For companies that deal mostly with considered purchases, one of the biggest marketing challenges you’ll face is keeping your product or service top-of-mind throughout your prospects’ entire buyer journeys. It’s not unusual for the purchase timeline to be more than a year long (although closer to 9 months on average), and during that time, your prospects will be exploring just about every possible solution under the sun. In order for your product or service to stand out from the rest, you’ll need to keep your prospects engaged and informed throughout the whole process, but that’s a lot easier said than done without being too aggressive with your marketing.
For starters, it’s important to understand what your buyers are going through. A considered purchase is one that involves a complex buying decision, which comes with a high degree of financial and/or emotional risk and reward (e.g., above-ground steel storage tank). The product they’re buying is expensive, and will require a lot of research, planning, and vetting before a final decision is made. In many cases, the product they plan on buying will be a key part of their long-term plans and processes, and it’s essential that they make the right decision—or risk making a six or seven-figure mistake that could set them back years financially. With consequences like these, key decision makers and influencers are heavily involved in the buying and research process, and so they can make a well-informed final decision.
With all that in mind, it’s important that today’s marketers have a clear understanding of their prospects’ buyer journeys in these situations, as you can gather key insights about what types of questions they’re asking throughout the process. Knowing where they’re at and what problems they’re having, you can tailor your company’s content to meet their needs, and even promote it in a timely manner when they’ve reached certain stages. To help you avoid bombarding them, however, here are several ways you can keep your considered purchase prospects engaged without annoying them:
Map Out Your Buyer’s Journey
If you haven’t mapped out your prospects’ buyer journeys before, plotting out the different stages and questions that are being asked at each stage should give you a much better understanding of what prospects are feeling at any given point in the process. From the Awareness Stage, to the Consideration Stage, and lastly the Decision Stage, it’s important to sit down with some of your customers, sales team, customer service, and anyone else who can provide insights on the journey, and figure out what types of problems your prospects have at each stage. Furthermore, determine what type of content makes the most sense to address these questions, and discuss where your prospects are looking for answers to those questions. Once these are mapped out, you can start to see the pieces come together and know exactly what types of helpful content they’re seeking, and when.
Create Content for Certain Stages
If you know what problems your prospects are having, the next logical step is to address those problems. With your Buyer’s Journey Map in hand, it’s time to go through and see how you can answer their questions by creating content, adding web pages & features, and more. Blog articles are great because you can call specific issues in your title, and also help your site rank for that topic in search. Not all your content will be blog articles, however. Maybe you need to create a video to show how something is done firsthand. Perhaps you need to create an infographic to better show off your supporting statistics and data. From emails to videos to blog articles, brainstorm what will be most effective with your audience at that stage in the buyer’s journey, and make it available to them.
Spread Out Your Contact Points
If you wanted to maintain contact with a buyer over 9 months, it’d be easy to email him or her every other day to remind them of your existence – but it wouldn’t be effective. After a while, those emails are going to being ignored, and eventually deleted, without even being given a second thought. On the other hand, if you can spread out your contact points between email, social media, and your website, you can more easily maintain your presence without wearing out your welcome on one particular platform.
For example, you can use targeted paid ads on social to keep your content in front of a specific company’s social audience. If you know they’re subscribed to your blog, you can also write highly targeted blog articles (without mentioning them specifically) that help answer some of the questions they’re asking at their current stage in the buyer’s journey. Although your email contact will be incredibly important throughout the process, don’t wear out your welcome with too frequent of messages.
Document Your Plans in Your SLA
Once you’ve figured out all the different angles you can take and know your strategy moving forward, it’s important that you get it all documented – particularly how Marketing and Sales will pass along and nurture leads. If you don’t have a service level agreement (SLA) between Sales and Marketing in place, now’s the time to create one. In your SLA, you’ll want to specify the exact process of nurturing leads, including:
What to do once a visitor converts on an offer
When marketing should pass the lead to sales
Who is in charge of making first contact
What the first contact will entail
How long to wait between making contact again
Frequency of contact throughout the buyer’s journey
When to end contact with a prospect
All of these questions need to be answered before the process begins, or else the ensuing contact with your prospects will be a random, unguided mess.
At the end of the day, take a look at your own process, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes, and remember to ask, “Is this too much?” Would you personally be uncomfortable with all the contact you’re making? Would the messages you’re sending make you want to learn more and stay interested, or are they just kind of shallow reminders that a company wants your money? Put yourself buyer’s shoes, walk a mile down their journey, and be patient with their decisions. Don’t be like the retail store worker that follows shoppers around the store asking if they need help every 10 minutes; make your presence known, let them know where they can find you, and speak up just enough at the right times to remind them you can help.
Posted by Meg Hoppe Meg provides creative vision to all client projects and serves as the agency's chief content writer. She has extensive experience writing for a variety of industries, including manufacturing, financial services, and healthcare. Meg started in advertising and has become a thought leader in digital content creation and inbound marketing.