In this article, we’ll discuss how to use the available knowledge to create content that helps your customers with the steps in the consumer buying process.
How do you go about buying a product or service? Before you make the decision to buy something, you probably do your own research, find out the facts and consider several different options.
What Is The Buyer Decision Process?
Just like you, your visitors also go through the stages of the business buying process for new products or services. This process is called the consumer purchasing decision process, customer journey, or buying journey.
Consumers Decision Process – Brief Overview
When we make a decision to buy something, we go through several different steps. They can be summarized as follows:
- Identifying the challenge or the problem we need to solve – Awareness
- Understanding which alternatives could alleviate our problems – Consideration
- Comparing the best choices when we are ready to make a purchase – Decision
By creating content, specifically designed to attract, engage, and delight your prospects and customers, you can help them through the entire stages of the business buying process. This can take them from not knowing about your company or products to satisfied and returning customers.
What Is The Importance Of The Consumer Decision Making Process?
Today’s B2B buyers are more sensitive about the information that should be available online than just a few years ago.
As much as 70% of the purchase decision takes place independently without engaging with the company’s salesperson.
In theory, this means that the marketing efforts have a greater influence on the business results than before. You have more opportunities to help and guide prospects and identify new business opportunities.
Steps In The Consumer Buying Process
At the beginning of the consumer purchasing decision process, your potential customers probably do not know your company. They may not need your service because they do not know if it could help them solve their problem.
As a marketer, it is your job to help your potential customers discover your business, service, or product. This way they understand what you are doing and how you can help them.
Being discovered early in the consumer decision process is becoming increasingly important. It is because today devices such as mobile phones and computers are used in a completely different way than just a few years ago.
As many as 53% of consumers do their research online and search for answers to their questions and concerns before buying something. This is where you have the chance to show your expertise and answer the questions.
In this phase of the consumer buyer decision process, buyers are usually looking for inspiring and educational content.
By creating great content that answers common questions and concerns, you can attract the right people to your website and convert them into leads.
It is too early at this point for a sales pitch but a good opportunity for a first introduction and to gather information about your customers’ challenges, problems, and needs.
Type Of Content
The content you create for this part of the buying process should be based on the challenges, pain points, and problems of your prospects rather than information about your products or services. This is how you create trust.
In this discovery phase, educational content such as e-books, guides, white papers, reports, etc. can be very useful for your target audience. This type of content helps to build a relationship with your brand before they become interested in what you sell.
As your prospects and leads consume your content and learn more about your expertise, they also understand that you are a business that can help them further with your products or services.
When buyers start to look around for suitable suppliers, your company is already familiar and would have the greatest chance of guiding them to the next phase of the buying process – the consideration phase.
Once a buyer has formed their own perception of what needs to be done and realizes that there is a need for change, they try to understand the different alternatives that are available. They look for different solutions and suppliers that offer a solution to their problem.
In today’s digital world, Google and social media are used extensively during this part of the consumer decision-making process.
People do extensive research, ask questions on LinkedIn and watch videos on YouTube. This part of the buying process lasts anywhere from a few minutes to several months, depending on the kind of product or service that is being purchased.
It also depends on the type of problem that the buyer is trying to solve. If your products or services do not solve something for the buyers, why should they spend their money on fixing something that does not matter?
If you have been in touch with the buyer during the Awareness phase, you can help the contact get further in the customer buying process by suggesting content that really helps.
With the help of a marketing automation tool, you can also track what the contacts do on your website and the type of content that interests them. This way, your sales team can see which leads are more interested in your products or services and direct their sales efforts towards them.
Strategies For The Phase
Now that your potential customers are beginning to understand how to solve their problems and that your company can help them with that, they may also start involving other people in the company. It could be a manager, a CEO, or maybe a CFO.
Therefore, it is important that you have content that interests these decision-makers as well. It could be the same topic but from a different perspective. For example, instead of focusing on technology, perhaps it should be about avoiding risks or reducing costs.
When addressing people at the management level, it is important to communicate in a manner that they understand. You need to show them the big picture of the change that your products and services can bring. Explain how they can solve their problems and what they would risk losing if they do not take action.
In the decision phase, the buyer is ready to choose a supplier, and complete the purchase of a product or service.
In larger B2B companies, several people are often involved. They calculate the return on investment, review processes, and ensure that they have internal resources to secure the purchase.
At this phase, specific information about your company, products, and services is relevant. It is at this point that your business is perceived to be more interesting than the others.
Nothing outweighs the review of a satisfied customer. For a buyer, it is valuable to know what other customers think about collaborating with you or using your products.
Therefore, have a number of customer case studies ready that show your prospects how your company has helped existing customers solve problems and describe their positive experiences.
The content you create for this phase will help your buyers make decisions, feel secure and make them understand the risks and problems they eliminate by choosing to get help from your company.
Your sales team may already have responses to the questions that they previously received from customers. Take advantage of that knowledge and incorporate it into your content. Let the sales team be involved in the entire content creation work during this phase of the buying decision process.
Advancing From Customers To Returning Customers And Ambassadors
It is no secret that your existing customers are your best customers and are more likely to spend more on your products and services. Despite this fact, it is very common for companies to ignore customer service and after-sales marketing when a transaction is completed.
With modern CRM tools, you can see when existing customers are interacting with your content. For example, you should be able to see when existing customers check out specific products or services on your website, or if they open and read your email.
Most importantly, you can measure what they do and prioritize them based on their actions. You are able to get valuable information that can help your customer service and sales team create more business opportunities.
Actively keeping in touch with your customers and helping them make more purchases, get additional services, and do repeat orders can greatly affect your company’s growth.
The more often your customers buy from you, the higher the annual turnover. Feel free to learn more about this in the blog post about KPIs.
Satisfied customers, who talk to industry associates about your company, also contribute to the buying process.
You should work on transforming them from customers to ambassadors so that they recommend your business to others. A recommendation gives your company an upper hand and speeds things up when you engage with the customer later during the buying process. In other words, more satisfied customers mean more reliable business opportunities.
Instead of using an isolated marketing or sales method, you should consider the following for your company’s growth strategy:
- inbound marketing
- customized content
- customer experience tailored to the buying process
We’ve covered the three main phases that a customer goes through during the purchasing process. Satisfied customers would recommend your company to their business acquaintances that are looking for similar solutions. When these acquaintances reach out to you, the deal goes faster because they start further into the buying process.