You're familiar with the buyer's journey — the logical progression that a consumer follows when researching and ultimately deciding on a solution to purchase. It starts when a buyer becomes aware of a pain point and recognizes their need for a solution. After some initial research, they reach the consideration stage of their buyer's journey in which they evaluate different solutions. Once they've compared the features of each contender against their own needs and objectives, they start to make a purchasing decision.
But the new inbound buyer's journey extends beyond the decision phase, continuing long after a deal is won. It starts with the same three pillars that marketers know and love, but takes these to the next level by adding essential post-decision touch points to ensure long-term customer retention and satisfaction. We've laid out each stage of the new inbound buyer's journey to help you retain customers and sustain long-term growth well after a lead becomes a customer.
In this initial stage, a buyer attempts to put their specific pain point or need into context. Search queries for the awareness stage usually take the form of questions. For example, someone in the awareness stage of finding a content marketing product might search for things like, "How to create a content marketing strategy," "reasons for a high bounce rate" and "what is CRO?"
When people are in search mode, it's the perfect time to capture their attention with keyword-optimized content, PR, outreach, educational events, and webinars. Expand your reach by promoting content on platforms where your ideal buyers are spending the most time. In order for prospective customers to find you through organic web searches, you must create educational content that speaks to their pain points and position in the buyer's journey.
You don’t want just anyone visiting your site; you want to attract people who are most likely to become qualified leads and ultimately, happy long-term customers. But how do you attract the right traffic? By serving up relevant and timely content. Visitors and leads who find your top-of-funnel (ToFu) content useful are primed to move onto the next stage of the buyer's journey: consideration.
Once a prospect has identified the cause of their pain point or identified a possible means of achieving their goal, they move into the consideration stage. In this stage, they evaluate all available options that could help solve their problem or help them reach their desired goal.
While ToFu content should be designed to educate prospects, it's here in the middle of your funnel (MoFu) where you should begin to demonstrate why your solution is the right choice and attempt to both educate leads and weed out prospects who aren't a good fit for your business.
MoFu tactics range from email marketing and blogging to paid ads and remarketing campaigns. In order to nurture visitors into becoming leads, you'll also need a reliable means of capturing their information. Optimize your form strategy to make this step of the conversion process as easy and seamless as possible. Use information gathered from form fields along with engagement data to make smart decisions about what resources will best resonate with a prospect's self-identified objectives (and share them accordingly).
After a lead has downloaded one of your ToFu offers, follow up with the next logical piece of mid-funnel content to build on the knowledge you've helped them accrue. If they're spending time on your solutions page, make sure that they can easily view relevant case studies. Implement a lead scoring system in which you track qualifying metrics to accurately gauge a lead's fit and interest level. Doing so will help you determine when it's time to pass a lead over to sales (or time to walk away if they're a poor fit for your brand). Once you've offered extended engagement strategies to nurture leads and build rapport and trust, they should be able to confidently move on to make a purchasing decision.
Everything's going according to plan; the prospect found your company way back during their awareness phase, they're intrigued by the resources they've read and they've finally moved into the decision phase.
Without proper nurturing, your bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) offers and calls-to-action (CTAs) probably won't resonate or convert new leads. By lining up your content and overall nurture strategy with the buyer's journey, you'll ensure that prospects have plenty of opportunities to engage and learn about your services before reaching the bottom of your funnel. If they've been properly nurtured throughout their buyer's journey with relevant content, they'll be more likely to follow through on BoFu offers like product demos, product-specific downloads and consultation calls.
Optimize around the decision stage by providing relevant BoFu content and conversion opportunities across your site. You should also align your marketing and sales teams by equipping sales with powerful content assets to help them close the deal. But the new buyer's journey shouldn't end once you've closed the deal — after you've won a prospect's business, it's time to begin thinking about growth.
Happy customers lead to low churn rates and greater customer lifetime value, so it's important to set customers up to leverage your product or services effectively and see maximum results. At this stage of the buyer's journey, focus on growing customer engagement with your offering and extending your reach within a customer's organization.
Often times, companies notice that their clients are not aware of or are not using components of their product or services to their greatest advantage. Avoid encountering any resistance to adoption by implementing a thorough onboarding process in which you clearly set expectations and identify valuable customer resource hubs and community forums. Continue to educate clients on how to best leverage your product and take advantage of new features to keep them engaged and create future upsell and cross sell opportunities.
Avoid high churn rates and post-purchase frustration by keeping lines of communication open and frequently checking in to see if a customer is using your solution to its full potential. Focusing on growth will also give you a leg up on the final stage of the new buyer's journey: delight.
Happy customers can become brand evangelists with the right mixture of nurturing and support. Once your customers are fully onboarded and using your offering to make an impact within their organization, focus on keeping them satisfied and engaged.
Offering promotions is an effective way to show customers that you care and sustain engagement in the delight stage. Stay active on social media to maintain your brand personality and engage with customers in their preferred social habitats. Keep your blog active and updated as a reliable source of information on best practices and product updates. In addition, set up client-specific nurture campaigns tailored to the unique needs of current customers. The inbound way is all about providing a remarkable customer experience at every touchpoint, so be sure that your strategy accounts for all engagement fronts.
There's no rule that says you can't take a more nuanced approach to your client relationships. Think of your product delivery as a partnership in which both sides reap the benefits. If you stress the symbiotic nature of your relationship, your client will trust you to help them accomplish their goals and will be more likely to refer leads back to you, thereby continuing to fuel the new buyer's journey.
Interested in learning more about perfecting the inbound buyer's journey to drive sales conversions? Download our Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing below.
Erin is a former New Breeder.