With the advent of the Internet and rise of new technologies, buying behaviors shifted, igniting the inbound marketing movement. Instead of being prospected or sold to, today's buyers prefer to research and compare options online before making a purchasing decision. By identifying your typical customer's path to purchase – or buyer’s journey – and creating relevant, helpful content to add value at every stage, you can help move prospects from awareness to consideration to a justified, final decision.
What is a Customer Purchase Path (aka Buyer's Journey)?
Virtually every buyer goes through an active research process, known as a buyer's journey, before making a purchase. Made up of three stages – the awareness stage, the consideration stage and the decision stage – the buyer's journey outlines what potential customers experience to become aware of, assess and ultimately purchase a product or service. In order to attract prospects and turn them into customers, you first must understand the stages of the buyer's journey.
Stage 1: Awareness
In the awareness stage, buyers are either searching for information to solve a potential problem or to fulfill a particular need, and most likely, they will turn to search engines for answers. Instead of trying to sell to prospects at this stage, you should arm them with useful, relevant content that helps them begin to make sense of their problem. Infographics, educational blog posts, whitepapers and ebooks are all SEO-driven inbound content tactics that can help buyers not only find out about you, but also discover helpful ideas and solutions to resolve their pain points.
Stage 2: Consideration
Once your prospects have identified a want or need, they move to the consideration stage. At this point, buyers will continue their research, delving deeper in an attempt to uncover what options are available to them. Consideration-stage content should nurture the relationship between your prospects and your brand. Potential customers need a clear reason to choose your brand, product or service over the competition. Expert guides, live video, case studies, whitepapers, podcasts and targeted blog posts directed at consideration-stage buyers can all help you drive prospects to the decision stage.
Stage 3: Decision
Once potential customers have reached the decision stage and comprised a solution strategy, they'll likely look at all their research, narrow down their list of prospective vendors and finally make a well-informed purchasing decision. During this stage, you'll want to provide testimonials, free downloads, special deals and/or spec sheets to tip the scales in your favor.
Understanding Your Customers' Purchase Path
Every industry and company is different, whether you're B2B or B2C. In order to understand the unique challenges your prospects face during each stage of the buyer's journey, you must first figure out your buyer personas, or fictional, comprehensive representations of ideal customers. Once you've developed different buyer personas aimed at driving the right traffic to your site, you can apply each persona to where they are in the buyer's journey. By doing so, you'll be able to ensure that your site attracts potential customers in all stages of the buyer's journey. And in turn, attaching buyer personas to each stage helps prospects find the type of information they're searching for with ease.
Leveraging Keywords in Each Stage of Your Customers' Purchase Path
Help potential buyers discover content pertinent to their stage in the buyer's journey with relevant terms. Keywords in the awareness stage often include: troubleshoot, issue, resolve, risks, upgrade, improve, enhance, optimize and prevent. When it comes to the consideration stage, choose words like solutions, provider, service, supplier, device, software and tool. For decision-stage content, excellent buzzwords include: compare, versus, pros and cons, benchmarks and review.
There you have it – the buyer's journey in a nutshell. Remember: the buyer's journey is typical of nearly all buying decisions, and if you utilize each stage correctly, you can help potential customers make a well-informed purchasing decision on your site.
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About Virtucom Group
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