The Awareness stage constitutes the first stage of the whole Inbound Marketing process. It is often overlooked, but it is the most critical stage because the prospective buyer’s journey that will eventually lead him to make a decision, starts with awareness.
Let’s say for example that the buyer wants to purchase a particular product, and simply cannot make a decision. He is faced with a conundrum.
Any given company must assume that the potential buyer has done his due diligence and made a research in order to address the problem that he is facing.
How can you, as a company, lure that customer towards them and encourage him to buy their products? By creating awareness of course!
You must conduct your own research: To do so, you need to check the performance of your competitors: read customer reviews on their websites; review posts and articles that are relevant to the industry that you work in and your customers’ interests.
After that research is undertaken, you must communicate thoroughly and concisely with the customer about the benefits they will obtain by purchasing their products.
Any question(s) by a potential customer must be addressed clearly and as quickly as possible.
For the communication part, several mediums can be utilized: Whitepapers, blog posts, E-Books, E-guidelines, data reports posted on your company’s Social Media accounts, its official website…the possibilities are abundant.
The more communication is established between you and your target audience, the more your company becomes a credible source of information, hence the creation of positive awareness for it.
After generating awareness, you have the attention of a potential customer: through your constant communication with him as a company, he has now identified the source of his problem and is now considering his options before making a purchase.
This takes us to the second stage of the Buyer’s Journey for Inbound Marketing: Consideration.
As a company, you must keep in mind that the potential buyer still hasn’t made a definitive purchase decision, and is still seeking more information that will increase his confidence that will lead him to make an intelligent and informed decision. And this particular point is very critical, since the buyer will evaluate whether or not your products and/or your services are a good fit for him.
The key “recipe” during that stage consists in producing more and more content, increasing the number of mediums used in order to get the message across to the potential customer.
Establish live interaction with your target audience through Explainer videos, whiteboard animated videos, webinars. Post them on popular video platforms such as YouTube or Dailymotion.
More importantly, these videos must be interactive, in terms of engaging with the potential customer, and constitute a low-pressure, unaggressive form of marketing that does not disrupt the customer’s daily routine, and is not intrusive.
Whilst this list is definitely not exhaustive, these platforms utilized for content creation will help potential customers to better consider their option and leads them to become more assertive in terms of making a decision.
At this point, the potential buyer has already obtained the necessary answers in order to address his dilemma, and sought out what do you do as a company. However, he still needs to make one final evaluation to see whether your business’ products and/or services address his needs or not.
This constitutes the third stage, and the most essential part of the Buyer’s Journey: The Decision Stage.
At this point, it’s time to close the deal. This is where your company should push the envelope and raise the stakes in order to edge out your competitors, since you are pitted directly against them at this stage.
Your company must alter its strategy in terms of content creation, since you want to let potential buyers know that they should choose you: Initiate free trials, start making product demos.
For instance, regarding free trials, the freemium business model comes to mind. Your business gives away a product or a service at no cost to the potential customer, and once you have secured him as an actual customer, start charging for “upgrades” to the basic package.
As far as product demos are concerned, take a look at the staggering success Apple has enjoyed over the past two decades, becoming the second most valuable company in the world. There’s a key reason behind that: Whenever they want to unveil a product, they organize a keynote presentation, conduct a live demonstration of said product, hence giving a potential apple customer a better idea of how it works, what to expect from the product, and how efficient it is.
Those approaches are necessary, and will prompt the potential customer to muster up enough confidence to make a sound purchasing decision: hopefully through these measures, it will be your company!
Targeting prospective customers on each of the previous stages and converting them into actual customers is a worthwhile investment, but a painstaking process.
According to Forbes, attracting a new customer costs five times more than to retain an existing one, and increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profitability by 25% to 95%.
Therefore, nurturing your existing customers who have spent their money buying the products and/or the services that you offer, is of paramount importance.
It is necessary to keep them delighted and engaged with your business.
One key way to do so would consist in offering loyalty programs for them; one of the main benefits of said programs is that they allow you to offer your customers discounts on future products and services, alongside exclusive offers that potential customers don’t have access to.
Through those programs, you are valuing your customers, and reward them for their continued support to your business, thereby increasing brand loyalty.
Initiating these types of programs, however, is not enough to cater to your customers’ needs and retain them.
More engagement is required: For example, initiate business blogs that will provide them with purchase recommendations.
Educate them on a regular basis in order for them to make the right decision on the best purchases, and reap the rewards!