The buyer’s journey has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. That doesn’t mean that people have diverged from their usual route to the shop. But the one that they experience when they are deciding where and what they are going to buy when making purchasing decisions. The proliferation of the internet means that buyers now have access to more information than ever before. As a result of this, 93% of a customer’s buying decisions are started online. So, I hear you ask, how can my company take advantage of this shift in buyer’s behaviour?
Consider Pain Points
To begin with, it is important to realise that each buying journey starts with a pain point. It is not a literal headache that buying a packet of paracetamol will solve; but a symptom of a problem that a customer has identified as something which can be improved. It will typically be an internal issue but can sometimes be external. It could be a B2B, B2C or just an individual consumer looking to purchase. So, it is still somewhat of a headache; and not just for the consumer. Even if at face value some problems appear similar, each pain point is unique and has a range of different solutions. When outlining your content strategy, having an overriding plan to identify people with a pain point is important to maximise leads. However, once a lead has turned into a qualified lead, it is important to consider all facets of a pain point rather than just the main issue. You wouldn’t build a house without foundations; so why solve a problem without addressing the underlying issues?
Look at your Buyer's Journey
There are three primary stages to a buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration and decision. Planning your content for each stage of a buyer’s journey is important to ensuring that you can add value and insight throughout the journey.
Although the pain point is part of the awareness stage, it is only the beginning of the journey that the buyer will undertake. Once they have identified their pain point, the buyer will be looking to define their problem, opportunity or eventual goal and the consequences that will come with inaction. Some buyers may have more than one pain point but will prioritise which ones to address based on which is the most urgent. 74% of buyer’s will choose the first company which added insight and value into their journey. At the awareness stage, buyers will tend to ask generalized questions, so if, as marketers, we can add value at the awareness stage, then there is a real chance that they will turn into a qualified lead.
However, the most likely stage where the earliest opportunity will arise to add value is at the consideration stage. By this point, the buyer should have paid serious thought to what their issues are and will have begun researching solutions to their problem. Unless they’re purposefully wasting their time, they should be committed to fixing the issue at hand. The buyer will be wanting to address the pros and cons of the solution, how much it will cost to implement solutions and what the logistics of implementing any resolutions will be i.e disruption to operations or business development. They will be trying to educate themselves whilst refining their options, “57% of the buying journey is done before a sales rep is involved” so if your marketing team can be the first to provide value and insight, whether it be tips or blog posts, there is a real chance the customer will use your services.
Following the consideration stage, the buyer should land at the decision stage. Unfortunately for them, this is no holiday and there isn’t much time to relax. The buyer will now be assessing their options to see what solutions best fit the circumstances of their problem. They will be looking at factors such as offerings, who needs to be involved in the decision-making process, comparing the costs of different solutions and whether they would like to trial any of the available solutions before buying them. Although you don’t want to help the competition, you should remember that it is important to have the customer at the heart of everything you do. So, if they outline reasons why your product isn’t quite the right one for them, you should be gracious in defeat instead of pushing your product or services. It is better to build a good reputation amongst customers rather than pushing a product which doesn’t fit their criteria and could lead to bad reviews and reputation.
The Internet and Generation C
Generation C is not an age group or a demography of people. It is not those obsessed by technology. It is a new wave of consumer culture which values creation, curation, connection and community above all else. Customers are sick and tired of old, outdated marketing techniques such as cold-calling, pressure tactics and phishing emails. They want value and a personal touch to their buying experience. I know, those pesky customers wanting a pleasurable buying experience. How dare they? Where possible, make them feel as though they are your only customer rather than one of many. By providing them with a positive experience you are increasing the likelihood that they will recommend your company to others. Whether that be by word-of-mouth, on internet chat rooms or on review and social media sites.
As mentioned, Generation C are focusing more on connection and community. The connection isn’t solely the connection they have with the company they are buying from, but also with likewise consumers who are purchasing similar items or services. The internet, review sites and social media means that buyers are communicating with each other more than ever before. Just having a good reputation by word-of-mouth is not enough anymore. You need to ensure that your online reputation is just as good, if not better. Good reviews will drive customers to your products and show them that they can trust the service you’re providing.
But how are you going to get those reviews in the first place, if people can’t find your site? Having good search engine optimization (SEO) is imperative to ensuring your company appears as close to the top of the results page as possible and really driving web traffic. Let’s face it. Nobody really clicks past the first results page n Google and we salute those with the dedication to do so. Remember, buyers are more likely to choose the first company to add insight. You could have the most informative website on the internet but if they can’t even find your page then, well, I’ll let you put 2 and 2 together. When a customer is searching for something relevant to your company and the services you provide, you are aiming to be the one grabbing all the attention at the top. I’m not advocating selfishness but, in this case, it’s necessary. There are various ways to achieve good SEO. A simple one is having a good company name which fits the criteria of what people are searching for, especially if your company is new. However, your company will also need to look at aspects such as having posts which best fit Google’s algorithms. For instance, the optimal blog post is approximately 1800 words as this shows that there is some authority to the piece. Furthermore, having a good meta-description with relevant key words is an important part of your work having good SEO. The meta-description is what will draw a buyer to reading your piece and could, potentially, be the difference between them using your services or going elsewhere.
Content Mapping and Buyer Personas
Having an outlined buyer persona and mapping your content are entwined. Briefly, a buyer persona is a fictionalized biography of your ideal buyer’s needs, habits, wants and questions while your content mapping is the how you plan your marketing and sales strategy and the work you will produce or conduct to attract customers to your company based on your ideal persona. You can have multiple buyer personas and content mapping to meet each individual persona. You wouldn’t have the same buyer persona for a company director as you would for a team manager or someone who is self-employed. The key concept to remember with content mapping is that you are trying to ensure that you are providing the right content, to the right person at the right time. I won’t patronise you with the intricacies, but your content should be aiming to convert as many potential leads to qualified leads as possible. It is important that you review and revise your buyer persona’s periodically and that they are based on data driven research. Don’t leave anything to assumptions or guesswork as the buyer persona is only as effective as the data supporting it. The persona should always be fictionalised as this allows for flexibility within the market, don’t base your persona on a company or person.
There are a variety of factors which you will need to consider when mapping your content. Never simple, is it? Firstly, you will need to consider what the logical path will be that your buyer undergoes on their journey. You need content that will fit each stage as they may not already know about our product or service, so being able to meet them and convince them at whatever stage they’re at is important to securing a sale. You need to be able to efficiently and effectively identify what each persona’s typical pain point is and be able to meet them at any point of their buying journey. What questions are they asking when researching? How are you going to answer those questions in your content mapping? This should be contributing to your content strategy as your persona’s should be providing you with topics and questions they want you to cover.
Dump the Classic Sales Funnel
The emergence of Generation C means that the old sales funnel model is effectively obsolete. The old top-to-bottom approach (awareness, interest, desire, action, retention and advocacy) places the customer at the bottom of the pile and is, essentially, a selfish, seller-centric approach to your sales techniques. Remember, Generation C values creation, curation, connection and community and the traditional sales funnel isn’t overly abundant in any of those areas. Instead, your sales funnel should take a more holistic approach where the customer is placed at the centre, not the bottom, of everything that you do. To do this, you will need to align your marketing, sales and sales enablement team. Although the emphasis on awareness and interest will be in the marketing department, desire and action in sales and retention and advocacy in sales enablement, it will be most beneficial to adopt a cyclical approach where each stage is concurrent and constant. This will require a lot of communication between departments, so you can look forward to more of those exciting team meetings!
8 things to Remember when considering Buyer Behaviour
Each journey starts with a pain point
A buyer’s journey has 3 primary stages- Awareness, consideration, decision.
The earliest opportunity to add insight, and probably the best place to do so, is the transition between the awareness and consideration stage
93% of a buyer’s decision is made online
74% of buyer’s choose the first company to add insight into their journey.
The old sales funnel is dead. Aligning your three departments and placing the customer at the centre of everything you do is important to meeting the needs of Generation C
Having buyer personas and content mapping is key to ensuring you are prepared for anything that may come your way.
Have a range of buyer personas so that you can meet the criteria of different customer’s pain points.