Consumers will only pay attention to you when they’re motivated to do so. Interaction and education along the buyer’s journey is the best way to gain their attention and keep it. If you want content that converts, you need to understand your target consumers. Only then can you offer something valuable or helpful. Once you’ve gained permission to market to them, you can be strategic about guiding them along the buyer’s journey by positioning offers at just the right moment.
What is the buyer’s journey?
The buyer’s journey includes the steps that consumers take in the buying process. After buyers become aware of their needs and begin researching solutions, they generally proceed to three additional stages: consideration, recommendation, and purchase. These buyer journey stages map closely to Infusionsoft's Lifecycle Marketing stages within the Sell phase: educate, offer, and close.
In the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, the consumer learns how to solve a problem or satisfy a need in some way. They have some information on what is available, but they are looking to get more in order to make an educated decision. Education is your response to the consideration stage in the buyer’s process.
At this stage in the Lifecycle Marketing framework, the consumer is familiar with your business and you have permission to market to them. Your goal is to build trust and establish a meaningful relationship so that you can earn the right to present an offer. One of the best ways to build trust is relevant and useful content.
Consumers appreciate content that makes them feel smarter, looks out for their interests, is easily accessible, and fun to share. You should aim to fulfill at least one of these needs in each content asset you develop. Delivering your content can happen through any channel that you’ve defined as effective for your target consumer. However, email is known for being the most cost effective way to deliver value.
In your email, you want to deliver content that answers the questions most consumers ask. If you have a sales team, ask them what questions are asked most often and which answers lead consumers to the next phase. You can also mine your customer database for these questions, analyze past email performance, research the competition, or choose to ask your customers directly.
As consumers are educated, they make decisions to eliminate some options and favor others. They begin to fully define their needs and requirements, make decisions on what they’re willing to pay, and narrow down the list of options. At this stage, they’re likely looking for demos, consultations, and trials.
This is the perfect time to begin the offer stage of Lifecycle Marketing. Offers are tricky. Making offers too soon can result in consumers unsubscribing from your list, but an offer that’s too late means that the consumer has chosen your competitor over you. Offers with low perceived risk to consumers can be offered early in the relationship, even at the point of opt-in. Offers with high perceived risk often require more trust and are more successful after a series of engagements. Knowing what to offer and when is an art that you’ll perfect over time.
Eventually, consumers will either have enough data to make a decision or they’ll choose to complete the purchase because their need to solve the problem now becomes too great. At this stage they’re likely checking references, finalizing decisions, and reviewing contract terms. This is when you’ll want to execute the close stage of Lifecycle Marketing.
If the purchase of your product or service can be fulfilled through an online ecommerce solution, you’ll want to make sure your payment processing solutions are in place. This will ensure that the transaction closes smoothly and reduce the likelihood of cart abandonment. If your product or service has a more complicated closing process, you’ll want to ensure that payment and paperwork is prepared, accurate, and delivered promptly. You may need to train employees to execute the closing according to the contract terms. To successfully complete the close stage you want to make sure that all work processes are in place.
Auditing your existing content
While it’s true that all consumers are variable, there are commonalities that you can identify and be prepared for. If you’ve been in business for any length of time and have sold your product or service, then you should have data on how your ideal consumers purchase. Take a look at the journey that your existing customers took prior to their purchase, then seek to identify patterns of content consumption and engagement at each stage in their buying process.
Once you’ve identified patterns of consumption, map the content that they consumed to each of the educate, offer and close stages. Creating a spreadsheet or document will help you keep track of your audit findings. Consider including the following:
- Audience segmentation information
- Content file name or title
- Content purpose or objective
- Call to action
- Medium used, such as white paper, e-book, video, or podcast
- Distribution channel, such as your blog, email, or social media channels
- Content restrictions or opt-in requirements
- Production or revision date
- URL or file path
- Notes and comments
Once you’ve compiled all of your content into one spreadsheet, take a step back and ask yourself if there are any weak spots in your content offerings by observing where consumers are dropping off in each of the stages. Then, add new content to fill the gaps and delete the content that doesn’t provide value or correlates with an unsubscribe action.
Be the Mentor
Understanding the buyer’s journey is key to maximizing your time and marketing budget. Try to reuse or repurpose existing content where possible and create new content to fill gaps. As you build out your content, consider how your message serves your target consumer’s basic, psychological, or self-fulfillment needs, taking into consideration the specific stage in the Lifecycle Marketing framework. Consumers will take more of what they need to know from organizations that give them what they want to know. Meet them where they are and mentor and guide them along the buyer’s journey. Combine being helpful, authentic, and human with strategic offer positioning. You might be pleasantly surprised that the journey begins and ends with you.