Empathy is today one of the essential elements for making the company grow in terms of customers and revenues. Every day, in fact, the consumer is solicited with hundreds of advertisements and to catch his attention it is essential to understand his need and present him with the ideal solution. To achieve this goal, however, it is necessary to be aware of the path he takes to find the product or service that best suits his needs. This is why the buyer’s journey is born. What is it about? Why is it essential to create empathy between the company and its potential customers? Let’s see it in detail in this article.
What's the buyer's journey?
The buyer’s journey is the journey that the consumer takes to become aware of their needs and identify, evaluate and choose a product or service that can satisfy them. This concept stems from the awareness that the decision-making process - or purchase - rarely lasts a few hours: the user inquires about the solutions that can satisfy his need, compares them, studies the company to turn to and only at the end of all this path comes to contact or purchase. From the point of view of the person who plans and applies marketing strategies, taking into account the consumer's decision-making process is essential because it allows them to approach the company at any step of the decision-making process.
The buyer’s journey is generally represented through this scheme created by HubSpot, an American developer of software products for inbound marketing, sales and customer service.
The starting point of the decision-making process is awareness of the problem: the consumer realizes that he has a need or that he can take advantage of opportunities that he is not exploiting now. In this phase, his goal is to give a name to his need in order to subsequently seek a solution that can satisfy it.
Once the problem has been defined, the consumer moves on to the phase of considering the available solutions (consideration). Through a series of searches, he is therefore able to identify any products or services that can satisfy his need; later, he confronts them to figure out which one can best meet this need.
When the best product or service has been identified, he arrives at the decision stage: the consumer at this point analyzes the companies that can help him obtain the “object of desire”. After researching information and reading reviews, he gets in touch with the company that impressed him the most.
First phase of the decision-making process: awareness
In this first phase of the decision-making process, the buyer persona (i.e., the prototype of the ideal customer) has not yet defined his problem. For the user, this is a step of researching and collecting basic information: generally, he searches the Web in a very generic way, typing keywords that begin with "how to ...", "what is it ... "," How it works ... "and so on. He then goes through blogs, trade magazines, social groups and other channels of this type to find guides that answer his question and offer him a range of solutions to meet his needs.
Let's make an example. Our buyer persona is an off-site student who lives 500 kilometers away from his family. Every weekend, therefore, he spends his time on the train to go home and is looking for a practical solution to not get bored. To do this, he uses search engines and types "what to do on train journeys". To get to the next step, he watches videos on YouTube and reads articles on a blog. At the end of this phase, he knows what are the possible solutions he has available: MP4, tablet, laptop, books and so on.
The goal of this first phase of the decision-making process is to be present when the user searches online: this is possible by creating valuable, generic and absolutely not technical contents, which intrigue our potential customer without making him feel oppressed by advertising. We must educate to empathize with him, not sponsor our products and services. But how to adapt the marketing strategy to this first phase of the decision-making process? We can ask ourselves:
- What means does our buyer persona adopt to seek information in this first phase?
- What keywords could he type on search engines?
- How can we educate him to solve his problem?
By answering these questions, we will be able to understand which channels our buyer persona uses to find information and gain greater visibility. Our company will acquire reliability and credibility in his eyes and, over time, he will be able to recognize it on the market.
Second stage of the decision-making process: consideration
Our buyer persona has understood his problem and is faced with multiple solutions. What could do for him? He is in the consideration phase, the one in which he evaluates the ways to satisfy his need and begins to select them to reach a definitive answer. In this phase he takes into consideration the product or service, not yet the brand, which will be the subject of the final step.
To go back to our example concerning the off-site student, after having acquired the basic information, his research becomes deeper and more specific and also includes the product: "pros and cons of the tablet", "advantages and disadvantages of MP4", "Why prefer an e-reader to a book?" and so on.
Once again, the communication must not be advertising, but informative. The user is not yet ready to contact our company or purchase and therefore needs additional elements to continue with their decision-making process. If we sell e-readers, we will be able to create contents that present their characteristics and advantages, referring to the daily life of our target: for example, the possibility of traveling with thousands of books without filling the suitcase. In addition to video tutorials and blog articles, we will be able to complement our offer with e-books, guides, podcasts that can win his attention. In creating this content, we're going to answer the following questions:
- What are the products and services that could hinder the purchase of our offer?
- What are the criteria that the user considers priority in deciding on the ideal product?
- How can we educate the consumer about the benefits of our offer?
Third phase of the decision-making process: decision
Once he has chosen the product or service that meets his need, our potential customer will be one step away from purchasing and will ask himself: which company should I rely on? This is a very delicate phase, because it is from here that it will be possible to realize and make profitable the effort made up to now.
How is it possible to win the trust of the user who has reached the final decision stage? The goal in this case is to push him towards our company, without being self-congratulatory. To achieve it, it is necessary to testify the competitive advantage of our business: we therefore create case studies that tell, by means of statistical data and graphics, our successes. We also create a section of the site for the reviews of our customers: this way, the potential customer will be able to consult external opinions on the work of our company.
At this stage, the care of corporate communication also becomes a priority: having a site that best expresses the values pursued by our company and updated social network profiles that give a distinct and unique tone of voice to our business is essential. To date, the user's choice is also based on these aspects.
And once you have made your purchase? customer service must live up to our company's image.
Why is it important to follow the buyer's journey?
According to some statistics reported by protocol80.com:
- 71% of consumers use smartphones to search for reviews about a product or service when they are in a store;
- 63% of consumers looking for information on companies or products will not make the purchase for at least 3 months;
- 80% of decision-makers prefer educational articles to ordinary advertising.
Looking at these data, it is clear the importance of training the consumer through content marketing, that is, the creation of ad hoc content, commensurate with his needs. Today's buyer is no longer a passive person who lets himself be bewitched by advertising on television or radio, but becomes an active subject in the purchase: he searches for information on search engines; studies the presence of a company on social networks to consider it credible or not; watches videos on YouTube; reads reviews about products, services and businesses. It is on the basis of the information collected from time to time that, sometimes even after months or years, the purchase occurs.
Following the buyer’s journey therefore means showing the potential customer the right content at the right time: in this way, we can follow them step by step up to the purchase of the best product (or service) for their needs, establishing a relationship with them. Over time, the user will recognize and become attached to the brand and this will allow the relationship to continue even after the sale, with the aim of building customer loyalty. The consequences will also be visible on revenues: with a much lower effort, we will be able to boast a greater number of purchases and new customers resulting from effective word of mouth activity.