What is the Modern Online Buyer’s Journey

Consumer behavior has changed, and by extension, so has the buyer’s journey that consumers follow. As marketers, it is our responsibility to stay on the cutting edge of consumer trends.  Doug Burton, CEO of Solvv Creative an advertising agency in Madison, WI, says, “It makes sense to ditch the old marketing funnel in favor of a model that more accurately represents the journey of today’s digital buyer.”

I’ve broken down each stage of the new buyer’s journey and provided marketing strategies and tactics that work best at each phase. You’ll also find real-world examples and expert advice on the “how” of making this work for your business. The goal is for you to walk away with a clear understanding of how the modern online buyer’s journey works and how best to market to your target audience at each stage.

The Stages in the Digital Marketing Funnel from Start to Re-Start

The digital marketing funnel definition is a framework to help define, understand, and follow the different stages buyers pass through during the customer lifecycle. Traditionally, it was a linear journey—buyers predictably passed through one stage at a time:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Trial
  4. Purchase
  5. Evaluation

Phases of the new digital marketing funnel are similar to the old framework, and work like this

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration, along with the research and discovery
  3. Decision
  4. Post-purchase experience and the loyalty loop

New Online Buyer’s Journey with Example

I’ll break down each stage of the new buyer’s journey along with digital marketing strategies for a need-based service. Let’s pretend our consumer is Charlette, a 30-year-old homeowner with two small children.

The Goal. Reach your target customers during their buyer journey online with a message that will drive them to act.

The Method. Data-driven, advanced audience targeting to attract your demographic and follow them through the sales process.

  • Charlette realizes it’s cold in her house. She checks the vents, and there’s no heat coming out – Awareness
  • Charlette Googles “furnace isn’t working” – Consideration: SEO, PPC, Video
  • Charlette heads to Facebook to ask for recommendations for an HVAC company – Awareness: Facebook advertising
  • Charlette takes her recommendations and Googles each company’s reviews, services, and hours – Consideration: SEO
  • Charlette narrows down her choices and returns to Facebook for recommendations and input from her friends who have used those top companies – Consideration: Facebook advertising
  • Charlette sees ads in Google offering discounts to her top places – Consideration: PPC
  • Charlette selects one of the discounts and does more research about that company – Consideration: PPC, SEO
  • Charlette contacts the HVAC company online and books an appointment – Purchase
  • After her furnace is fixed, Charlette raves about the company on social media, and after she’s prompted from an email leaves a review on Google – Loyalty loop: Email marketing
  • Charlette’s family starts sneezing in the spring. Charlette saw a blog on Facebook about how dirty ducts can cause sneezing. PPC, Facebook advertising, Email marketing
  • When she sees a discount from the company for air duct cleaning in an email newsletter she clicks on the special and follows a shortened loop to get her air ducts cleaned – Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, and Loyalty loop: Email Marketing

Creating and Executing Your Content Distribution Plan

Now that you know the stages and strategies for the new digital marketing funnel, it’s time to put it all into action with a content distribution plan. To start, create an asset list in Microsoft Excel. In your asset list, you should include all of your online marketing assets, including your landing pages, ad creatives, blog posts, case studies, white papers—anything that’s come out of your marketing department.

Beside each asset, indicate the stage in the buyer’s journey each asset best targets. If it can serve more than one stage include both of them. This will give you a good overview of where you lack content and resources.

Once you have each asset labeled with a stage in the buyer’s journey, start adding platforms and strategies for which that asset would be good a good fit. For example, blogs and infographics work great on social media, while case studies should be left to email marketing and PPC ads. From there, you can create your actual content distribution calendar.

After you’ve made your asset list and distribution/editorial calendar you should start planning your execution. Using the tactics and advice above, you can create a cohesive plan that hits all the crucial points of the buyer’s journey and guides a user through to the purchase and loyalty stages.

If you’re interested in speaking with a media expert to determine your small business’ best strategy, contact us for a free consultation.

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