Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

While we may like to think buying decisions made by consumers happen randomly, they are very rarely random. Sure, impulse buys happen, but even in those circumstances buyers often went through a buyer’s journey before they were presented with the impulse purchase. Here’s a quick look at the stages found within the buyer’s journey.

Recognizing the Problem

The first stage is simple; the buyer is experiencing symptoms to a problem and is actively seeking a means to address it to give the problem a name. This is known as the awareness stage. Maybe the dishwasher broke and they need a new one or they cannot get visitors to their website and need a professional inbound marketing company to help.

It doesn’t matter what the problem is, most buying decisions start with a consumer recognizing they have a problem and a need for a solution.

Gathering Information

When there is a problem, most consumers start looking for a solution. This may require a certain amount of research, depending on the problem. This is called the consideration stage. Unlike the awareness stage, the prospect is fully aware of the problems they are facing and is looking into different means to solve their challenge.

They hop online, start searching for options, explore numerous possibilities to resolve their issue and gain as much information as they feel necessary to make the right buying decision.

Making the Buying Decision

In the final stage of the buyer’s journey, many consumers will go through a stage of comparing options and reading user reviews. This is referred to as the Decision stage. Consumers will often eliminate vendors due to a better perceived option or poor reviews.

After exploring multiple options, the consumer has decided to buy. The process can still be interrupted if their first choice is no longer available, has gone up in price or something else happened.

While this is when the consumer makes the decision to buy, it can also be the time for a company to bring them back if they decided not to buy. This can be done with retargeting ad campaigns, email reminders and even special discount offers.

While the buyer’s journey actually ends here, as a business, it doesn’t stop for you. The buyer has made the decision to make the purchase, but they still have to complete the transaction.

The Purchase

At this stage, the consumer actually makes the purchase and gives cash / credit for the product or service. As they are going through the purchasing process, companies can still blow it, if the process involves too many steps or seems too complicated.

Post-Purchase Review

After the purchase has been made consumers are not done. Often, they will evaluate, even if they don’t actually review your company online. This evaluation determines if your customer will be doing business with you again.

This is also the stage for consumers to post their thoughts online and help you out or hurt your company. If you rely on good reviews from customers, this may be the most important stage within your inbound marketing plan.

Understanding the stages involved in the buyer’s journey will help when you set up your offers, market and provide support to customers.

The Buyers Journey Infographic