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Aligning Paid Media Channels With the Stages of the Buyer's Journey

The buyer’s journey is a widely known concept in marketing circles. It describes a consumer’s progress through the process of research and decision-making that ultimately leads to them making a purchase of some kind. While the process of buying may seem like it should be under the purview of the sales team, understanding the buyer’s journey inside and out is actually incredibly valuable for marketing teams developing a successful marketing strategy. After all, the buyers of today are much more likely to seek out information and direct themselves through much of the journey on their own.

The journey is normally broken down into three phases: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. This is only the most basic of frameworks for B2B and B2C buyers, though, and the journey your buyers take may vary based on your industry and products. To keep things as straightforward as possible, this is the framework we will use moving forward. Within this framework, you have many opportunities to connect with your target audience and persuade them into choosing your product or service, especially when you engage with the right paid media channels.

By identifying which channels align best with the stages of your buyer’s journey, not only do you create highly targeted, relevant messaging for your buyers, you also make the best use of your media budget.

1) Awareness

The Awareness stage is characterized by a consumer’s recognition of a problem, or at least symptoms of the problem. They become aware that they’re experiencing an issue of some kind, whether or not they can articulate exactly what the issue is at this time. Therefore, during this stage, they’re likely looking for informational resources to more clearly understand, frame and give a name to their problem.

For marketers, the best way to intercept consumers at this juncture is to place your brand where they are going to find information. Fortunately, this early into the buyer’s journey, you have a lot of different paid media channels at your disposal.

Google Search Ads: When you have a question, what’s the first thing you do? Google it. Investing in Google Search ads allows you to target those people searching for information on a topic relevant to your business.

Social Media Ads: For better or worse, over half of consumers use social media to research products. Whether they’re going online to ask a question, seek recommendations and advice or explore a topic, it’s wise to initiate awareness campaigns on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Television, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines and OOH Ads: Traditional paid media channels are uniquely positioned to fit into the routines of people’s days, thus making them well suited for driving brand awareness and bolstering digital engagement. For consumers who aren’t sure where to begin their search for information, traditional media points them in the right direction. You can even run campaigns in specific publications or in specific areas with audiences you anticipate to need your product or service at some point.

2) Consideration

When consumers reach the Consideration stage, they’ve gathered enough information to be able to define their problem and give it a name. Now, they must consider all the options available to them to solve it. During this phase, consumers are committed to researching and understanding all of the available approaches and/or methods to solving the defined problem or opportunity.

If you haven’t already gotten your brand in front of consumers by the time they reach the Consideration stage, you have a lot of catchup to do.

Google Display Ads: Since consumers are likely to conduct much of their research online, the Google Display Network allows you to create graphic display ads that will be served on websites your prospective buyers are likely to visit.

Remarketing Ads: If you’ve attracted the right audience during the Awareness stage, you have an entire group of potential buyers just waiting to be reengaged with. Remarketing campaigns allow you to do just that. Ads can be served to a targeted audience to help remind them of your business and encourage them to take the next step along the buyer’s journey. The best part is that you can run remarketing campaigns on paid media channels such as social media and search engines like Google, allowing you to get the most mileage out of your awareness campaigns.

Print Media: Often, consumer research is not restricted to the digital realm. Many publications, newspapers, magazines and guides are an excellent place for consumers to find information about businesses in the area who offer the products or services they offer. You can also run advertising campaigns in industry-specific magazines or sponsor reports released by industry boards that prospective buyers may look at during the course of their research.

3) Decision

The Decision stage is where you get to see all of your hard work pay off, because finally, the consumer will evaluate and decide on the right provider to administer the solution to their problem. Not only do they have a strategy in mind for how they’re going to alleviate the pain points they’ve been experiencing, their research has helped them whittle down their list of prospective providers. Now, all that’s left is to make the final purchasing decision.

Remarketing Ads: Even though a consumer may be close, they still may need that extra nudge to convert. For that reason, remarketing campaigns remain important to your marketing strategy. As you continue to engage with prospective buyers via search engine marketing or social media ads, add a little incentive by including an offer of some kind. A simple discount code may be all it takes to push them over the line.

Email Marketing and Direct Mailers: Whether you're sending information to their physical or virtual mailboxes, directly engaging with a consumer in this way is especially effective at the Decision stage. During the previous stage, you should have acquired information about the leads investigating your business as a possible solution, and now is the chance for you to capitalize on it. The more they see your brand pop up in their email or mailbox, the more likely they’ll remember you and become more confident in your offerings. Including a special offer or coupon only will only sweeten the pot.

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

Choosing which paid media channels you really want to spend precious ad dollars on is not a decision to be taken lightly. By basing your decision on your buyer’s journey, you ensure the most optimal use of your marketing budget. However, choosing which media to buy is only part of the equation. Now, you actually need to buy it. That’s where The Ward Group comes in.

Since we first began helping our clients buy media in 1985, we’ve grown our capabilities to include both traditional and digital media of all forms. Our experienced media planners and buyers have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the process and ensure your budget is never wasted. Regardless of the nature of your media campaign or the industry you work in, your ad dollars are in good hands. To start working with our media stewards, contact us today.

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