How To Travel Through Your Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey is a hot topic. Companies are learning that the better we understand who our customers are and what they’re looking for as they barrel, skip, or meander towards a purchase, the better we can keep them engaged through the buying process. And the better we keep them engaged, the more value we can provide.

That value goes both ways, of course: A loyal customer is a paying customer for the long-term. Paving the road of their buyer journey with opportunities to learn, connect, evaluate, share, and even advocate is a worthy investment—one that requires some solid marketing strategy including campaigns to keep customers “biting” on offers that keep them happily engaged.

Here, we’ll take a look at how direct response marketing fits into the various stages of your buyers’ journey.

What’s Your Buyer’s Journey?
There are multiple ways to describe a buyer’s journey—do a quick Google search and you’ll see what we mean—but the lion’s share of consumers and business prospects travel through these basic stages, demonstrating similar buyer behavior along the way:

1. Awareness. This first stage is marked by the buyer’s identification of a pain point, leading them to search for information to better understand their problem and explore possible solutions. They’re likely unaware of your brand or specific product or service, but now is a great time for your marketing messages to reach them.

2. Interest. In this stage, the buyer is problem-aware and learning about possible solutions, digging into deeper evaluation as they narrow down alternatives by brand or vendor. Hopefully, they’re aware of your solution by now.

3. Decision. At this point, your buyer becomes a paying customer. (Congratulations!) Their final decision was likely motivated by a combination of finding the right fit for their needs and determining value.

4. Action. From now on, it’s all about building and maintaining a relationship with your customer so they become loyal, repeat customers and brand advocates.

You may have segmented your customers into different buyer personas, each with their own unique buyer’s journey. And since every buyer’s journey is at least slightly different from the next, some customers may travel through extra stages. They may also skip a stage or two and jump straight into a purchase!

But what we’re concerned about here is the big picture—so keep reading to find out how your marketing efforts can nurture buyers forward.

Marketing Touch-Points and the Role of Direct Response
Your goal is to keep buyers engaged at various touch-points through the entire journey, meeting their needs according to their needs and behavior. This graphic may help give you a feel for how marketing is “plugged in” to the buyer journey.

 

Let’s take a closer look at each stage.

Awareness. Your marketing goal: attract them.
Your potential customers are browsing around, asking questions, trying to make sense of what’s challenging them and figuring out what they should do about it. That means your website’s awareness stage marketing content needs to be search-optimized and speak to a person who isn’t necessarily ready for a sales pitch. Likewise, your ads and public relations work aimed at attracting buyers at this stage should be problem-oriented, triggering pain points that motivate them to learn more.

For direct response, your best bet is gated content, such as ebook or whitepaper that will help them understand their challenges and provide ideas for solutions. Buyers are likely unaware of your brand, so they’re not on your opt-in contact lists or following you on social media. You can capture their attention through organic search or direct outreach—if you have a targeted list for postal mail or email. If advertising draws them to your website, an offer for your gated content can greet them on the landing page.

Learn more in Creating an Effective Top-of-the-Funnel Lead Magnet.

Interest. Your marketing goal: convert them.
It’s hard to say that one stage is more critical than the others, but from content marketing and direct response perspective, there are so many channels you can leverage to attact/entice/motivate buyers who are actively seeking solutions. These are serious customer contenders—so every interaction counts, from word of mouth to customer reviews, from PPC ads to email campaigns, and from social media to direct interaction with a company sales rep.

Direct response offers can include gated downloads (e.g. comparison checklist, case study, How To Select A ___). And it’s an ideal time to invite potential customers to an informative webinar focusing on their key pain points and explaining (your) approach to solving their challenges.

At this point, you may find the following helpful: Choosing the Right Channels for Your Direct Response Offer.

Decision.Your marketing goal: close the deal.
Here, the buyer is pulling the trigger. Your marketing efforts can make this painless and even enjoyable for them. Now is the time to bring out the “big guns” of in-store and online promotion, like exclusive new customer offers. Direct mail and email are ideal in this stage because you can reach buyers (directly) with personalized offers they can take advantage of—and that you can track.

Read more in Still Clipping Coupons? How Today’s Consumers Save Money and Who, Me? 3 Best Practices for Direct Marketing Personalization.

Action. Your marketing goal: delight them.
You might say that keeping your customers happy is smooth sailing—if you have online communities, loyalty programs, referral incentives, and, of course, special offers that entice your valued customers to keep buying and sharing the great news about your brand.

Direct response marketing can be employed when it’s time to invite customers to join a customer-only Facebook Group, to enroll in your loyal customer program, or participate in your referral program. As in the purchase stage, email and direct mail are perfect for sending personalized, perhaps seasonal or time-to-buy-again, offers.

Don’t miss the following posts for insights into maintaining post-purchase customer engagement:

Tips to Optimize Your Offer’s Thank-You Page

4 Things the Best Customer Referral Programs Have in Common

6 Guidelines for Running a Social Media Group for Your Business

Build Brand Advocates and Response with These 5 Steps

Contact us for help customizing your buyer’s journey.