96% of consumers are not ready to make a purchase when they visit your website for the first time. The average consumer will visit a website 5 times before making a purchase. Why? Simply put, they are not ready; it’s too early in the buying process.
Most of us go through life making daily purchases, unaware that there is a subconscious process at work. Ever notice long shopping days wear you down mentally? Have you ever thought about the process you go through when considering a purchase? You do this hundreds of times a year and thousands over your lifetime. Did you ever consider you follow a process subconsciously?
Well, guess what! You do follow a process, just as everyone naturally does. From a marketing perspective, imagine knowing the process your customers will go through. Then you could design marketing around that process.
Now, let’s get to it and identify the 5 Stages of the Buying Process!
Every time we shop, we go through these 5 stages subconsciously. Some people even have the power to be aware of the process as it is taking place. After reading this article, so will you. The difference is being able to understand and accept that the process is taking place. If you know something is going to happen, then you expect it and are ready for each step along the way, expecting the next to logically follow. Which would you rather be: someone who is aware or unaware?
Let’s walk through a common example:
You have a friend who you see wearing some new shoes. Immediately, you take to the shoes and are attracted to them. You ask your friend what kind of shoes they are (or perhaps you already knew and just seeing them in person feels good). You have enough information to do some research on your own. You may check online, ask a friend, or read reviews about the shoes. You then take a look at other similar shoes. Nothing really compares to that great pair you want. You take action and purchase the shoes you wanted. You are holding the shoes in your hands now; they are yours! Success!
Would you say that you have gone through a similar shopping pursuit before?
My friends, the 5 stages of the buying process just happened right before your eyes. I want to help you understand this process so that you may improve your marketing performance (This is a double-sided coin and learning this process will empower your purchase decision-making ability).
Let’s take a look at the same example but with the 5 stages applied:
(1. Awareness)You have a friend who you see wearing some new shoes. (1.5 Interest)Immediately, you take to the shoes and are attracted to them.(2 Information Gathering)You ask your friend what kind of shoes they are (or perhaps you already knew and just seeing them in person feels good). You have enough information to do some research on your own. You may check online, ask a friend, or read reviews about the shoes.(3 Evaluation of Choices)You then take a look at other similar shoes. Nothing really compares to that great pair you want.(4 Purchase Decision)You take action and purchase the shoes you wanted.(5 Post-Purchase Behavior)You are holding the shoes in your hands now; they are yours! Success!
Marketing Tip – There are two parts of buying: emotional and logical. Marketers appeal to emotion while creating a world where the purchase is logical. I am sharing this with you because influence will impact the emotional response, which is the response that keeps consumers engaged while going through the process. If you have two different perspectives on what influence to apply, you will end up with different results.
Customers cannot buy something they do not know exists. You must first gain awareness (also referred to as attention and visibility). If no one is looking or listening, the message you are sharing doesn’t matter. Focus on gaining awareness as the first key area of your marketing approach.
With digital marketing, there are many ways you can raise awareness of your products or services online. Targeted ad campaigns, for instance, are focused on specific demographics and psychographics. It brings product awareness to consumers who are highly likely to be interested. It is a highly effective and a profitable form of marketing. This type of digital marketing brings awareness to your product even if someone didn’t know it existed.
Most consumers become aware of products and services online before ever seeing them in person. In today’s digital world, your storefront is your website. Your receptionist is your email address. And your reputation is your social media account. Are you managing your digital presence properly?
Marketing Tip– When planning ad spend, be specific about funds going directly to raising awareness. You will measure awareness by total site visits, social followers, and overall reach. These numbers will demonstrate the effectiveness of your awareness campaign.
Great job! Now people know about you and are interested! The previously mentioned tactics in the first stage are to gain awareness and peak interest. Now you must capitalize on supplying information that will support your claim or cause. Think of this as the message you want to deliver. Consider these questions:
Customers vary in the quantity and quality of information they require. Learning how to segment your customer groups into buyer personas will help reduce marketing ad spending while maximizing revenues. You can send out messages to targeted audiences. The message you are sending out must be understood from the customer’s perspective, not the brand’s. It’s okay to say, “we think this and our customers think this.”
Your brand, product and/or service is going to be compared to something. What that something is depends on the person who is doing the comparing. Each individual may compare differently. You may be compared with another brand or, perhaps, it’s your product versus another. There are even times when you or your goods are compared to an experience.
Typically, the comparison will be based on the value proposition. For goods that are inexpensive, the highest perceived quality for the lowest price usually wins. Quality is going to be a factor that is considered in almost every case. This is why good influence goes a long way. People buy from people and brands they like. If you are being compared to another brand or other goods, it’s best to be liked (and known, i.e. brand awareness).
Let’s take a look at how this contrast principle works! For instance, if at a cocktail party you talk to an unattractive person and are then joined by an average-looking person, you will judge the average-looking person to be more attractive than he or she really is and than you would have originally perceived him or her to be independently. It’s because you had this unreliable scale of comparison in mind! In this way, the contrast principle/effect can affect our judgements in relation to people, products, market values, and the values of many other attributes and characteristics.
Sometimes you will see this applied digitally by offering multiple selections with the purpose of making one stand out as the best perceived choice.
So the consumer has done his or her research and has decided to make a purchase. Now, this can one of two ways:
The purchase decision stage can happen quickly or may take some time; it depends on the individual and other factors, such as price and influences. The decision once made is an action and, thus, is completed quickly. Typically, we don’t recall making the purchase; we recall what led to the purchase and/or how we felt afterwards. There is nothing that can be done at this stage from a marketing perspective; this is the goal.
Congratulations! The consumer has purchased from you! This may result in one of two options:
So, how do you determine which category your consumers fit in? Communication and data collection are both crucial here. When you communicate with those who have purchased from you and get post-purchase behavior data, you can apply it to your business and make adjustments so that you can improve.
Reach out and get a hold of paying customers. Who better to ask than people who have already reached into their pockets to support your brand? There is no one better. The question is are you doing this? If you are not following up, you are saying you do not care about your customers enough to ask them if they are happy. How many recent purchases have reached out to you to inquire? How do you feel when they do? Is how they reach out important?
The 5 stages of the buying process could happen in days, weeks or possibly moments apart. Once you understand the buying process, you can better understand consumers. Using that knowledge, you can increase your customers and revenue. See the helpful appendix below for some helpful tactics on how to use these stages to your business’ advantage!
*Each brand is unique in their business model, industry and economy. We cannot advise what is best for each brand or business, we must list things out as a general follow to guide. The purpose of our content is to help stimulate your digital marketing creativity and execution.
How Do You Gain Awareness, Attention, Visibility?
How Do You Invoke Desired Interest and Make Them Want More?
How Do You Supply Information?
How Do You Help Consumers Choose Your Business Over Others When They Are Comparing?
How Do You Make Sure The Consumer Pulls the Trigger and Purchases from You?
How Do You Collect Post-Purchase Behavior Data?
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