Rethinking the Buyer’s Journey

One of the most crucial things to do is to comprehend the buyer’s journey and optimize it to maximize efficacy.

  • Make extraordinary experiences. 
  • Develop trust
  • Connect strategically with your audience

The issue is that the conventional paradigm makes numerous, out-of-date, and frequently flat-out false assumptions about human behavior.

The old model’s constraints and presumptions cause marketing priorities to be incorrectly positioned. It is impossible to know what people actually want and how to provide value to them when people in a market are not understood.

We must radically reimagine the customer journey and how to drive conversions if we are to build strong relationships between companies and customers.

The customary buying process

The journey paradigm, in use for many years, is no longer producing the best outcomes. Because it doesn’t put a priority on connecting with customers, it deceives marketers, ignores changes in customer behavior, and lowers ROI across channels. 

Buying cycle stages

The typical buying process consists of three stages at its most basic level:

  1. When the audience becomes aware of the issue or pain point they must address it. This is the time when they are doing their investigation and looking for materials to help them frame the issue. They do not yet know the answer.
  • Content formats for raising awareness – Marketers use a variety of tools to reach this level, including blog posts, social media updates, videos, whitepapers, one-pagers, ebooks, and more.
  1. Stage of consideration: At this point, the audience has a firm understanding of the issue at hand and has started looking into all available options. Though they haven’t decided on a brand to purchase from, they are thinking about prospective solutions.
  • Content categories for consideration – Marketers use case studies, comparison tables, and other free resources to target this stage.
  1. The decision stage is when the audience has a clear understanding of their issue, is aware of a potential solution, and is starting to choose a brand from their shortlist. After that, they decide whether to buy.
  • Types of decision-making content — Special deals, promotions, coupons, free trials, in-person demonstrations, and other offerings are targeted at this stage by marketers.

Does it operate?

The aforementioned model represents marketing as it has been used up to this point. It has survived for this long because it is effective. The real query is, “How well?”

not at all. 

The traditional buyer’s journey’s primary flaw is its attempt to impose a linear path and sales procedure from awareness to transaction. People behave quite non-linearly in reality. In other words, they oscillate about the funnel in all directions at various periods for various causes. They may even be going through many stages at once. There are various ways to make decisions.

A new approach should respect consumers’ evolving perspectives and intellect. Most importantly, it should give them value rather than requesting it in order to serve them on their terms. 

It’s time to reassess your brand marketing strategy if it doesn’t revolve around this primary objective.

The client journey is being reframed

It is important to recognize a philosophical shift in consumer desires and behavior in order to fully comprehend the customer journey. 

Do you really think your target audience wants to be greeted with a push down the marketing funnel to the transaction while also being requested for value (time, money, purchases, subscriptions, emails, and personal information)?

In actuality, none of us are searching for it. We want to find the greatest solution to our issues while still having the best experience possible. Potential customers are not generated by the interruptive strategy.

Consumers trust brands that are aware of what they are looking for and are willing to deliver it (without pushing).

They are ultimately the companies’ brands that consumers choose to patronize in the long run.

The first step in achieving this status is to observe how customers behave in reality rather than relying on how out-of-date models lead us to believe they behave.

The actual consumer experience

Researchers from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, led by Professor John Dawes, have produced findings that require marketers to reconsider the conventional customer journey model.

Brands can develop their marketing to focus on creating actual, long-lasting connections with their customers by making significant modifications to the model.

There are only two stages in the actual customer journey, plus a few “micro-moments”:

Consumers spend 95% of the customer journey in the research stage searching for solutions to issues and pertinent material. This involves identifying the issue, contrasting potential solutions, and selecting the best (or most appropriate) one.

  • A micro-moment of value congruence between a certain brand and a customer that is a part of research is what “consideration” refers to here, but it is not a stage.
  • Blog posts, social media posts, videos, whitepapers, one-pagers, ebooks, case studies, comparison guides, free resources, special offers, promotions, coupons, free trials, live demos, webinars, and more of the content types and targeting tools from the previous awareness, consideration, and decision stages actually fit here. This is the time for marketers to continually provide their audience with the actual value during each engagement.

The buying stage, which takes up 5% of the customer experience, is when consumers are truly connected and engaged enough to make decisions and buy (or, in the case of devoted customers, repurchase). 

Prior to this, the consumer has no relationship to and little trust in the brand, making retargeting advertisements and related contact points less successful. When an audience is still conducting research, marketing techniques that use “push” methods are not in line with what the customers actually need. This is how:

  • This stage includes the purchasing choice, another key micro-moment that brings the buying process to a close.
  • Here are included end-of-process actions that show the brand’s offering’s final value proposition.

Brands focus excessively on the buying stage despite the fact that value creation and trust-building take place during the research stage, which is unfortunate for their marketing ROI. As a result, customers never make a choice since they have no connection to the brand.

The Finding

A change in perspective happens when marketers realize that consumer audiences do not fit neatly into “stages” and begin considering them as genuine people with various needs, wants, and shifting perspectives. Brands must now honestly connect with their potential customers in order to gain their business, trust, and loyalty. They can no longer rely on outdated marketing strategies to compel consumers to make a purchase.

Several issues become apparent when the awareness, consideration, and choice paradigm is reviewed:

  1. Marketers fail to prioritize the needs of the customer: The main difficulty is how to prioritize everything with so many changing pieces, goals, methodologies, varying ROIs, and costs across the three stages. A marketing department can collapse and client acquisition efforts can be completely destroyed if this marketing mix is incorrect. It can be made simpler, which reduces risk and enables a more natural process of prioritization.
  2. Marketers fall into the transaction trap, where they solely concentrate on transactions rather than developing trust throughout the entire funnel due to a BOFU obsession. Brands desire to boost income, but prioritizing “only sales” too narrowly frequently results in lower sales. People won’t convert if they don’t have awareness and great trust.
  3. Marketers ignore what the audience wants. By continually attempting to categorize people according to where they are in the funnel and by employing conventional strategies to target each step, it is possible to lose sight of what people actually want. Most of the time, real individuals don’t fit into marketing frameworks.
  4. Marketers ignore consumer behavior data by relying entirely on buyer personas for their ideal customers and the conventional sales funnel model, which only shows a portion of what the audience wants and how to satisfy it. Marketers can discover exactly what customers want from their brand and how to provide true value when they comprehend and use real-time consumer behavior data, such as Google search intent data.

Is it any surprise that marketing is fragmented when you consider the outdated approach and the restrictions listed above? What can brands do about it, as well?

A plan that is in line with the actual client journey

Search intent data and controlled asset optimization are necessary in order to develop a strategy that accurately represents real consumer behavior and consistently provides value to audiences at every contact. 

We must really understand what the audience wants, when they want it, how they’re seeking it, and how we can give it to them because the phases have been reduced to either researching or purchasing. This data is gathered by search engines each time a user conducts a search, so you may find it there.

You can fully listen to and comprehend the desires of your audience thanks to this search intent data. After that, incorporate them into a coordinated plan that aims to offer the value that your audience is seeking.

Investment in owned assets (the distinctive features that a brand fully controls) is given priority in this “consumer connection” strategy, which transforms them into a constellation of customer engagement. Each component of your digital constellation should offer the distinctive value and knowledge that your audience seeks.

Together, these fresh points of consumer connection produce a universe of content that aids in forming a superior customer experience based on the requirements of your target market.

Begin With Search Intent Information

Marketers can use search data to get precise, real-time information about both broad and specific consumer intent. Consumer intent can be more accurately predicted by search intent, which actually reveals what customers want and how to fulfill it. 

The advantages of using search intent data are not only applicable to the web, though. It can assist businesses understand what customers desire so they can enter new markets with the appropriate product offerings. This effective tool can be used to streamline the customer experience. When you are fully aware of your audience’s needs, you have a tremendous opportunity to offer genuine value before you ask for it.

Using owned assets to build a customer journey

Hundreds or maybe thousands of distinctive online properties are owned by brands. Examples comprise:

  • Page landings 
  • Blogs Posts on blogs
  • company websites
  • publishing venues
  • online personas. 

Each of these can be utilized in the context of the customer journey to satiate the audience’s various wants and needs.

Depending on the asset type and its specific objective, optimization takes on numerous forms. For the research stage, a blog post may be used as a piece of awareness-raising content. To rank for the terms potential supplement buyers could search for, a hypothetical supplement brand might provide content on vitamin certification facts. 

A product landing page (another brand-controlled owned asset) may provide in-depth information about why a company’s products are superior to those of rivals. 

Brands can fully utilize each of these assets to engage with their customers and enable them to find you when they need you by utilizing search intent data. 

The asset optimization procedure entails, broadly speaking:

  1. gathering and studying customer search intent information
  2. a list of all the things you own
  3. For any gaps, creating newly owned assets
  4. maximizing each asset owned to achieve specified objectives and provide consumers with value
  5. When the needs and position of the brand change, iterating and updating the assets

The genuine customer journey and assets

Brands may move from the outmoded, linear customer journey model to the fluid, more realistic 95:5 customer journey model by prioritizing their owned assets.

Every asset in a brand’s network expands its reach and serves the demands of new audiences while continuously delivering real value to every visitor.

Relationships and trust are not prioritized in the outdated customer journey model, which also introduces outdated presumptions. Therefore, consumers don’t interact even when exposed to transactional material. 

Asset optimization influenced by user search intent:

  • makes fostering customer relationships a top priority.
  • opens up genuine consumer desire
  • gives consumers value up front and doesn’t “push”
  • builds a digital infrastructure to assist customers in a way that suits them
  • shifts the focus of transactional tunnel vision to the 95% of customers who are looking for answers
  • creates trust each time a customer accesses one of a brand’s resources
  • increases ROI for ALL marketing initiatives

Final Reflections

Modern brands should strive to cultivate genuine connections with their audience. The brands that people trust triumph in all industries. It takes a lot of work to earn your clients’ trust, and relatively few brands truly succeed in doing so. 

Our owned asset first concept transforms marketers from value takers to value givers and places a strong emphasis on connecting with customers at the right time. This strategy revolutionizes marketing efforts with creativity, intentionality, and intelligence while assisting organizations in actually understanding and listening to consumer demands.