Ecommerce buying cycle
I was recently reminded at a conference that there are two main ways to convert a lead. The first is to provide facts and the other is to evoke emotions. Sounds simple enough, right? We all make decisions based on facts or emotions, sometimes both.
This is a good reminder that customers don’t make buying decisions on an island. There’s a process they follow when deciding on a product or service, and it may not always be linear. We’ll discuss three steps of the ecommerce buying cycle: awareness, consideration, and decision.
Awareness in the ecommerce buying cycle is two-fold. First, customers must be able to identify their need. Second, they must become aware that your online business can serve their need.
Customers still base decisions on personal experience and on the advice of family, friends, and strangers. And now they also have the ability to conduct online research. Search engine results prove to be critical because what appears can influence buying decisions. Here are two tools to consider when it comes to online search: search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC).
SEO is, “the process of getting traffic from the ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial’, or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.” Search engines use algorithms to rank web pages and content according to what they determine users will like the most. It’s important to note that companies cannot pay search engines to optimize organic search.
SEO includes making sure that the right words, titles, and links appear on your website so your content can get picked up by search engines. It also means making sure that you have engaging content on your site that’s updated regularly. There are many facets of SEO and it can become complicated, so consider seeking a trusted advisor to help build your SEO strategy.
Another tool at your disposal is PPC. Also called cost per click, it’s when companies pay a website owner whenever their ad is clicked on the site. PPC can highlight or promote your website using special callouts that put your name and brand center stage. You’ll have to compete with other companies also using PPC, some of which might be your competitors.
Earlier we stated that awareness is two-fold. First, the customer must be aware of their need. When the customer identifies their need, they often go online to search. Both SEO and PPC can help drive awareness and get them to believe that your online business can solve their need. The information you provide, or the emotion you evoke, after they open that door (that is, click through to your website) matters more than you might think.
The consideration stage is the next important step in the buying process. In it, your goal is to help buyers evaluate how your goods or services meet their need. When shopping online, the experience that your website creates for visitors is an important part of the consideration process. The user experience you create can either encourage them stay and complete the purchase, or encourage them leave and “consider” products or services from a competitor.
There are many ways you can leverage the power of the consideration phase but here we’ll explore one specific aspect, comparative content.
As buyers, we compare. It’s natural for us to browse, evaluate our options, and choose what we feel best meets our needs. By the time a visitor has visited your website, they want to know what you can do for them and how you’re different.
So help them compare. Make sure your on-page content reflects your unique selling proposition and underscores how you’re different from the competition. Provide charts and graphs that show the differences in products or services, and the benefits of choosing you. Consider offering rich content like videos, infographics, case studies, and testimonials that provide specific comparison data for use during the consideration process.
Your digital experience can take it a step further by thoughtfully presenting a mix of both factual and emotional content to help encourage sales. This can help shoppers develop a preference for what they want and can also help solidify their intent to purchase with you.
In the decision stage buyers are aware of their needs, convinced you can meet them, and committed to taking action. In addition to completing the sale with your business, you also want them to feel confident in their decision. This can encourage them to be an advocate for your goods or services to future customers. So what factors can help support the decision making process? Consider the following.
Coupons and Offers
Relevant coupons and offers can be especially important during the decision stage. If customers expect to pay a certain amount and suddenly there’s an improved offer, they might feel even more compelled to complete the sale. For subscription services, consider structuring the offer so it is time dependent. For example, offering a discount after one month, three months, or even six months can help create the “stickiness factor” that retains paying customers. For products, you can provide a limited time discount or engage buyers with loyalty offers for repeat purchases.
Make it easy for customers to contact you in case they have any questions during the decision stage. This might include prominently displaying phone numbers, email addresses, and store locations with contact information. You can also embed a chat feature into your web experience to answer questions and facilitate purchases.
These are just some considerations that can help facilitate the decision portion of the ecommerce buying cycle. If you have any questions about the ecommerce buying cycle, please contact us.