How to Map Your Buyer Journey (Guide + Template)
The buyer journey covers all the different stages customers go through before and after they purchase a product. However, they don’t move through it linearly. So not every customer encounters it the same way. They may go back and forth between a few stages or even skip a stage. Also, different customers will interact with you at different stages and won’t necessarily start from stage one.
But why do you still need a buyer journey?
Because the buyer journey covers all buying stages, preparing you to respond to customer needs that are specific to each individual stage. This means that whenever you meet a customer, no matter the stage they’re in, you’ll provide them with the right content and messaging. Also, it's vital when preparing your content strategy. Especially for coming up with content ideas and structuring them.
The buyer journey will probably differ depending on your buyer persona. They have different pain points, interests, preferences, etc. So it’s best you map a buyer journey for each one of your personas.
How to create a buyer journey?
Try not to base the buyer journey on assumptions. While some information may be logical and easy to fill out, it’s better if you do customer research to completely understand this process.
I recommend you follow these steps:
1. Decide on which data you want to collect Outline the information you want to collect about your customers and compile them into buyer persona and buyer journey documents (help yourself with our templates).
2. Conduct research Check your CRM, do online research, talk with your sales team and then conduct customer research.
3. Write down your findings Organize your findings into the buyer persona and journey documents.
What are the stages of the buyer journey?
The number of stages differs between authors. Based on our vast experience in B2B marketing, we separated the journey into 8 stages that cover acquisition as well as post-purchasing. The stages are as follows: brand awareness, problem awareness, solution awareness & evaluation, vendor awareness & evaluation, free offer, paid offer & negotiating, implementation & usage and finally loyalty.
For each of these stages, you should provide the following information:
- Buyers’s situation: How does the customer feel? What do they do?
- Information: What kind of information do they need? What questions do they ask
- Channels: Where do they search for information?
- Topic categories: Write down broad topic categories that will resonate with buyers who are in this stage of the journey.
- Content format: Write down which content formats you can utilize in this stage (e.g. blog posts, whitepapers, consults).
Now let’s dig deeper into each of the buyer journey stages.
1. Brand awareness
In this instance, the buyer is becoming aware of your brand. Since it’s one of the first touchpoints you’ll probably have with your buyer, you want to provide value before you start pitching your offering. You basically don’t want to pressure buyers to buy. Instead, you want to focus on building authority and earning their trust.
The best way to establish this reputation is to position yourself as an expert in your field. Don’t just claim your expertise, prove it. Provide quality and useful content that you created specifically for your audience. For instance, you can research a topic that interests your audience and share your findings with them. Or talk about industry trends and keep them updated with the latest news.
We presume that at this stage, they don’t realize they have a problem. So you can also start addressing the problem your audience is facing. You want to help them identify that this problem is real. Sharing blogs, social media posts and short videos educating them on a certain subject are just a few ideas that make perfect content examples for this stage.
2. Problem awareness
At this stage, the buyer is beginning to identify a need and opportunity for improvement. They acknowledge they might be facing a problem but are still unsure of it. They're trying to find out if others face the same problem, what the problem actually is and how they can solve it. So provide upfront value and try to genuinely help the buyer better understand their problem. Don’t try to offer them your product right away, but do discuss the possible solutions.
In the quest to educate your buyer about the problem and possible solutions, you can create blog posts and social media posts. To help them validate their problem and determine their current status, you can also prepare self-assessment quizzes.
3. Solution awareness & evaluation
The buyer is now aware that a solution to their problem exists. So the next step for them is to research the different ways of solving it. Usually, they can stick with the status quo and not choose a solution, develop a custom solution or choose from the solutions available on the market.
At this stage, you are basically competing with the different types of solutions. If not choosing a solution seems popular among your audience, try to educate them on why it’s not the right choice. If they usually decide between a custom-made solution or an existing one, create content that explains the pros and cons of each option. Do the same if there are other substitute solutions available.
Some content ideas for this stage would be webinars, how-to blog posts and case studies. You can provide educational content and introduce your product as well.
4. Vendor awareness & evaluation
The buyer is aware of your product and is now evaluating different vendors. You should give them a reason to choose your product over the competitors’. So show them how your product can solve their problem and why they should buy it. Demonstrate this in an engaging way rather than just pitching your offer dryly.
For this stage, you can prepare demo videos, interactive demos, product walkthroughs and guides. Also, you can put together vendor comparisons, showcase your testimonials on your website and create an account on a review site where you’ll start gathering ratings.
5. Free offer
Sometimes it’s hard for buyers to commit to a new product. Especially if they haven’t had the opportunity to test it yet. This is why it’s helpful to have a free offer which is a convenient way for the buyer to experience your product or verify your expertise.
This is still in a way providing value upfront. The buyer should be able to have this low-commitment option before making the final decision. Just try to make this free offer as frictionless as possible. Otherwise, the buyer may churn at this point.
The free offer can be a trial, consult, audit or a free sample. It all depends on the nature of your product.
6. Paid offer & negotiating
You’ve come very far and now you’re one step away from closing the deal. The buyer is getting ready to make a critical decision and you want to support them every step of the way.
Prepare all the materials needed, such as pricing information with all product specifications included. Or be ready to prepare custom proposals in a timely manner. Apart from the obvious pricing details, as an additional selling point, you can prepare an ROI calculator where they can for example calculate the potential time or money savings, the potential revenue they could generate by buying your product, etc. For specific cases, you can also offer special promotions and discounts.
7. Implementation & usage
Naturally, you want the implementation process to be as seamless as possible for your buyer. And once everything is up and running, you want them to get the most out of your product. This is extremely important because it plays a big part in how the buyer perceives your product and how satisfied they are with it.
Try to support your buyer by preparing all the necessary resources. Such as a knowledge base and documentation covering all questions and use cases. In addition, you want to prepare instructions on how to perform certain tasks or how to use certain features. The instructions can be in the form of blog posts in the knowledge base or in video format.
If your product is not a one-off solution, you’re probably interested in retaining your customers and ensuring they return. Also, you want to turn them into your champions. You want them to leave great testimonials and spread the word about you. But in order to achieve that you have to provide a great customer experience.
The content that can help you build loyalty varies. You want to ensure that the communication is efficient and transparent and remain committed to adding value. You can start with simple things like personalized invoices and check-in emails. Then you can move on to loyalty programs. For instance, you can provide a better offer in the form of a discount or offer some additional features to reward loyalty.
The buyer journey can look like a very complicated process that will take a lot of time to prepare. But it really isn’t. Once you start researching your customers and start thinking like them, you’ll see that doing this is actually lots of fun. Seeing everything from their perspective, reliving their experience. Plus, the end goal is very motivating. By doing research and mapping your buyer journey, you’ll gain much better insights into your customers and will be able to create content that will truly resonate with them. Every step of the way.