Are you looking for ways to improve your business’s sales? Perhaps you want to increase the number of customers? What about having more loyalty from your customers? Or maybe you want to know the answers to all of the above.
To answer the posed questions, businesses need to be aware of their situation first. In other words, you need to diagnose what stage(s) your buyers stop in their journey and identify the types of problems your business has that are hindering growth.
It is possible to have problems in multiple stages; for example, you might find that your business does not have enough brand recognition and doesn’t have many returning customers. This article aims to help businesses understand the importance and implications of the buyer’s journey while guiding what they can improve at each stage.
1. Awareness: Help, help, and more help ?
At our first stop in the buyer’s journey, we have the awareness stage– where individuals realize that they have a problem or a need. At the same time, they are assessing how urgent the problem/need is. First of all, information about your business should be easy to access. Businesses should concentrate on putting their brand out there and address particular questions/topics that the audience would find an interest in. You can accomplish this through inbound marketing strategies like search optimization engines (SEO) or blog posts. Businesses at this stage should ask themselves these questions:
- How am I advertising my company? (e.g., website, newspaper ads, radio commercials)
- When people search for information on their own, will they be able to find my business?
- Does the content I’m publishing allow people to gain more knowledge?
? Relevant: The What and Why of Inbound Marketing
Let’s imagine that Frank’s tooth has been hurting for some time. Naturally, he searched up dental clinics that are close by. If you owned a clinic, the question is, would Frank be able to search up your clinic on Google Maps and find information about your operating hours? Because 86% of consumers search for locations of businesses using Google Maps (Junto, 2021), and 78% of geo-specific mobile searches can result in an offline purchase (Junto, 2021)! Put your business on google maps here.
The first goal in this buyer’s journey that every business should accomplish is letting people know you exist. Then educate them on the course of actions they should take to resolve their problem(s), so you can effectively lead them into the next stage of the buyer’s journey.
2. Consideration: Your time to shine ?
Once customers have identified what they need, it’s time for businesses to shine. Since people at this stage are somewhat committed to finding a solution, businesses should concentrate on persuading potential customers to purchase their products/services.
The content businesses put out should be more specific and aimed towards a more targeted audience. Generally, you want your content to be informative and attractive. From social media content (Instagram stories, Tik Tok videos), to review websites and testimonials, try to show off the benefits of your product. That way, customers can learn about your products and recognize the values that make your business stand out.
Following the mentioned example of Frank’s toothache, a way for your dental clinic to attract customers is to have a “frequently asked questions” page or an “about us” page on your website. That way, customers can know how to book an appointment and have peace of mind knowing that your dentists are experienced and all certified.
Impress your customers by letting them know that you’re able to provide a solution to their problems and go above and beyond with customer experience design.
3. Purchase: One more push ?♂️
Now that customers have seen their options and know what they want, they need to decide one more thing– which offers they should take up. Most likely, a rational person would have made a pros and cons list of all their options. Businesses at this stage then should think of what potential drawbacks people might put down on their list and try to change that.
Ask yourself: what objections would customers have against purchasing my product? Could it be that your return policy isn’t clear? Or is your pricing unreasonably high? By thinking in their shoes, businesses can see how they can adjust their business model reasonably to fit what people desire while making a profit.
So you’ve resolved your customers’ potential cons from their lists, now what? Perhaps all customers need is a little something *extra* to get them to swipe their card. Sometimes, a free trial or a discount can do wonders, because who doesn’t love a good deal?
If that is what it takes for customers to choose your business over your competitors, the investment would be worth it in the long run. For example, dental clinics can offer a free dental care kit after customers’ appointments. When Frank is contemplating which dental clinic he should go to, he will keep that in mind. (I’ve always appreciated the fact that I always get free travel-size tubes of toothpaste)
4. Retention: “Do you ever think about me?” ?
Just when you thought the buyer’s journey ends there, it doesn’t. Businesses now will want their customers to come back since they have experienced the products and services firsthand. So businesses must try to inquire as much feedback as possible; from the shopping process to using your product or receiving your service. Having a place where customers can easily comment and review your product/service can enable businesses to improve themselves.
Another reason why customer retention is essential is because keeping existing customers engaged is cheaper than trying to win over new customers.
To ensure having recurring customers, businesses can induce people to subscribe or follow their online platforms, whether through email newsletters or social media. In a world where more people spend more time on their devices, try to create content and publish updates regarding your business to interest your audience.
Examples of content can be promotions, sales, new products, and testimonials. Moreover, the types of social media posts that consumers want to see are those with links (30%), graphics and images (18%), and videos (17%). (Sprout Social, 2018)
Even though it might seem that businesses don’t need to do anything else after buyers purchase, marketing and advertising should not stop.
Even long after Frank’s toothache is cured, he would most likely appreciate seeing content educating people on how to take care of their teeth to prevent toothaches. Videos of how to floss properly or posts about products to strengthen teeth/gum health will probably keep Frank engaged. So, give people a reason to follow you!
5. Advocacy: Use code SMILE10 for $10 off! ?
At our last stop on the buyer’s journey, we have the advocacy stage. This is one of the most critical stages for businesses because customers take on your company’s marketing and advertising role.
Establishing customer trust and brand loyalty are integral in building and growing any business.
Here are some statistics for you to appreciate the power of referrals and word-to-mouth marketing:
- Leads from referrals have a 30% higher conversion rate than the leads generated from other marketing channels. (Ross)
- Referred customers have a 37% higher retention rate compared to other customers gained through other marketing channels. (Ross)
- 92% of consumers trust the referral or recommendations of people they know personally. (Chua, 2021)
- When referred via social media, 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase. (HubSpot, 2019)
To have people advocating for your brand, businesses need to ensure two things. First, Businesses should communicate the benefits and specialties of their products/services. Customers must think that your product/service is valuable in order for them to recommend it to others. This can be done by directly educating customers. For example, Frank can list out the benefits and specialties of the dental clinic he visited from reading the “about us” website page. Beyond improving people’s dental health, Frank read that the workers there strive to form relationships with their clients by educating them on taking care of their teeth.
? Relevant: Foundations to Build your Company’s Website: Smooth User Experience & Engaging Content (article coming soon!)
Next, all customers would appreciate transparent management policies and company values. Choosing to be open in how your business is run provides authenticity to your brand and builds customer trust. In other words, the more authentic your brand is, the more trusted your brand will be.
Showing how you source your products, how you treat your employees, or your company’s mission statement will allow people to have an easier time advertising for your brand. These are natural and organic ways for people to market for companies, but businesses can be more direct with their intentions. An example is to set up a referral rewards program.
The dental clinic may get Frank to market for them by sending him a referral code to put on social media. Whoever ends up booking an appointment with the dental clinic with the referral code would be able to get $10 off. On the other hand, Frank would also receive a discount the next time he returns to the clinic for a check-up. This is a win-win situation because the clinic received a new customer while building customer loyalty with Frank.
After going through the buyer’s journey, how will your business change to improve your customer relations in each of these stages?