives shape the customers’ overall experience and impact their final purchase decisions.
By looking at the journey as a whole, you can identify opportunities and address any “gaps” where the customers’ needs aren’t being met. Thorough knowledge of the buyer’s journey can lead to growth and strengthen your overall sales process.
The first stage of the buyer’s journey is when the customer first encounters your company. This can be one of the most difficult tasks; according to HubSpot, 61% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is the top challenge they face.
Content in this stage should be informative, providing answers, research and insight. These potential customers are seeking to learn more about a problem they face, or just beginning to identify their problem. In 2018, more customers than ever were using the Internet to find and choose between purchase options— 81% of customers research online before they buy, according to AdWeek.
In this stage, the customer is aware of their problem and weighing their options. Customers can get 60% of the way through a buying process before they’re ready to talk to anyone about making a purchase, according to Gartner. They conduct more intensive, in-depth research, and compare their different options. In this stage, it’s important to communicate why your products or services are specifically a good fit, and how they address the customer’s needs.
In this stage, companies want to build deeper relationships and trust with potential customers. Acquiring emails and contact information allows you to reach out to customers on a personalized, one-on-one level, and deliver information specific to their needs.
In this stage, customers decide whether or not they want to make the purchase from you or your competitors. Clear, targeted calls to action are important here: are these new customers, or repeat ones? What services or deals would be most appealing to them?
Marketing is just as important after the first purchase to encourage brand loyalty and extend the relationship. Brand advocates will spread awareness through word of mouth and referrals, and customers find these personal recommendations valuable.
According to HubSpot, 55% of customers use word of mouth to make buying decisions, and 46% use other customer reviews. Satisfied buyers will leave reviews on Google or Yelp and encourage their friends to work with your company.
Mapping your buyer’s journey
Brand interactions are growing more complex in the digital era—the number of touchpoints is increasing by 20% annually, according to McKinsey. To better understand the current customer experience, map out your brand touchpoints and look for places where the customers could be getting more from your team or process. Look at the effectiveness of each interaction from an outsider’s perspective: what is your website user experience like? Is your social media presence valuable? Are you addressing all of their needs?
By searching for gaps and opportunities, you can identify where to concentrate your marketing budget and energy to deliver the most growth for your business.