If you’ve read much about inbound marketing or lead generation, you’ve heard about personas—and you know how important they are to generating the right leads. Personas are vital to a successful inbound marketing campaign, but they’re only the first part of delighting your customers. To maximize your inbound machine, you need to develop a buyer’s journey to nurture your personas through the sale.
The buyer’s journey is like a map that plots out every interaction point your personas will have with your content or your company. When you understand the journey your personas take toward becoming a buyer, you know what specific content they need, and at what points. Your lead nurturing becomes more intelligent and more strategic—and more successful. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.
How to Create a Buyer’s Journey
1) Pick the best persona to map the buyer’s journey
Start with just one persona. This will typically be the one that’s most important for your business from a financial standpoint.
2) Identify your internal information resources
Tap your salespeople, business development, and customer service staff. Your team members who interact with customers will be your best source of information about those customers.
3) Identify what happens in the Awareness stage
This is the moment when a buyer first identifies that they have a need. This is NOT when they become aware of your brand, product or services. Some of the key things to understand in this stage include how the persona describes their pain, goals, and challenges. How does your persona educate himself on latest trends?
4) Focus on the Consideration stage
After the Awareness stage, the persona will enter the Consideration stage, when they begin to consider solutions to their problem.
Don’t focus on what you want your persona to know about you, but on what they want and need to make an informed purchase. How does your buyer identify the types of solutions to do further research on? How do buyers educate themselves on potential solutions? How do buyers evaluate pros and cons of potential solutions?
5) It’s time to make a decision
In the Decision stage the buyer has decided to make a purchase but they need to validate their options. Typically they’re deciding between a few solutions and they have specific criteria they’re using to make the decision. Work with your sales or business development team to identify the typical criteria. Make sure to identify additional decision-makers or influencers in the buying process.
Tip! Depending on how important these key decision-makers and influencers are, you may need to develop personas for each of them.
6) Tie it all together with some inbound campaigns
Pick a few key questions your persona is likely to ask at each stage of the buyer’s journey, and answer them with a strategic campaign of valuable content. Use the information you gathered from your sales and business development team to guide your answers.
For example, if your persona needs “how to” information during the Awareness stage, give them step-by-step info, or provide a template to use. Follow up with information that helps translate the how-to information into a comparison infographic or a checklist. Help the buyer understand the benefits and solutions with some case studies or white papers. If they need to make a business case to their own team, equip them with the right type of content and train them to sell it. Make sure the content has a common theme through all of the stages in the buyer’s journey. That will help the buyer understand why they need the next item from you.
7) Identify triggers to hand off leads to your sales team
Now that you have your buyer’s journey mapped and are developing content that targets specific questions at different stages, find out when it makes sense to pass along those leads to sales. If you have a specific piece of content that generates leads at the Consideration stage, consider sending all of those leads to sales to see if they can speed up the purchasing timeline or start to build a relationship with the buyer.
If you have the right plan and system in place, you can leverage sales enablement to help move buyers through the buying process.
Now that you have the basics of the buyer’s journey, work through these questions and walk through the buying process that your buyers go through for your product or service.