This is a guest post by Matt Winn, online communications specialist at Volusion , an industry-leading ecommerce software that powers online business for over 25,000 clients. Matt serves as the chief blogger for Volusion’s Ecommerce Blog , and you can follow Volusion on Twitter @volusion . Please join us for a joint Volusion and HubSpot webinar on Thursday, July 7th at 4 PM ET!

Let’s face it – there are tons of marketing tactics that boost conversions . Whether you prefer academic or anecdotal evidence, we all know that the right marketing mix is key in order for an ecommerce site to be successful.

But with so many options, you might be wondering when and where to deploy your campaigns, and more importantly, how to make them more effective.

The answer is simple: Leverage the customer buying cycle.

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What’s the buying cycle, you ask? In a nutshell, it’s the process that customers go through to make a purchase.

5 Stages of the Customer Buying Cycle

  1. Awareness : customer identification of a need and the realization that your online business can potentially fulfill it
  2. Consideration : customer evaluation of how your offering meets this need, including the evaluation of offerings from other ecommerce sites 
  3. Preference/Intent : a customer’s logical and emotional inclination towards one solution or another, ultimately leading to a purchasing decision
  4. Purchase : The action of ordering and buying from your ecommerce site
  5. Repurchase: The emotional and logical process that (hopefully) leads to a repeat purchase

Create Targeted Content for Each Stage

Now that you know the breakdown, it’s time to start taking advantage of it. To get started, you need to effectively answer questions that are relevant to each stage. But how do you know what your customers are looking to learn? ( Insert majestic voice here ) The answer is in your search queries.

Check out this example:

  • “flat screen tv” – This is a generic term that is most likely used by customers in the Awareness or Consideration stages.
  • “compare flat screen tvs” – The desire to compare products indicates this customer is further along in the cycle, such as the Consideration or Preference stage.
  • “sony 42” lcd” – This very specific product query indicates that a shopper is much further into the buying cycle, now likely evaluating prices (right before the Purchase stage).

The next step is to create content that moves customers closer to purchase. For example, for keywords that are related to the Awareness and Consideration stages, you could provide a guide to selecting the perfect flat screen TV.

For the Preference/Intent stage, leveraging customer testimonials, providing spec sheets, and telling your brand story will help push shoppers closer to the Purchase stage, which is the prefect time to utilize PPC ad text that entices a buy, such as including a limited time discount in your copy. And to lead them to Repurchase, you can send monthly newsletters with helpful advice to keep your brand top of mind.

Make Content Available Through the Right Channels

Of course, the content you share is fully dependent on the product you offer and the profile of your customers, but there are basic commonalities on how to market in each stage of the buying cycle:

  • Awareness : For the majority of ecommerce sites, this is all about being found via search engine marketing, particularly PPC and SEO.
  • Consideration : Once customers find you in search engines, keyword-tailored landing pages are of the essence . You can also use comparison charts that highlight key selling points to help you stand out from the competition.
  • Preference/Intent : Your website should do the talking here, especially your product descriptions and overall branding. This is a critical stage to capture contact information.
  • Purchase : Get your coupons and discounts out there, whether it’s through your PPC ad text, a pre-sales email, or social media .
  • Repurchase : Keep in contact with your customers via scheduled emails, social media, and personal outreach. Your customers are your best growth opportunity.

While it’s common for online business owners to always focus on the sale, it’s important to remember that your flock of customers are scattered across the field. By herding them through the right gates using your marketing, you’ll be able to enjoy a much more dependable customer pipeline.

And as we all know, a flowing pipeline is always better than a dry one.

Photo Credit: Ina

Originally published Jul 6, 2011 11:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


Buyer's Journey