A buyer’s journey helps businesses picture their customers’ buying process from start to finish so they can create marketing and sales strategies that align with each stage.
So in order to accomplish your marketing goals, it is used as a tool to help you engage at the right time using the right content with the right people.
Traditionally, a buyer’s journey is a simple linear process where a lead or prospect moves through the process to make a purchase.
However, consumer behavior today, along with many digital distractions, makes it difficult for this linear process to be realistic.
Also, making a purchase is no longer the end of the journey. Businesses invest their resources trying to retain more customers, grow their value, and make them their loyal brand ambassadors.
In this article, you’ll learn how your business can benefit from using a carefully designed buyer’s journey and how to create your own buyer’s journey and marketing funnel that fit your business.
What is a Buyer’s Journey Map?
A buyer’s journey is a process your leads, prospects, and customers experience during their purchasing decision all the way through when they choose to leave your brand. A buyer’s journey map helps you visualize how one prospect moves from one stage to the next from getting to know your brand to become a loyal customer.
Carefully designing your own version that fits your business and your target customer base is not a simple task but worthy of your time investment.
Your marketing funnel can follow that same buyer’s journey to help you plan what marketing strategies and campaigns are best suited for each step of the way.
You can use your data, surveys, some assumptions, and tests to develop a marketing funnel. And with your new findings from performance metrics and various tests and surveys, you can modify your marketing funnel to adapt to the changing environments and behaviors.
There are many different versions of a buyer’s journey but it’s important to define and create your own relevant map. At the end of the day, it comes down to the following main components:
Awareness, education, interest, consideration, purchase, onboarding, retain, up/cross-sell, & loyalty.
Buyer’s Journey Stages
Let’s define and understand what happens in each stage.
Awareness is when your audience initially becomes aware of your brand. Think of a TV commercial- just because you won’t be making a purchase right when you see that commercial, it doesn’t mean they’re not effective. Letting your audience know about your brand and what you do is an important first step.
Education helps your audience learn more about you and what you have to offer. You’re not selling but simply providing information that they’re seeking. This can help create a connection, build a relationship, and give your brand more credibility.
Once your audience becomes interested in the products or services you offer, you want to be in front of them to be considered. For example, instead of searching for “iPhone reviews”, they’re now searching for “iPhone 11 deals”. Instead of looking at your how-to articles, your prospect is looking at your services page.
The internet makes it possible for people to compare options and do more research before purchasing now. In this stage, your audience will spend the time reading the reviews, comparing quotes, and talking to sales before making their final decision. Did they abandon their cart? Be sure to automate your emails to follow up to remind them to complete the transaction.
They’re finally ready to make that purchase! Send them an automated confirmation and/or a thank you emails. They’re still moving through your funnel and only halfway there!
Onboarding makes sure your customers are happy with the purchase. In retail or eCommerce, they should clearly understand how to use the product as well as how to contact support and return the product if needed. In a service-based business, this is where you educate your clients on how to resolve any issues or make the most out of your service.
You spent all this time and energy in acquiring your customers so losing them would cost you a lot of money. In the retaining stage, you provide excellent customer service and support to make sure they stick around as long as they possibly can. If they no longer find your products or services useful, obviously retaining them would be difficult.
Up-sell & Cross-sell
By this point, your customers are getting what they expected and are happy. Your goal in this stage is to provide them with more value with other products or services you offer. Keep in mind you have a lot of data on your customers by now. Utilize them to offer something of value that benefits both you and the customer.
You did it. Your customers that made it to this stage are loyal, and they’re your biggest fans and advocates. Ask them to help you help more people just like them. Also, try to create a sense of community among your loyal customers.
Buyer’s journey example
Let’s use an example of a SaaS company to envision their customer’s journey.
- Awareness: A prospect searches “PPC tools” and finds an article with a list of PPC tools that are available
- Education: A prospect visits signs up for a webinar to learn more about what PPC tools can do
- Interest: A prospect reaches out to the company asking for more info or tries the PPC tool ROI calculator on the website
- Consideration: A prospect signs up for a free trial and checks out their subscription pricing. A prospect checks out a couple more tools from competitors
- Purchase: A prospect purchases a subscription to the company’s PPC tool
- Onboarding: The customer receives information on how to use the tool and how to contact support for questions
- Retain: The customer continues to find value in the tool and receives feature dates. The company also hosts an annual customer appreciation and training.
- Up/cross-sell: The customer decides to upgrade his/her subscription to utilize more features
- Loyalty: The customer recommends the tool to a friend or gives a testimonial to the company to use for marketing
As you can imagine, there are many possible channels and messages you can possibly use and send to your audience depending on where they are in this process and what they’re going through.
Therefore, what matters is that you send the right message at the right time to the right people.
How to Create Your Own Marketing Funnel Using the Buyer’s Journey
Your marketing is for people of all stages in their journey, whether they’re a potential, existing, or past customer.
By understanding how your prospects and customers move through their buying journey, you can create a better marketing strategy that helps them move through the process.
As each company has its industry, target audience, product, and sales cycle, it’s difficult to have a universal marketing funnel.
However, going through the following exercises will help you create your own marketing funnel that fits your business model.
- Gather as many stakeholders as possible from your marketing, sales, and even customer service teams. The more people the better as you can add different perspectives and experiences.
- Go through different scenarios of a typical customer’s buying journey. Everything from where they first hear about your business to what happens after they purchase. Assign each of these to a phase in the marketing funnel.
- Brainstorm how you can engage with your prospects and customers in each phase and with what type of content.
- Create metrics that would measure the performance of each marketing campaign.
- Survey your current best customers to identify any gaps in your funnel.
- With each marketing campaign, track the metrics and test different variables to improve its performance
- Survey prospects and lost opportunities to identify any gaps and opportunities
- Revise the marketing funnel as needed
Now that you know what buyer’s journey and marketing funnel are, the next step is to create your own. Follow the suggested steps in this article to start brainstorming and draft a funnel that fits your business.
Keep in mind that you need to think of all ways your customers are interacting with you and your competitors. This can include paid advertising, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, events, word of mouth, and etc.
There’s always something you can do to influence people at any stage so continue brainstorming until you feel comfortable with what you have.
You’ll never be done with your marketing funnel. It will need to be updated as your prospects and customers change the way they interact and consume content.
Continue to survey and test to verify and make improvements, and be sure to track each marketing campaign, small or large, with measurable metrics.
Which part of the marketing funnel are you the strongest and the weakest? Comment your response below!