When you are practicing Inbound marketing methodologies it may feel difficult to know when customers find your business or more specifically how they find it. As marketers it is important to determine through research how your ideal customer would find your company. According to Hubspot, the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service is called the buyer’s journey and it involves 3 distinct stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
Social media can play a key role in the buyer’s journey. By strategically placing your message on key social media platforms atthe right time you stand a greater chance of capturing your buyer along their Buyer’s Journey. Just imagine that you are the owner of a clothing boutique; you sell your wares both in your “brick and mortar” store and also on your website. Through research and experience, your marketing team knows that in early December your ideal customer (referred to as your buyer persona) will be looking for outfits to wear to holiday events, a New Year’s Eve cocktail party, for instance.. It is now your job to position yourself so that your ideal customer can find you as they begin to navigate through their journey. Here’s how:
- Awareness Stage: In the Awareness Stage of the buyer’s journey the potential buyer knows that they have a problem and is looking for a solution to that problem. In this case, your buyer was just invited to a New Year’s Eve cocktail party. It’s likely that they received the invitation through a Facebook event and will start their journey there. The buyer sees the invitation and notices that the dress code for the party is formal and she knows she has nothing in her closet that will be suitable. Her next step will likely be to continue browsing her newsfeed taking note of any boutiques or shops that sell dresses. To reach your potential buyer during the awareness stage an active social media presence is key. Make frequent posts about your goods or services so even if the buyer doesn’t yet realize that they have a problem your name or brand is becoming familiar. They may even recall a past post once they are in this stage. “What am I going to wear to this party? I think I remember seeing a cute dress that Nich Boutique posted the other week. I think I’ll take a look at their Facebook page.”
- Consideration Stage: Once your buyer has moved into this stage she is aware of her problem and is now researching how to solve it. In this example, the social media platforms she will likely look to are Pinterest and Instagram. Pinterest has become a treasure trove of solutions to problems that you didn’t even know you had. From weddings, to wardrobes, to housewares and beyond, buyers are looking to Pinterest for inspiration. Instagram is very similar in that is it ruled by visual aesthetics. Where it differs from Pinterest is that you have limited text space to get your message across. Thanks to 3rd party apps like Liketoknow.it shopping on your Instagram page can be a breeze. Showcase your wares or services on both platforms in an aesthetically pleasing and attention grabbing way. If you’re selling clothing, put together a full outfit and consider having someone model it. If you’re showcasing your services consider writing a blog with tips for solving the buyer's problem. Both platforms require high quality visuals and are being constantly updated with new content. Whenever possible, use your own images as they are more unique and relatable than stock photos and make sure you post daily or your message will easily get lost in the shuffle. “All of the It Girls on Pinterest are wearing rose gold and sparkle! I just have to find a dress that looks like that expensive one I saw on Pinterest. Oh look, Nich has one on their Instagram! I wonder how much it costs?”
- Decision Stage: Now is the time to seal the deal! Your buyer is aware of their problem, they know how they want to solve it, and they are now ready to make their decision. Thanks to your product placement and social media presence the buyer has decided that she wants a long, rose gold, sequined dress. She has browsed her options on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram and has set her sights on one that your boutique offers. This is the time when they will turn to your website for more information. Some buyers may be ready to purchase right away so having a retail platform like Shopify can help to quickly close the transaction. But others may want to complete the transaction in person at your brick and mortar location. These buyers will look at your website to find your location, business hours, and any other important information, so make sure that your website is up-to-date and complete. Even if you have the most beautiful retail location, an incomplete or out-of-date website will give potential buyers the wrong idea about your business and could cause them to rethink their purchase. In our example, the buyer wants to try on her dress before buying. She heads over to the retailer’s website, finds their location and business hours. Since the business is local she is able to head right over to try on the dress. Good news! She loves the dress, the price point is within her budget, and she completes the transaction.
Social media continues to play a huge role in the decisions made by consumers. Your goal as a saavy business owner is to make sure you are utilizing the various platforms correctly to guide potential customers through their buyer’s journey.