Picture this: You reach home early from the office and decide to make some pudding, calling up a few friends at home. But unfortunately, you have run out of milk. As soon as you identify the problem, you start doing some research on the best full-cream milk brands.
Finally, you end up choosing a brand that has good reviews from customers and is reasonably priced. So, you visit multiple grocery stores and find the same brand in one of them. Hence, you complete your buyer’s journey.
A buyer’s journey starts with the identification of a problem and ends with the perfect solution to the problem.
Understanding a buyer’s journey is no rocket science. Businesses are required to understand the steps of this journey and how a prospect moves through it.
This article is all about exploring the buyer’s journey and mapping its stages as your prospect turns into your customer.
What is Buyers’ Journey and Why is it Essential to Optimize B2B Buyers’ Journey?
A buyer’s journey includes the stages where a person identifies a problem, assesses the potential solutions to it, and finally chooses the solution that is perfect for them. Looking from a marketer’s point of view, the buyer’s journey has three stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
When businesses try to assess every point of contact with customers throughout the buyer’s journey, it allows creating a positive customer experience. By improving every customer touchpoint, brands can build trust, and earning the trust of prospects is the way to convert them into customers.
If we look at the specifics of B2B decision making, we will get to understand how important optimization of the customer journey is for a business. If the customer’s journey is long, the possibility of converting them into customers decreases. Most buyers may leave the journey before completion due to misunderstandings or even a lack of alignment between buyer and seller or internally. Hence, businesses must make their customer’s journey simple, seamless, and efficient.
When you consider mapping the customer’s journey, you will be able to understand the areas that require improvement. For example, where your customers are struggling or what questions they are asking. This will help you to create the perfect content that can make your customer’s journey more efficient.
An Overview of The Different Stages of B2B Buyers’ Journey
B2B Buyers’ Journey has three distinct stages. Let’s see what these stages are and what elements they cover.
In this first stage, an individual experiences a few symptoms of a problem but is unable to point out what exactly the problem is. In the awareness stage, the aim is to understand the problem clearly before going about finding the right solution.
For example, a business is not getting enough website traffic. So, what might be the reason?
In the awareness stage, customers require content that would focus on addressing the challenging points. Guides, articles & blogs, quizzes may be useful at this stage to help them understand their next step.
At this stage, the individual gets a clear understanding of the problem and starts searching for possible solutions.
Considering the above example, the possible solutions might be trying for paid searches, social media marketing, or publishing blogs.
This stage calls for content that will communicate different approaches that might work for the problem. Refrain from promoting your business as the right and perfect solution at this stage. You can position your solution effectively while suggesting to customers the different strategies that might be useful.
This stage makes the individual finalize a specific solution. Also, the individual tries putting together a list of service providers from whom the specific approach or solution might be purchased. Finally, the individual makes a final purchase decision.
For example, a business chooses to publish blogs for better website traffic and lists out 3-4 agencies that can provide content writing services.
At this stage, you can finally promote your solution and explain how it can solve the buyer’s problem. Explain why you are the perfect choice for the buyer. Honesty, humility, and claims with proper data to support its work are great at this stage.
7 Steps to follow to Create a Buyers’ Journey Map
We are pretty sure that now you have understood what a buyer’s journey is. So, we have listed the 7 steps that you can follow to map your customer’s buyer’s journey.
1. Defining Buyer Personas
The first step before mapping your buyer’s journey is defining buyer personas. Now, if you aren’t aware of what your customers are struggling with, what challenges they face, what questions they have, or which goals they are trying to reach – you’ll have difficulty in mapping your buyer’s journey. Consequently, you’ll also find it hard to create content that will perfectly align with the journey.
So, to get started with mapping of buyer’s journey, you need to know the buyer’s personas first. Research on specific questions that you can ask during buyer persona interviews or google buyer persona templates that might be helpful.
Assuming that you have already identified and documented buyer personas, let us move forward with the mapping process.
2. What Symptoms are being experienced by your Personas?
Initially, you need to map the awareness stage of the journey. To do so, identify the challenges and problems that make it difficult or stop the customers from fulfilling their goals.
Also, think about the process of how your buyer first began to realize that such a challenge or problem exists. Focus on what challenges are popping up and what concerns your buyers are going through.
There will be a lot to think about and you’ll also have a lot of voilà moments. So, noting everything down might ensure that the rest of the mapping is hassle-free.
3. What Are the Possible Solutions to these Problems?
Here starts the mapping of the consideration stage and to map it you need to think of the different approaches that your potential customer might consider.
Think of a DIY solution that the buyer might consider or some readymade solution that’s easily available. It may so happen as well that the problem needs a more customized solution.
So, explore the buyer’s questions, concerns, and priorities that might be there while they assess the different solutions to the problem. This will give you a proper understanding of the consideration stage.
4. Which other companies offer a similar type of solution as yours?
Here comes the no-fun part of the mapping process – listing out competitors who provide a similar solution like yours. This is important to map the decision stage of the journey.
Think from the buyer’s perspective. How will they evaluate the alternative brands? What features will be the most important to them? What questions are likely to cross their minds when they start evaluating the solutions by different brands?
This will help you understand the decision-making process of buyers and hence, you can come up with better strategies.
5. Identification of points of friction along the customer’s buyer’s journey
In this step, consider the questions that you have listed for each stage of the journey. Then hover over few more questions like,
- What challenges do buyers encounter during the journey?
- What are the possible obstacles preventing the buyers from smoothly transitioning from one stage to another?
- Why are the buyers moving backward?
- Why aren’t they able to make the final purchase decision?
Finally, think about one last question – How can you ensure that all of the above doesn’t happen?
Once you identify the points of friction by assessing the real picture of the buyer’s journey, you’ll be able to implement the right strategies.
6. How does your existing content fit into the buyer’s journey?
Take it slow at this stage. Conduct an audit on the existing blogs, guides, and e-books. Find out which content addresses the challenges, which one provides solutions, and which one promotes your brand.
Once you get a clear picture, you’ll be able to map each content to the corresponding stage of your buyer’s journey.
7. Fill the gaps by creating new content
Having evaluated your existing content, you’ll be able to identify the gaps. For example, you may have more content for the consideration stage than awareness and decision.
Once you identify, start strategizing about how you can fill in these gaps. You might consider starting from the decision stage and then move backward creating content for the awareness and consideration stage. This will help you focus on converting prospects into customers. Also, it will ensure that every new content of yours has a next step to point to.
By customizing and improving your buyer’s journey, you’ll get various actionable insights and these insights can be used to the maximum advantage in multiple ways. If you’re able to hit the right way, it will excel your business, starting right from the inbound marketing strategy to the sales process and the incorporation of a marketing automation system.