The buyer journey
– So, we’ve come to understand the funnel is a way of evaluating the buyer’s journey, and we’ve also got a good idea of each step within the funnel and how it relates to our consumer. And that’s great and all, but now we need to start making use of this knowledge, truly applying it, so we can influence how the consumer moves throughout the funnel and how we activate this consumer within each stage. So to do this, we’ll map our marketing efforts to each stage of the funnel. We wanna make sure that we have ample coverage, that our messaging pushes a consumer in the right direction, and that we’re not doing anything to hamper that progression.
But before we can do that, we need to better understand the buyer journey so that we can evaluate the type of marketing to use in each stage of this journey. When you know the journey, you’ll know where to deploy solutions. The funnel has helped us understand the steps they’ll go through, but there’s still a journey within those steps, a user can have many touchpoints within each stage, and unless we’re careful, we’ll create scenarios where users wander aimlessly. The journey within this funnel needs to be systematic and reflect the notion that we’re moving the user downwards within it.
We understand the buyer will go through the stages from awareness to action and then hopefully to loyalty, which is a stage we never really discussed. It’s after a user converts, if they stick around and show loyalty to your brand. But what does the buyer journey look like within these stages? How did the buyer become aware? Did they walk into a store and see the product on the shelf? Did they hear about it from a friend? Did they click on a social media advertisement? If they saw an item on the shelf, are there competing products alongside yours?If so, what does that do for their journey? When they’re on an ad, are there competing adsalongside yours, and what does that do for their journey? They may now be comparing your product to the one next to it, and if so, are they comparing it on cost or on benefit? The buyer may be moving up and down the funnel, there’s so many variables that we as marketers are working to account for.
Think about all the steps involved in the decision-making process. Within each stage, they’ll define their own path, interact with various brand touchpoints and hopefully move towards the next step in the funnel. With the increase of mobile devices and digital connectivity, consumers are exposed to too much of everything. They’ve got access to a lot of information, and they’re constantly being bombarded with messaging up and down the funnel from a plethora of brands. It’s here that we can either hamper this buyer journey, say, by utilizing too good to be true advertising messages, or we can help it, by showing up as a recommended brand within a social circle of friends online.
We must evaluate both the journey within our brand and the journey they’re taking outside of our brand. More communication does not necessarily increase the buyer’s positive perception of us. What increases their positive perception of our brand is tact. It’s knowing what they need to get through their journey. It’s about convincing them you understand their needs and that you’re authentic in your ability to give them what they’re looking for. The best marketing maps the consumer journey and identifies where consumers will cross into your funnel. But it doesn’t stop there, you then map out that journey as they move downwards within your funnel.
For now, take a catalog of how a buyer navigates your funnel. What are you doing right now?Now, this is a rather robust undertaking, and it’s often best handled by treating it in an agile manner. You must iterate on your buyer’s journey. You cannot conceivably map out every journey, every online touchpoint, every interaction, so start by creating the current buyer journey for these two groups. The buyer who’s aware of their problem, not ready to purchase, and not aware of your solution, and the buyer who is aware of their problem and ready to purchase.
What does that buyer journey look like for group A and group B? What steps would they take?How would they go through your funnel? How does that relate to the marketing strategies we built earlier? Look at your funnel, and visualize your buyer becoming aware, becoming interested, and so on. Ask yourself, how did they become aware of their problem? How would they become aware of your solution? How would they become interested in a brand? Why would they desire a particular brand? What would motivate them to convert, and how do you move them along in this funnel? Start to develop this into a map, there’s no set form for this,you can do it however communicates the story.
It shouldn’t be complex, remember, we’re just looking at the critical path. You wanna outline all the ways that they can interact with your brand. They come onto your website, visit your store,read your social media, receive an email, and so on. You wanna create something that you can put on the wall. This thought experiment will help you begin to connect the dots between your consumer and online marketing. And as you can see, it relates very similar to creating that marketing plan, and it should, because in practice, we’re creating a plan, but with the buyer journey in mind.