I thought about starting this article off with a definition of the topic. What is the buyer’s journey? Then I realized everyone knows what the buyer’s journey is because everyone’s experienced it. If you’ve ever had a want or a problem that led to the purchase of something to satisfy that want or alleviate that problem, then you’ve experienced the buyer’s journey.
The process is pretty much the same for all of us:
We all start from the same place. Identifying that want, need, or problem. You’re not feeling well. You want a better phone. You need a new lawn mower to replace your broken one.
This is where you research what your options are. What’s the closest pharmacy to get medication from or what doctor should you go to? What phone model are you interested in? What brand of lawn mower would work well for you?
This is where you make the purchase, start the subscription, sign up for the service, etc.
As marketers, you experience the buyer’s journey from two different points of view; as a buyer yourself, whenever you’re looking to make a purchase and as a marketer trying to reach buyers.
And as you know, it’s the norm to build strategies that cater to each phase of the journey. You center your efforts around making your marketing as visible as possible throughout the buyer’s journey so you’re top of mind when a buyer reaches the decision phase. Commonplace knowledge, right? If that’s the case, then why is it getting harder to convert prospects on the buyer’s journey?
Profit is reducing.
There’s a continued increase in marketing spend just to break even.
Usually, focusing spend on direct channels provides direct access to prospects. But direct channels are no longer where prospects are engaging.
There’s a disconnect when it comes to the channels marketers are focusing their efforts on.
So, why has it become so difficult to turn prospects on the buyer’s journey into leads? Let’s take a deeper look at the buyer’s journey to find out where the issue is.
A Deeper Look at the Buyer’s Journey
The phases of the buyer’s journey have remained the same over the years. But what has changed is how deep into the journey a buyer has gone by the time you come in.
With prospects so close to making a decision when you first come in contact with them, you’re left with much less information on these prospects and a lot less room to influence their buying decisions. So, how do you regain insight and influence on prospects during the buyer’s journey?
The first step in knowing how to approach prospects on the buyer’s journey is to predict where they are in the journey. So how do you know which phase prospects are in?
Now that you know how to predict where prospects are in the buyer’s journey, to reach these prospects, you need to tailor your targeting to each phase. Begin with the phase where you have most information on your prospects.
At this point, you’re dealing with people ready to buy. So these leads need to be routed to the right place. This could mean turning that lead over to a salesperson who specializes in the specific product or service the buyer wants or connecting the lead to the right dealership etc. Use the information you have on these leads to connect them to exactly who in your business can provide what they want to buy.
Having less information in this phase than in the decision phase, it’s important to connect the dots wherever you can. You can start off easy and work your way to more advanced ways of connecting with prospects in the consideration phase.
Prospects walking in:
Instead of treating everyone who walks into your business like they’re in the awareness phase, create a targeted account list of prospects you know are in the consideration phase. Provide this list to everyone on your team who’ll be in contact with customers so they can be on the lookout for these prospects. This way, your team can have informed conversations with these specific prospects.
Prospects calling you:
Using trackable numbers can tell you where these prospects are coming from whether in terms of actual location or what ad they responded to. This can give you some insight into what they’re interested in and allows you to segment your audience based on this info.
Prospects visiting your website:
You can use web identification services like Randall-Reilly’s Web ID to learn about what prospects are considering you and what you offer. You can also learn what inventory these prospects are looking through or what pages interested them. This will lead to better sales conversations when you reach out to these prospects.
Prospects submitting forms:
You can use autoresponders as a precursor to your contacting a prospect who submitted a form. This ensures these prospects receive an immediate response.
Prospects consuming comparison-based content:
The content these prospects are consuming not only reveals they’re in the consideration phase but also shows where their interest lies. You can retarget these prospects with advertising specific to their interests.
Having no information on these prospects, your marketing has to become the tool you use to introduce yourself.
Advertise your brand:
Familiarize prospects with who you are and what you offer.
Develop universal messaging:
With no specifics on your audience, your messaging needs to be tailored for a more universal audience.
Retarget industry website traffic:
By retargeting prospects consuming content related to your industry, you’re sure you’re reaching the right people.
Match offline data to online audiences:
You can match the data you already have (e.g. data from your CRM) to online platforms. E.g. matching email addresses and/or phone numbers to Facebook accounts.
Create exclusion audiences:
Excluding those who don’t fall into the criteria of who you want to reach, helps you reach your exact audiences.
The Buyer’s Journey Cycle
Once you’ve made it through the buyer’s journey with prospects, it doesn’t end there. Depending on the purchase, the buyer may still have needs post-purchase. For example, a truck buyer will eventually need maintenance, parts, replacements etc.
If the buyer is a business, this increases the variables that could cause them to go through the buyer’s journey over and over. For example, a want for expansion could cause the business to need more of the equipment they bought previously or replacement cycles could create further opportunities for you to sell to that business again.
The constant restart of the buyer’s journey presents a need for you to stay connected to current customers.
The buyer’s journey has changed. Prospects are so much more informed about their impending purchases, and it leaves you with little to no insight and influence on them. But all’s not lost. By identifying where prospects are in their journey and tailoring strategies specific to each phase, you avoid missing out on being a part of these prospects’ buyer’s journey.