In order for inbound marketing campaigns to be successful, you have to understand your buyer. And in order to understand your buyer, you have to first understand how modern-day buyers research and make purchase decisions, and how that behavior has changed since the introduction of the World Wide Web… 25(!) years ago. So just what is the modern-day buyer's journey? And, how can small teams incorporate it into their inbound marketing strategies?
The way people buy has changed. According to CEB (now Gartner), buyers on average are 57% of the way through their buying journey before even reaching out to a vendor. Where are they going for information? Online.
Because of this shift, salespeople are no longer responsible for driving the buying process; buyers are! And buyers aren't searching for products (at least at first).
There are three stages the modern buyer goes through on their buying journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. Here’s what happens:
In the Awareness stage, buyers are looking for answers to a specific problem. Some might not even realize that they have a problem, but are experiencing symptoms of a problem.
As an example: a sales leader might search Google for answers to, “how to shorten my sales cycle,” when in reality, his sales cycle is just a symptom of the sales team having inconsistent messaging or following outdated sales processes.
Buyers in this stage are looking for educational resources that identify their problem. To attract modern-day buyers in the awareness stage, you can use content like:
- White Papers
- Informational Podcasts/Videos
While our fictional sales leader might be looking for help to shorten his sales cycle, it’s your job (as the content creator) to help that sales leader “become aware” of the bigger problem. Provide content using words to attract his attention (shorten the sales cycle) but educating him on other possible issues.
Be careful not to create just any ol’ content. According to Lori Wizdo at Forrester (via Curata), 54% of content created by marketers today is useless.
Sticking with our sales cycle example, instead of just creating a quick blog post explaining that the sales leader needs to just hire more salespeople, offer something more valuable and relevant to the buyer to help him diagnose his problem.
Your content, landing pages, CTAs, email subject lines, social posts etc. should contain terms like:
In the consideration stage of the modern-day buyer's journey, the buyer now has a better understanding of his problem and is looking for possible solutions. To connect with people in this stage, you need to offer content that addresses potential solutions. These can take the form of:
- Analyst Reports
- How-to Guides or Videos
Our sales leader is now aware that he has a problem with his sales process, so now you must help him come up with relevant solutions. Some examples of consideration-stage content would be a webinar on “The Solution to an Outdated Sales Process” or “Tools to modernize your sales process and shorten your sales cycle.”
Instead of focusing specifically on your brand and products or service, your content should contain terms like:
Doing this helps the buyer understand the possible options before hearing about your specific company or product. By explaining solutions in general before shoving your product down their throat, you begin to build trust with that buyer through education.
You’ve educated them on the problem, possible ways to solve that problem, and have probably also helped them prioritize requirements they’re looking for in a solution (helping them eliminate competition).
Modern-day buyers in the decision stage have identified the solution to their problem and are actively compiling a short list of products/providers. Keep in mind, depending on the types of content you’ve used so far, this buyer probably still has not even talked to anyone at your company yet. If you’ve been the one to provide the information needed to get them this to this point in their buying journey, chances are very good your name will be on that list.
The type of content that speaks to prospects in the decision stage are things like:
- Product Comparisons
- Case Studies
- Demos/Free Trials
Content that resonates best with buyers in this stage contains keywords like:
- Versus or vs.
- Pros and cons
And you can finally include your product or brand name! (Yes, you can actually talk about yourself here! They now want to know about you.)
At this point, depending on your company or product, you probably want to get sales involved to help you close the sale. Much like dating though, don’t rush it and scare them away.
Now that you understand a little more about the modern-day buyer’s journey, see how you can integrate that into building a full marketing campaign. You can download our ebook for free below. It covers how to run a successful inbound campaign with a small team and includes tons of free worksheets!