In our previous article on the customer buying cycle, we described the three phases of Awareness, Consideration and Purchase that the majority of customers follow in their relationship with a product or service. We also touched on buying triggers and how they can accelerate prospects’ journey along this pathway.
This article digs down deeper into how businesses can use knowledge of the different stages of the customer buying cycle to increase conversions.
What is your Content Doing?
OK, so you might not be able to recall exactly what is written on each page of your website or the wording on your email newsletter but you should know its purpose. In the context of digital marketing, your online content is your voice. Ideally, content is ‘mapped’ not only to a specific buyer profile (known in the marketing lingo as a ‘persona’) but also to a specific point on the customer buying cycle.
If your content is there ‘just to fill space,’ don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. Just be aware that your content could be doing a lot more to help you make sales. Read on to find out how:
Content Mapping 1: The Awareness Phase
In the first article we mentioned the much-loathed ‘double glazing salesperson,’ as someone who ignores the customer buying cycle. Another example is the irritating sales assistant who immediately starts comparing makes and models of products as soon as you walk in the door.
In contrast, the savvy sales professional will simply ask you if there’s anything you need and leave you to your browsing, ensuring you know they are there if needed. Your content should be taking that same approach to people ‘arriving off the street’ both in its tone and the type of content. Content mapped to this phase should be focused on describing the problem that your product or service can solve and providing a gentle introduction to those solutions.
But hang on…
How do you know where people are in the customer buying cycle?
Good question. As a rule of thumb, first time visitors arriving at your site from a social media link or a banner ad are towards the Awareness end of the cycle whereas return visitors or those using Google search or review sites to reach you are further along towards the Consideration and even Purchase phase.
If it’s set up the right way, your website will track and detail where all of your customers are coming from.
Even if you don’t know how far along the cycle they have come, given the choice, people will tend to self-select the type of content that suits their purpose. It’s the same in the high street. We start to gravitate towards sales assistants when we are ready for more information or to the tills when we’ve made the decision to buy.
Content Mapping 2: The Consideration Phase
The Consideration phase of the customer buying cycle is all about helping your prospects to develop a rational – or even better an emotional – connection with your product or service. You can begin to develop more detail about the benefits your solution can provide and start including proof points in the form of testimonials and reviews.
As your conversation develops, the next task is to detach your offering from that of your competitors and strengthen its appeal. Perhaps you could offer a free trial with a discounted purchase price at the end of it.
Be careful not to rush prospects at this point. Both Awareness and Consideration phases may require a long period of ‘lead nurture’ through regular emails (we mentioned lead magnets and obtaining email addresses in the previous article). Automation tools provided by companies such as Aweber, HubSpot and Mailchimp are great ways to segment your email list into different personas and different places along the buying cycle.
Content Mapping 3: The Purchase Phase
Even at the Purchase phase, when your customer has made the decision to buy, the content you provide is important. As they complete the payment process, remind your customers of your credentials and give them guarantees to help provide peace of mind and reduce the likelihood of shopping cart abandonment or buyer regret.
If you asked yourself, ‘what happens once a sale is made?’ then give yourself a huge pat on the back. Content continues to play a lead role as you develop a strong, lasting relationship with your customers. This is the customer life cycle and will be covered in another article.
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