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The Evolution of the Marketing Funnel: the Buyer’s Journey

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Oscar Waterworth
Oscar is a writer and a senior editor over at Bizzmarkblog.com. He enjoys reading and writing about marketing, technology, and business.
Read about the 3 stages of the buyer's journey: awareness, consideration, and decision.
Consumers’ practices are changing at a rapid pace. Today, consumers come to the purchase decision well before they reach out to the sales team. This is why it is very important to think about adjusting the marketing strategy according to the 3 stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. 


The Awareness Stage 



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This is the first stage of the buyer’s journey. At this stage, the buyer is probably completely unaware of your company’s existence. They are also unaware that they have a certain need that you can fulfill. 

How can a buyer be interested in your product or service if they do not know you exist? This is a rhetorical question, of course. What you need to do here is to create awareness of your brand. 

Your potential buyer needs to understand your industry and how you can help them with a particular problem. You should create informational content that does not directly advertise your product, service or brand. It should only address the buyer’s pain points


Buyer’s Research 


Once a buyer becomes aware of the fact that they have a certain pain point, they will begin their research. Most of the buyers will turn to Google for their research. At this stage, the buyers are usually looking for educational material, testimonials, and customer reviews. 

You should have these pieces of content readily available on your website. There are many marketing automation tools that you can utilize to track content downloads and to collect the information about your prospects. Think about creating paid surveys such as this one to gather more information about your potential buyers. But you should not go ahead with the sales pitch just yet. 


Criteria Prioritization 


After a considerable amount of research, the buyers are now aware of the criteria that do or do not meet their needs. This allows them to prioritize questions that they will ask during the product demos. At this point, the buyers will start eliminating the vendors that they believe will not be able to cater to their needs. They might narrow their choice to just 2 or 3 brands. 

At this stage, it is critical to have educational pieces of content such as white papers, industry reports and analyst reports readily available on your website. This stage (Awareness) is all about building trust with the buyers. 

They should be able to recognize your company as a valuable source of information. Consider building a few lead nurturing campaigns which will help you to gradually deliver content to the buyers through form completion. This leads us to the Consideration stage of the buyer’s journey. 


Consideration 



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As the buyers go through the awareness stage of their journey, they narrow their choices down to just a few brands of interest. At this point, most of the buyers will return to Google to further their initial research. 

They will look at each company specifically to find out how each of them can relieve their pain points. As the buyers continue researching, you should use your marketing automation tool to adjust their scores and thus keep track of their interest in your product. 


Buyers Compare Different Products 


There is a certain point in the buyer's journey when the buyers begin doing in- depth comparisons of the vendors whose product they consider using. Now the buyers will start reaching out to sales representatives. They want to know additional things regarding the product or service to find out exactly what features could be useful to their team. 

The buyers now begin to identify their pain points. The sales team should use the valuable information gathered by the marketing automation tool to customize the conversation with each of the potential buyers.


Justification 


The buyers are slowly but surely approaching the decision stage of their journeys. But before they make the decision to purchase, they will first want a sign- off from one of the c-level executives. They will focus on those pieces of content that deal with ROI and pricing so that they could justify their investment. 

Here, you should stop using the marketing- friendly vocabulary and focus on speaking the C-suite language. Focus on the bigger picture by using the phrases such as “return on investment” and “increase revenue” instead of “creative new approach” or “revolutionary product”. Now the buyer moves on to the last stage of the buyer’s journey- the decision stage. 


Decision



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After the buyers have been supported by the upper management, they are ready to decide upon a vendor whose product they would like to purchase. Things that they are thinking about here are initial costs, implementation, preparation, as well as customer support. 

Now it is time for you to create content that is specific to your brand. You should focus on things like customer success stories, case studies, and positive reviews. Nothing speaks better to a potential buyer than testimonials of satisfied customers. 


The Purchase 


Your buyers are now ready to make a purchase. It has probably taken them days, weeks or even months to make that important decision. Now it is time for implementation and paperwork. However, the buyers still have things to do, like researching the best practices of using the product, implementation and more. 

The content you create should not only be aimed at the potential buyers but on your customers as well. You should consider creating content that explains some of the advanced features of your product and how they can utilize it  to its full potential. Your customers will be even more satisfied to learn about how to fully utilize their new product. 


Customer Evangelists


This is the best and the most rewarding part of the buyer’s journey. This is when the satisfied customers become brand evangelists and start advertising your product based on how much it helped them with a certain pain point. Those customers will become crucial to your marketing efforts and you should work hard to attain them. 

Happy customers are the best marketing investments you can make. This is because word-of-mouth marketing is the only form of marketing that comes from the customer and not the company. Make customers happy and they will make you happy in return. 


All Journeys Come to an End


But this is a happy ending for the both parties. 

By carefully planning out your marketing strategy according to the buyer’s journey stages, not only will you be able to make a sale and acquire valuable customers but you will make the customer happy and they will return the favor by word-of-mouth marketing.

As this is only a quick review of the buyer’s journey, take some time to inform yourself as much as you can about the stages if the buyer's journey, so that you can be on your way to creating successful marketing strategies. 
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