We’re all individuals. We have our own wants and likes, dislikes and fears but as much as that is the case there is no denying that we’re creatures of habit. There are plenty of cases where we as people all take the same winding road to a single endpoint.

One of those is what is referred to as the Buying or Buyers Journey. It’s a set of milestones we pass on the way to making a purchase and then the steps we take after the purchase is made. If you understand this process, it allows you to tailor the experience and the information you put out to help people through the journey. It is a powerful piece of information that allows you to talk to your customers in the right way, at the right time, making yourself incredibly useful to them.

The buyer’s journey is so important that Google made adjustments to the way their search was delivered to people and became intent focused. They understand from your previous search history and your activity on the internet where you might be when you’re looking to make a purchase and provide you with information that is best suited to that phase.

From a high level, they defined habits into 3 moments. I want to do; I want to buy, and I want to go. They deliver information to the searcher in a way that will best suit their question and they have created specific elements in the search results page that will do this without sending them on a trip into a wormhole.

But before we get too carried away, it is probably best to get to grips with what the buyer’s journey is. We see it as 7 steps.

 

  • Unaware: Your target audience has not encountered the problem (or desire).
  • Awareness: Also known as the problem identification stage, your buyer would have identified the issue that they are seeking to solve.
  • Consideration: Your buyer would do general research (usually online) and consider different options out there.
  • Evaluation: Your buyer is carefully selecting a potential purchase, evaluating it based on quality, value, brand reputation, and other variables.
  • Purchase: Congratulations may be in order. You’ve managed to persuade your prospect to make a purchase, but sometimes it isn’t a given.
  • Post-Purchase: Also known as the consumption phase, your customer’s experience may determine longevity and satisfaction.
  • Retention & Advocacy: If you’ve managed to delight and excite your customer, they may come back and become your online advocate.

 

If we look back at what Google has been doing and map it to the journey, it fits squarely in the awareness, consideration and evaluation phases but for them to do that, you need to be giving them the information to put in front of people.

This information can take a bunch of forms, the most important thing is that it exists. That is however just a tiny bit of what you should be doing to make sure that you’re able to engage with potential customers going through the buyer’s journey.

We’ve got a few tips for each of the stages to get you forming ideas and solutions but as always we’re here to help and you can reach out to us at any time and our teams of experts can work with you to maximise the opportunity at every stage.

 

Unaware: Your target audience has not encountered the problem (or desire).

This is an incredibly hard stage to have a deliberate effect on but by having a solid social media presence and a great content strategy there is a possibility that people will stumble across the information and as a result you move them into the next phase, very, very quickly. It is also what drives people to head toward impulse purchasing. They had no idea they wanted what you’ve just put in front of them, but it was so convincing that they’re ready for you to just take their money.

If you compare this to the Adoption Life Cycle, you’re looking at the innovators and possibly the early adopters here.

The Adoption Cycle | Design for “Crossing the Chasm” | Prototypr.io

 

Awareness: Also known as the problem identification stage, your buyer would have identified the issue that they are seeking to solve.

Here, some customers will find your brand as part of their intentional research when they are looking for a solution to their problem. Some will hear about you from your existing customers and word of mouth. Some traffic will be a result of your marketing efforts be that on social or via a search engine. They could also come from the stage above, stopping here for just a second on their way to making the purchase.

If people are coming into this stage fresh, it’s important to avoid selling. You need to focus on educating customers, sharing your knowledge, and building brand awareness. Your goal should be to get people’s attention, and then make them interested in what you have to offer. Even if they don’t have the intention to buy just yet, they’ll convert in the future if your content and webs experience is convincing and trustworthy enough.

 

Consideration: Your buyer would do general research (usually online) and consider different options out there.

The consideration stage is the moment customers see you as an option. Your products are a potential solution to their problems, while they’re also considering other options. To lift your chances of entering the evaluation phase you can drive people to comparisons you’ve made to your competitors, making it clearly transparent why you might be the better option. This is an opportunity to keep yourself in the running.

 

Evaluation: Your buyer is carefully selecting a potential purchase, evaluating it based on quality, value, brand reputation, and other variables.

It’s important to understand that at this point your competitors… are your biggest competition. Your products or solutions on offer have already gained your potential customers’ attention, yet you may still lose the race. It’s the win-or-lose moment.

Your goal here is to convince those potential customers that you’re the absolute best solution for them. Make sure you stand out from your competitors. Not only with price or quality, but also with your values, approach, and, obviously, the experience you provide.

 

Purchase: Congratulations may be in order. You’ve managed to persuade your prospect to make a purchase, but sometimes it isn’t a given.

The purchase stage is your moment of truth. It’ll prove how well you prepared your website and customer service for ever-rising customer needs.

Offer superb customer experience no matter how big the order is. Some customers will start smaller just to test your store. Make sure they come back for more.

It’s time for your support team to show off their skills. It’s a test for your UX designer and web developers. It’s also the moment you grow as a business and build lasting connections with your customers.

If these experiences aren’t up to scratch, you could lose the person right at the very end of the process. We’ve all been there, right at the checkout and for some reason, the payment won’t go through, the address search is broken, or the overall experience is just terrible and keeps breaking.

You’ll end up sending them back up the funnel and kissing them goodbye for good. It doesn’t matter how well suited your product was to their problem. If it is difficult, you turn them off.

 

Post-Purchase: Also known as the consumption phase, your customer’s experience may determine longevity and satisfaction.

Just as important as making it easy for the purchase to happen, you’ve got to make sure the post-purchase experience is ace.

Shipping updates, return policies, contact details, warranty information, support and guidance, onboarding…the list is endless when it comes to this stuff but the thing to remember is that just getting the sale and then saying ciao is not an option.

The irreparable damage that can be done by taking your eye off the ball with this stuff is huge and at Eclipse, we’re not advocates of mastering the mystics art of tempting fate.

 

Retention & Advocacy: If you’ve managed to delight and excite your customer, they may come back and become your online advocate.

Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%. The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.

Do what you can to keep your customers happy and they’ll keep coming back, keep doing it and they’ll tell others. Remember the unaware phase and the mention of word of mouth, this is where it came from.

 

We’ve got more to come

This break down of the buyer’s journey should give you some things to think about and get you looking at what you have on offer a little differently. It should be something that you keep front of mind when you’re looking to create content or are making design changes or updates to your website.

We’re going to continue looking at the buyer’s journey in more detail, stage by stage in the coming weeks, offering up more insight and tips on how to get the most out of each of them, but in the meantime, you can always reach out to us with any questions you might have and we’ll be happy to answer them and help you work to enhance your offering for each of the stages.