In today’s world, many marketers have heard of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is creating content that attracts viewers to your content rather than reaching out to them yourself. But knowing a definition is very different from applying principles and executing on an inbound strategy.

I have spent the past several months teaching HubSpot customers from all different industries and parts of the world about the inbound methodology and how an inbound strategy can be effective for all. Throughout my multiple sessions of training, I have noticed one tricky concept that prompts a lot of discussion. It's differences between the stages of the buyer’s journey.

So, do you know the stages of the buyer's journey and how to apply it in your inbound strategy?

The Buyer's Journey

The buyer’s journey is defined as the active research process a person goes through when purchasing a product or service. Everyone goes through this process, whether you’ve purchased a house, selected a restaurant for dinner, or even picked up a candy bar at the convenience store.

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From an inbound marketer’s perspective, you want to use the buyer’s journey as a framework to help you empathize with the buyer. While you, the marketer, are focused on creating content fitting into one of the stages of the inbound methodology, your buyer is focused on either identifying their problem, understanding what options could alleviate their problem, or comparing their top choices when they are ready to make a purchase.

This process can be broken into three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. To best illustrate this concept, let’s use an example of a fictitious company, AutomatVac, who sells robot vacuums under the same name. They are looking to map out the buyer’s journey that culminates in purchasing one of their vacuums.

Awareness Stage

The awareness stage finds the buyer noticing that something is not right. There are symptoms of an issue, but the buyer cannot state their problem in one, succinct sentence.

For the ideal buyer of a robot vacuum, they might start to notice symptoms like:

  • My house never seems to stay clean.
  • I always need to set aside time (that I don’t have) to clean.
  • Vacuuming is loud and disruptive.

As a business, your goal is to help the buyer identify their problem. You will be looking to provide them content to help them identify their symptoms and understand that their problem can be summarized in a simple sentence. For AutomatVac, they want the buyer to realize their problem is “I want to keep my house clean but I don’t want to clean it myself.”

Some content formats to consider might be short whitepapers, checklists, or blog posts. This allows your brand to establish yourself as a reliable source of information to the buyer, and allows your business to immediately follow up with information that will aid them in the second stage of the buyer’s journey.

Consideration Stage

The consideration stage features a buyer who is dedicated to researching options for alleviating their newly defined issue. Your buyer wants information at this stage—they are not ready to purchase a solution. This means you want to provide content that highlights the different products or services your company offers that could feasibly help the buyer in their current situation.

In our buyer’s journey for purchasing a robot vaccum, the buyer will start to compile options such as:

  • I could hire a cleaning service
  • I could buy an automated vacuum
  • Hire someone else take care of the vacuuming

As a business, you might think about providing customer testimonials, videos highlighting your products/services, live webinars for demos. This research will help your buyer decide on their solution and move into the decision stage.

Decision Stage

The decision stage finds the buyer comparing different brand options to ultimately purchase their solution. Once the buyer has chosen a solution that you provide, you want to ensure that they choose your brand over your direct competitors. For our fictitious company, the buyer they might be choosing between  

  • Roomba
  • AutomatVac
  • Samsung Navibot

As a business who has made it to this stage of the buyer’s journey, you want to be providing options that persuade the buyer that your company is best suited to handle their issue. In our example, the buyer has decided to purchase an automated vacuum, so their attention now focuses on purchasing the right automated vacuum for them. Content to highlight that your product is the right choice could come in the form of a free demo or trial, charts highlighting the competitive advantage you have over other products, and coupons.

By taking the time to empathize with your buyer and thinking about what information they need, you increase your chances of securing customers who are the right fit for your products/services. This will translate into a higher retention rate for your company as well as promoters of your business who will bring more visitors to the top of your funnel.

Who is this “buyer” I’ve been alluding to? What do you do after mapping out the buyer’s journey? What kind of format should you be choosing for this content? If you have follow up questions such as these, you might consider attending HubSpot Training Day course: Introducing the Inbound Methodology to Your Business.

What will you learn in the HubSpot Training Day session?

This session will be divided into four sections:

  • "Defining the Inbound Methodology" covers the strategy behind how the methodology results in more prospects at the top of the funnel and more qualified leads at the bottom of the funnel.
  • "Establishing your Buyer Persona" uncovers trends your existing leads and customers share to create a representation of your ideal persona to market to.
  • "Evaluating the Buyer’s Journey" covers your primary persona’s active research process when purchasing a product/service and how you can provide them with the proper content to lead them to point-of-purchase.
  • "Planning your Conversion Path" marries content and context to deliver a curated content offer for your personas at the proper time in their buying journey.

HubSpot Academy - Grow your business, and your career.

Originally published Aug 22, 2017 9:00:00 AM, updated November 08 2017