Understanding the buyer's journey

Imagine you are looking for a certain type of product. Your buying decision will likely be influenced by everything from the ads you see to the online reviews you read — as well as what happens when you contact the company with a question. A poor experience or interaction could negatively impact your overall decision, while a positive one could lead you to make a purchase.

Buyer experience is the entire journey a prospective customer engages in from initial awareness to purchase to first using your product or service. It is a subset of the broader customer experience — both require thinking holistically and optimizing each step of the journey to improve the experience a person has with your brand and product.

You can map the buyer's journey on its own or as part of mapping the entire customer journey. Try using a virtual whiteboarding tool in Aha! software— it comes with a free customer journey map template when you sign up. And if you are an Aha! Roadmaps customer, you can convert content on your map into real work items on your product roadmap.

Try the customer journey map in Aha! software. Sign up for a free trial.

Customer journey map large

This guide, while focused on marketing teams, is relevant for any team that interacts with customers during the buyer journey. Explore the sections below to learn more:

The role of marketing in the buyer experience

Marketing is fundamental to a buyer’s experience. It is how people learn about a product and determine if it will help solve their problems. This is why forward-thinking marketing teams consider the buyer experience as part of the overall marketing strategy and plan.

Marketing tactics are evolving and taking on new forms in our increasingly connected world. With all the channels available to buyers, it is critical to provide a seamless experience for each interaction someone could have with your company. While marketing has a major impact, many other functional groups can affect the buyer experience, such as sales and customer support.


How to map the buyer's journey

Customer needs and expectations are always evolving. So it is important to truly understand your customer and center their experience as you guide them through the different phases of buying your product or service.

Buyer personas should be defined in your marketing strategy. Well-defined personas help you empathize with your buyer and see the journey from their point of view. It is worth noting that the specifics of the buyer's journey will vary based on your product and business model.

For example, if you have an entirely self-serve model, you will need to ensure assets are readily available in whatever channels a buyer might encounter. Alternately, if your model requires interacting with a sales team, you will need to equip salespeople with the right assets to share.

As you map the buyer's journey, consider what a prospective customer is thinking, feeling, and doing at each stage. Use a journey map template to document your learnings — be sure to share it with members across marketing, sales, product management, and customer support to elicit feedback and reach agreement on where to focus improvements.

Related: What is a customer journey map?


Phases of the buyer’s journey

The table below shows the phases of the buyer’s journey, what buyers are evaluating during each phase, and examples of relevant marketing materials that can be used to encourage and support that person to take action in the next phase.


Buyer evaluation

Marketing impact


During the awareness phase, buyers are realizing there is a problem to be solved. They are starting to look for information online that answers a basic question: “How do other people solve this problem?”

Marketing materials at the awareness phase should provide value and address specific pain points in an educational way, without explicitly “selling” the product.

Here are some examples:

  • Guides or ebooks

  • Blog posts

  • Industry reports


During the consideration phase, buyers are evaluating different options. They are looking for reasons to choose a product that will best meet their needs out of the various contenders they have identified.

Marketing materials at the consideration phase should provide more detailed information about your product and its benefits. This lets the buyer easily make comparisons and move to the decision phase.

Here are some examples:

  • Video overviews

  • Competitor comparisons

  • Peer reviews


During the decision phase, buyers have finished their evaluations and are ready to buy. They are looking for a straightforward way to purchase so they can solve their problem.

Marketing materials at the decision phase should help buyers with information needed to make a purchase and provide positive reinforcement they have made the right decision.

Here are some examples:

  • Pricing documentation

  • Case studies

  • Customer testimonials


During the post-purchase phase, buyers have started using the product they purchased. They are reflecting on whether their needs are being met and if the promises made by marketing are being fulfilled.

Marketing materials at the post-purchase phase should continue to provide value to the buyers that are now customers. Much of the same educational content you provided during the awareness stage will still be useful to your customers.

Here are some examples:

  • Blog posts

  • “How to” support content

  • New functionality announcements

Repeat purchase

During the repeat purchase phase, buyers may be renewing a subscription or buying an updated version of their original purchase. They are considering whether they need to continue using the same product.

Marketing materials at the repeat purchase phase should reiterate the benefits of the product and make the user feel like they are part of a community. At this point, customers may also be looking for more advanced product guidance.

Here are some examples:

  • Customer communities

  • Newsletters

  • Expert-level guides


How to improve the buyer experience

Marketing materials like the ones referenced above help ensure that every customer touchpoint creates meaningful value. This can be difficult, though, depending on the sophistication of the product or service that your company delivers and whether your company serves consumers or other businesses. For example, 77 percent of B2B buyers said their most recent purchase was very difficult or complex. Clearly, there is more work to be done.

In addition to improving what you provide at each phase of the buyer’s journey, here are some more valuable steps you can take to improve the buyer experience:

Manage your channels

What channels do your buyers use to learn about your product or service? Make sure you are delivering a unified message and be sure to consider both digital and human touchpoints. For example, if someone has already entered their information online, they will be frustrated if they have to repeat it to a salesperson.

Understand feedback

What are buyers saying about your company? You need to know what people think of your buyer experience so you can prioritize what to improve. Read review sites and forums to find out where people are dropping off in the process.

Work cross-functionally

You must work closely with other teams, especially sales, support, and product management, to deliver an integrated buyer experience. Strive to create positive working relationships between marketing and customer-facing teams so you can exchange customer interactions. And collaborate with your product management team to ensure you are always communicating the most current information about your product.

Measure progress

What metrics can you put in place to measure the buyer experience? Typically, marketing teams track lead generation and conversion to report on performance. You could also survey customers about their buying experiences or conduct win-loss interviews to understand where you can improve.

Use the methods described here to enhance the buyer experience. Remember that delivering an exceptional buyer experience is an ongoing effort. As you come across new insights, determine which improvements you will add to your marketing roadmap.

Read next:

Build marketing plans like you always wanted. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Aha! Roadmaps.