Understanding the Buying Cycle of Your Customers

Whenever a visitor hits your site there will always be the hope that they will eventually turn into a customer but in reality this will only happen a tiny percentage of the time. Of course we can work to improve these conversions but testing different elements on your site just because you think they might work will probably never return the results you want. Before we can start to work on improving our conversion rates it is important to understand the traffic that is coming to our site and more importantly what stage of the buying cycle they are in. Once we can pinpoint what type of traffic we are receiving we can then build our strategy around that. Searchers in different stages of the buying cycle will need to be catered for in a different manner if you want to eventually turn them into a customer.



Source – muhammadahmed

  • Recognition: The first step in the cycle is when a potential customer realizes that they have a need for a product or service; both internal and external factors can influence this. Internal factors may include the realization that they have an illness or that they are overweight. External factors will usually fall understand advertising, where a potential customer realizes that if they buy a certain skin care product they will have perfect skin. Once they realize that they need something they will enter the next stage of the buying cycle,
  • Research: Once a potential customer realizes their need for something the next step they will usually take is to find a product that will work for them. This begins with the research stage and this is usually the chance a website will have to interact with a potential customer. Most web sites choose not to focus on traffic in this stage because of the poor conversion rate and the extra work needed to move them through the buying cycle.
  • Review: Once they have passed the research stage, they will usually have a list of products that will suite they needs, but at this stage there are still unsure of which will be the best. So they will begin to look for more information on each product.
  • Purchase: They have made the decision on which is the best product and now they want to buy it. They now look for the best price, free shipping on another incentive that will persuade them to make the purchase

So these are the basics of a buying cycle, the next challenge we face is trying to decipher which stage of the buying cycle our visitors are at. The easiest way to do this is to review the keyword being used to get to our sites. Each stage of the buying cycle is typified by a certain type of search term. As potential customers move through the buying cycle the search terms turn from broad untargeted phrases through to specific searches that are looking for a certain product or service.

  • Research: You will usually find these terms to be broad, with usually a short 1 or 2 word search phrase or question based search terms. These types of search terms do not convert well and it can be difficult to offer them the answers they are looking for.
  • Review: Now that they have narrowed down what they are looking and they may have a number of products in mind. The searcher is still in the research phase so they are still gathering information about these products. Though these searches ¬†are usually more specific these customers are still deciding which product will best suit them and in many cases they will be looking for the specific benefits of each product which they will then compare against each other
  • Purchase: The searcher has finally decided on the best product for them now their search terms are very specific and in most cases they are comparing the best offers before they finally decide to make a purchase.

Many sites will focus on attracting traffic that is late in the buying cycle and it is true that these types of searchers can convert well. They often overlook the research stages because of the poor conversions. Attracting traffic that is in the research stage is not always a bad thing, in many ways it can give you a head start over your competitors.

By providing the information that people are looking for in the research stages you can help to build their trust in your site and if you design your content around different stages of the buying cycle you may be able to lead these searchers through each stage of the cycle. The level of trust will continually increase through each stage and if that searcher eventually gets to the buying stage the trust awareness and confidence that you have previously built can work in your favour.

This is a Guest Post by Neil Jones, head of marketing for eMobileScan. One of Europe’s leading providers of handheld computers including the Symbol MC55 and Datalogic Memor

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