Taking the time to dig into the data, send out surveys and coordinate focus groups can certainly take your buyer personas to a more thorough level of categorization. Failing to realize how those personas actually fit into the bigger picture, however, renders them somewhat ineffective.
After all, different types of buyers are triggered by different types of needs. They may connect with certain content formats over others, have distinct digital paths to travel from awareness to purchase and even experience different emotions along the way to boot. Regardless of the amount of time it will take to convince a potential buyer to purchase, having the most fitting buyer’s journey map for the situation will allow you to market successfully.
While the buyer’s journey itself may not be linear in nature or function, it can sometimes be better understood visually using a linear model. With this example, you can see the buyer’s journey divided into five stages with relevant content ideas distributed across the path. What’s helpful about this visualization is the distinction given between physical vs. digital touchpoints and unmanaged vs. managed marketing materials.
Another linear model, the before-and-after buyer’s journey map can be a good reference point for teams working with goods that often require careful consideration before purchase (i.e. B2B services, a car, investment plan, etc.). Further breaking down elements of the buyer’s journey to account for pre-triggers, triggers and experience help to shape the narrative. In addition, providing a context in the form of “Information Needs” as they relate to your brand and product gives you another angle to approach your content from.
On the other end of the spectrum are simpler purchases requiring less consideration, such as impulse buys, buys involving one decision-maker, etc. Rather than focusing heavily on brand authority so as to become considered amongst a sub-set of notable sellers, this model relies heavily on inspiration moments and experience. With these moments, aka triggers, a customer may feel compelled to purchase quickly. The experience they have in doing so, as well as any support received afterward, will be key to cycling them into a long-term loyalty loop.
A common way of understanding your buyer’s journey as a marketer is through the mapping of your customer experience alongside the efforts of your sales team. For e-commerce companies, this may be less of the case. But it is especially key for products and/or services, which require leads to be closed by sales consultants (i.e. many B2B services). This ensures alignment between two teams as they divide and conquer accordingly.
When all else fails, you don’t necessarily need a fancy design or heavily visualized map to build out an understanding of your buyer’s journey across the team. Charts laid out in Excel spreadsheets are an equally helpful way to organize the path your customers might take before purchasing. At each step along the way, think about not only who your buyers are, but potential job titles of key stakeholders, needs, influences from either an emotional or logical standpoint and content deliverables.
How does your organization approach the mapping of your brand’s buyer’s journey? Tweet us at @powerpostsocial.