Not all marketing tactics and content are equally as effective at each stage of the Buyer Decision Process. For example, while some tactics are great for building awareness, they aren’t great for converting a highly engaged potential customer.
In this episode, we revisit the Buyer Decision Process and I align the broad goals of awareness, engagement, conversion, and loyalty that you are trying to achieve as a business.
I also give some examples of tactics and explain how they are well placed at some stages but wouldn’t be very helpful at other stages.
All of this helps you pick the most suited tactics for the areas of your pipeline you wish to focus on.
It’s not all theory though. At the end of the episode, I outline how you can use the Buyer Decision process, and your broad objectives, to choose the most effective tactics for your unique situation.
To help, there is a downloadable spreadsheet which maps all of the marketing tactics against their best area of focus.
As part of the service, I have had this episode transcribed. Transcribing, proofing, and editing a podcast episode is A LOT of work. That’s why I use a service called REV who provide professional freelance transcriptionists who are vetted for quality. While they offer a 99% accuracy guarantee, I do not proof-read their work extensively. Instead, I simply copy and paste below and, as such, please note that this is not be a verbatim transcript of the episode and I have trimmed things like the intro, close, and mid-show ad.
If you haven’t already listened to episode 5 then I highly recommend that you head back and listen to it because, one of the fundamental pieces of knowledge and context that is really important to this episode is the Buyer Decision Process.
But, to recap quickly, the Buyer Decision Process is the process that every person goes through, no matter what they are buying. Remember, every purchase, someone goes through the 6 steps of the Buyer Decision Process which are 1. Awareness, 2. Research, 3. Evaluation, 4. Decision, 5. Purchase, and 6. Post-purchase Evaluation.
Those, steps, and it doesn’t matter if you are buying the newspaper, lunch, a new car, or a new Dyson vacuum cleaner that you now diligently clean the filter on, the steps are always the same. All that changes is how long we spend at each step and the attention we give each step. So, some purchases are simple, and some are complex. But the steps are the same.
If you did your homework, and downloaded the resource sheet from the last episode, you would have mapped out what questions and information needs people have at each of the steps. The last column, however, is where it gets a bit tricky as you begin to consider how you will get people the content they need?
The trick here is to think about how people are engaging with the decision at each step. For example, at steps 1 awareness and 2 research, its mostly going to be arm’s length engagement i.e. they aren’t going to be speaking to you just yet. In fact, research tells us that people, on average, move through the buyer decision process, 60-70% of the way before they even speak to a company and that 85% of people search online throughout the entire buyer decision process.
So, what does that mean for you? Well, you need to be thinking like one of your customers and focusing on how and where they get information and how they want to consume it.
I get to speak to lots of businesses about their marketing and it usually starts with someone saying something along the lines of “We’ve been thinking about email recently, can we have a chat to you about it”. Or maybe it’s social media, or blogs or whatever. The point here is that people are nearly always focused on the tactic in isolation of the objectives, goals and the buyer decision process and where in their sales funnel they are wanting to focus. Or, more importantly, actually need to focus.
Yes, I know, some of those things like objectives and goals sound really boring. They always feel like they are just slowing us up, can’t we just get on and do stuff and see what happens? Of course you can, but you don’t need me or the next person to help you. Just go and do it.
But, if you want to be successful, we need to be able to at least explain why we are executing certain marketing tactics. So, you should always have your objectives and goals and pipeline focus set and I’ll cover that in detail for you later shows.
But for now, understanding where certain tactics are best aimed in the buyer decision process, is a useful exercise.
Take case studies for example. Case studies are massively powerful and many businesses use them. I mean, they are great to tell a positive story about how you helped a customer solve their problem and they often involve quotes and context from the client. The whole idea is to paint a powerful picture of how you can help a prospective customer who relates to someone you’ve helped that is just like them
However, many people create case studies and plonk them on their website and hope or assume people will read them. Thing is, most potential customers will only visit your site once, maybe twice. And they are doing so in the early stages of the buyer decision process as they research and initially evaluate what they find. Once they have gathered all their information, and are evaluating it, they won’t really be coming back to your site … but they are trying to move to a decision.
So the point there is that most people are visiting your site early on and aren’t really at the point where they have narrowed down their choices. Instead, there’s an air gap between their engagement on your site, and when they are seriously evaluating and deciding.
The thing about case studies is that they are very powerful in the latter stages of the buyer decision process, specifically at the back-end of the evaluation phase and very much so at the decision stage. But people aren’t on your site then. They’ve already gathered the information they need and they weren’t really looking for case studies early on because they were still just gathering information. Case studies are too detailed for people early on.
So, case studies are really powerful, but people don’t really need them when they first come to your site. So, what are you suppose to do with them?
Well, they definitely should live on your site as you might get lucky and get some people reading them early on. However, the real power is in how you’ve connected and engaged with the customer when they first came to the site.
Did you offer them something really valuable in exchange for an email address? Did they book an appointment or chat to you on the phone and now they have a proposal in their hands? Or are you running Facebook and Google retargeting ads so they don’t forget you? Because, it is here that case studies are really powerful and the question becomes, for your business, how do you connect and engage with prospects so that you can get them case studies when they need them. You’ve heard me say it time and time again – your job is to get the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
You know these people are the right people, you know case studies are the right content to get to them … but when is the right time. Well, with case studies, that’s later in the buyer decision process and its your job to figure out how to get them case studies at that point.
I could be making this point and example about any marketing tactic, really. But how are you supposed to figure out where all the various marketing tactics are best suited to be executed in the buyer decision process? Never fear, I’ll cover that off after the break.
So, you have all these amazing marketing tactics that you could be executing but you want to make the most of them? To do that, you need to be aiming them at the steps of the buyer decision where they are best suited.
One thing I need to cover off is that while I’m about to go on about where specific tactics are best suited to the buyer decision process, the reality is, with the right planning and execution, almost any tactic could be aligned to almost any stage of the buyer decision process. And that’s fine, the point here is that there are best and easiest scenarios but if you really see a way for a certain tactic to be used in a stage of the buyer decision process that isn’t where it is normally aligned, that’s 100% fine. Go for it. But that’s all about having a proper discussion, understanding it, and then making a conscious choice. That’s completely different to just throwing case studies on your website because you’ve heard they are good or your competitors have them on their sites. That’s just lazy.
Another example would be social media, let’s say Facebook. It is obviously very powerful and usually, it’s powerful early on the buyer decision process. However, maybe your focus is on retaining customers and building loyalty. If that’s the case, maybe customer-only Facebook groups could be that place you cultivate that community and loyalty and even encourage the members to contribute in building a strong community.
So, the thing is, I’m about to start talking about where certain tactics are best aligned to the buyer decision process but, this isn’t some strictly controlled research project where you should just trust me blindly. Look at it, understand it, discuss it and then figure out how it applies to your business. It’s a starting point, of my best thinking, to push you on your way. Use it as a tool – don’t take it as gospel. In fact, I’d love to hear from you about how you’ve executed certain tactics at stages of the buyer decision process where they wouldn’t normally be executed at. I’d love it.
For Patrons of the show, head to the show notes for episode 7 at marketingbuilder.net, and follow the link to the Patreon page and download the PDF where I’ve mapped out all the marketing tactics against the buyer decision process. You’ll notice that I’ve overlaid some phases, over the buyer decision process, which nominates what your business goal should be at the stage of the buyer decision process that your potential customer is going through. The reason I’ve done this is because while a potential customer might be in the third stage, evaluation, evaluation isn’t your goal? Your goal would be to engage them to help them evaluate you as the best choice. So, we do need to look at this whole process from two angles – one, what the customer is trying to achieve at each stage, and two, what you, the business, is trying to achieve.
If your not a Patron of the show, then for just $4 US dollars per month you can access of all of the free resources, such as worksheets, guides, and templates plus access bonus patron only Q&A shows, access to the Marketing Builder Facebook group, for discussions and advice, an add to the Marketing Builder WhatsApp group where I share my random thoughts and encounters around marketing, access to live shows, streams and recordings and you’ll get a shout out on the show.
To become a patron of the show, just head to marketingbuilder.net and click on the Patron link.
So, as I said, head along to the show notes at marketingbuilder.net and download the PDF so you can get a visual of where tactics are best suited with respect to not just the Buyer Decision Process but also what you are trying to achieve which includes four things – creating awareness, engaging, converting, and building loyalty.
So, all you have to do is consider whereabouts you think focusing will give you the most value. Are you trying to create more awareness of your brand? Or maybe you brand has good awareness but you want to engage and nurture potential customers better? Or maybe you are great at engagement but the conversion part isn’t so great. Or maybe you have lots of customers but the churn is too high or maybe you think you should be up-selling and cross-selling to them better? Wherever it is you want to focus, consider the tactics that are best aligned and discuss how you can execute you them to impact the areas you need to focus on.
And remember, as I said before, where these tactics align is my best thinking. It isn’t gospel and you shouldn’t just follow it blindly without considering if and how it would apply to your business and your target market. So, any tactic could be conceivably executed at any stage with the right creativity and planning.
For example, you’ll remember that in episode 5 I spoke about getting an email from Dyson about cleaning the filter on the new vacuum cleaner and how that has impacted my loyalty towards them? Well, if you look in the row for loyalty in PDF you’ve downloaded, you won’t find emails as a preferred tactic. Instead, you’ll find it in the conversion row where I would normally be making a decision and purchasing. However, Dyson had great success with a tactic that isn’t traditionally used to build loyalty. And, they aren’t the only business to do this with email. Many businesses use email to help onboard and embed customers and ensure they get the most out of a product or service.
There’s no reason why you can’t re-align and re-focus any of the marketing tactics if you see fit. But, if you are struggling to figure out what marketing you should be doing, and where, then the PDF will be a great resource for you.