There is a path to purchase that your company’s personas inevitably travel along before making a decision. When it comes to inbound marketing, blog readers and aggregated website traffic meander along this path to purchase for some time prior to choosing to become a customer of yours. While sliding down this funnel and traveling on this journey, your readers are getting comfortable with your brand, they are looking to you as a resource, they are learning about your product and industry.
Eventually, if your company is doing inbound marketing properly, they will make an educated decision to purchase from you. We call this process The Buyer’s Journey. And, there are three stages to the inbound marketing buyer’s journey that you need to know about in order to succeed at inbound marketing.
The three stages of the Inbound Marketing Buyer’s Journey are:
Buyer’s Journey Stage 1: The Awareness Stage
At the beginning of the buyer’s journey, your personas are unaware of your company and your products. The important thing marketers, content creators, and inbound marketing campaigns must focus on when crafting and distributing content aimed at awareness-stage personas is: Pain Points!
Illuminate, remedy, discuss, and empathize with your readers’ pain points. Content should not center around your company or your product; rather, your personas’ pain points must be at the epicenter of all awareness-stage content.
Have faith that your brand, your company, and your product will gain market share and brand awareness by being a resource and thought leader.
When your customers are working towards identifying a need during the awareness stage, 72% will turn to Google for research and in search of answers to their questions or pains. During this stage, readers, buyers, and customers will weed out the brands and companies that are not providing value, answering questions, and serving as a resource. With thoughtful, strategic, and useful awareness-stage content, your company will make the cut—while your competitors are eliminated.
STAT: 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to your sales team.
Examples of Awareness Stage Content Pieces Include:
- White Papers
- Educational Blog Posts
- Lead Nurturing Campaigns
- REMEMBER: NO Sales-Centric Content!
Buyer’s Journey Stage 2: The Consideration Stage
Once a persona has identified their problem, researched potential solutions, and narrowed their options down to a handful of companies who earned their trust, addressed their pain points, and answered their questions they enter the consideration stage. Since your company’s awareness-stage content earned you a place in this stage, you are now able to start thinking more like a sales rep.
70% of buyers return to Google at least 2–3 times during the consideration stage. The consideration stage is when buyers will start doing in-depth comparisons between companies and they will actually reach out to sales representatives to learn more. The customer behavior during the consideration stage is aimed at one specific goal: Learning more about the features that matter to them.
Since buyers in the consideration stage are beginning to think about making a purchase, this is the time when ROI and pricing are important pivot points. Readers and customers will need to get buy-in from their company’s c-suiters and decision makers. So, content that shows (not tells) readers in the consideration stage how you will make their life easier will propel personas in The Buyer’s Journey further.
Language used in consideration-stage content should speak directly to CEOs, CMOs, and CFOs. “Return on investment,” “cost effective,” and “increased revenue” must be foundational terms of your consideration stage vernacular.
STAT: 90% of buyers say they will find you when they’re ready to buy.
Examples of Consideration Stage Content Pieces Include:
- Educational Blog Posts
- Perona Pain Point Videos
- Case Studies
Buyer’s Journey Stage 3: The Decision Stage
As soon as your readers and personas get approval from decision makers and allocated budget from the c-suite to purchase, their focus shifts and their pain points change. Now, in the decision stage of The Buyer’s Journey, your soon-to-be customers are concerned with things like implementation, customer support, starting costs, and preparation.
So, your company’s decision-stage content must center on these new pain points. Now is the time to talk about your company, be brand-centric, and enumerate specific products and features. This is the time in The Buyer’s Journey for your company to definitively show readers and customers why they should purchase from you and why they should purchase from you now!
STAT: 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are also more likely to buy from that company.
Examples of Decision Stage Content Pieces Include:
- Drip Campaigns
- Lead nurturing
- Best Practices
- Comparison Charts
- Why Us, Why Now
The exciting challenge for content creators, inbound marketers, and marketing departments is strategically providing content nuggets at exactly the right time to your targeted, three-dimensional personas. Mapping content to your personas’ specific stage of The Buyer’s Journey will propel them through this new-age funnel.
Like a Monopoly piece on the board, your personas will travel from attraction to conversion to closure to delight. And your marketing and sales teams will celebrate together (imagine that) as qualified leads travel along The Buyer’s Journey.
Here is a refresher about the four never-ending steps of inbound marketing:
- Attracting website traffic.
- Converting strangers into leads.
- Closing leads into customers.
- Delighting customers and compelling them to come back for more.