Understand your customer buyer journey

Visit catherinelangman/episode-139 for the full audio and video version of this episode.

Well hello hello! Catherine Langman here – welcome back for another episode of the Productpreneur Success Podcast!

Let me ask you a question.

Have you ever experienced a situation where your ads are just not attracting or engaging your audience, so cost per click and conversion is really expensive leading to not great results?

And same with your marketing emails – are they not getting great open rates or generating much in the way of revenue?

Whether you do your ads or emails yourself or you outsource to someone else – this isn’t an uncommon scenario.

And it’s frequently accompanied by an ignorance around how to fix that situation. 

We see a lot of brands and marketers trying to turn that sort of situation around using one of two strategies – using bigger and more frequent discounts, or trying to spend their way out of it by throwing money at ad spend.

But trying to solve a conversion problem with discounts or more ad spend won’t help – especially without actually figuring out what’s causing the problem in the first place.

And what is frequently the problem here is that the marketing content just does not resonate with the customer, because the brand or marketer does not deeply understand your customer. 

We need to develop a really thorough profile of who they are – your customer avatar – and how they go about making a purchase decision – your buyer journey.

Now, many brand owners tell us that other marketing consultants don’t really understand their brand or their customer properly. They might have done a customer avatar exercise, but most haven’t done a buyer journey exercise. 

And even those who have done both exercises frequently don’t know how to apply them to their marketing or advertising, so they kind of just sit their on the digital shelves gathering virtual dust, so to speak.

And so they just end up guessing about how to communicate with their audience properly, how to get the right tone of voice, what content or information their customers actually need to know, and what might shift the needle with buyers. Without resorting to constant deep discounts.

Again, this usually doesn’t work because the marketing and advertising content doesn’t resonate with the customer base. So the conversion rates are low and ROI on ad spend is unprofitable.  

So, here’s what we’re going to cover during today’s episode.

I’m going to share with you the difference between your customer avatar and buyer journey, the 4 main stages of your buyer journey and how to go about documenting it, and of course how to use it to improve your marketing and advertising results.

Before we get there – let me quickly share with you how you can download a really useful free resource that’ll help you write great copy for your Facebook ads. This resource will complement what we’ll cover in today’s episode. 

This Perfect Facebook Ad Template is for you if you feel like you have no idea how to write Facebook ads that will actually engage your audience and convert into customers and you’d like to follow a Template that will show you how to make it easy! 

To get your copy today – head to catherinelangman.com/perfect-ad-template where you can get instant access today and you’ll be rocking your Facebook ads in no time!

OK so without further ado let’s dive into today’s episode.

First thing’s first, let’s quickly cover how to document your Customer Avatar, because before defining your buyer’s journey, you’ll need to define your buyer. Who is your target customer?

Consider descriptive qualities like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Family Life
  • Education Level
  • Job Title
  • Income Level
  • Values & beliefs
  • Personality 

Personally I find the most useful way to document your Customer Avatar is like you’re writing a character description for a movie. 

It’ll be a lot more tangible and useful to you if you can really get inside their personality and loves and hates and personal beliefs and values and what sparks their interest or makes them laugh, as well as the basic characteristics like demographics or geographics. 

It’s especially useful to think about it in this way because your brand will also need to demonstrate its own personality and communicate with your audience with your brand’s tone of voice and so on. So you really want your brand and customer avatar to get along like a couple of best friends hanging out. 

Next, let’s go over what your Buyer Journey actually is, because it might feel a bit like just a jargon word to you.

So basically it’s the decision making process your ideal customer goes through, from having a realisation that they need something, to finally making a purchase and using the product.

There are four stages in the buyer journey that you need to consider when communicating with your potential customers through your marketing and advertising. Let’s go over each of them and share some examples of how you apply this to your marketing and advertising and what kind of content you can create that will make sense at each stage of the buyer journey.

The four stages are:

Awareness

Consideration

Conversion 

Loyalty

You want to find out and document what your customers are thinking, feeling and doing at each of those stages in their decision making process.

Let’s dive into each stage in a bit more detail.

AWARENESS STAGE

The awareness stage is the point where your ideal customer realises they need or want something and start looking for a solution to it. These days, as consumers we usually begin to search online for solutions. And if the content you’re creating answers their questions in this stage, they will look for more content in further stages.

As you create content in this stage, it’s important to start a conversation with your ideal customers in a way that resonates with their most common needs or wants or desires or pain points. Ask them questions and talk to them about what concerns them and what problems they’re having. 

Then, you can create marketing and advertising content that answers those questions. When you create content, think outside the blog box. Consider how your audience would like to consume content, and if they would prefer audio or video content, then create that.  

CONSIDERATION STAGE

At this stage, your customer is aware of their problem and they’re considering possible solutions to their pain points. Customers today are much more informed than ever before, so we can’t dismiss this stage and assume they will automatically realise that your product is the solution to their needs and wants. So, the content you create in this stage must answer their questions to the fullest.

At this stage you want to be creating content that covers the key benefits and characteristics of your product, brand, shopping experience or service that are important factors that contribute to your customer’s decision making.

Things like detailed blogs and videos and social media content on how to use your products in different scenarios that would be familiar to your customers.

PURCHASING DECISION STAGE

The decision stage is when your customer chooses the product or service that will solve their need or desire or relieve their pain point. 

At this point you want to do what you can to establish trust and overcome perceived risks that might be holding your customers back from their purchase decision.

Things like social proof and free returns and product guarantees and awards you’ve won and anything else that gives credibility to your brand reputation.  

LOYALTY ADVOCACY STAGE

The final stage of the buyer journey is when your clients become loyal, repeat customers. It’s easier and more profitable to keep reselling to your current customers than to constantly rely on finding new customers.  That’s why you need to impress them with the content you create at this stage.

After your customers buy from you, don’t drop the ball when creating content now. You’ve brought them this far, and you need to finish with great content in this final stage. Onboard your new clients with automated email sequences that welcome them to your brand family and include content and offers that will help your customers best possible experience using your product.

Having really great customer service is very important to help retain customers and turn them into repeat buyers.

Ensure that your customers are continually impressed with your product by regularly sending them email newsletters and sharing great content on social media. You can also use loyalty programs at this stage.

Include any new product launches and promotions designed to turn a one-time buyer into a repeat purchaser and future brand advocate. 

OK so we’ve gone over the 4 stages of the Buyer Journey and I’ve given you some suggestions and ideas for the kinds of content that will suit each stage. 

But I also want to talk more about how you apply this concept to all of your marketing and advertising. 

First of all, I want to warn you against being too factual and logical with your application of this buyer journey concept and the content that is supposed to help move customers through their purchase decision.

Why? 

Well – the fact is that us humans typically make decisions based on emotion and then justify them with logic. If a customer buys based on logic, they have no way to then justify their purchase and you run the risk of them feeling sold-to or experiencing buyer’s remorse.

Have you ever been shopping and ended up buying a whole lot more than you intended? Generally you do that on the spur of the moment. It’s spontaneous, not planned. 

And then you get home with all this stuff, or it gets delivered by your postie, and you justify it to yourself with logical arguments like, “well, it was on sale so it was a smart time to buy it”.

The thing is – we need to make sure our marketing content speaks to the emotions your ideal customer is experiencing, which is the polar opposite of the logical facts of a situation.

This means – tell stories. People remember stories because it’s a really vivid way of imparting information and helps your customers to remember it. Whereas facts are boring and our brains just typically don’t retain them. (Unless you’re my eldest son and it involves stats about swimming – he is like a bloody encyclopaedia and can tell you all the stats from about the last 40 years of competitive swimming across the globe!)

You can even do this, tell stories, using really short copy.

For example, we teach our clients how to write ‘Product Value Statements’, which is the shortest story-telling framework I know.

It might be, ‘We help frazzled sleep deprived new Mums and their babies to enjoy deep, restorative sleep’.

That’s going to be a lot more interesting than saying ‘buy our baby sleep swaddle’, right?

I want to talk about your imagery and visuals. Because these can be emotive or logical as well.

Sometimes we need the logical images, such as product shots showing various angles and details on your product web page. 

But most of the time, we need the emotion-inducing lifestyle images showing your products in-use in familiar settings. 

Usually I like to aim for lifestyle images that are pitched at a slightly aspirational version of your ideal customer’s lives, because hey – we all want to make our lives better, that’s part of what we’re hoping for with our purchase decisions.

Next, I want you to consider how you apply your buyer journey to your website. 

So with your website, and this relates to emails as well, you need to bear in mind that our customers read from left to right and from top to bottom. (I’m saying that from the perspective of living in a majority English speaking country. It may very well be different where you are, in which case adjust that statement accordingly.)

So keeping that in  mind, there’s a way of chunking your content and displaying it in an order that helps move your customers through their buying journey. 

And it goes like this: 

Attention

Interest

Desire

Social proof

Action

Once we know what is going through your customers minds and emotions at the Awareness stage of their buyer journey, and we thought about the emotive language and imagery we want to use to appeal to our customers, then you can create an eye-catching hero image to go at the top of your home page and with a catchy headline with a call-to-action button overlaid on the image. 

To peak their interest, then you want to have a bold statement and short two-sentence story underneath that hero image. 

To increase desire, you might then move into content like ‘best sellers’ or ‘most popular’ products, and you might have a great video, or you might have some other content that speaks to what is important for your customers when it comes to buying your kind of products. This is where you need to speak to the ‘Consideration’ stage of the buyer journey.

Next is pretty obvious – you want to share your customer testimonials and reviews. It is usually going to be more trustworthy and therefore impactful if you use a verified reviews app like Stamped or Judge.me and I love it when those reviews use an image shared by the customer as well, though that’s not always necessary. This kind of content speaks to the Conversion stage, as does the next bit.

Last is Action, and there are a couple of ways we want our customers to take action. 

At this point, if you don’t already have any products on your home page where customers can add straight to cart from the home page, then you want to do that.

It’s also useful to have an email sign-up form here as well. If customers have got this far but haven’t clicked through to see more about your products or to add to cart yet, then you want to get them onto your email list so you can follow up with them at a later date. 

And when it comes to your marketing emails – you want to lay out the content in those following a similar format as well. 

Next, let’s discuss your advertising and how to apply your buyer journey content to your ads. 

You’ve probably heard the term ‘funnel’ applied to advertising, probably most commonly with Facebook advertising. 

Basically all a funnel essentially means is that you are tailoring the content in your ads to the audiences that equate to those different stages in the buyer journey. 

So, in the Awareness stage of the buyer journey, your ads are going to be showing to cold audiences of people who have never come in contact with your brand.

Again, like when I spoke about the home page of your website, you want to use emotive visuals and copy that attract the attention of potential customers who have a need, want or desire that your product solves. 

In your middle of funnel, your audience is warm – they’ve recently engaged with your brand, either on social media or looking on your website or even signing up to your website, but they haven’t bought yet. So the content and visuals in your ads at this stage should hover between the consideration and decision stage. Things like demonstration videos and customer testimonials often work well here.

And at the bottom of funnel your audience is really hot. They’re probably super close to buying, they may have just abandoned cart for example. This is where you need to be overcoming objections, whether it’s about the product itself and you need to use strategies like guarantees, fast delivery and free returns, or if the perceived risk is about something like the cost of shipping and you can share a free shipping code. 

Hopefully that makes sense for you guys and gives you some insight into how you should be using your buyer journey in your marketing and advertising!

Now, you might be wondering how you identify what is important to your customers and what they might be thinking, feeling and doing at each stage of their buyer journey. 

And the good news is that you don’t need to guess – there is a framework to figure this out. Which is exactly what we teach our coaching clients and help our agency clients implement as well.

So if you’d like to speed up the process of learning or implementing and getting results faster, please reach out to me because there are a variety of ways I can help you depending on the stage of business you’re at.

This is what I do and love to do every single day. Whether you’re looking for coaching to help you to learn and implement these things, or if you’re looking for a team of experts to outsource to, just head over to catherinelangman.com/work-with-me to find out about working with me.

That’s it for today’s episode and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you did, I’d be forever grateful if you’d share it with one or two of your business besties. Especially if you know they’re looking to grow their brand or eCommerce store this year. It’s super easy to share – just click on the icon next to the podcast on whichever platform you listen to it, copy the share link and then send it in a message to your friends.

But now – have a fabulous day and week and I’ll be back on the show with you again next week!