I recently worked on a splendid ad campaign that asked the question, “Is the Customer Journey Dead?” This company posited that if not dead, it’s a radically different thing than it was just a few short years ago. As the third post in my series about my five-step plan to ninja-like content marketing (see posts one and two), let’s talk about the Buyer’s Journey (they’re not your customers yet, right?). Is it still a thing?
The Buyer’s Journey: What Is It?
“The process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. The journey is a three-stage process: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.”
Most marketers you talk to would concur about this general concept as being relevant. Our goal is to be as helpful and relevant as we can in each stage.
Now, in case you didn’t download the whitepaper from the link in the first paragraph, I’ll cut to the chase. It’s not a linear process. You’ll run a very shallow marketing campaign if you think about it that way. Let me give my take on each of the stages. You’ll see what I mean about it not being linear or one size fits all.
Awareness: Not What You Might Think It Is
Primary mistake — thinking that the “awareness” is about you. Yes, this customer may be unaware of you, but more importantly, are they aware they have a problem that is fixable?
Case in point: I work for a B2B company that makes a terrific solution, in a fairly large category. Until recently, they had very little name recognition among their target audience. But more importantly, this audience was well aware of its pain (complexity, cost, security). This is a market you can work with. Because this awareness level is so high, people learning about this company skip with joy through their journey.
Tactically, in the awareness stage, since they know they have a problem, they are searching! Knowing your personas is paramount. That way, you know where and for what they are searching. Keyword strategy is critical. Then, you can efficiently connect to those searching. Content strategy — having something to say to start the conversation — is crucial.
Consideration: It’s Not A Swipe Left Or Right
Here’s where the journey is definitely not linear. A person may dip in and out of consideration based on many factors — usually depending on the severity of the pain. They may be considering wildly diverse ways of solving the pain. (In other words, don’t assume your competition is the company next door. Your competition could be the potential buyer dropping out of corporate life for an ashram…) And, back to content strategy, different people need different inputs during this phase. There is no shortage of content types, but you’ll also need to learn about your optimal channels and approach, style wise.
Experiment! Learn what works best for you. Look at what your best customers liked and found useful.
Decision: They Took The Leap. Why?
At some point, your dear potential customer will have what they need to take the step to improve their lives. But what do they need? Many content marketers (myself included) will look to clues in content types. (Webinar watching = willing to invest time to truly kick tires. Scheduling a demo, ditto.)
My observation is that the decisions are made emotionally. Traditional wisdom would say case studies are most useful in the consideration stage (yes, they are a very valuable learning tool). But I think what helps the most is the ability to identify with similar people who now have achieved a better outcome.
Personally, I like written case studies (with pictures and pull quotes, please!). I like video case studies and Forbes blog posts. (What I don’t like is first person in sponsored content. Somehow the paid placement sucks credibility.)
As you can see, considering the buyer’s journey is a great segue into part four of my Content Marketing Do List — “Content Mapping!” Stay tuned.