How to optimize your content for each step of the buyer’s journey
How how do you turn a disinterested prospect into a committed customer? Columnist Daniel Faggella outlines all the stages of the buyer's journey and explains where in that process you can increase conversions.
If you’re an experienced marketer, then you probably understand the difference between “marketing” and “selling.” Far too often, business owners compartmentalize these two concepts.
The objective of marketing is to make the selling process superfluous. The harsh reality is that you can’t force people to buy from you. No matter how you optimize your websites for conversions, there will always be prospects who aren’t interested in your products and services.
So how do you convert an unwilling prospect into a long-term customer?
I like to explain this by something called the “buyer’s journey.” If you want to understand the purchasing cycle, then you need to understand your ideal customer at a much deeper level. You must figure out their primary goals and frustrations and why they chose not to buy from you.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to optimize your marketing sequence to accommodate every stage of the buyer’s journey.
What is the buyer’s journey?
The buyer’s journey is the process that every customer follows when he or she purchases a product.
It looks something like this:
Awareness Stage — Consideration Stage — Decision Stage
There are many different variations of this cycle. Depending on your niche, the buyer’s journey can be much more in-depth for your customer.
The key is to understand that the buyer’s journey is a repetitive process. Every one of your customers will go through the stages of awareness, consideration and decision.
Whether they’re a first-time or existing customer, they can only be in one juncture of this cycle at a time. Your conversion rates will be predicated on how far along your customers are on their journey.
The harsh reality
In my experience, only five percent of the people who visit your website are going to purchase your product. So where are the other 95 percent of your readers going?
Your visitors will fall into one of the following categories (which I’ve broken down into approximate estimates):
- About five percent are going to buy your offer.
- About 25 percent are considering your offer.
- About 40 percent are NOT considering your offer.
- About 15 percent think they are not interested in your offer.
- About 15 percent know they’re not interested in your offer.
Although your blog is considered the central hub of your marketing, the majority of transactions won’t happen there.
It’s quite simple. A visitor is most likely at the “awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey, which means they’re merely interested in checking out your product or service.
Your goal is to accommodate the unsold 95 percent of your readers by employing a variety of lead-generation strategies. This will entice them to join your email list, where you can gradually move them down the marketing sequence funnel.
Email converts better than SEO, social media and the various “display ad” networks. Your messages should entail a series of educational content and promotional offers.
If you continue to provide value to your prospects, they will be much more responsive to your promotional offers. This will ultimately move them into the “consideration” and “decision” stages of the buyer’s journey.
Phase 1: The customer is aware of a need
This is the official beginning stage of the buyer’s journey. During this process, your readers are trying to identify exactly what they need. In general, the problem is ambiguous to your reader, and it’s your job to describe it more explicitly.
Marketing Strategy: Tailor Your Content To Their Problem
Before you implement your lead-generation strategies, you want to make sure that your content speaks to your reader’s core desires. Don’t make the cardinal mistake of creating content based around your level of expertise.
Although you are positioned as the expert, your ideal prospect is most likely a novice. When you create content, you want to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine the specific roadblocks they are encountering, and think of ways you can help them overcome these problems.
Online marketing agency Distilled has put together a comprehensive beginner’s guide to creating focused content that readers may find useful.
At this stage of the buyer’s journey, your readers will want to consume information that will give them immediate benefits. Each article you write should speak directly to the core desires they are looking to satisfy. If you provide your readers with value, they will naturally want to learn more from you.
This is the time to focus on generating leads from your blog content. From there, you can use a variety of email segmentation tactics to increase your conversion rates.
One way to do this is to put a banner in the footer of the article. Offer a free piece of content that is relevant to the material in your post. This could be a short e-book, video course or case study that expands on the topic about which they just read.
When your visitor clicks on the banner, direct them to a high-converting landing page that solicits their email address. To maximize conversions, provide a visual representation of your offer and a strong call to action (e.g., instead of a button that reads “Submit,” use one that says, “Send Me The Free Report Now”).
Remember, your readers are looking to consume digestible information that gives them immediate results. Make sure you deliver succinct content that is centered around their primary goals.
Your goal is to convert as many readers into leads as possible. In addition to creating banners in your articles, you can optimize your blog with exit pop-ups and direct calls to action.
Always provide your reader with an opportunity to take the next step in the buyer’s journey by joining your email list.
Phase 2: The customer is considering your offer
At this juncture of the process, your prospect has identified their needs and end goals. They have most likely joined your email list and consumed a good amount of your solution-driven content. Although they have explored a variety of options for themselves, they are seriously considering your offer.
Marketing Strategy: Explain The Unique Features Of Your Product
This is definitely the most pivotal phase of the buyer’s journey, when you need to indoctrinate your prospect about the unique features of your offer.
Your emails should speak directly to the specific goals they are looking to achieve. You’ve managed to earn their attention through your content. Now, it’s time to earn their trust through meticulous, powerful, benefit-driven copy.
If you want to create persistent email sales tactics that work, here are some questions you should be addressing:
- What are the unique benefits that only you can offer?
- What makes your offer different from what your competitors in the marketplace are offering?
- What are the different modules of your offer?
- How is your product delivered to the customer?
- Do you offer customer support?
- Is there a warranty on your product?
The more content you can provide your prospect, the better. If you present more information than your competitors, it will give you a distinct advantage over them. This will ultimately lead prospects to make a decision, which is the last step of the buyer’s journey.
Phase 3: The customer makes a decision and buys
Your “almost” customer is now ready to take action. You have created solution-driven content and highlighted the features of your core value proposition.
They have made the decision to buy.
Marketing Strategy: Optimize For Sales Conversions
This is the final stage of the buyer’s journey. Although you are on the verge of closing, you shouldn’t take this last step for granted; it’s imperative to follow through.
Just because a customer clicks the “Add To Cart” button, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to purchase.
In fact, many customers will abandon the shopping cart before checkout, which suggests that you can’t prevent all consumers from experiencing some sort of trepidation when buying.
But you can take preventive measures to minimize the amount of cart abandonment with your customers.
Your checkout pages are an integral part of your marketing strategy. The price points, delivery methods and terms of your product should be clear to your customer.
To increase conversions, itemize the different aspects of your offer on the checkout page. Provide a visual representation, along with a short description of each module and bonus. This will increase the perceived value of your product and eliminate any ambiguity on your customer’s end.
The checkout page can also be used to reinforce the credibility of your brand. The right-hand sidebar of the page can showcase a series of testimonials about your product or service.
You also can test different buttons, colors and formats to ensure you are converting as many buyers as possible.
Although some customers will abandon the cart, your marketing sequence doesn’t end there. By providing customer support and delivering valuable content, you’ll increase the number of existing and returning customers who come back to your business when they have a related need that you can fill.
The reality is that marketing isn’t a one-dimensional process. You can’t control the behavior of your customers, but you can accommodate them as they proceed through the different stages of the buyer’s journey.
The more you embrace this process, the better off your sales conversions will be.
How has the buyer’s journey affected your marketing campaigns?
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.