There’s a reason it’s called the buyer’s journey. Customers don’t just purchase a product without any prior consideration. They go through a series of stages that leads them to the final purchase decision. Customers’ expectations are increasing and it’s important that you provide the information they need to make a purchase.
Impulse buys tend to be an exception to the traditional buyer’s journey. Impulse buys involve the customer making a purchase decision triggered by an emotional response and the need for instant gratification. This behaviour is most common in B2C markets and often not the case for B2B.
Understanding which content to create at each stage of the buyer’s journey can be challenging. You must first understand how your target audience thinks, behaves and their challenges that your product or service would overcome.
Creating detailed buyer personas is critical here. Buyer personas are semi-fictional characters based on your ideal customers. Before you begin creating content, you should ensure your buyer personas are up to date and provide an in-depth understanding of your target customers.
What are the stages of the buyer’s journey?
The buyer’s journey has three stages: awareness, consideration and decision. In each of these stages, the customer must receive content that helps them move forward onto the next stage. Content must be tailored to the customers’ wants and needs to ensure they can make a well-considered purchase decision.
The inbound marketing flywheel is a methodology that can help you create content for your buyer’s journey. While the buyer’s journey is from the customers perspective, the inbound flywheel is from your perspective. The three phases of the flywheel, attract, engage and delight, match up perfectly with the buyer’s journey. Here’s how they work together:
- Attract strangers unaware of your product or service
- Engage prospects so they consider your brand
- Delight customers so they decide to make a purchase
Your content should perform these functions so the buyer is engaged appropriately at each stage of their journey. With all this in mind, let’s look at how to create content for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
For individuals to start the buyer’s journey, they must have identified a pain point, question or need that they need solving. You can assume individuals in the awareness stage are unaware of your brand in general or the product or service you provide.
You must raise brand awareness so you’re on the individual’s radar when it comes to who will solve their problems. Your goal is to create content that highlights their need and how you can add value.
Content here should be top level and address their challenge without going into your product or service. Content should be educational, relevant and helpful to your target audience so they’re interested to learn more from you.
Blog posts and ebooks are great in the awareness stage. They enable you to go into detail about a relevant topic that your audience is interested in and provide useful information based on your expertise. Social media posts and videos are short, sharp and shareable. This content is perfect for grabbing attention and communicating the most important bits of information to the buyer.
During consideration, strangers become prospects. Individuals go from having no real lead value to a promising potential customer. Content at this stage must be engaging to prevent leads dropping off the flywheel. You already know you’ve captured their attention so all you have to do is provide the solution that’s going to solve the problem.
Buyers need detailed information to really evaluate their options. Your content must be as honest as possible in the consideration stage to convert customers that truly need your product or service. This is crucial for healthy customer retention which occurs after the decision stage.
To show that your brand is the best fit for the buyer, case studies and testimonials are useful types of content. Case studies show how you helped a customer with the same problem as the buyer and how your solution was tailored to their needs.
Testimonials provide social proof and are often more trustworthy than any claim you can make about your own business. Guides, instructional videos and free trials can demonstrate how your product or service works and enable the buyer to picture themselves using your offering.
The customer has decided that your product or service is the right one for them and they just need that final push over the edge to complete the purchase. Strong calls to action and easy user experience are crucial to ensure the buyer can then easily purchase your offering.
Ensure the user knows exactly how to make a purchase and has all the information they need. Provide clear product descriptions to detail exactly what they’re buying and build trust. Include reviews or ratings at this stage to provide final reassurance that the buyer is making the right decision.
Your work doesn’t end there. Customers aren’t the output. Customers are central to all of your inbound marketing efforts and the flywheel must continue turning to generate revenue. You must provide content after the initial purchase decision to delight your customer and build loyal relationships.
Email marketing and social posts will help you put new content directly in front of customers you already have a relationship with. Live chats, chatbots and easily accessible communication channels ensure your customers can connect with you whenever they want.
That’s how the buyer’s journey and flywheel continue to work. As you continuously delight your customers, when they develop a new pain point or need, your brand will be the first they consider. This begins the buyer’s journey again and turns customers into brand advocates.