There are specific events that trigger customers into a buying mode, you can use these events to make your marketing more effective.
I was talking to an old friend this week and he mentioned that his company had employed a marketing person tasked with growing their inbound sales leads. However, it had been a few months since adopting this new approach and they had yet to see an increase in the number of sales qualified leads.
Aside from the fact that inbound marketing requires patience and consistency, there are two two key ingredients you need from the start:
- A well defined target audience, your ideal customer;
- An understanding of the buying process they follow.
In this post I'll walk through the buying process in the context of a typical customer journey. Let's start with the basics:
What is the buying process and how does it relate to my website?
Not all website visitors are at the same point in the process, some have only just identified they have a problem, while others may already be looking for a specific solution. In the online world, you need to provide different paths through your website that are appropriate for each stage. Visitors will self-identify where they are in the buying process by the paths they take, provided you give them the option.
A simplistic view of the buying process looks something like this:
- Awareness – I have a problem, but I'm not really sure what it is or how to solve it;
- Consideration – Okay, I understand my problem and I've found some possible solutions;
- Purchase – I'm down to 2 or 3 options, convince me your's is the best solution.
According to a 2015 Marketing Automation Benchmark Report, nearly 60% of a purchase decision now occurs before sales teams make contact. By this time prospects have already done most of their research and are likely more knowledgeable about the solution to their problem than your sales team.
You need to adjust your marketing to incorporate earlier stages of the buying process...
By identifying events that trigger a buyer's awareness of a problem or need. Most companies don't put the effort into understanding these triggers, which is good news for you. All you need to do is take the time to listen to your existing customers and they'll tell you exactly what triggered their need for your solution and how they navigated the path to purchase. It'll be like having a copy of the questions before the exam.
Take for example Robyn, she owns a growing legal practice and her business is doing really well, but she can't remember when last she got to the gym, let alone spent time with friends. Recently she missed her friend's birthday party, which triggered awareness of a problem – Help! I want my life back.
If your company specialises in document management solutions for legal practices, Robyn may be an ideal prospect. But Robyn's first thought isn't: 'I should invest in a document management system.' It's more likely to be something along the lines of: 'How do I find some kind of work-life balance' or 'perhaps I should hire an assistant'.
It has nothing to do with your solution...
In the awareness stage, a prospect isn't thinking about your solutions, they're trying to understand their problem. If you understand what triggers the awareness of a need or problem with your target audience, you can accurately describe the problem on your website. So, when a Robyn arrives at your website see immediately relates to your message:
"Feeling buried under a pile of administrative chores?"
Right away she thinks, 'Ah, this company understands my frustration.'
Robyn has arrived at your website in the early stage of the buying process, so you need to offer her a path that is informative and educational to solving her problem.
"Legal practices with electronic access to documents are 30% more productive ... learn more."
By helping her understand her problem you create an element of trust with your company. She'll still talk to her peers about the problem, read a few articles on finding a work-life balance, and turn to the all knowing Google; where your company will rank well if you've been producing helpful content for your target audience, reinforcing a positive image.
Robyn has also become aware of an alternative solution to hiring an assistant – legal practices using document management are more productive.
Now Introduce Your Solution...
Once Robyn has been able to identify her problem she is ready to consider possible solutions:
- Hire an assistant;
- Use a virtual assistant service;
- Invest in a document management system.
Your competition isn't just coming from other document management solution providers, but also from virtual assistant services and new hires.
During the consideration stage you need to help Robyn understand why your document management system is a good investment. You will also have other site visitors entering the buyer process at this stage, buyers who know they need a document management system, but are still considering their options. They want to understand the specific benefits your solution solves when it comes to the challenges a growing legal practice faces.
If you do a good job of convincing them that your document management system improves efficiency and saves time in a growing legal practice, Robyn will add you to her shortlist of solutions and will invest more time in learning about your solution through webinars and product demos.
By the time she arrives at the purchasing stage, Robyn has decided that while an assistant will be useful, a growing practice needs to invest in a document management system. She has already built some level of trust with your company, but before making a purchase she wants to evaluate your solution through a trial.
During this stage of the buying process, buyers are looking for that big 'Free Trial' button, an opportunity to assess your solution before committing. They may also be looking for affirmation that your solution is a good investment from previous customers in the form of case studies.
Robyn makes a purchase...
Finally, Robyn makes a purchase and you have a new customer. While I've followed Robyn's journey from awareness through purchase, you will have website visitors entering at different stages of the buyer process. Each of those visitors will need information relevant to the stage of the buying process they are at, and your website should cater for different paths to purchase.
Your customers hold the key to improving your lead generation and sales, all you have to do is invest time in listening to them.
Need help getting a grip on your marketing? We've put together a Digital Distillation Plan based on the process we follow when helping a new client create an inbound marketing foundation. You'll need to invest about 8 hours a week for 12 weeks, but the investment will be worthwhile for your business.