What Is A Buyer’s Journey And How You Can Influence It With Ads

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To say that the web has transformed the way we buy and sell products and services would be a big understatement.

Digital advertising has placed immense power in the hands of modern advertisers. The access to customer behaviour data from multiple sources has enabled smart marketers to create delightful experiences and present them to the most appropriate prospects. 

Advertising has gone from speaking to the masses and hoping something would stick with the right person to delivering precise messages to specific individuals that are likely to engage with said messages.

At the same time, the way consumers research and purchase products has changed dramatically. The journey a potential customer makes from the point when they realise they have an issue that needs addressing to the point where they make a purchase, is called the buyer’s journey.

Now, I am sure that this journey has existed long before it became popular in the digital circles. However, the importance it enjoys today is probably more than ever before.

Let’s understand the modern buyer’s journey in a bit more detail:

The Buyer’s Journey

Modern buyer’s journey has been classified into three or four stages, depending on where you are consuming your marketing information. For the purpose of this article, we will be discussing the four stage journey as it gives a more holistic view at what your prospects go through before they decide to become paying customers.

Even if you are using outsourced digital marketing services, understanding the buyer’s journey will help you effectively collaborate with your outsourcing partners and make sense of the strategies and tactics they are implementing.

The four stages of the buyer’s journey are:

Awareness Stage: This is where the buyer realises that they have a problem and starts looking for a potential solution. Once the potential buyer has identified a couple of options, and your product or service is one of them, you can consider them moved into the consideration stage.

Consideration Stage: This is where the buyer starts researching different solutions that they identified in the awareness stage. The prospects in this stage are usually looking for the best fit solution to address their challenges or problems. This is the stage where you are tasked with presenting your product or service as the ideal solution to your buyer’s problem.

Purchase Stage: A prospect can be considered to be present in the purchase stage if they have shown clear willingness to purchase from you. At this point, your job is to make the sale happen as soon as possible.

Delight Stage: Only paying customers are constituted in the delight stage. In this stage, your job is to ensure that your customers get a positive experience with your brand in order to turn them into advocates of your brand.

So how do you perform the actions and tasks you need to perform to attract prospects in the awareness stage and nudge them into the direction of the purchase?

The simple answer is, with the help of content.

That’s right, you can use content at every stage of the buyer’s journey to inspire them to take actions that are favorable for your brand. The best part is, you can utilise this content in a variety of ways.

For instance, you can use content to rank on search engine results for queries that are relevant to your brand. Of course, you will need an SEO audit and will also need to perform a number of optimization tasks, but it is your content that will rank on the search engine result pages (SERPs) and it is your content that will convince awareness stage prospects to move into the consideration stage. 

One of the ways to direct your organic traffic to the purchase decision is to produce a lot of content and optimize it for keywords relevant to the awareness, consideration, and purchase stages of your buyer’s journey. If you cannot produce serious amounts of content and ensure that it is optimized for performance in the search engine results, you can always explore outsourced digital marketing.

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With that said, there is another, much faster way to guide your prospects to the purchase decision.

The Problem With Direct Response Ads

What are direct response ads? These are ads that are designed to persuade the user to quickly make the decision to purchase and act on that decision.

A lot of businesses that use online advertising only consider it as a tool to bring in more sales. 

While there is no doubt that platforms like Facebook and Google are excellent for advertising and making more sales, the truth is that direct response ads only cater to prospects that are nearing the end of their purchase journey.

Looking at the buyer’s journey, anyone that has decided to purchase your product has already moved through the previous stages of awareness and consideration. Sure, there are exceptions where a potential customer may need your product or service urgently and they purchase without giving it much thought. However, such exceptions are fairly rare. 

This means that a major percentage of the prospects that you are converting with your ads are basically people that are already somewhat convinced about buying your product. On the brighter side of things, this is also an opportunity to bring down your cost of advertisement and improve your conversation rates and sales numbers.

But how do you entice awareness and consideration stage customers with ads?

Using Retargeting Ads To Influence The Customer’s Journey

In order to attract prospects from all stages of the customer journey to your website, you must look beyond the ‘conversion’ objective presented to you by various advertising platforms. You can use ads to create brand awareness, inform your audiences about their pain points and the possible ways to address those pain points, and even nurture them to make a purchase decision.

Here are a few ways you can do that:

Use Ads To Promote Content: As mentioned earlier, the most popular way to educate and inform consumers, and guide them through the customer journey is to produce and share relevant content. However, many businesses and websites struggle with the ‘sharing content’ part. Since SEO Services is a complex and time consuming undertaking, a lot of great content is never even viewed by the intended audiences. 

When you think about paid advertising, think long term. Promoting your content with your marketing budget may not bring in a positive ROI quickly. However, it will help your business attract prospects that were never a part of your brand’s audience previously (assuming you were only using direct response ads before this). 

If you get your targeting right and genuinely produce quality, value-focused content, your cost-per-click or cost-per-impression for content ads will be much lower than your direct response ads. 

Finally, another pressing benefit of promoting your content with advertising is that you will be able to establish your brand as an authoritative source of genuinely valuable information. Consider the following two cases:

In one case, a potential customer lands on your product page after clicking on your direct response ad. Turns out they were just browsing and after looking at your product, they bounce. There’s a chance that they may never return. Even if they do, there is a good chance that it will be because of a retargeting ad of the product that they viewed. This means, you have paid your preferred advertising platform(s) (at-least) twice to bring the same prospect to your website.

In the second case, a prospect lands on one of your blog posts as a result of a paid promotion on a search engine like Google. They find the information they were looking for and even find some additional value in your content. Since this person is interested in information, they may even click through on a couple of related articles on your website. If that happens, the time they spend on your website will contribute to lowering the cost you pay for clicks. 

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There is also the chance that the prospect will think of your website the next time they are looking up similar information, essentially entering the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey of your brand. It is also probable that you may not even need to show them another ad to persuade them to purchase your product or service. 

If they like the content on your website, they will come to trust your website over time and whenever they are ready to buy, there is a good chance that your business will be their first consideration.

However, what happens if they don’t return to your website?

Use Ads To Turn Visitors Into Subscribers

So you have worked hard and produced some truly impressive and valuable content, promoted it, and even attracted some visitors. What next? You can’t expect all of them to return on their own, right?

This is where retargeting ads become relevant.

Using the behavioral data of visitors on your website (can be sourced from Google Analytics and ad platform data), you can use retargeting ads to show those visitors other relevant content offers to bring them back to your website.

Alternatively, you can develop relevant content offers that offer even more value than your blog posts, like an ebook or a whitepaper. Then, you can retarget your website visitors to a landing page that collects contact information in exchange for the higher value content offer. 

Since most of these visitors will remember your brand and website because of the value they received during their previous visit, these visitors will be very likely to give up their contact information, provided that your content offer is relevant and valuable.

Once that happens, you don’t necessarily need to spend more money on ads aimed at convincing visitors to turn into customers. You can achieve that with some quality email marketing flows. The incredible thing is, once you have an email subscriber, you can market to them indefinitely while spending virtually nothing extra on your marketing efforts.

With that said, you can still keep using ads to nudge these visitors and subscribers closer to a purchase decision.

Use Targeted Ads To Deliver Personalised Offers

Just like Facebook catalogue ads can deliver custom personalised ads to your website visitors, you can use them to deliver personalised offers to website visitors. 

You can show segmented audiences ads that talk about the products they may be interested in. Once they have shown a certain level of interest, you can even start delivering personalised offers on the products or services that they have been eyeing. 

Sending personalised offers will help you induce a sense of urgency within your prospects and encourage them to purchase from you immediately. You can, of course, also do the same with prospects that gave you their contact information after you have nurtured them with content that persuades them that your product or service is the best way to address their pain points.

Conclusion

When you start using paid online ads to their full potential, you can start getting more out of them. I am confident that this strategy will work just as well for you as it has for me and my clients.

If you have any questions or want to explore something in the article in more detail, I would love to have a conversation about it in the comment section below.