Your Business Development Process Must Support Today’s Buyer’s Journey: A Guide to Digital Marketing for SMEs

Why Digital Marketing Matters

The buyer’s journey has changed fundamentally – where once people called you or visited your business to learn more, people now turn online to find the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.

Three quarters of the buyer’s journey takes place online (Source: Sirius Decisions), and over half of the purchasing decision is complete before a prospective customer even contacts a supplier (Source: CEB Research).

As a result, you must ensure your business development process is aligned with today’s digital buying process.

Your business needs to adeptly navigate these changes in buyer behaviour to not only remain competitive but ensure your survival and growth.  Understanding and effectively managing the digital buyer’s journey, from lead generation to post-sales, is key.

This blog is the start of a new series aimed at empowering SMEs with insights and strategies to optimize each phase of this journey, focusing on the crucial theme of eliminating friction from the buying process to enhance your overall results. To start, let’s examine the process as a whole.

The Buyer’s Journey

To effectively engage with the modern consumer, it’s crucial to understand the buyer’s journey and what it looks like.

The Simplified Buyer’s Journey

  1. Search: The journey starts when a buyer goes online to identify potential solutions or available choices.
  2. Research: During this phase, the buyer uses online resources to educate themselves about the different solutions to their problem, comparing features, benefits, reputation, subject matter expertise, prices, etc.
  3. Making a Purchasing Decision: After thorough research and consideration, the buyer makes an informed decision on the product or service that best suits their needs.
  4. Expecting Post-Sale Support: Post-purchase, the buyer expects a certain level of support and service to ensure satisfaction and address any further needs.

As a business, you must make sure that you are found when they’re looking, are willing and able to educate them and answer their questions, ensure the purchasing process is clear and easy to follow, and leverage digital communications to support them after the sale.

Optimizing Each Phase for Seamless Experience

Businesses must not only understand the buyer’s journey but also tailor their business development activities to the prospect’s unique situation for optimal impact.

Integrating the concept of ‘eliminating friction’ is crucial in this process. It means creating a seamless and engaging experience across all digital touchpoints, from websites to social media and email communications. By making each step of the journey effortless and intuitive, businesses enhance the customer experience, improve conversion rates, and build lasting relationships, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Let’s dig into how we can optimize these phases of the buyer’s journey in the business development process. Following these steps can help your business better respond to the changing needs of the online consumer.

Your Business Development Process in the Digital Age

Lead Generation: Capturing Attention in a Crowded Space

In the lead generation phase, the primary goal is to be found, to stand out and attract potential customers. This involves optimizing your online presence—be it through search engine optimization (SEO), engaging social media campaigns, or targeted digital ads.

It’s important to understand your customers and how they’re going to try to find you. Prospects may be using search engines, asking in forums, or looking for recommendations on social media.

Understanding how your prospects are finding businesses like yours informs you about which tactics to invest in to generate inbound leads.

Nurturing Leads: Building Trust and Engagement

Once leads are generated, the next step is to nurture them. As prospects move into the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, they are looking for information and education to help them make informed decisions.

Understanding the questions your prospects have, the keywords they’re using to find you, and the type of media they’re consuming to learn more is key to creating valuable content to guide them through this process. Providing valuable information, answering their questions, and engaging in meaningful interactions will develop credibility that will set you apart from competitors.

Examples of lead nurturing tactics include:

  • Content Strategy: Regularly update your blog or video channel with SEO-optimized, informative content based on the questions your prospects ask.
  • Email Marketing: Send personalized, relevant emails that educate and inform prospects.
  • Online Interaction: Engage with leads through social media and other digital platforms, answering their questions and providing valuable information on a regular basis.

Conversion: Turning Prospects into Customers

The conversion phase is where leads become paying customers, where they make the decision to purchase from you. To assist in this, it’s important to make the purchasing process as straightforward and appealing as possible. Use clear calls to action, transparent pricing, and an easy checkout process on your website to help guide them through the purchase.

To improve your conversion rates, consider:

  • User Experience: Ensure your website or online store is easy to navigate.
  • Clear Calls-to-Action: Guide users toward making a purchase decision.
  • Trust Signals: Display testimonials, reviews, and security badges so prospects know you’re a valid, trustworthy company.

Post-Sales: Cultivating Loyalty and Repeat Business

The final phase, post-sales, focuses on maintaining the relationship with the customer after a purchase. This is the loyalty phase of the buyer’s journey. This step involves providing excellent customer service, seeking feedback, and offering after-sales support.

You want to make it easy for them to get help, share their experiences, and stay connected with your brand so they feel confident purchasing with you again.

Examples of supporting the post-sales process online include:

  • Online Support Resources: Offer multiple channels for support and feedback, like a live chat on your website or a support email.
  • Loyalty Programs: Implement programs that reward repeat customers.
  • Regular Communication: Keep in touch with customers through newsletters, updates, and special offers.

Mastering the Digital Marketing Journey

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, mastering each phase of the digital marketing journey—from lead generation to nurturing leads, conversion, and post-sales—is crucial for the growth and sustainability of your business.

Staying ahead in this competitive environment requires not just adopting new technologies, but effectively leveraging them to enhance your customer’s journey and overall brand experience. Follow along with this series as we explore each of these phases in further detail, providing you with actionable insights and tools to thrive in the digital age.

Connect with Core today to explore how we can help your business leverage the power of digital marketing. With our expertise and support, particularly through funding opportunities like the Canadian Digital Adoption Plan (CDAP), your business is poised to thrive in the digital marketplace. We specialize in understanding the unique needs of our clients and delivering tailor-made solutions that resonate with their target audience and align with their business goals.

Let’s embark on this journey together and transform your digital marketing strategy into a driving force for your business’s success.

Ben Molfetta
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