A one-size-fits-all marketing approach no longer works. Most forward-looking companies acknowledge the need for personalized messages that meet unique customer needs. Even though you may not realize it, customers go through a ‘journey’ before they make a purchase. Each stage of the buyer’s journey requires a unique marketing approach. You may be missing out on sales and revenue if your marketing fails to cover each aspect of the journey. This article helps you understand the digital customer buying journey so that you tailor your marketing efforts to meet every phase of the journey.
This is the first stage in the buyer’s journey. In this stage, the buyer either:
- Does not realize they have a problem/need.
- Has realized something (that they don’t know) is not right. Maybe the prospect is experiencing symptoms of a problem.
The big question is: how do you market to this kind of potential buyer in this stage? The answer is simple; you have to address your buyer persona’s pain-points while creating awareness about your brand in the process. You can use digital advertising methods like OTT, CTV, display ads, and pre-roll video to create awareness on a customer problem or spark interest.
As a best practice, these messages should be tailored and targeted to your ideal customer. By targeting your ideal demographics and those who’ve shown interest for your product or service, you’ll increase the likelihood they will respond or take action. This helps eliminate the wasted spend in a non-targeted approach, where you’re hitting the masses and hoping your ideal customer will see it and respond.
In this phase, the prospective buyer has identified their problem and is interested in seeking a solution. The need for a solution may have been triggered by internal stimuli – for example, hunger – or external stimuli – maybe the advertising has evoked interest. With interest, the prospect typically will search for more information about the problem and a potential solution. The prospect searches for information from sources such as:
- Personal sources: they consult family, friends, and acquaintances.
- Online sources: the prospect searches online for more information about a product or service and compares it to a competitor’s products or services.
In this stage, as a marketer, you have to provide content focused on the solution. You must position yourself as an industry expert who can solve the buyer’s problem. Do not make pitches about your product and services yet. You can use videos, podcasts, and webinars to address the buyers’ problems and offer them a solution. Also, display ads, email, and high funnel PPC are great options for this phase. The important thing is to be present in this phase, so that your prospect begins to think of you as the solution to their needs.
The research stage gives the buyer many options to solve their problem. In this stage, the prospect starts to consider and compare them. They evaluate the different alternatives and their attractiveness based on a set of criteria relevant to the buyer. Most buyers use the attributes of the product, degree of importance, and perception of the brand to make a decision.
The prospect vets different approaches to the problem (companies and products) with the aim to get the most appealing one. They compare you against competitors. In the consideration stage, it is the golden opportunity to market your company and its offerings. Give buyers a reason to choose you among the other options they have. Offer them case studies, a live demo, or trial download to entice them. You can even create a product comparison chart that presents your product as the winner. Additionally, social media, SEO, SEM, and IP targeting are good digital methods for this stage.
After considering the alternatives, the buyer has the intent to purchase. But before they make a purchase, they may request for more information about the product, visit your website, and even call your company. When the prospect visits your website, they expect to find your contact information so you should ensure it is readily available. In the intent stage, marketers can use deeper interest targeting in display, custom geo-fencing, retargeting, email and redeploys to target prospects.
Finally, the prospect becomes a customer. They make a purchase in person or through e-commerce. Marketing does not stop in this phase of the buyer’s journey. Use retargeting to help them find out more ways to do business with you. Use Facebook retargeting as well to stay top of mind with your new customer..
Your relationship with a customer does not end with a purchase. You have to go a mile further to retain the customer to guarantee repeat business. Social media marketing, Email Marketing, and custom, 1st party geo-fencing campaigns are great strategies to use to retain customers.
Understanding the buyer journey is a fundamental part of developing great marketing. When you target prospects in every stage of the journey, you increase their likelihood of converting them into paying customers. Targeting prospects is like dating; you take it slowly without revealing too much too soon. You first focus on their needs and problems and give them solutions to their problems. With time, they will be all yours.