What is the Buyer’s Journey in Digital Marketing?
In short, the buyer’s journey is a buyer’s path to purchase. Your buyers don’t usually purchase your building products or services on a whim. They move through different stages to understand their challenges, discover and evaluate solutions, and ultimately decide to purchase a certain product or service.
Understanding the buyer’s journey and its stages is key for every business. The buyer’s journey can be broken down into three “stages”: the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage.
The Stages in the Buyer’s Journey + Relevant Content
THE AWARENESS STAGE: Buyer becomes aware of a problem they want to solve
This stage is referred to as the Top-of-the-Funnel. In the awareness stage, the prospect is experiencing and expressing symptoms of a problem or opportunity. At this point, the prospect is usually doing research to more clearly understand, frame and give a name to their problem.
When buyers realize they have a problem, they begin searching out content in order to make an informed decision.
Here’s an example:
An HVAC technician starts to see more and more boiler breakdowns in the field. In an effort to understand why so many boiler installs eventually break down, the technician conducts research online, searching for keywords like “common causes of boiler failure.” During his online search, he discovers a blog by a manufacturer of boiler system protection products, and learns boiler breakdowns could be due to corrosion in the system.
Content for the awareness stage
- Websites/Landing Pages
- Educational blog posts
- Industry Research
- Educational webinars
- Feature articles/thought leadership articles in trade publications
- Guest editorials/blogs
- Syndicated feature articles
- Explainer videos
This is also the time when important questions should be asked by companies in order to fully understand this stage.
- How do buyers describe their goals or challenges?
- How do buyers educate themselves on these goals or challenges?
- What are the consequences of buyer inaction?
Digital Advertising for the Awareness Stage
For this stage, digital advertising should be focused on increasing brand awareness and positioning your brand as a thought leader in your space.
Goals for Awareness Campaigns
- Ad recall
- Traffic to your website
- Video Views
Metrics to measure in the Awareness Stage
- Recall rate: Ad recall lift metric shows how many people would remember seeing your ad if asked within two days.
- Reach: The number of people who saw your ads at least once. Reach is different from impressions, which may include multiple views of your ads by the same people.
- Impressions: The number of times your ads were on screen
- Clicks: The number of clicks on your ads.
- Page Views: How many times a particular page on a website has been viewed
After the awareness stage, the buyer is ready to enter the next stage in the journey.
THE CONSIDERATION STAGE: Buyer is looking for a solution to their problem and becoming aware of your company
This stage is referred to as the Middle-of-the-Funnel. At this point, the prospect has clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity. They are now committed to researching and understanding all of the available approaches and/or methods to solving the defined problem or opportunity.
In short, this is when finding solutions for the problem happens. It’s also a time when providers, partners, or vendors are identified.
Back to our example:
The HVAC technician has now confirmed that corrosion is the reason for the boiler breakdowns. During this stage, the technician starts to research for solutions to fight corrosion in heating systems. They explore different manufacturer websites, watch videos, participate in webinars, read case studies, or view content that answers their specific questions.
Content for the consideration stage
- Demo videos
- Original Research and Reports
- Podcasts and Webinars
- Case studies
- Buyer’s guides
Companies and organizations should ask key questions in order to get an understanding of the buyer in this stage.
- What categories of solutions do buyers investigate?
- How do buyers educate themselves on the various categories?
- How do buyers perceive the pros and cons of each category?
Digital Advertising for the Consideration Stage
For this stage, your goal should be to increase engagement.
Examples of metrics to measure in the Consideration Stage:
- Lead gen rate
- Bounce rate
- Return rate
- Pages per visit
- Asset downloads (e-books, coupons, etc.)
- Video views
Once the buyer gets through the consideration stage, it’s time to enter the third and final stage in the buyer’s journey.
THE CONVERSION/DECISION STAGE: Buyer is ready to make a purchase but needs a small push
This last and final stage is also referred to as the Bottom-of-the-Funnel. At this point, the prospect has decided on their solution, strategy, method or approach. They are now compiling a long list of all available vendors and products in their given solution strategy. They are researching to whittle the long list down to a short list and ultimately make a final purchase decision.
Companies and organizations should prepare content that will help their leads make informed decisions.
- A decision is expected
- Enough unique, expert and trust building content has been reviewed
- The buyer is confident the correct choice will be made
The HVAC tech has found a few manufacturer products that will help prevent corrosion in heating systems, but he is not sure which would be more effective. One company offers a free product for the technician to try, and has hosted a convenient online training that can be particularly useful for the technician. Moving forward, the technician is confident to use that manufacturer’s products to solve the problem.
Content for the Decision Stage
- Product videos
- Product/training webinars
- White papers & guides
- Spec sheets and brochures
- Free product
- Live demo
- Free trial
Digital Advertising for the Decision Stage
For this stage, your goal should be to help your leads make informed decisions.
Examples of metrics to measure in the Decision Stage:
- Conversions: Leads, Qualified leads, MQLs, SQLs
- Sales data influenced by ads
- Lead to customer rate
Another Example of a Buyer’s Journey in the Building Industry
Purchasing a furnace is definitely not an impulse buy. This is a sizable purchase and one where the buyer’s journey is applicable and will help the consumer make a wise investment.
During the awareness stage in this example, the buyer becomes aware they need to buy a new furnace instead of repairing the old one. They begin to research brands and models and make sure they are pursuing the brands that fit their budget and needs.
Next, buyers will consider all their options. This includes researching the best furnaces, furnace efficiencies, gas and oil furnaces, boilers and heat pumps, furnace ratings, whether or not they need a programmable thermostat, and which furnaces have the best warranty. In this stage the choices are being narrowed down.
Finally, a decision is made on which furnace to purchase. It takes into account all the information gathered in the previous stages and solves the problem outlined in the awareness stage.
Understanding the buyer’s journey can help a company develop a strong marketing plan. Because the buyer’s journey begins as soon as the consumer realizes they have a need for something, a good marketing plan will begin nurturing the lead as early as they can.
Organizations need to remember the buyer’s journey is the process a consumer goes through leading up to a purchase. During the process consumers become aware of a problem, consider their options, and make a decision. Understanding what happens during each stage is critical to win over potential customers.
Our team of digital marketing specialists can help your brand develop a digital advertising campaign reaching your target audience at every stage of their buyer journey, leading them right into your sales pipeline.