Buyer's Journey: Definition, Stages, Importance And Models
Updated 16 October 2022
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The buyer's journey is the path that a customer takes when interacting with a business, including noticing the brand to making a purchase or requesting a service. There are three stages in this process, namely awareness, consideration and decision. Understanding each of these can help you gain the customer's trust and attention at the right stage with the correct offering. In this article, we define the buyer's journey, explain its three crucial stages, review its importance, elaborate on its role in sales and marketing and share some related models to enable a better understanding.
What Is The Buyer's Journey?
The buyer's journey is a multi-step process during which the customer experiences a problem, finds potential solutions and chooses one. Customers rarely decide to buy a product spontaneously. They go through several stages of awareness, where they research brands and companies to find relevant options. Some customers may process a vast amount of data based on their respective requirements, compare products and then choose the one that fits their requirements the best. This entire process is a comprehensive buyer cycle.
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3 Stages Of The Buyer's Cycle
There are three stages in the buying cycle. A buyer may pass through some or all these stages, which affects their final purchase decision. Here are the three stages of a buyer's cycle:
In this stage, the customer may encounter the brand for the first time and discover its existence. The awareness stage is at the top of the marketing process and it involves the customer's initial interaction with the brand. Customers often discover a brand because they have an issue that requires resolution and for which they are actively searching for solutions. At this stage, marketers and salespeople can win the trust and loyalty of potential customers by providing answers to their questions and resolving their concerns effectively, giving them time to familiarise themselves with the brand.
This stage can be the right opportunity for you to focus the customer's attention on their requirements and present your brand as the solution. You can initially introduce them to your brand by directing them to content like blogs, articles, e-books, guides, checklists, videos and infographics. For example, if someone is looking for supplies and tools to renovate their home by themselves, you can provide them with a link to your do-it-yourself home renovation blogs to help them. This can establish you as an authority on their subject, making it more likely for the reader to trust your services.
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During this stage, the buyer considers the possibility of choosing your service. They can weigh the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing your product and may compare your product with other similar services in the market. This stage is in the middle of the marketing process, where the customer considers their likelihood of doing business with a brand. It is essential to understand that this stage does not guarantee a conversion unless you have a complete monopoly over the market.
The customer may consider purchasing multiple options and eventually choose the option that suits them the most. At this stage, building positive relationships with customers and reaching out to them and reminding them of your offers is essential. You can persuade them during this stage by providing comparative analysis, technical blogs and articles, product feature videos and highlighting the benefits of purchasing your product.
During this decision stage, the buyer often makes the ultimate decision to make a purchase from you and become a customer. The individual may have thoroughly explored all other available options and concluded that your product is one of their topmost choices. This is where the chances of conversion are the greatest. Marketers can use reviews, testimonials, ratings, videos and other factors to influence the customers' decisions and make them see your reliability as a brand.
For example, an individual looking for the best washing machine in the market may compare their top two choices of models. Before making a final decision, they may ask for additional guarantees, add-ons, benefits or discounts to ensure they get the best offer. Here, marketers can think of unique ways and offerings that can establish them as market leaders and convince the customers to purchase their products.
Importance Of The Buying Journey
It is essential for marketers and salespeople to understand a customer's buying journey, as it can help professionals to detect and resolve problematic areas and make the buying process smooth for customers. It can also facilitate faster buying decisions amongst customers, leading to increased sales revenue and positive brand reinforcement in the market.
This process can also help marketers create an excellent marketing strategy that positively influences the customers' thought processes and strengthens their brand loyalty. A solution-oriented buyer journey may encourage the potential customer to opt for the company's services. Here are a few reasons it is essential to understand the full scope of the buying cycle:
Create effective marketing campaigns
As a marketing professional, it is essential to be mindful of these stages and leverage them to provide products that meet the customer's requirements and demands. Most buyers are likely to conduct independent research while looking for a solution to their problem. Integrating the buyer's cycle into your marketing campaigns can enable you to secure the customers' attention on the right platforms, at the right stages and with the right content.
Deliver attention-gaining content
Content plays an important role in sales and marketing, especially in persuading the customer to make a purchase decision. In the buyer journey's research and consideration stage, the buyer may often interact with longer forms of content, such as videos, blogs, white papers and eBooks. In the later decision-making stages, customers may interact with landing pages, advertisements, reviews, case studies and product demos. If your content can engage and keep the customer's attention through these content formats, it may positively affect the conversion rate.
Related: What Is Content Marketing? (Benefits, Examples And Metrics)
Build long-lasting consumer relationships
The buying cycle can be a good way to build a lasting relationship with potential customers as it enables you to connect with them at their level using relevant content. This can help you build a positive impression with the customer by establishing yourself as a leading authority. Offering products that resonate with the audience's requirements can also have a major role in influencing their purchase decision and proving reliability. Even after the visitor converts into a buying customer, you can offer other relevant solutions to build long-term brand loyalty.
Related: What Is A Marketing Manager? Definition, Roles And Skills
Role Of This Journey In Sales And Marketing
As a sales or marketing professional, you can use the buying cycle to get more leads or to market your products and services with offerings customised as per consumer requirements. Buyers may not like being influenced by sales or marketing efforts. Understanding the buying cycle can help marketers get an insight into the customer's buying psychology at that stage and provide them with useful offers. Ideally, a customer's transition through every stage happens organically. Marketers may consider the audience's perspective and then make the buyers feel seen and heard.
Related: How To Generate Leads For A Business: A Comprehensive Guide
Buyer Journey Models
Here are some of the buying cycle models that can help in improving the customer's experience with your brand:
The inbound model focuses on getting new customers consistently by publishing highly relevant, original and in-depth content to establish the brand as an authority and build credibility. This model may be suitable for companies that offer products with a direct value proposition. As an authoritative voice in the industry, marketers can obtain new leads and increase business scope through their content.
The circular model of a buyer journey focuses on retaining and nurturing existing customers and enticing them to buy more products. The circular model may work for companies with a subscription model or those who sell high-value products. As the goal is to improve brand loyalty, marketers may provide customers with comprehensive sales, marketing and finance reports and offer exemplary client support to present the benefits of being associated with the company.
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Gartner's B2B buying journey model
Gartner's buyer journey model may apply only to companies with complex evaluations. This can include multiple decision makers, high-value, complex products and varied customer requirements. It may also involve detailed planning of buyer steps to include all essential areas such as problem identification, requirement building, devising a solution and supplier selection.
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