The odyssey that’ll make you win or lose
It’s not the destination that is important, it’s the journey. The same rule applies in the act of buying something. Any customer went throughout the process known as the buyer’s journey. In marketing, this concept is essential. One does not simply buy something for no reasons. Even on a whim, the action of buying is the result of several steps, either unconscious or not.
During that journey, a customer is likely to buy a competitor’s product instead of yours. For example, because the latter seemed not satisfying or worth it enough. Conversely, they will be sensitive to a favorable message or a discount you provide that would make your offer stand out. As any marketing technique: it is all about distinguishing yourself.
In short: make sure that the client will enjoy their trip more with you than with your opponents.
“Happiness is not at the top of the mountain, but in how to climb” – Confucius.
A buyer’s journey is made of three successive stages: awareness, consideration, decision.
Awareness: from non-consumer to suspect
At the very beginning of the journey, everybody is considered a non-consumer. The designation does not imply that they are not consuming at all. It simply means that they are not consuming the type of product or service your offer, yet. At that point, only those that are relative non-consumers matter. You can already forget about the absolute non-consumers, that won’t buy whatsoever. So far, the customer is totally unaware of their needs.
The first step of this stage is becoming aware of a problem, a need. It can be a simple problem, for instance: “my website is not attracting enough customers”. The non-consumer will then try to find solutions.
The person will try to identify the cause and try to gather knowledge as a second step. Nowadays, the main source of knowledge is on the Internet. They will thus most likely ask their question on search engines. The non-consumer is becoming a consumer (or suspect) for the type of product or service you offer.
Consideration: from suspect to prospect
Now that you have a consumer looking for a solution, you can have an impact on their buying journey. Until then, all you could do is hope for them to develop an awareness feeling. Except if you are innovating or in a situation of monopoly. With that in mind, your goal is to get in contact with the consumer.
The consumer will check for valuable content that provides solutions to their issues. Proofs, statistics, tutorials, reviews, reports, expert articles and other related content. To keep the same example, the website owner will check for deeper and more accurate answers. This is where content marketing, SEO and inbound techniques will be extremely important. The consumer will identify several different offers and keep them in mind for the next stage. The suspect is now a prospect for your company.
Decision: from prospect to client
The prospect has selected the offers that convinced them and suited their needs the most. Considering the market is not in a monopoly situation, ensure that you are the one they’ll choose over your opponents. There are several decisive elements for that ultimate step of the buyer’s journey. The price, the consumer reviews, your availability and ability to effectively answer their requests on time…
The prospect will qualitatively evaluate the possibilities and finally choose the best offer. The last step ends when the prospect becomes your client.
One step, one approach.
All three stages have their importance and specificities. The marketing strategy is therefore different depending on the step and related challenges.
- During the awareness step, the company only has a small power on the buyer’s journey. In fact, the future clients will become aware by themselves. The only lever the marketing teams have over them is advertising. Brands are well-known for being able to create desires and needs. Through items, innovations or services that seemed unnecessary at first.
Still, the customers will eventually end up looking online for answers and solutions. You can make generic, rather wide, content about the topic. For instance, educational content, tutorials and reports that do not feature commercial arguments. Your ability to provide useful disinterested content has a passive impact on the consumer’s opinion. That stage will therefore definitely help you for next stages.
- For the consideration step, your marketing team’s role is preponderant. The consumers will sharpen their researches and look for accurate details and solutions. They are selecting specific brands and companies instead of just a general solution. Any strength and competitive advantage are The consumers will only retain several offers for the last stage, being one of them is thus mandatory.
To achieve that, content plays the main role. Blog posts, videos, podcasts, live interactions, expert guides, whitepapers. The more efficient your SEO, the better your chances of standing out from the competition are.
- The decision stage is when the marketing team most likely steps down in favor of the sales one. All content provided earlier will remain the main reason behind the customers’ preference. However, financial benefits and other quantitative advantages will tip the scales. These include customer reviews, product comparisons, discounts, free trials and demos, et cetera.
Focus on content marketing
As a marketer, your main focus for the buyer’s journey is on content. Content is the major source of information a customer will rely on for purchase decision.
When it comes to content creation, you have several options:
- Textual content: articles, eBooks, whitepapers and so on. These are excellent at providing deep knowledge useful for a buyer’s journey. Especially effective for B2B, they are nevertheless time–consuming and not entertaining. Besides, despite their great work at SEO, texts are much less catchy than other forms of content. Best for the consideration
- Static visual content: images, photos, infographics. Mostly used for social media posts and to go along with articles for example. Images are great for SEO as they can include specific tags. However, they are rarely a form of content by themselves. Best for the awareness
- Video content: explainer videos, animations, short films, 3D, VR… Nowadays, video content is unmissable. It is definitely the best form of content for anything, anywhere. Here are some staggering stats:
- Viewers retain 95% of a video message, while they only retain 10% of a written one.
- In 2017, video traffic made up 69% of all online consumer traffic.
- An average user spends 88% more time on a website including a video than on one that doesn’t.
- Videos posted on social networks are share 1200% more than texts and images combined.
- By 2021, videos will account for 82% of all Internet traffic.
As the stats suggest, and there are many more, video content is the go-to content for your marketing strategy. Videos combine both the abilities of textual and visual contents. They offer knowledge, visuals, sounds, movement.
It is especially relevant to improve the buyer’s journey. Indeed, the entertainment and interactivity they bring are invaluable for users.
The more noticeable and memorable you are, the better.
When and where to implement video content?
Feel free to add videos wherever possible, so long as they are relevant. Videos work great on social networks and your website can only benefit from them. Moreover, search engines are keen on showing your website before others if videos are on it and are optimized. SEO includes tags, title, description and comments.
There are several types of videos you can produce when it comes to digital marketing content. Following is a list of the most common ones and when you should make use of them.
- Ads: perfect for the awareness stage as they can suddenly create a need from scratch. They also have an impact at each stage of the buyer’s journey and are the most common marketing technique. Most of the time, ads are not really considered as content because they only try to sell. Yet, the best ads provide value.
- Educational videos: focused on teaching, they differ from explainers. Best for the awareness stage, when the users are looking for information on how to solve problems.
- Explainer videos: act as tutorials or description of your products and services. Best for the consideration stage, when the consumers will only keep the best options. Usually, a user will prefer the brands that are helpful and that communicate.
- Company videos: give a human face to a company and share its philosophy. Best at the decision stage, when prospects are likely to check each selected company to keep the best one.
- Making-ofs and films: similar to company videos, they are mostly helpful for the decision
- Testimonials: serve as proofs of your reliability. Best for the decision
- FAQ, AMA: these can work for each stage depending on the subject. They are great for their communicative aspect and the fact that they show your commitment and transparency.
That may be the end of the buyer’s journey, but that’s only the start of the customer’s journey. This second journey is about their whole experience. In using your products and services and connecting with your company (customer service). It matters as much as the buyer’s one as their satisfaction will transform into reviews. Bad reviews will make the next customer’s buying journey even harder. Basically, the whole journey only starts with the buyer’s one and each journey can influence another one.
Author: Timothé Ameline
Graphics: Alba Fernàndez Gonzàlez