When a customer decides to buy what your business is selling, it’s usually the final leg of what amounts to a well-documented journey. The buyer’s journey describes the various stages a typical client passes through on their way to a purchasing decision. The better you understand how to engage potential customers throughout the buying process, the more likely you are to generate more leads, convert more prospects, and ramp up the level of your profits.
Viewing the customer buying process as a journey to improving your company’s bottom line makes it easy to see why a marketing strategy that targets each stage of the buyer’s journey is critical. Proven marketing tactics for accomplishing this goal are plentiful, and may include:
- taking advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques,
- establishing an active and credible social media presence,
- making regular use of retargeting and display ads, and
- offering personalized customer engagement platforms like live chat sessions
Many owners will look to small business consulting services for help with fleshing out an effective marketing plan.
The Journey to a Buying Decision
It’s important to recognize from the outset that the goal of most buyers is to gather information that will help them solve a problem or fulfill an established need. So, creating a plan around selling your product or service as the solution they’ve been looking for hinges on becoming familiar with how the consumer decision-making process works.
1. An Interest Develops
Before a customer reaches the point of buying your product or service, they have to realize that they want or need it in the first place. Sometimes this interest is generated in passing, as when a customer stumbles across your company online or hears about it from someone else.
But in many cases, the first step on the path to buying from you involves a client becoming aware they have a problem to be fixed. Maybe their last doctor’s visit highlighted a concern about getting in shape. Or perhaps a looming anniversary has revealed the need to find just the right restaurant for dinner.
No matter what’s behind it, buyer motivation usually stems from need recognition. And promoting need awareness is more successful when you adopt techniques designed to drive visitors to your website and other marketing platforms.
2. Information is Collected
If you suddenly realized you needed help with a problem, what’s the first thing you’d do? If you’re like most people, you’d immediately turn to Google for answers, or you’d ask a friend, family member, or someone else you trusted for advice - or both. That’s why it’s so important for your marketing efforts to focus on:
- being readily found by online search engines, and
- creating positive word-of-mouth advertising through venues like social media and online reviews
When your would-be customer wants something, or is looking for a solution, they’re going to search for information about products or services that can help them. If your promotional campaign has been successful, this process may include comparing your business to others in terms of the quality, price, and suitability of what you have to offer.
But before prospective clients can find out more about you, they have to find you, period. Make sure you rank accordingly for online keyword searches.
3. A Purchase is Made
Once a buyer figures out what they want – and discovers that your business is the best place to get it – there’s a very good chance they’ll decide to make a purchase from you.
It’s particularly important at this stage of the buyer’s journey that both the solution you’re offering, and the process for purchasing it, are primed for customer delight. In other words, having been successful in converting a browser to a buyer (congratulations!), be sure to follow through on the promises you’ve made.
- Examine your marketing content to ensure it honestly communicates what your product or service can do for your clients.
- Make it easy for buyers to get, use, and potentially return what you’re selling by providing contact options and customer service pipelines that address issues quickly and efficiently.
- And don’t forget to follow up with new clients to make sure that they’re happy with their decision to put their trust in your business.
Customer satisfaction isn’t where the buyer’s journey ends – it’s where it loops back around to begin all over again. Not only are happy buyers more likely to become repeat customers, they also have the potential to become enthusiastic promoters of your business. Keeping the customers that you’ve worked so hard to attract happy, is one of the best ways to attract more just like them.