Awareness, consideration, and conversion. While this sequence is often referenced (and easy to remember), it is no longer the best way to sum up the customer buying cycle.
Think of the last time you ordered a Halloween costume online or had to upgrade a software you use. While highly unlikely, perhaps your car was recently broken into and you’re suddenly in need of a surveillance system for your driveway.
Today’s buyer journey begins with a trigger. A wedding (or divorce), a birthday, a holiday, a specific or urgent need—the list goes on. These triggers compel us to seek and eventually buy.
So when you think about your target customer, ask yourself: what life event prompted them to seek out the product, service, or solution your business offers? And don’t forget to take into account new needs and desires sparked by the post-pandemic world.
As humans, we make decisions based on emotion, convenience, and desire, and businesses should incorporate these concepts into their strategy. One interaction with your ad or brand simply isn’t enough to get a person to buy from you. Think of the brands you’re competing with: What are they doing right? What are you doing better? How are your target customers assessing their options? Below, we’re showing business owners like you how to incorporate these three key concepts into your customers’ buying cycle.
Stories sell. To keep up with this trend, talk about your product in terms of a narrative. What problems does your product solve? Your marketing materials should have a tone more along the lines of we feel your pain and less we’re the best so buy from us. How your product changes lives matters so much more than its bells and whistles.
If you aren’t already, be sure to solicit feedback through reviews. It’s no secret that reviews have a massive influence on the buying cycle. Some people prefer to read a review whereas others look to YouTube for an in-depth explanation, so make an effort to collect reviews through various avenues.
Influence can be more effective when journeys and experiences are customer-centric, designed not as a path to purchase, but as a path to purpose. -Gene Cornfield, Harvard Business Review
You may think you have a good product on your hands, but do you make it easy for customers to find and buy it? Is your website easy to navigate, or are customers encountering roadblocks and leaving your website to buy from a competitor? Today’s most successful online businesses have lightning-fast websites that accept multiple payment options and offer new-age conveniences like live chat support, contactless delivery, and curbside pickup.
In terms of product information, the world wide web is your oyster. While an endless amount of information exists, people are inherently impatient and want answers to their questions fast. So when it comes to what you’re selling, be sure you’re answering frequently asked questions on your website, social media, and other places your target customers may be frequenting.
When we talk about the buying cycle, desire goes both ways: your customer’s desire for the product you offer and their desire to feel cared for. Speaking of the latter, your customer should experience more than a transaction if you want them to return and to refer you to people they know. Think of different engagements you can make through interaction points like emails, surveys, SMS messages, social media, special offers, direct mail, and more.
“How is your project going?” is one question a well-known home improvement company asks customers through email. “How satisfied are you with our product?” is another.
If your customers have added a product to their cart only to leave it abandoned, try nudging them back to your store via a short text or email with the subject line “We miss you!” You could also entice them to take advantage of a special offer like a unique, one-time use coupon code.
It’s about time we recognize that the customer buying cycle is not so linear at all. Consider all the ways your product leads a person to their purpose and you’ll find that sales will come naturally as a result.