As a marketer (and regardless of the type of business you have), make no mistake – you’re a marketer. You have to market to make your business successful. You know that, so you likely do a number of things: from social media marketing, to email marketing, to content marketing, to even running advertisements to get the word out to your audience.
But, what if you could improve your marketing funnels to align with where your customer is in the buying cycle? That’s right; your ROI would spike substantially. The first thing to understand is that there are six stages of the customer buying cycle. It looks something like this.
Six Stages of the Consumer Buying Cycle (Philip Kotler)
- Problem recognition and awareness
- Information search
- Purchase decision
- Post purchase evaluation
Every single stage is important if you want to attract more customers – and keep more customers. After all, keeping a customer is a lot less expensive than having to get a new one each time. When you look deeper into each of these stages you can find a way to communicate with your consumers on each level, right where they are. When you accomplish that, you’ll boost your return on investment because you’re giving them exactly what they need, when they need it.
Problem Recognition and Awareness
In this stage, the consumer is starting to identify their needs so that they can better understand their problem and find a solution. During this stage your job is to build awareness of the problem via your content. You can offer blog posts, white papers, video and more that is designed to talk about the problem in question and make your audience even more aware. The content should be educational and not salesy at this point. Your job in this state is to help them identify their goals.
Here the consumer tries to educate themselves on the requirements that a product will need for them to make a purchase. Now you want to deliver content that explores the problem and potential solutions available. A good thing to do now is provide case studies in text and video to show how to solve the problem within your capabilities.
For example, if you are an SEO expert you can do case studies on how your services helped a client. If you have no clients yet, you can do a case study on someone else who implemented SEO practices and it worked. By doing this, you’ll help them define what their requirements are for a solution.
Evaluation of Alternatives
Here the customer finds some alternatives and uses the education available to evaluate all their options. Now you want to really go all out and let them know how your solution is superior to the other solutions and how it will solve their problem. Give concrete examples with white papers, guides, in-depth blog posts, eBooks, webinars, and more.
If you offer a service now, you need to create your answer to their RFP so that they know without a shadow of a doubt that your solution is the answer. If they can envision your solution working, they’re going to get closer to wanting to buy it.
Purchase Decision Making
This is when the consumer makes a commitment to buy something, assuming they can manage their risk. Your job here is to help them overcome any fear that they have with buying your solution. You can do that with offering an iron-clad guarantee for them.
At this stage the customer is going to buy what is least risky for them to buy. When you can use words and examples which show them that when your solution is implemented it works, you’ll succeed. Send them email content (as they should be on your list by now) about people who have had success with your solution. Include more case studies, how-to guides, and articles that show employment of the product. If you have video of customer testimonials, that works wonders here.
This is when the customer finally buys something. This is a stage in the buying process that is often forgotten. But the truth is, it is one of the most important stages of all because if the experience of buying isn’t smooth and isn’t impressive, the customer could ask for a refund – or get frustrated and not implement the solution and then blame you for it.
Double check the process and make sure that each buyer gets the information they need to get to make the most of their purchase. If you can reach out to them personally in a week or so to ask them how it’s going, that will work wonders at this stage – especially if the purchase is more than a few hundred dollars.
Post Purchase Evaluation
Another often forgotten stage for a consumer, the post purchase time is very important because you want them to be satisfied so that they buy more from you. You have them in your product funnel now and if you have a deep or wide funnel, you need to keep them happy. It started with the experience of making the purchase and continues after the purchase. Check up on them; send them new emails focused on the next step in your product funnel based on the six stages of the consumer buying cycle.
When you align customer goals with the stage your customer is in, you’ll see an amazing boost in conversions. Not only that, your customers will clamor for more because they feel understood. You might start hearing feedback that accuses you of being a mind reader.