Buyer journey

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Researched by
GrowthLoop Editorial Team
verified by
David Joosten

Key Takeaways:

  • The buyer journey involves three stages: Awareness, consideration, and decision.
  • When a company understands each stage of their buyer journey, they can make improvements that drive more sales and satisfied customers.
  • Hosting a journey mapping workshop is the first step in understanding your buyer journey.
  • Everyone at your company should care about the buyer journey, including marketing, sales, analytics, and the C-suite.

Table of Contents

What is the buyer journey?

The buyer journey is the process during which a buyer progresses from being aware they have a problem, through purchasing a product to solve that problem.

Why is the buyer journey so important today?

In years past, shoppers had limited options if they wanted to purchase a product. These days, the choices for most items are nearly infinite. Therefore, the role of the salesperson and marketer is now to help guide the shopper to choose their brand. 

The best way to guide the shopper to choose your brand is by deeply understanding your target customers and the journey they take to purchase with your company. This is the buyer’s journey.

What are the stages of the buyer journey?

The better you understand each of the buyer journey stages, the more you can adapt your messaging and marketing campaigns to address potential challenges and pain points. There are three main stages to the buyer journey:

Awareness stage

During the awareness stage, the potential customer first becomes aware that they have a problem. They are typically researching information about this problem to better understand it, but may not be ready to research solutions or products yet.

A consumer in the awareness stage may become passively aware of your brand via an online ad or targeted marketing on a social media platform like Facebook or Instagram. Or they may actively discover your brand while seeking out information about their problem, such as through a search engine.

You can boost your company’s visibility during the awareness phase by: 

  • Running targeted ads. Purchase relevant ads to carefully targeted audiences that speak directly to their pain points and offer a clear solution. 
  • Using SEO to guide your content. As an example, if you’re a healthcare organization and you know through SEO research that consumers in your market area are commonly performing web searches for outpatient testing. Consider creating a blog post or series that provides details on the outpatient testing services your organization offers, with clear CTAs and links to those service webpages for more details.

Consideration stage

In the consideration stage, the potential customer is researching potential solutions to their problem. They’re looking at the pros and cons of each option — including your product, as well as how it stacks up to your competition. It’s important to note that the higher the purchase amount, the longer this stage may last. 

If your sales team is in conversation with the potential customer at this stage, they should be working through any hesitations to purchase and addressing obstacles. Marketers can help facilitate these conversations by creating print and web collateral that provides clear details on your product offerings and show how they meet customer needs.

During consideration, the prospect may seek out product reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, G2 or Capterra. Or, they may ask trusted colleagues, friends or family for their recommendations.. 

You can better position your company during the consideration phase by: 

  • Addressing negative online reviews. Publicly respond to the reviews in a straightforward, neutral way, and be sure to personally follow up with the reviewer to try to find a resolution. 
  • Auditing your product web pages. It’s also helpful to review your company’s website and social media pages to ensure they’re providing clear information on your product offerings to facilitate easy decisions for potential customers.
  • Featuring customer testimonials. Providing customer testimonials on your website or social media channels shows consumers that you’re a trusted brand and that you have experience in successfully solving similar problems for other customers.

Decision stage

During the decision phase, the customer has narrowed down the type of product they want to buy. Now, they’re determining which vendor to choose. They may be deciding between two or more vendors who provide similar solutions. 

At the end of the decision phase, they may purchase your product in a store or sign a binding contract for your services. Your team should do everything you can to facilitate the buying process for the customer and make it a smooth, positive experience. 

Here are some ways that your company can improve the decision stage for customers: 

  • Providing an excellent customer experience. Keep the lines of communication with the customer open. Follow up with them at regular intervals, with helpful tips. Let them know that your company is eagerly standing by to take the next step whenever they’re ready.
  • Providinge easy financing. If applicable to your product, offer easy financing options that make it simple for the customer to make the purchase with your company. 
  • Making pricing straightforward. The last thing you want is to lose a sale because the customer was confused about your pricing structure. Make your pricing clear, consistent, and straightforward.

Why is it important to understand the buyer journey? 

Understanding the buyer journey is important because it allows a company to optimize touchpoints at each stage and ultimately, increase purchases. 

For sales and marketing teams, knowing the buyer journey is critical for creating meaningful, targeted campaigns. When you understand who your customer is, their pain points, and the buying stage they’re in, you can create messaging that moves a prospect through the sales funnel to a purchase. 

Sales teams with a solid understanding of the buyer’s journey can also proactively work through any barriers to purchase that buyers may face on their journey.

Why data specialists need to know about the buyer's journey

While marketing and sales may be more closely involved with the buyer journey, they’re not the only teams who need to understand its stages and touchpoints. Data analysts are also involved with the buyer’s journey because they often control your company’s customer and prospect data and share it across other business units. 

Your data analysts should be familiar with the buyer’s journey so they can make better use of the customer data in a company’s data warehouse and identify unique needs at each stage. Data specialists can use specialized platforms to pull data out of your data warehouses and translate it into meaningful metrics that other teams across your company can use. For example, data specialists can segment data by various demographic information. Then, they can work with marketing, sales, or other customer-facing teams to deliver more targeted content at each stage of the buyer’s journey. 

What's the difference between the buyer journey and the customer journey?

The buyer journey describes the three stages that lead to the shopper’s purchasing decision. The customer journey involves those first three stages plus an additional two stages — the retention/loyalty stage and the advocacy stage. These stages involve growing and retaining loyal, long-term customers. 

While the buyer journey focuses on acquiring customers, the customer journey stages also includes retaining customers with a post-purchase focus. 

What's the role of the buyer journey in journey orchestration?

Customer journey orchestration — or CJO — is the process of coordinating the customer experience in real-time, and then working them through the buyer’s journey stages using meaningful, individualized experiences. CJO is typically enabled by a CJO platform or engine. This platform uses your company’s data to identify ways to improve customer flow in real-time.

Understanding the buyer journey and incorporating it into your CJO can help enhance your customer experience and provide more meaningful touchpoints. The CJO channels that are part of the buying journey include your website, social media accounts, inbound marketing, online ads, and email marketing. The way that you position your brand across all of these channels during each phase of the buyer journey impacts the buyer’s decision to purchase your product downstream. 

For example, if the prospect sees a message that didn’t resonate with them on your social media account during the awareness phase, they may choose a different brand in the decision phase. Targeting the highest converting ad and email messages to the right potential customers is critical for initiating a purchase with your company.

What is buyer journey mapping?

A journey mapping workshop can be a helpful resource in understanding the buyer journey with your brand. Plotting out each step of the journey — including touchpoints, pain points, and ideal outcomes for each step — can help teams across your company understand and address gaps in the buyer journey. You can use online resources as the framework for your journey map, or you may want to bring in a third-party expert to facilitate the workshop for you.

Depending on your focus, you may choose to plot out the full customer journey map, or you may only need to plot out the first three stages of that map (the buyer’s journey). Regardless of your approach, journey mapping can help you understand the path that potential customers take with your brand, so you can improve their experience and move more of them into the decision phase.

Buyer journey examples

It’s important to note that the buyer journey won’t be the same at every organization — it will vary depending on the industry, audience, product, etc. Also, buyer journeys aren’t always linear and can jump or skip stages depending on the individual customer and product/service.

Below are some examples of buyer journeys across various B2B and B2C industries.

Finance B2B buyer journey example

During this B2B buyer journey example, the consumer moves from deciding to leave their current payroll software that doesn’t offer a feature they need to signing a contract with a new platform that provides even more features that they may need in the future. 

Awareness stage

The head of finance at a mid-sized company receives authorization from the C-suite to shop around for new payroll software. They are specifically looking for a platform that allows them to pay employees via digital payment apps, which their current software does not provide. 

Consideration stage

The head of finance begins the consideration phase by connecting with their local chamber of commerce and asking their counterparts at other similarly sized businesses about payroll software. They receive two top recommendations and find the platforms’ websites through an online search. The search also populates online software reviews of the two platforms through G2 and Capterra.

Companies can improve their visibility during the consideration stage for B2B decisions by maintaining a good industry reputation, providing excellent customer service, and continuously making software updates that fit user needs. Companies should focus on continuous improvement to their products. They should solicit user feedback and incorporate relevant suggestions. By doing so, they can make informed improvements to their product which will translate into increased sales.

Also, during the consideration phase, the account executive at the software companies should be directly addressing the customer’s pain point – in this example, the ability to pay employees via digital wallets. In this way, they can clearly demonstrate that their platform is the best choice.

Decision stage

The head of finance connects with sales reps at each of these companies to learn more details about pricing and whether the specific features will meet their needs. They ultimately choose the platform that can send employee payments to the widest range of digital wallets and has the shortest contract term.

Retail B2C buyer journey example

In this buyer’s journey, the consumer is really making two purchasing decisions: the television and the retailer. Here, we’ll concentrate on the retailer choice. 

Awareness stage

A consumer decides they want to purchase a new television because their existing television is starting to show signs of age. They’re specifically interested in purchasing one of the latest television models that is easily mounted on the wall.

During the awareness stage, when the customer first decides to shop around in-person for new televisions, a local brick-and-mortar retailer can boost their visibility by ensuring that their store ranks high in Google Maps listings. 

Consideration stage

The customer begins their shopping process by visiting a large electronics store nearby. They compare prices and features, and have their choices narrowed down to three options. They reference the printed in-store collateral about the specific televisions, as well as about current financing offers for large purchases. 

The consumer uses their mobile phone to look up reviews of the televisions as well as look at prices for the same model online. The consumer decides to leave the store, and they do some further shopping online at home.

In this example, the consideration stage consisted of in-store and online shopping. During in-store consideration, retailers can improve the shopper experience by having friendly, knowledgeable staff. They can provide attractive physical collateral that contains details about their merchandise, as well as about any current retailer-specific offers like financing. 

Decision stage

The customer ultimately purchases one of the three top models the next day online from a different retailer. They choose this retailer because they have better reviews for customer support and their price was $100 less than the brick-and-mortar store.

For the decision stage, this consumer ultimately chose the retailer that had a better reputation for customer service and lower prices. Your company can get ahead of your competition in this stage by ensuring that your customer support teams are accessible and knowledgeable. Be sure to address any past customer service issues or negative reviews; don’t ignore them.

Telecom B2C buyer journey example

By understanding this B2C buyer journey, internet service providers can improve their chances of being the consumer’s choice like this example. 

Awareness stage

A consumer learns that they need to switch home internet providers. They’ve recently moved to a new residence, and their previous provider doesn’t offer service at their new residence.

Consideration stage

They begin their shopping process by asking their local friends and family members about which service providers they use. They receive mixed reviews. So, they turn to their local Facebook group for reviews from people in their new neighborhood. 

They receive two strong recommendations, and then turn to those provider’s websites to learn about pricing and current promotions. By offering great customer service and being responsive to all potential issues, current customers are more likely to make referrals to that company.

Decision stage

The consumer decides to go with the home internet provider that offers the lowest long-term price and can complete installation within three days. Offering a clear pricing structure on their website enables potential customers to quickly determine what’s the best choice for them. And, when a potential customer calls to inquire about installation, a service provider can increase their chances of being the frontrunner by having:

  • Courteous, knowledgeable agents 
  • Short wait times
  • Quick installation timeframes

How to improve the buyer journey

Improving the buyer journey will ultimately help your company win more customers and increase revenue. Here are some ways to get started.

Map your buyer’s journey

Visualizing the buyer journey with a journey map can help your company better understand potential messaging gaps or user experience issues that are preventing purchases. This process can also help your team determine which type of content to deliver at each stage to move potential customers along the sales funnel (see the section below on this).

Personalize content across all channels

Today’s customers expect personalized messaging and experiences from brands throughout cross-channel marketing or omnichannel marketing. With that in mind, make sure all your touchpoints — website, social media, and in-store — have consistent, personalized messaging that factors in the customer’s preferences and past purchases.

Share valuable content that fits the buyer stage

Knowing the ins and outs of the buyer journey means understanding what type of content to serve up at each stage. For example, if you know you have prospectswho are in the consideration stage and review content has contributed to a high conversion rate, you can target these prospects with messaging featuring customer testimonials or positive reviews. 

Having a grasp on the buyer stages can also help you understand potential barriers to purchase, including pain points and what your competitors are offering. Use this information to provide content that speaks directly to these barriers, reassuring potential customers that your company has what it takes to deliver on brand promises. 

Use data-driven insights 

Lean on data to understand customer behavior at each buyer journey stage and continuously measure results. For example, if your Google Analytics data or website heat mapping tool shows users leaving your product pages quickly, dig into clicks and scroll data to find ways to put the most important information front and center. Or, if you see engagement drop on a particular email, test out new design, subject lines, send time, or call-to-action copy.

Published On:
December 21, 2023
Updated On:
December 22, 2023
Read Time:
5 min
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