Content marketers will do well to recognize the buyer’s journey milestones in their strategy.
Just like a physical journey, a buyer’s journey also has milestones. The journey can be long with many milestones or short with few milestones. In all buyer’s journey, however, there are three milestones that will always be there: awareness of need or problem, consideration of options to address the need or problem, and desired action or preferred solution.
What is a buyer’s journey?
A buyer’s journey is the process that a buyer goes through starting from awareness of need/problem until finally satisfying such need or solving the problem.
The journey can be a short 3-milestone journey as in most B2C single-person journey.
It can also be a complicated and circuitous journey as in some B2B cases involving several stakeholders and decision makers stretched out on a long time frame.
What happens at awareness, consideration, and action milestones?
At this stage, the buyer becomes aware that he/she has a need, problem, or pain point.
Once the buyer has identified the need/problem, he/she naturally searches for solutions. In most cases, the buyer turns to the internet for answers. The buyer knows that the needed information is just a few clicks away. Some buyers though would turn to relatives or friends for solution or information.
In the effort to look for answer or solution on the web, the buyer certainly misses companies that are without online content which addresses the buyer’s need/problem at the time of the search. Marketers with relevant and useful content online at this point of a buyer’s search would have the edge by potentially engaging with the buyer. These companies become authoritative sources of information for the searching buyer.
The buyer eventually comes up with different options to solve the problem, satisfy the needs, or address the pain points.
Reaching this milestone, the buyer has a clear and specific idea of how to address the problem/need/pain point. He/She has a set of criteria, budget, and timeframe in choosing the best solution.
Why is a buyer’s journey important to content marketing?
Recognizing at what milestone the buyer is in the journey will enable the marketer to provide not only a useful and engaging content but also the most relevant one.
The timing of appropriate content with respect to the buyer’s journey makes content marketing more effective.
What kind of content is appropriate to each stage of a buyer’s journey?
At this point, content should focus on helping the buyer clearly identify or define his/her problem, need, or pain point.
For example, if you are in the resort business and if a buyer is preparing for his/her next holiday vacation, you can publish content about what vacationists are usually looking for in a resort destination like accommodation, food, in-destination activities, and so on. Relegate your brand to the background. Be genuinely informative and helpful.
When a buyer reaches the consideration milestone, he/she has the basic information needed to enable him/her to make a decision that will address the problem.
The buyer by this time has several options that are perceived to offer appropriate solutions.
Companies that are included in these options can publish content that conveys how they can effectively solve the buyer problems. They can highlight their product/service benefits, features, and unique value proposition.
The comparison is done at this stage.
Following the resort business example, the resort company can zero in on their room amenities, food choices, or unique resort activities in their content.
When a buyer reaches the action milestone, he/she is ready to make a purchase decision.
This is the point where companies will have to prove why they are the best choice. Clinching the deal will depend largely on the content deemed most relevant based on previous information given by the buyer and/or interaction that happened between the buyer and the vendor company. The more information and interaction that a company has, the more relevant will be the kind and quality of content it can present, and the greater its chance of closing the sale.
Glowing reviews, for example, from previous resort guests can convince a buyer to make a decision favorable to the resort company.
Delivering content that is most appropriate to the different milestones of your buyer’s journey will not only help your buyer make an informed decision but also make that decision favorable to your company.
I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions. We can also discuss your other marketing and business concerns.