How To Differentiate Between Customer Journey and Buying Stages: Customer Journey vs Buyer Journey
The terms "buying stages" and "customer's journey" are most frequently used to describe the procedures businesses use to acquire and keep customers.
Recently, I've noticed that many marketers incorrectly use terms related to the buying stage when describing the customer journey. Or vice versa, using customer journey terminology to describe the stages of consumer purchase. And it is clear why there might be ambiguity.
However, it is important that all marketers have a better understanding of how these ideas work together to create a positive customer experience.
So let's begin by talking about the buying process.
Buying Stages Definition: Buyer Lifecycle
The buying stages are one or more marketing theoretical frameworks intended to describe a user's decision-making method that culminates in a purchase. Also referred to as the "consumer buying process" or the "buyer decision process" in business-to-business interactions.
This process may also be referred to using the terms "marketing funnels" or "purchasing funnels." The image of a funnel, in my opinion, is a fantastic representation of a customer's desire to buy. Yes, the decision-making process a customer goes through when purchasing a good or service is what a marketing funnel, consumer buying process, customer buying stages, and buyer decision process are all meant to represent.
No, I'm not referring to a sales funnel. Each organization's sales funnel is highly specialized. Although there are some similarities, a sales funnel actually captures an operational process unique to the customers and nuances of that organization.
Let's take a moment to discuss what marketing and sales leaders believe to be our typical, human decision-making process in order to better understand the customer buying stages.
The first step in making a decision is to recognize that one needs to be made in the first place. Use the purchase of a new car as an example (or a used car). Your new workplace is 20 miles from your home; you need to get a car so you can stop using public transportation.
The second step of the decision-making process is to gather pertinent information. Do your research and weigh your needs and wants. Which vehicle(s) best meet your needs? Which dealership offers the best customer service? Which vehicle has the best user reviews? plus more.
Determine the alternatives in step three. Alternatives may take many different shapes. Will the bus work as a substitute for a car? possibly a motorcycle? What about riding a bike? There may be other factors to think about, such as the car body type or level of luxury. Find each one of them.
Evaluate the data. What would purchasing car A mean for your monthly spending plan? Does Car "B" equate to having more money for travel than Car "C"? Will the time lost commuting to work on a bicycle be worth the money saved? List the advantages and disadvantages, rank them, or do whatever makes the most sense to you.
Select an option from a range of options.
Do something It's time to act on your decision; in our example, this would mean purchasing a car, a bicycle, or whatever else you decided to do.
Examine your choice and its effects A day, a week, or a month has passed. Did you make the right decision?
Now, not all decisions follow this specific procedure. It is much simpler to fulfill a need or desire if you simply need to use the restroom or buy some gum. Any choice could be considered to be more complex. Can I get a dog? Do I wish to put money aside for a trip to Fiji? Should I get married instead?
While The decision to conduct a transaction between parties centers on the buying stages in marketing. Or simply the choices we all make when making a purchase.
4 Buying Stages' Methodologies
1. Job To Be Done (JTBD)
First off, you might not be familiar with the framework known as "Job To Be Done." For the most part, it is the only method of consumer purchase. The term "consumer buying process" would not, however, be entirely accurate.
This framework is used more often than others in the field of digital marketing. 90% of the results for the "consumer buying process" or "customer buying stages" on Google include this framework.
Step 1: Problem Recognition -- This framework treats decisions and issues that require resolution as a single entity. For instance, a car might be the answer if I have trouble getting to my new job. The customer knows they have a problem; now they just need to solve it.
Step 2: Information Search -- Also known as the research phase, here the consumer searches the internet looking for more information on the product or service in consideration.
Step 3: Evaluation - Just as the name suggests, assessment is being carried out at this step.
Step 4: Purchase -- Here the customer is ready to buy.
Step 5: After-Purchase Evaluation - Understanding the customer's post-purchase behavior is more important here. Has the purchase resolved the issue that was initially noted? If so, and customer engagement was high, you might have attracted a repeat clientele (or better yet, a fan).
Thinking about the buyer's journey stages in the context of a particular buying or pain point is the best way to comprehend them.
When a problem or need becomes apparent to the buyer, the buying process starts. Even though they might not yet be aware of the exact issue, something is occurring that needs to be addressed.
I'm not feeling too good, for instance. I'm unsure if I'm ill.
The buyer can now research the various available solutions for resolving their problem or need since they have a name for it.
Oh! All of my symptoms are consistent with the flu. I'm going to look into the extra testing and treatment possibilities that are available.
Regardless of whether the customer's intent changed or stayed during step 2 of the process, they are now prepared to make a purchase. The customer may have started the process thinking that product A was the best option.
Now that I'm sure I am ill it's time to do the necessary thing.
The buyer is busy completing the specifics of their preferred solution and is prepared to make a purchase.
Since flu medication is most effective when taken soon after the onset of symptoms, I'm going to see my primary care physician for a flu test and medication because the ER is too expensive and crowded.
3. Loyalty Loop
This is similar to the JTBD methodology.
As the name suggests the customer is considering all available options and this is initialized at the onset.
The customer is actively evaluating the options in addition to having completed his/her homework. Why does that matter? A customer might test drive each car multiple times in our car example.
The customer may have started the process thinking that product A was the best option, and their intent may have remained the same or changed during step 2 -- either way, they are prepared to make a purchase.
The customer is prepared to make a purchase and advances along the purchasing path remaining loyal to the brand.
The customer is aware that they have a new need or desire, and a choice needs to be made.
This step is the customer's initial set of considerations plus the homework they'll do. For instance, based on our car example, a customer may perceive Honda and Toyota vehicles as being extremely durable and dependable. They can therefore start their research with those two automakers.
This involves weighing the evidence and developing a preference for purchase, much like our decision-making process.
The "evaluation" stage of the loyalty loop is combined with the actual purchase in this step. Consider the customer taking a test drive once more. They might fall in love with a Volkswagen and buy it right away, or they might be more patient and compile a lengthy list of advantages and disadvantages for each.
The first four steps in this process are the traditional "marketing funnel" that most marketers learn about in school. Retention was later added as marketers realized it was less expensive to keep customers than to acquire new ones. Retention means just what it says on the tin. The activities that keep clients loyal to a particular good, service, or brand.
If we're all in agreement that retention is crucial, advocacy should come first. In addition to being less expensive to retain customers than to acquire new ones, word-of-mouth marketing increases if a customer becomes a brand ambassador.
Buying Stage - Sales
The final goal of the buying process is a sale, not the main attraction. To create your content and overall strategic direction, your sales team should, however, play a significant role in developing buyer personas and subject matter experts. Nobody knows better than the sales team what information your customers need to know before making a purchase. Make sure that the transition from marketing to sales is seamless for your customers and that the sales process itself is as thoughtful and natural as the rest of the buyer's journey. It's the start of a longer, even more, fruitful journey, after all.
Buying Stage - Marketing
Your marketing team is in charge of planning, producing, and implementing the content for each stage of the buyer's journey. Before constructing your buyer's journey, make sure the inbound marketing strategy is sound. This entails comprehending your buyer personas, being well-versed in industry best practices, auditing your current content, identifying any gaps, and conducting sufficient research to comprehend the responses buyers require to convert from prospect to customer.
Customer Journey Definition: Customer Journey Stages
The customer's journey, in contrast to the buyer's journey, isn't meant to increase the buyer's knowledge of issues, needs, and potential solutions. Through targeted post-purchase content that delights by enlivening, enhancing, and strengthening their experience as a customer of your brand, you can strengthen and deepen their brand loyalty.
When someone makes a purchase, they are only agreeing to be your customer for the duration of that particular transaction. The purpose of the customer journey is to extend that moment as much as possible, encouraging further purchases and enthusiastic recommendations to everyone you know.
The customer journey strategy is applicable to every business. Whether your area of interest is B2B, B2C, or even B2G, it makes no difference. To increase the lifetime value of their most valuable asset---current customers---every business with a customer base that has the potential to generate repeat or referral business should employ a customer journey strategy.
Customer Journey - Sales
Reward your existing customers for new sales if you can prove a direct link between the two. Having robust loyalty or promotion programs can help keep customers interested in making purchases or actively recruiting for your business. Don't forget to ask your current customers for feedback as you develop new goods or services that may be of interest to them in the future. And when a repeat purchase occurs, be sure to tell the difference between new and existing customers. These people should be treated better compared to someone whose email you don't have because they are long-time friends.
Customer Journey - Sales
Connect with your customers where they are: on social media, via email, and at live events. Just keep in mind that your objectives are very different from those of buyers. Consider your brand more as a friend than as a client. A companion who prefers to interact with and improve the lives of your clients over making sales to them.
Customer Journey Vs Buying Stages
You can see why people combine (or mix) the two after going through all of these frameworks for the different buying stages and understanding what the customer journey is. And it can be very beneficial to combine the customer journey with the decision-making process.
A customer might be making decisions simultaneously with their journey through the buying process. For instance, in our milk example, the customer might have decided the convenience store's price was simply too high and driven across the street to the grocery store (another journey to consider).
The entire scope of your sales and marketing plan for current, new, and potential customers is included in the customer experience. The buyer's journey meets the customer wherever they are in the purchasing process and provides them with all the information they need to convert into customers without any friction. When you fulfill your promise, it comes to an end.
Consider the buyer's journey as ending at that point and the customer's journey as starting afterward. Your marketing and sales efforts should not stop as the buyer becomes a customer; rather, they should change.
Conclusion: Buyers Journey, Customer Journey, and Customer Experience
In conclusion, the customer's journey is a strategy used to keep customers after they have already made a purchase with your brand, while the buyers' journey is about the steps a prospect takes to make a purchasing decision. The buyers' journey is concerned with producing content that guides potential customers through their decision-making process by responding to their questions at the precise moment that they arise.
Your customer journey strategy will go into effect once they have completed the buyer journey and become a customer. Here, you'll concentrate on building customer loyalty and retention to make sure your clients keep using your goods and services in the future.
Both of these strategies place a strong emphasis on useful content that genuinely provides your prospect or customer with the solutions they need.