Why is inbound marketing so dependent on the buyer’s journey?
What difference does it make? Can’t we just create content, publish it and drive results without this extra step?
Of course you can, but getting good at inbound marketing includes understanding the nuances that help you turn average results into awesome results.
Knowing how to apply the buyer journey and gaining a deep understanding of what your prospects are thinking at each stage helps you turbo-charge your inbound results.
Here are some considerations for your inbound marketing efforts at each stage in the prospect's journey.
At this stage in their search for products and services, prospects are doing a lot of research. Their efforts are going to be sporadic. They’re easily distracted, and priorities could quickly change. Their pain is far from acute, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less qualified or that this lead is any less valuable. Much to the contrary, this represents the perfect time to be helpful, to gain that emotional connection because you’re sharing your expertise and to start working with them to know, like and trust your brand.
Typically, prospects at this stage are NOT willing to share a lot of contact information with you, so our recommendation is not to ask for it. This is also NOT an opportunity to try and contact them. After all, they saw the "Contact Us" on your site and chose not to complete that form. Calling them now isn’t going to help you make them feel safe. In fact, it’s probably going to do more harm than good. What you DO want to be doing is giving them helpful content. Whitepapers, e-books, videos, checklists, tip guides, infographics and other items like this are perfect for people in the awareness stage.
This type of content is really easy to share, and it makes your prospects look smart when they’re able to spread your content across their organization. So, you’ve extended your reach into the organization without even knowing it.
Now, they’re a little more up to speed on the options available. They’re still looking for additional information. They’re not ready to make a purchase decision yet, but they’re getting much more comfortable with a specific direction or maybe even a group of potential providers. For instance, they might have decided that on-premises software is not what they want but that SaaS is perfect for their business. They still don’t know what SaaS product is right for them, but they know they don’t want to maintain software at their site.
Prospects in this stage are more likely to provide you with more personal information, and they’re going to be looking for more personalized stuff. This is why we do online assessments, quizzes, surveys and polls for prospects. They want to see how they rank, how they score and what areas need improvement. This is also why workshops and webinars do well for prospects in the consideration phase. They’re more than willing to provide a fairly rich profile in exchange for attending a free webinar.
Case studies and success stories are also effective types of content for people in this phase. The prospects have done a lot of research and are working hard to eliminate certain options. If you deliver validating and verifying content, it goes a long way toward making them feel safe with your company.
Their pain is acute. They have to make a decision. This stage in the sales process is often reserved for offers posing as high-quality ones. These posers include demos, free trials and free downloads. I’m not sure that any of these options are actually quality offers for people in the decision phase. Typically, these offers provide a false positive. Just because I see your demo doesn’t mean I’m more qualified or further down the buyer journey than someone downloading a whitepaper. After all, what did I give up to watch your demo or try your free trial? I didn’t pay for it. I didn’t commit to anything.
Plus, you have to make sure your sales team isn’t relying too much on the demo to close the deal. This is a major mistake. I’ve seen a lot of deals die in the demo phase. Why? Ever watch a demo? Most of the time, they are painful. A technician is clicking around, trying to show prospects what they want to see and usually making them feel more and more confused.
Ask a prospect what he or she thought of the demo, and if that person is being honest, he or she will usually say, “The product looked confusing to use.” Of course it did. You weren’t trained. It was the first time you saw it, and the person showing it to you was clicking all over the place, not at all like the way you’d interact with it on a regular basis.
Instead, come up with bottom-of-the-funnel offers that add value for the prospect. These should be offers like: "30 Blog Ideas In 30 Minutes," "Get Your Lead Goals Evaluated In 10 Minutes," "See Your Website Grade And Recommendations," "10 New Recipes You Can Make Tonight For Dinner," "Get A Security Risk Assessment Review" and "6 Safety Improvements You Can Make Today." You get the idea? In each of these examples, there’s something of value for your prospect. Think: What’s in it for them?
Start Today Tip – The bottom line is that you need offers, content and value at each stage in the buyer’s journey. Make sure you’re using the Trio of Offers to ensure that each level of the funnel has the right one. Then, map out the experience you want your prospects to have at each stage of their own buyer journey, and make your sales team accountable for delivering that experience. You’re going to see more leads sliding through the funnel more quickly, and you're going to realize more new business in the process.
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