The buyer’s journey has drastically changed in recent years, and because of this, sales and marketing have also changed. Thanks to the internet, today’s buyers hold all the power over their purchasing decisions. They’re going through much of the journey on their own, researching online, without your help. They’re not calling up your sales people early on in order to get information.
Because of these big changes in buyer behaviours, you need to better understand exactly what your prospects are doing online, what’s influencing their decisions, and where they’re seeking out information. Only then can you adapt your marketing plan to match the new way customers shop and buy. Only then can you improve your sales. Knowing the buyer’s journey matters because it significantly impacts your profitability. The more you know, the better you can target your audiences for a better shot at conversion.
And this all comes down to market research. Here’s what you need to do to get a better grasp on your buyer’s journey. Conduct a market research study!
Define Your Buyer Personas
Before you can start digging deeper into how and why your buyers make purchasing decisions, you have to know who they are, which means creating buyer personas. These personas are fictional and generalized representations of your ideal buyers and they help you to visualize your audience and inform your strategy.
Now, find a representative sample of your buyer personas. It could include recent customers as well as prospects who decided not to make a purchase. You’ll want about 10 people per persona, you’ll want to select people who have recently interacted with your brand, and you’ll want a good mix of participants.
Create a Discussion Guide
You’ll want to be prepared to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your discussions with your participants, so create a discussion guide. This will assure that your covering all questions and using the short time you have wisely. The golden rule is to ask all open-ended questions to get the most of your participants’ answers and to make sure you’re not unintentionally swaying their thoughts. Your discussion guide should be outlined as such:
- Start with an introduction where you break the ice and introduce yourself and the study.
- Include a buying environment section where you learn more about the participants’ role in purchasing decisions.
- Include an awareness section where you get to know exactly when the participants first realized they had a problem.
- Include a consideration section to get to know the specifics about how and where they researched potential solutions, including the search engines they used, the websites they visited, and the people they consulted with.
- Include a decision section to learn more about which sources of information were the most influential, how alternatives were compared, who was involved in the final decisions, and what factors ultimately influenced the final decision.
- Finally, wrap up by asking the participants what could have been better during the buyer’s journey, offering time for questions, and giving a heartfelt thank you for their time.
Now that you have your participants and discussion guide, it’s time to start the conversation. Some rules to remember: give participants time to think, don’t let them get away with one-word answers, and keep things on track so you get the valuable data you’re looking for.
During your market research study, you took notes and learned great information about your buyers and the buyer’s journey. Now you have to make sense of it.
Look for common themes that can help you add some cohesion to your data, help you tell a story, and help you create actionable items. Figure out what information was the most interesting, what the common triggers were during the awareness stage, what sources buyers used to conduct their evaluations, and exactly how the final decision was made and who was involved. Then, create an action plan based on this summary. This eye-opening experience probably helped you better understand your prospects and customers and helped you uncover new channels, content strategies, or messaging tips to improve interactions, now it’s time to put it into action.