The buyer’s journey is the process that buyers go through as they recognize a need, learn about solutions, evaluate these solutions, and finally, make a purchase. This is a vital process for businesses to understand as they work to engage potential buyers during each step of their journey. Mapping the SaaS customer journey will help you better understand your customers’ experiences and create clearer, more targeted content that enables you to engage leads as they move through the funnel. Below, we’ll talk more about how you can map the SaaS buyer journey.
SaaS Buyer Journey Basics
The traditional buyer’s journey has three main phases: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. However, due to the nature of SaaS products, the SaaS buyer journey differs slightly than the B2C customer journey. After the customer has decided to purchase your SaaS solution, it is vital that you work to ensure they are getting the most value from the product as this helps you improve customer retention. Additionally, your company will also want to encourage brand advocacy, which will help you consistently attract and convert new leads. This makes for two additional phases that you will need to map out in your customer journey map – Retention and Advocacy. Let’s look a little closer at each stage and discuss what questions you should be asking yourself when mapping out the journey.
SaaS Buyer Journey Stage 1 – Awareness
The Awareness stage is when buyers start to identify the challenges they have or recognize important opportunities that exist. This is the point when they are also deciding whether this challenge or opportunity should take priority. When mapping out this stage, ask yourself the following questions:
- How would your buyers describe their goals and challenges?
- How do these buyers educate themselves about their goals and challenges?
- What misconceptions might exist about addressing this goal or challenge?
- How do your buyers decide whether the goal or challenge is a priority?
- What happens if the buyer does not take action?
As you answer these questions, you will start to better understand what your buyer thinks about and experiences when they are at this first stage in the buyer’s journey. This will help you develop relevant content topics to target these top of the funnel leads.
Solution based content, like this post from our client Assembla, helps to generate awareness about your SaaS solution.
SaaS Buyer Journey Stage 2 –Consideration
Once buyers are in the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey, they have already clearly defined their goal or challenge and decided that addressing this issue is a priority. This is when they will start to evaluate the different solutions or approaches to addressing their problem or challenge. As you map out this stage, consider the following questions:
- What types of solutions do your buyers investigate?
- How do buyers educate themselves about these different solutions?
- How do buyers understand the pros and cons of each solution?
- How do buyers determine which solution is the right fit for them?
By answering these questions, you can better understand the thought process that your buyer goes through when considering what SaaS solutions might work for their business. Using these details, you can create clear content that speaks to these concerns and priorities.
Gated guides and ebooks help educate leads while also creating opportunities for further nurturing
SaaS Buyer Journey Stage 3 – Decision
In the decision stage of the SaaS customer journey, buyers have decided on a type of solution and are now ready to make a decision about which specific solution they will purchase. After comparing different SaaS products, the customer will choose the solution that best meets their needs. In order to create quality content that speaks to buyers during this stage, you will need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What criteria are your buyers using to evaluate potential solutions?
- When buyers investigate your solutions, what do they like most about them as compared to other alternatives?
- What are buyers concerned about when it comes to your SaaS offering?
- Which people are involved in making the final purchasing decision, and how do their perspectives differ?
- Do buyers want to try the solution before purchasing?
- What additional preparations will buyers need to make outside of purchasing your solution?
Answering these questions will enable you to develop specific and detailed content assets that will help buyers better understand your solution’s value as they make their final purchasing decision.
Content that compares to different solutions is great way to connect with consideration stage leads (and usually performs well!)
SaaS Buyer Journey Stage 4 – Retention
After the buyer has become a customer, they will then move to the retention stage. Your efforts here should focus on retaining these customers by reminding them of the value that your SaaS solution can provide and helping them get the most out of your product. Here are some questions to consider as you create content for this stage:
- How do your customers decide if they are happy with your solution?
- What primary actions are they taking within your solution?
- What areas of your solution provide the most value for your customers?
- Is your solution solving their challenges or helping them accomplish their goals?
- Is your solution contributing to their success or helping them reach their desired outcome?
By addressing these questions, your company can start to find gaps in support or opportunities to provide further clarification. In addition to creating valuable content that helps customers get the most out of your SaaS offering, you can also get important feedback during this stage which helps your company provide a better product through bug fixes, upgrades, and new features.
— Imperva Incapsula (@Incapsula_com) November 9, 2017
Social media is a great way to keep current customers up to date with changes to your SaaS offering
SaaS Buyer Journey Stage 5 – Advocacy
In the advocacy stage, your brand should be focused on communicating with your brand advocates and evangelists. These are the people who use and love your product, and they are the ones who are most likely to recommend it to others. In order to engage this audience, you should consider the following questions:
- Why do your brand advocates want to share your SaaS product with others?
- How will they tell others about your solution?
- How can you encourage them and give them incentive to share your solution with others?
Answering these questions will help you decide on the best ways to engage and encourage these brand advocates.
Mapping Content to the SaaS Customer Journey
Once you understand your customers’ thoughts and motivations during each stage of the SaaS customer journey, it’s time to map your content. Individuals need different types of content to meet their needs and answer their questions during each stage. It’s important that you create content that targets each stage of the buyer’s journey if you want to successfully move leads down the funnel and through conversion.
Here are the most ideal types of content to provide each step of the way:
- Awareness – e-books, educational blog posts, analyst reports, industry research, social media posts
- Consideration – webinars, whitepapers, podcasts, blogs, videos, expert guides, product site pages
- Decision – case studies, free trials, demonstrations, consultations, comparisons, blogs about product features, testimonials
- Retention – training courses, in-app messaging, email campaigns, surveys, e-books and guides, how-to blog posts, social media posts
- Advocacy – social media posts, testimonials, reviews, customer interviews, referral programs
As you develop a content strategy that aims to engage leads and customers during each step of the buyer’s journey, it’s important that you consider topics that will be most valuable for each stage. For instance, content aimed at the awareness stage will be focused on helping individuals better understand their challenges and goals. On the other hand, decision stage content is focused on explaining why your solution is the best for meeting their specific needs. Be sure to create content that is directed at each stage to ensure that you are not neglecting any of your leads and customers.
Now that you know how to map out the SaaS buyer journey, it’s time to get started. Before you create a detailed customer journey map, make sure that you have done your research on your target audience’s challenges, needs, behaviors, and preferences. The more detailed and accurate your buyer journey map is, the more helpful it will be in informing your content strategy and marketing campaigns for engaging leads and customers during each stage of the journey.