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Journey Based Advertising and the Buyer’s Journey

Where are your customers learning about the products and services that you offer? Unless you’re advertising to tech pariahs, your buyers are online at some point in the buyer’s journey. But online marketing has become so saturated; it’s hard for brands to make themselves known to distracted buyers. 

Young people meeting with digital tablet

Sure, inbound and outbound methods might have gotten results last year, but your brand needs something else to jazz up return on investment, or ROI. If your growth is plateauing, look no further than journey based advertising (JBA) to extend your inbound and outbound efforts for a healthier bottom line. 

It’s almost 2020 and buyers don’t want to be “sold to.” They’re looking to you for information and value, not a hard sales pitch. Consumer expectations have changed, which means brands have to overhaul how they advertise to buyers. 

As an advertiser, you have so many tools on hand to personalize the buyer’s experience through JBA. One of the most important tools at your disposal is the buyer’s journey, which you can marry with JBA to get the most bang for your buck.

What is the buyer’s journey? 

No two companies are the same. That’s why it’s so important to understand your buyers; this is the key to relevant, effective digital advertising. The buyer’s journey are the three stages that a lead can go through before they become a customer: awareness, consideration, and decision. 

  • Awareness: This is the point at which a buyer understand that they have a problem that needs solved. 
  • Consideration: The buyer looks for solutions to their problem, comparing brands or even various solutions against each other. 
  • Decision: The buyer chooses a solution and decides whether you’re the right fit. 

Why does this matter?

But did you know that nearly 70% of the buyer’s journey happens digitally? That should give brands pause to focus on enhancing outbound strategies for the digital world. The buyer’s journey isn’t a frilly advertising tactic. It has three implications for your business and livelihood.

1. Less annoying interruptions

Closeup portrait unhappy, angry, mad, annoyed, grumpy man giving thumbs down gesture, looking with negative facial expression disapproval isolated orange background. Human emotion hand sign, attitude

All forms of advertising are intrusive to some extent. But when you marry the buyer’s journey and the principles of inbound with paid advertising, you can show relevant, timely, and appropriate ads that deliver value. We can show content to users that helps them make better decisions. 

2. Reach buyers when they’re ready to, y’know, buy (and convert)

Young man buying music on internet with tablet

Most advertisers pump out ads that don’t fit audience needs. They’re writing decision stage content for audiences in the awareness stage. That means brands are both turning off potential customers and flushing money down the drain. 

This is like proposing marriage on a first date. Instead of scaring people away, use the buyer’s journey and JBA to nurture leads without an aggressive or ill-timed sales pitch. 

The (and convert) part is important. One of things that is broken with conventional paid ad strategies is that they focus completely on the decision phase. But when was the last time that you converted on a “free consultation” offer? One of the keys to higher conversion rates and lower customer acquisition costs is convert awareness and consideration stage leads just the same. 

Add lead nurturing sequences to those that aren’t quite ready to buy, and, boom, you’ve gotten out ahead of your competition while producing more profitable customers.

3. Qualify leads

Smiling businesswoman using smartphone over gray background. Wearing in blue shirt and glasses.

Do you ever get a random customer lead and think, “How did you even find me?” When you play your cards right, the buyer’s journey will help you bring in the most qualified users. Instead of wasting your sales team’s time with uninterested leads, you can pre-qualify customers with the right ads, closing more sales. 

You can use marketing tools like HubSpot to note what stage of the buyer’s journey is in and what products and services they are interested in automatically. At that point, you can add them automatically to a workflow that sends them relevant content for where they are in the flywheel and what services they are the best fit for.

Marrying the buyer’s journey with JBA

It’s a good idea to use the buyer’s journey in tandem with paid advertising tactics. This is what’s going to make your demand generation efforts more effective and personalized. By applying inbound principles to outbound paid ads, you can take a multi-channel approach that grows your business faster. 

Traditional ads are kind of … meh. They’re self-serving and spammy, which customers don’t like. Let’s avoid those headaches by mapping each stage of the buyer’s journey to JBA tactics. 


1. Awareness

During the Awareness stage, customers barely have an understanding of the problem or opportunity that they face let alone an understanding of your product or brand.

And for the love of Pete, don’t display purchase-intent ads to this audience. For example, you wouldn’t target Awareness stage customers with keywords like “buy shoes near me now” because they aren’t ready to buy yet. Instead, focus on general keywords like “how to walk pain free.” 

Avoid the sales pitch for now. Instead, harness the power of JBA to promote useful blogs, videos, or infographics that will help your audience. Consider advertising on social networks or display ads to let these leads know you have a solution to their problem. Lay it on thick with the value, because that’s what will convert awareness stage prospects. 

2. Consideration

In the Consideration stage, leads do their research, comparing your brand against other options on the market. Or, they might be looking at competing solutions in general. You’ve got to pique their interest and prove you’re worthy of their business. 

Remember, use the principles of JBA to keep your ads value-laden and helpful. Deliver ads that help customers compare options so they can find what’s right for them. Promote product comparisons, reviews, eBook downloads, and webinars to inform leads without the aggressive sales pitch. Use platforms like Google search, display ads, YouTube, and remarketing to get your point across. 

P.S. Consideration leads aren’t ready to buy yet! Use keywords that focus on comparisons and quality. For example, Consideration stage customers might search for “Unicorn Agency reviews” or “Unicorn Marketing Agency versus Dragon Marketing Agency.” Google hasn’t quite caught up, but the answer to those search queries is No Bounds Digital. 

Your purchase-intent keywords for the Decision stage. 

3. Decision

Here’s where it gets exciting! In the Decision stage, customers choose you (or not). This is the time to go hard with retargeting and brand-specific ads. 

Remember your old ads with the hard sell? Whip those out and modify them for Decision stage customers. It’s okay to be more aggressive with your ask at this stage, but remember the first rule of JBA: deliver value. Lead with the benefits first and end with your sales pitch. 

You have to convince Decision stage leads that you’re the best. Show these leads ads going to case studies, white papers, and important statistics. Use Google search, retargeting, or product ads to seal the deal with these leads. 

The bottom line

The buyer’s journey is a critical part of the journey based advertising; you’ll create such a good experience that customers will sing your praises. Over time, this process will build an army of loyal brand evangelists that sell for you. 

There’s a lot of competition in the digital space. Don’t take a shotgun approach to advertising; that’s not going to impress your customers. Use the power of journey based advertising, which is heavily informed by the buyer’s journey, to create an immersive and helpful advertising experience. It’s a win-win: customers get the help they need and you grow your customer base. 

Curious about journey based advertising? Here’s a quick primer that you can use to overhaul your advertising efforts. 

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