Also known as the Sales Cycle, this is a 7 point process that people go through when making a purchase. We will look at each stage in more detail, but it is important that your online marketing strategy is designed to guide people through this process.
At the centre of almost all online marketing campaigns is an effective website design.
An effective website design is one which delivers a positive user experience. Firstly your website should be easy to access and use; a mobile responsive website design, short loading time and clear navigation are three key points that will make it easier to use. Secondly, your website should be original in both design and content; you should incorporate a variety of media that is produced to a high quality, informative and is relevant to what you offer.
Your website design should include a Content Management System (CMS) so it is easy for you to regularly add new content, so your site remains up to date and interesting for return visitors. It should also include Google Analytics or another analytics tool. This will provide you with unbiased data about your website visitors that you can use to inform changes to your pages that will both improve their experience and your results.
Back to the Buying Cycle
The first point is Awareness – people need to know that you can offer what they need. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) involves a range of optimising and advertising tasks that will help your website to get noticed on the internet. Networking either online, or at local groups is another effective way to build awareness.
It’s not enough to know you offer that product or service, you also have to create Interest, the second point in the cycle. You need to understand what is important to your target audience, so you know how to get them interested. It could be quick delivery times, convenience, quality standards, discount vouchers, exclusivity, health etc. You then need to ensure their priority becomes yours and include it in your website design and other marketing content.
Even when someone is interested, they may need more reassurance before they are ready to commit, so the next stage is Trial. You need to provide an opportunity for people to trial your goods or services. This could be a �Request a Brochure’ button on your website, a sample pack, a discount code for their first purchase, a test drive or a free quote. It gives them time to find out more about your business, its customer service and goods before they make a final decision.
If you’ve made the right impression, then the next step is Purchase. For some people this is a big tick in the box, job done; far from it. At this point you can make the difference between this being a one off sale, to being a strong business relationship.
You may provide your customers with all types of support for example; a guarantee, fitting instructions, a follow up call, a good customer service team or a voucher for the next purchase. Whilst these may provide a nice finishing touch when things have gone well, how you deal with any problems is of particular importance. For any goods or services, there is the potential for something to go wrong, but if you deliver good support, it can be sorted out without detrimental effect.
If your customers have enjoyed the benefits, good and services of doing business with you, it could reap rewards. From following you on social media and therefore helping to build awareness of your company to others, to repeat business, Loyalty should be rewarded. Make sure you communicate with your loyal customers and send them your best offers, exclusive deals, top tips etc as thanks for their support.
Loyalty often leads to customers making referrals to your company. They trust that you will deliver the same service to their contacts that you did for them, so they are happy to recommend you. This can be of great value to your business and returns us back to the start of the Buying Cycle.
For each product or service, the time spent at each point in the process will vary. When buying essential and urgent items, progress through the Buying Cycle will be rapid. As you move towards the luxury end of the market, it generally takes a lot more time for a potential customer to make a purchase.