So, what is a buyer’s journey? Sometimes referred to as a purchasing journey, a buyer’s journey is essentially the process a customer goes through to purchase a service or product. It’s a map of all the decisions, actions, and interactions that take place from the moment a prospect identifies a solution, to the point when they make a purchase.
In other words, a buyer journey is what the “sales funnel” looks like from the perspective of your lead or prospect. Understanding the stages of the buyer journey, and the pain points, goals and interactions that influence your customer’s decisions can help companies to increase sales.
Mapping the buyer journey means you can adapt descriptions of your product or service to address customer pain points, create content that boosts brand awareness, and even enhance customer service. Used correctly, a buyer journey can even help organizations increase customer retention.
The stages of a buyer journey can vary depending on your business processes and goals. Some companies account for the retention or loyalty stage in a buyer journey, which means finding ways to use your sales and marketing strategy to increase customer retention and boost referrals.
However, there are three stages which are common in virtually any buyer or customer journey:
The first stage in the buyer journey is all about customer pain points. It’s at this point your prospective buyer recognizes they have a problem they need to solve. The ideal solution may not be immediately clear to your prospect at this stage. That’s why it’s so important to develop a marketing strategy that draws attention to your offering, and highlights it as the ideal solution.
During the awareness stage, it’s the job of marketing teams to create content, such as blog posts and social media content, that captures the attention of customers with a specific problem. The more you invest in the visibility of your business, with SEO, marketing, and other tools, the more potential prospects you can bring into your lead pipeline.
As consumers begin to research solutions to the pain points they face, they’ll begin to see options for how to resolve their problems. At this point, they enter the consideration stage, where they’ll actively identify and consider different options.
During this stage, the marketing and sales process can begin to join forces. Marketing teams can create content that highlight the benefits of a product or service’s solution to customers, when compared with other options. Sales teams can ask customers about their specific issues, and advise them on which solution might be suitable for their needs.
After considering the various options available on the market, customers get to the point where they’re ready to make a decision about the product or service they’re going to buy. They may have decided what type of solution they want, but they haven’t yet made a purchase.
This is the stage when sales reps have the most interactions with potential customers. They highlight the benefits of the solution further, introduce purchasing options and work to close deals with leads. After a buyer successfully completes all of these journey stages and makes a purchase, the sales rep passes them onto the customer service, or customer experience team. These employees work on improving retention and increasing brand loyalty.
Learning how to map a buyer journey effectively can be complex, as there are multiple different stages involved in fully understanding a customer. Companies need to not just understand the buying process (the actions customers take to make a purchase), but the emotions of their target audience, road blocks they might face, and the research they’re likely to do.
There are templates available online that can help sales, marketing, and customer service teams better understand and use buyer journeys. However, you can also map a buyer journey from scratch using the following steps:
Whether you’re using a template or starting from square one, it’s important to set objectives for your customer journey map. There are various different types of customer journey in any business environment, so you’ll need to determine what your map is going to cover. Are you focusing on retaining customers, increasing sales, or generating new opportunities?
Think about which segment of your audience your map will be relevant to, and pull together a cross-functional team from sales, customer support, and marketing for a deeper understanding of common buyer behaviors.
Once you have a basic set of objectives for your journey map, the next step is researching and understanding your target audience. Customer profiles, or buyer personas can help you to step into the shoes of your potential customers and understand their behaviors.
You can collect information about your personas through customer feedback, user testing, and questionnaires, surveys, or market research. The buyer personas you create based on your research should provide insights into your customer’s demographics, behaviors, purchasing actions, pain points, goals, and expectations.
Now you know who your customers are, it’s time to evaluate how they connect with your brand. Evaluating customer actions and touchpoints is how you determine where your sales, marketing and customer service teams can influence the buyer journey.
Depending on your company, you may have numerous touchpoints to consider, such as your website, your online or offline store, social media channels, paid advertising campaigns, and email marketing strategies. You might also be able to interact with customers through third-party review sites and directories, business events or webinars, and interactions with chatbots.
At this point, you should have a clear view of how your customer interacts with your brand, and makes decisions regarding purchases. This means it’s time to start mapping everything out, focusing on the stages of the buyer journey:
Make sure you pay attention to customer emotions and motivations throughout the journey map. Consider how customers will feel as they move through their purchasing process, and how you can implement strategies to overcome obstacles and pain points.
Based on your current customer journey map, start looking for ways to improve the overall customer experience. Think about how you can eliminate some of the friction points your customers encounter as they search for products and services like yours to address their issues.
Think about how you can guide customers through the purchasing journey, answering crucial questions and addressing specific needs. It’s also worth looking for ways to better monitor and understand the customer journey over time. For instance, using CRM and analytical tools can help you to collect insights into customer sentiment and common pain points.
Consistently analyzing the customer journey, and paying attention to feedback from not just your customers, but your sales, marketing, and customer service team, can help you to improve the ROI of your customer journey map.
Now you know the answer to “What is a buyer’s journey” and you understand how to map one of your own, it’s worth noting that mapping the customer journey isn’t a one-time process. Customer actions and preferences change over time. Reviewing your map regularly will help you identify gaps, as well as opportunities for streamlining customer conversions.
Focus on consistently collecting data about the customer journey and customer experience, so you can enhance your buyer personas, improve the buying process, and increase sales.
Learn more about how to master customer journey mapping, and use mapping strategies to your advantage with help from expert sales professionals. Join the Hard Skill Exchange today!