Even when the marketplace isn’t as volatile as it is today, businesses have to cut through more noise than ever to reach potential customers. In the digital marketing space, you’re cheek to jowl against your competitors on virtually every channel. How are leading brands getting ahead of the challenge? They’ve learned the tactics and invested in the tools to make every customer communication and every touchpoint count.
But when it comes to inbound marketing, it’s not just tactics that matter. It’s being able to visualize and plan for the entirety of the buyer journey. You can’t hit specific marketing and sales key performance indicators by skipping this step, and in fact, should dictate your inbound marketing strategy—from blog posts to SEO to ad spend. Read on for more about the buyer's journey and steps for how to make yours more impactful than your competitor’s.
The buyer’s journey refers to the process that a potential customer goes through as they research, consider, and ultimately make a purchase. As potential customer travels from the awareness stage to consideration and decision, they face a number of opportunities to connect with and assess the value of your brand. Ideally, you want to make every step count by tailoring your outreach to each segment.
Understanding the buyer’s journey helps direct and optimize companies’ marketing and sales efforts overall. For instance, it enables sales to offer the best suggestions for potential customers looking to validate their interest in your service to a higher-up at their company or communicate high-level value to a prospect who’s just visited your site for the first time.
Understanding the buyer journey is an important step in improving marketing and sales KPIs. We’ve broken out how to optimize yours for performance in 10 steps.
1. The first step is to identify who your target audience is. This includes demographics, behaviors, pain points, and goals. Don’t be afraid to get really granular here. Start with broad strokes, but the more details you fill in, the easier it will be to customize your strategy further down the line.
2. Define the stages of the journey: Next, you should define the stages of the journey that your target audience goes through as they consider a purchase. This might include stages such as awareness, consideration, and decision.
3. Gather data and insights: To understand the buyer journey, you should gather as much data and insights as you possibly can. This could include analyzing customer behavior on your website, surveying customers, and tracking metrics such as conversion rates.
4. Analyzing customer behavior on your website: By tracking customer behavior on your website, you can learn more about how they interact with your brand and what factors influence their purchasing decisions. Tools such as Google Analytics can be especially helpful in this regard, as they help you monitor activity from day to day, week to week, and so on.
5. Solicit feedback fast and early: Conducting surveys of your customers can provide valuable insights into their motivations, pain points, and expectations. You can use survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to collect this data. Routinize it so you have an ongoing understanding of what matters to them, and what to prioritize when it comes to product improvements.
6. Map out the journey: Now that you’ve zoomed out nice and wide, use the data and insights you have gathered to create a visual representation of the buyer journey. This could be a flowchart or a series of steps. It’s ok if this looks a little bit messy at first. You can always walk back and cut parts that feel out of scope for now. Sometimes it’s best to throw all the darts at the board first to see exactly what you’re working with and prioritize from there.
7. Identify pain points: As you analyze each stage of the journey, keep a list going of any pain points or areas where customers may be struggling or disengaging. Are they leaving items in their cart for a few days? Does activity tend to drop off around the 15 or 30-day window? Keep an eye on points of transaction in particular, and scour those HelpScout tickets frequently. They’re a goldmine for potential opportunities for improvement.
8. Develop and test solutions: Once you have identified opportunities for improvement, develop and test solutions to address these issues. This could involve optimizing certain stages of the journey, adding new touchpoints, or improving the customer experience in some other way.
9. Measure and analyze the results: Be honest with yourself when it comes to performance. It’s tempting to look at the numbers climbing up and to the right, but to get the most out of your data it’s critical to look at everything. As you implement changes to the buyer journey, measure and analyze the results to see if they are having the desired impact. This will help you determine what’s working and what may need more time in the oven or incremental tweaks.
10. Identify opportunities for improvement: Once you’ve built a clear understanding of the buyer journey, you can identify opportunities for improvement. In many ways, this is the most satisfying part because each pain point is an opportunity for growth. This might include optimizing certain stages journey stages where conversions feel sluggish, like signing up for a freemium account or adding new touchpoints to better engage and convert customers.
The most important thing to do in today’s crowded landscape is to understand the needs and expectations of your target audience. By building a cohesive buyer journey that you know inside and out, you can tailor your marketing and sales efforts to exceed those expectations and improve your KPIs for the long haul. For more information on how to build and launch a best-in-class buyer journey, check out Userled.io.