Identify the ultimate buyer joerney in 5 easy steps

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Identify the ultimate buyer journey in 5 easy steps

This blog also appeared on DutchCowboys.nl.

The buyer journey describes the purchasing process of your specific customers (groups). It gives you insight in what contact moments are decisive for capturing and engaging your customer. It also provides insight into the content needed by your customer during these 'moments of truth'. By visualizing the purchasing process of your customer makes it easier to adjust your contact moments accordingly and thus improve the process.

In this blog I will show you step by step how to identify the buyer journey of your customers. The next steps are important for creating a useful strategy in which the buyer journey map is central:

  1. Create personas
  2. Map the different phases of the buyer journey
  3. Map the different contact moments of the buyer journey
  4. Determine the KPIs per communication channel
  5. Test and adjust the buyer journey

Prior to explaining these steps, we first briefly explain the difference between a buyer journey and a customer journey.

Buyer versus customer journey

The term buyer journey is often used for the B2B business to describe the purchasing process of a specific customer group. In the B2C system they often use the term customer journey for this. An important difference between the buyer and the customer journey is that the buyer journey often consists of combined journeys. In the B2C there is often only one person who undertakes the journey (cross-channel) and ultimately closes the purchase. But in B2B, the person who carries out the search (online) does not necessarily have to be the one who also negotiates the price or ultimately has the freedom and rights to approve the purchase. Here the purchase process runs over several discs/persons, who each make their own journey.

Despite the differences between B2C and B2B organisations, this article is very applicable for both types of organisations/markets. However, only for the creation of single journeys. This means that if you want to make the buyer journey complete, you need to map out and merge the different journeys of the various people involved in the purchase process.

Step 1: create personas

Personas give you insight into the different buyers of your product or service: who are they and what are their wishes and needs. These personas are compiled on the basis of demographic data, mainly based on the behaviour (psychological data) they show. The following summary of a persona I prepared for a customer:

infographic buyerjourney

To collect the right data for your personas, I recommend to ask the sales and/or customer service department for input and discuss with your customer. Think carefully about the questions you want to ask them: what exactly do you want to know and why? You can also explain this to your customers. You will see that most customers want to participate in your research if you explain to them that you want to understand them better. What do they value and what are their needs?

Step 2: identify the different phases of the buyer journey

Step two consists of determining the different phases of the buyer journey per persona. You can use different methods. It is important that you focus the different phases on your specific target group.  I often distinguish the following phases (source: McKinsey):

  • Awareness: potential buyer becomes aware of a problem or a need
  • Consideration: potential buyers look for information about solutions to their problems
  • Evaluation: potential buyer evaluates the different suitable options to solve his problem
  • Purchase: potential buyer makes purchase from the organization in which he has the most confidence
  • Experience: buyer experiences the product or service
  • Loyalty: the customer's questions are/will be solved, making them loyal to you. In this phase the customer lovingly shares his experiences with friends. This increases the chance that your customer or friends will make another purchase at your company next time.

For each phase the prospect has one or more issues that he or she wants to see answered in a certain form (e.g. video, white paper, article). By mapping these issues per phase, you immediately know what your content needs to answer. 

Step 3: map the different contact moments of the buyer journey

Once you have determined the different phases of the buyer journey, it is important to define the various contact moments and associated activities. Link these contact moments and activities to the different phases of contact between (potential) customers and the company.

Time for an example:
John has been searching for a new car for a while. By now, he knows he wants a new Citroen C5. He wants to spend a maximum of €35,000 on the car and prefers a diesel because he drives a lot in a year. He is looking for a solid partner who can help him identify the possibilities and advise him in his choice. What he does during his consideration phase:

He asks in his network whether someone is familiar with reliable Citroen dealers. On this basis, he receives three parties who can help him further.

  • He searches through Google for the websites and the offers of these parties.
  • John is looking for a partner who is reliable and offers service, which is why he searches online for references.
  • John does not yet know which colour he wants for the car and which colour for the seats. That is why he requests a brochure via citroen.nl.
  • After he focused on the dealers, two interesting dealers remain. He contacts them by phone to make an appointment. He then visits both to discuss his wishes and make a test drive. Then he makes a choice.

From the above example it becomes clear that you have many possibilities to influence the buying process of your prospect. Put yourself in his shoes and respond to his needs. This increases the chance that he chooses you.

Step 4: determine the KPIs

If you want to achieve the optimal result with your buyer journey, it is essential to draw up Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each communication channel. KPI's are variables or measures to analyze the performance of organizations. In practice, the term KPI is often used for any form of data measurement. However, not every data measurement actually says whether or not you achieve good business results. Therefore, when determining the KPI `s keep in mind that a unit of measurement does not have to be a KPI directly, but that a KPI is always a unit of measurement. In this article you will read more about the difference between units of measurement and KPIs.

To give you an idea what KPI`s could be in practice, an example: when launching a new car, Citroen's goal is to bring the product to the attention of the target group (awareness phase). A relevant KPI would be for a Citroen dealer the number of downloads of their brochure on that particular landing page (consideration phase). In concrete terms: brochure X is downloaded by at least 15% of the visitors.

Step 5: Testing and adjusting the buyer journey

Now it is important to map out where you can implement innovations. To do this, you need to collect data that you can use to map performance per contact moment and thus identify potential issues. In addition to marketing data, it is also a challenge to collect customer data from other relevant departments and to map the results. For example, data from the service desk, sales and customer administration. Think about data like: questions, complaints, contact moments etc. Integral measurements give a total picture of how satisfied customers are and where processes can be optimized to achieve better results. Draw up a shortlist for each phase and implement improvements.

The only thing constant in life is change. Therefore, keep in mind that creating buyer journeys is not a one-time process, but a continuous one. Make sure you test the entire buyer journey with some frequency, by measuring results integrally. So you can be sure that you get enough effect from anticipating the buyer journey.

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