The buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey is the active process a potential buyer goes through before the actual purchase. During this (online) purchasing process, the potential customer goes through three main phases: awareness, consideration and decision.
Each purchasing process consists of a number of phases. Before a decision or purchase is eventually made, the buyer goes through all these phases. Especially in B2B this can be a complex process, considering the fact that there are often several deciders involved. When you map this ‘buyer’s journey’, you get a better overview of the relevant moments of contact with the potential customer. This way, you can better meet the buyer’s information needs and it guarantees a successful marketing strategy.
The buyer’s journey consists of roughly three phases:
During the ‘awareness’ phase, the buyer is aware of a challenge or problem. He/she will look at and consider several options during this phase. In fact, this is an orientation phase where no definitive purchasing decision is made. The journey is only just beginning. For a marketer, it is important to respond to this with the right content. Practically speaking, you are looking for content that will trigger the buyer to look for the solution in a certain direction. At that moment, you start the game of lead nurturing, where marketing plays an important role, because how do you make sure your lead is taken to the next phase of the purchasing process?
The ‘consideration’ phase goes a step further. This is where the buyer makes the conscious consideration and looks at several solutions. Often he will consider a wide array of possibilities and solutions, and a longlist is created. The buyer eventually has a shortlist and approaches several parties with questions and requests for quotes. For a marketer, this is a very important phase in the purchasing process, because how do you make sure your company makes it onto the buyer’s longlist, and then shortlist? How do you keep the buyer involved with your company and/or solutions in an authentic way? If a buyer persona has previously been mapped, you can tell what the buyer needs, and offering the right content during the ‘consideration’ phase suddenly becomes child’s play.
During the ‘decision’ phase, the lead is handed over to Sales. The buyer has shown genuine interest in your services or products. Often during this phase, a buyer will be looking for references, reliability and value for money. Is the lead well-nurtured? Then chances are high that Sales will be able to make a successful deal. Even during the tail-end of this purchasing process, Marketing plays a role: are the references in order? Can the buyer incorporate the business case well? During this phase, Marketing can provide valuable service to both Sales and the aspiring buyer.