In a world where the average shopper can have Amazon deliver anything to their house in under two days, life is rough for a smaller e-commerce site. I mean, how are you supposed to compete with brands like Walmart, Target, and Nike? You’re not going to make 12 billion (Apple’s total in e-commerce sales in 2016) in sales revenue by giving your team a good pep talk.

But that’s probably not your goal. You’re not looking to top these brands in sales revenue, you’re just looking to increase your own. So how do you convince a few more buyers to look your way next time they’re online? How do you compete with the accommodation, credibility, and celebrity endorsements of big brands?

By owning every stage of the buyer’s journey.


Courting Your Potential Buyers

If you don’t know, the buyer’s journey is a framework of the process a buyer goes through when discovering, researching, and purchasing a product. To compete with big business you have to own every stage of it. For you, that means attracting, converting, closing, and delighting potential buyers. 

Attracting Potential Buyers 

The first step in landing a few new customers is to make sure your potential buyers have multiple paths to discovering you. The awareness stage of the buyer’s journey is characterized by the buyer becoming aware of a problem or challenge they are facing. To own this stage of the journey, you have to create content that addresses that problem and – more importantly – points to you as the solution for that problem. 

For example, let’s say you are an online retailer of all different kinds of boots and shoes. With winter getting closer, many of your buyers are looking for footwear that will keep them warm and safe while walking through snowy terrain.  Their problem is that they need footwear to match the season, so you have to create content that addresses that problem. 

You might create a blog post entitled “The Top 10 Winter Boots that’ll Keep You on Your Feet. ” Or a paid search campaign around the keyword phrase “Shoes for Winter.” There are a lot of different paths you can take to attracting these potential buyers including: 

    • Social Campaign
    • SEO Work
    • Paid Campaigns
    • Email Campaign (purchased list)
    • Traditional Marketing Methods

Converting Potential Buyers

Once you have successfully attracted your potential buyer, you need to convert them to leads; you need to collect their personal information so you can nurture them into customers. Converting can seem like a tough process, but it is as simple as offering your potential buyers a trade. 

Let’s continue with the example above. Let’s say a buyer, we’ll call him Bill, sees your blog post about winter boots and decides to have a look. To convert Bill and own the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, you must provide him with a few concrete next steps to take. For example, you might link each boot listed to its product page on your site. Or you might place a CTA at the bottom of your blog post, telling Bill that if he creates an account on your site, he’ll have access to all of your seasonal coupons.

The key here is to get Bill to a page of your site where you can collect some of his contact information. This will allow you to talk to Bill and nurture him into a customer, even if he doesn’t choose to go with your brand this time around.  

Closing Potential Buyers

Once you have converted your potential buyer into a lead, it is time to convince them to commit to your brand – it is time to own the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.  Many companies struggle with this stage of  for one big reason: usually at this stage contact management shifts from the marketing team to the sales team. If you want your sales team to perform at their highest level and turn your leads into customers, you need to provide them with the content, tools, and resources that will help them engage with your buyers. This is called sales enablement. 

Here at MINDSCAPE, we break sales enablement up into three steps. 

1. Collect and Record User Data

If you want to help your sales team improve their close rate, you need to provide them with information on user behavior. This can be general behavioral patterns you see from all of your site’s visitors OR something more specific to your leads behavior, like a list of the pages on your site they have visited more than 3 times.

General behavioral patterns will allow your sales team to develop a standard procedure for dealing with specific buyer personas. For example, your sales team might realize that a user who visits the same product page on your website twice, is more likely to buy if they have also visited your coupon page. A sales person can use this information in a sales call or email to close the lead. 

More specific information on your lead, gives your sales team the opportunity to tailor content and conversations to the lead’s interests. For example, if a salesperson knows that a lead has visited the “winter boot” page and the “mittens” page twice, they can infer that the lead is in need of winter clothing and offer content surrounding this product area. 

There are a lot of resources out there for collecting and recording data, but the tools we use here at MINDSCAPE are Google Analytics and Hot Jar.

2. Create Relevant Content

Of course, your sales team can’t provide content to your leads if the content doesn’t exist. After analyzing user behavior and talking to your sales team, you should take the time to produce content that will assist in lead nurturing and closing. 

For example if you have, in fact, discovered that a sale is more likely to go through when a lead has visited your coupon page, you might decide to develop an email around this for your sales team to use. 

“Hey Steve, 

I noticed you were checking out the winter boots on our site. It’s getting pretty nasty out there so I wanted to help you find the boots you’re looking for at the price you’re looking for. As it turns out, all of our winter fear is 10% off right now. You can use the promocode WinterFREEze to get that 10% off of your order.  

If this doesn’t help, I’d love to assist you in finding the perfect pair of boots for you. I’m sure we can figure something out. I’ll be in touch! 

– Paul Wright, Senior Sales Associate at Winter Wonderland” 

3. Develop Workflow Automation

The beautiful part about sales enablement and owning the decision stage of the buyer’s journey is that after you build the machine, your job and the job of your sales team gets A LOT easier. What do I mean by “building the machine”? Well, you know that email above? Wouldn’t it be great if a personalized version was sent to every lead as soon as they visited a product page? 

Through workflow development (and email personalization tokens), this is completely possible. 
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The image to the left is an example of the workflow automation that could be created (this was done using our CMS, Hubspot) to make sending an email completely automatic – no human interaction required. Setting up automation such as this, will take more time off the hands of your sales team, freeing them up to handle situations that  require human interaction.

Workflows can be set up to change contact property values, send customer emails, send internal emails, create tasks, change lead statuses, add contacts to lists, remove contacts from lists, create deals, and more. As you can tell, it can go a long way towards priming your leads to buy. 

Delight Buyers 

Your buyers have now completed their journey, but you’re not done yet. If you want to compete with brand behemoths like Amazon, you still have a little work to do. What do you do with a customer who has already purchased from you? Do you wait for them to come back to your site and show interest in your products? No, of course not. You send them promotional emails, you ask them if they are satisfied with their latest purchases, and you let them know of exciting changes in your business. 

It is a lot easier to turn a satisfied customer into a return buyer than it is to go out their and take a whole new potential buyer through the buyer’s journey. So be sure you are staying in touch with past customers and keeping your brand top of mind. 

Brands Who Are Doing it Well

This is all great in theory, but how do you know that this system actually works. How do you know that owning the buyer’s journey will help you compete? Well, there are a few brands out there who are already doing it – and finding huge success.

  • Allstate: I think we all appreciated Allstate’s “Mayhem” ad series that launched in 2010. It was refreshing, well thought out, and freakin’ hilarious. While they may have used traditional marketing tactics to get their message out there, this is too good of an example to not warrant a mention for the Awareness Stage of the buyer’s journey. The ads appealed to drivers 16 to 60 and made everyone with a TV or computer aware of Allstate Insurance. 

    • Dove Dove is a brand that does a fantastic job of owning the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey. How? They tell their story incredibly well (seriously check out their homepage). In 2004, Dove launched its “Real Beauty” campaign, establishing itself as a brand that supports the natural female body, and one that rejects absurd body standards. This campaign has served as a differentiation point for buyers considering beauty products, and has helped Dove become a choice that is noted more times than not.victorias-secret-and-dove-models.jpg
  • Dollar Shave Club: Dollar Shave Club is a great example of a business whose whole model is built upon owning all stages of the buyer’s journey. They realized how much of a hassle it was for buyers to have to buy new razors every month. They realized that most buyers were buying the same razors over and over again. And they realized that many buyers were just looking for a razor that would get the job done. So what did they do? They designed a business built upon retaining satisfied customers. If customers like Dollar Shave Club’s razors after the first buy, they can sign up to have them delivered to their door each month. 

So, how do you beat big business?

What this all boils down to is giving strangers, visitors, leads, customers, and promoters of your brand a personalized experience. You need to fill any gaps between the moment a buyer first learns about you and the moment they buy. That is what owning the buyers journey is all about.  

Want to Learn More About Owning the Buyer’s Journey? 

Every week at MINDSCAPE, we publish new information about digital marketing. From email marketing to buyer persona development, to SEO strategy, we discuss it all. If you are interested in having information like this delivered straight to your inbox, you can subscribe to our blog below. No spam, no unwanted promotions, just desirable information from the MINDSCAPE team.