While they may not see it as a methodology, the fact is that customers – whether they’re buying a new gadget for themselves or a software solution for their business – generally follow a decision-making process that includes 5 stages: Awareness, Consideration, Preference, Purchase and Repurchase.
Below, we highlight how inbound marketing supports all of these stages, and fills the gaps between them so that qualified prospects don’t “go dark” and prematurely exit the buyer’s journey.
Stage 1: Awareness
In this stage, customers explore possible solutions and want to get a sense of their options and alternatives. Inbound marketing fits perfectly here, because it’s fundamentally about delivering useful information. In other words, while inbound marketing is designed to cultivate sales, it is NOT a sales tactic. It’s a legitimate marketing strategy, which is why it works so well. Customers aren’t turned off by aggressive over-branded sales pitches, because there are none (at least not at and near the beginning of the buyer’s journey, which is where the awareness stage unfolds).
Stage 2: Consideration
Once customers are impressed by a potential business -- not because it tried to sell them something, but because it educated them and established its thought leadership – the next stage is consideration. This is where customers know (at least to a meaningful degree) what their problems are, and therefore start evaluating potential solutions. Inbound marketing supports this by engaging customers with relevant, timely content such as ebooks, white papers, videos, and case studies that illustrate why a business’s offerings are suitable and superior.
Again, this doesn’t come across as aggressive selling, because that’s not where consideration-stage customers are on the buyer’s journey. Rather, the engagement is all about priming and developing customers, and putting them in a position to BUY, not to be SOLD.
Stage 3: Preference
In the preference stage, customers typically have a shortlist of options and possibilities. Inbound marketing plays a pivotal role here by helping businesses target objections and neutralize concerns that are blocking (or at least, slowing down) a transaction. For example, customers purchasing a technology solution may be worried about implementation and training their end users. Businesses can create highly-targeted content, such as branded one-page document or video entitled “7 Ways We Ensure Successful Implementation,” and send it to consideration-stage customers to nudge them over the hump.
Stage 4: Purchase
In this stage, inbound marketing helps bridge the final – but sometimes fatal – gap between consideration and purchase. Why fatal? Simply because the fear of buyer’s remorse is hardwired into human psychology. Inbound marketing content that targets concerns like after-sales service, warranty, quality, implementation and anything else that mitigates or eliminates risk can be invaluable.
This is particularly important in industries where competitors sometimes rely on other businesses to develop clients all the way up to the purchase stage, and then swoop in with a low-ball offer. Obviously, this is not an apples to apples comparison and customers shouldn’t be fooled. Unfortunately however, some of them are because a significantly lower price can be seductive (read: it can make smart customers do dumb things). Inbound marketing helps remind customers that they’re going to get what they pay for – and they’re also going to get what they DON’T pay for!
Stage 5: Repurchase
Last but not least, inbound marketing plays a surprisingly important role in the re-purchasing stage, because it keeps existing customers engaged, and opens the communication channel so they can discuss any concerns or challenges. Indeed, a big reason for customer churn is that customers fail to use their purchase as intended (think of someone who signs up for a fitness club membership but neglects to take advantage of 90% of what is available). Inbound marketing is a regular check-in to make sure customers are happy and getting value, which is critical for re-purchasing, referrals, and avoiding churn.
At Leap Clixx, we help our customers map out the stages of their customers’ decision-making process, and fortify each one with informative, impressive and influential inbound marketing content. We also handle every aspect and detail of project management, including publishing, design, tracking, analytics, and reporting. To learn more, contact us today and schedule your free consultation.
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Topics: Inbound Marketing