As the owner of a website, you need to be intimately aware of the customer buying cycle. This is the process that he or she will go through before making the decision to purchase your goods or services. This information is vital to you as – armed with this – you will be able to position yourself effectively in terms of your marketing to generate the maximum sales.
Stages of making a purchase
There are usually three stages that a customer goes through before he or she will actually purchase one of your products. These are: Awareness, Consideration and Preference/Intent. Let us take a look at these.
In this stage the customer realises that he or she has a need that has to be fulfilled. They will do some research – usually by surfing the Internet – to find ways they can find a solution to their problem. This means that you need to be found by people who have the need that your website fulfils. So say, for instance, that you offer baking services. Your website has to be found by people who are looking for someone to make them a cake, for example. The best way to do this is to optimise your website with keywords that people will use when researching baked goods.
Once your customer has found your website, he or she will consider if what is displayed on your website fulfils the need that he or she has. To carry on with the baking theme, your customer will evaluate your offerings according to what needs he or she has. The questions that the customer may ask are:
- Where does the baker deliver to?
- Can the baker make me what I need?
- What does she charge?
If these questions are answered favourably, the customer will progress to the next stage in the buying cycle. It is a good idea, here, to formulate a number of questions that your potential customer will want answered so that you can provide the answers on your website and so fine tune your digital marketing strategy.
This stage goes deeper into the actual text of your website. Once the customer has made the decision that the goods/services displayed on your site may meet their needs, they will scrutinise the product pages and articles on your website. They will look at, for example:
- What you’re charging for your products/services?
- Do you have any articles that speak about what you sell?
- Do you have testimonials from satisfied customers?
All of this is in an effort to show the customer that you know what you’re talking about so that they have confidence in the fact that your product/service will satisfy their needs. (If you want to find out how to create an engaging landing page or blog post for your website, which will convince your customers that you can satisfy their needs, follow this link)
What happens now?
When your customer has successfully passed through the above-mentioned three stages, they will enter the purchasing stage. You need to be very clear, on your website, about how customers can purchase your product. For the baked goods example, your purchasing signal could be that people must call the baker themselves to make a booking. To push them into making the purchase, you could offer customers a deal that where they get a complimentary baked goods product in addition to their purchase.
One of the best ways to generate continuous revenue is by selling to your existing customer base. This is because they have already seen the value in what you sell and know that your products/services will meet their needs. A good way to keep yourself top of mind with your customers is to send them a regular newsletter. Give them something of value in this newsletter, for example: a special offer, an eBook or an opinion piece. Make them look forward to receiving the newsletter so that the last thing that they think of, when they see it pop up in their inbox, in hitting the delete button.
(Note that if you do decide to go this route, make sure that you get their permission before sending them the first newsletter because, if you don’t, you could end up in many legal battles.)
Want to learn more about how to tap into user intent so that you can improve the SEO ranking of your website? Sign up for the Digital School of Marketing’s SEO and Web Analytics Course to find out. This digital marketing course is the only one to be endorsed by the MICT SETA. As a result, our digital marketing certificate is one of its kind!