One of the most important goals of marketing is to build meaningful, lasting relationships with customers by helping them reach their goals. And effective marketing isn't just about what to say to your audience, but also when and how to say it.
Learning how to communicate effectively with your audience is key to attracting buyers, ensuring customer satisfaction, and ultimately gaining their loyalty. But that brings us to this question: how do we know where to begin with our marketing efforts? This is where inbound marketing methods come into play.
Buyer personas: Identifying your ideal customer
Inbound marketing stresses the importance of knowing your customer. If you don’t know your customer, you have no way of creating content that’s tailored to their needs.
This is why buyer personas are such a crucial component for reaching your marketing goals. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, informed by research and data about your existing customers.
Gaining this understanding of your customers gives you a better look into their perspective and how you can tailor your content to their specific needs, behaviors, and concerns. Buyer personas are created by combining demographic and buying insights about your ideal customer. This gives you an idea of your customers’ lifestyles and how they make decisions.
The buyer's journey: Their path to purchase
Although buyer personas are extremely helpful when creating marketing content, it’s also important to consider where the customer is in their path to purchase, also known as the buyer’s journey.
All customers go through a process before deciding to make a purchase. It begins with the awareness stage, where they realize they have an issue that needs a solution. This leads them to the consideration stage, where they learn about the different potential solutions and consider the pros and cons of each one. This ultimately leads them to the decision stage, where they decide which product or service will be the best solution for them.
It's important to have marketing content that specifically targets buyers in each stage of their journey. This increases the chance they'll decide you're offering the best solution. Creating content for the buyer’s journey can help turn new leads into first-time customers.
Driving engagement in the awareness stage with content
To help you better understand how you can apply this methodology to your own marketing efforts, we’ll take you through a hypothetical scenario where a company uses these methods to ensure engagement with their inbound marketing content during the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey.
We’ll be using a fictitious company for this example called Cathy’s Curtains. Cathy’s Curtains sells black-out curtains that stop virtually any light from coming through the window. Before we can dive into creating tailored content, we must first decipher which buyer persona we're targeting. The buyer persona we’ll be using for this example is Night Shift Nancy.
Nancy works the overnight shift at her job. Since she works the overnight shift, she needs to get most of her sleep done during the day. The light that comes into her room during the daytime is too bright and she’s often unable to fall or stay asleep when she needs to. Nancy has realized that her lack of sleep is starting to have a negative impact on her performance at work.
Realizing that her sleep is being affected by the light coming through her windows brings Nancy into the awareness stage and begins her buyer’s journey. During this stage, a buyer realizes they have a problem that needs a solution. At this time, they will likely go to the internet in search of more information or potential options.
Nancy goes on Google and searches “how to sleep when it’s bright outside.” At this point, she's just doing a general search to look for some resources to help her solve her problem. During this stage, Cathy’s Curtains wants Nancy to become aware that their brand exists as an option and how their products could solve her problem.
Content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and social media marketing are very effective marketing strategies during the awareness stage. Cathy’s Curtains uses Google search ads to have their company website pop up during searches like this one. The company also publishes a blog post on their website about the harmful effects sleeping masks can have on your skin and why black-out curtains are a much better option, and optimizes the article for a relevant search query Nancy might use.
Cathy’s Curtains uses their social media accounts to post videos and photos showing how well the curtains block out the sun compared to regular blinds or curtains. Their social media accounts also feature real reviews from other night shift workers who are satisfied with the product and claim it has helped them. To reach Nancy before she follows their accounts, they use paid social advertising to make their content appear in her newsfeeds.
Start Improving Your Buyer's Journey
According to research from HubSpot, 74% of organizations worldwide rely on an inbound approach to marketing and 75% of marketers see inbound marketing as effective. Personas and the buyer's journey are two of the most important elements of the inbound methodology.
If inbound marketing sounds like something that would benefit your company, schedule a short call with one of our experts. Our team would love to help you transform your marketing strategy.