The way consumers make purchase decisions has changed dramatically in the past decade. Platforms like Google, Amazon, and Netflix have conditioned people with new expectations. People want what they want, when they want it. In addition, they expect a helpful, personalized experience.
Today’s consumers are also empowered like never before. Buyers, not brands, hold the keys to the sales process. Reports show that up to 80% of the B2B consumer research process is completed online before a buyer is comfortable reaching out to a sales representative.
For enterprising businesses, this shift in behavior is an incredible opportunity. In the new business environment, organizations that are helpful have the upper hand. Their goal? To create helpful content that aids in the consumer’s research process. Combine that helpful content with a consultative sales approach that helps prospects find the best solution for them and you’re on the road to success.
Inbound Marketing is an effective strategy to get you from Point A to Point B. The first step to creating an inbound marketing plan is to identify target buyer personas and the questions those prospective customers ask at each phase of the buyer’s journey. The result will be a comprehensive inbound strategy built to attract, convert, close, and delight your target buyer personas.
What is the Buyer’s Journey?
Today’s buyers sit in the driver’s seat and do their own research online. The buyer’s journey is the common path followed by people who are doing this online product research to find answers to their question or solutions to their problem. It is the process by which they first discover your brand, begin to trust your expertise, learn about the scope of your offering, line you up against your competition, and ultimately make a purchase decision.
Change drivers spur someone to begin the buyer’s journey. A change driver is an event or activity that causes someone to take an action. This first action can be as simple as doing a Google search. While small, this action can symbolize an awareness of a problem and the start of the research process to find a solution. The goal of lead nurturing is to recognize when a prospect has taken an action and move them from one stage of their buyer’s journey to the next.
As they shop there is a series of stages through which buyers travel as they evolve from product research to selecting their solution. The buyer’s journey is the representation of these stages that provides the context for your content marketing campaigns.
There are going to be people that visit your website who are not ready to buy. For one reason or another, they just need some additional education to make their purchase decision. At this stage, buyers are seeking answers to their questions or problems, but they're unaware of the solutions. Informational content offers that are vendor neutral are important at this stage. Your goal is to build trust by educating the reader about possible solutions to their problems.
A consideration stage offer is designed to educate readers about how you will solve their problems and help them create a list of options that are solutions to their problem. It should give them a taste of what the experience of working with you will be like and prepare them for a personal interaction with your sales rep.
The consideration stage offer is an important step that separates visitors who are just browsing for information from those who are seriously considering making a purchase. Create offers at this stage that help them define what is important to them and narrow down their options. Examples of consideration stage content includes in-depth guides, case studies, or comparisons since the consideration stage lead is well educated by this phase.
At the decision stage, we’re down to the final stretch. Decision stage offers are designed to help the reader make their final selection. By now the prospect has identified the solution they’d like to use to solve their problem, and all that is left is to select a vendor. In this phase of lead nurturing, the goal is to overcome any objections to closing the deal. Offers at this stage should include personal touch points, like a consultation or product demo.
After purchase is no time to stop sharing resources with your new customer. The truth is that a paying customer in your marketing database is worth much more than other names that have never purchased from your brand. Through the customer nurturing sequence, you can share common post-purchase questions, introduce different members of your team, show them added benefits of being a customer, and ask for their feedback on the purchase process.
By intentionally building and promoting helpful content, you can connect with leads and develop a relationship with prospects who are searching for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Instead of speaking with a prospect that has already completed most of their product research, you’re now reaching them with helpful education much earlier in their process, building trust along the way, and shifting the focus from what you offer, to what your customers need.