Entrepreneurs and business owners tend to focus on the finish line- “How do we get more users?” or “How do we sell more products?” And this makes sense, as these actions usually contribute directly to the business’s bottom line.
However, businesses can’t begin to sell more memberships or products or services until they have a clearer picture of how their consumers came to their purchase decision.
About the Buyer’s Journey
Every customer follows the same path called the buyer decision process, sometimes known as the buyer’s journey. The rationale is that every customer comes to a decision, or a commitment to purchase, after evaluating research and alternative options. Here are the steps each buyer takes before coming to a decision:
- Need/Problem Identification – Customers begin the journey by realizing something they want to begin with, whether it’s as simple as a toothbrush, or as complex as a new advertising partner.
- Information Search – The customer begins researching solutions to their want or problem.
- Alternative Products Evaluation – The customer has narrowed his solutions down to a list of potential options and products.
- Purchase Commitment – The customer chooses the solution that best meets their requirements criteria
- Post-purchase Decisions – The customer may decide to leave a positive review after a good experience, or file a complaint or return the product depending on their experience.
Each customer progresses through the journey in a linear sequence, but the time spent on each phase varies with the customer and the product involved.
The Importance of Conversion Rate Optimization
The buyer’s journey isn’t reserved for purchase decisions, in fact, any online decision is governed by these same steps.
Consider a user signing up for a business’s newsletter. Where should the brand advertise the newsletter on a website? How can one be sure the user even wants a newsletter?
Each customer is different, and trying to market to the entire group can lead to less than desirable results, and may even turn off potential clients.
That’s where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in. Conversion rate optimization involves a series of experiments that tweak certain landing page elements, from the user interface to the copy, in order to attract customers. CRO also takes into account various user preferences, whether they’re on mobile, or prefer a certain type of content.
Learn how to set up goals to track conversions on a website.
How To Use The Buyer’s Journey To Increase Conversion Rates
Now that both buyer’s journey and conversion rates have been introduced, how can businesses take advantage of the buyer’s journey to increase conversion rates?
1. Research customer personas.
Learn about your customer. Discover their motivations and pain points. Businesses can’t begin to reach more people until they understand their existing audience. This may even require segmenting audiences into smaller groups- mobile users v. desktop users, rural users v. urban users, casual users v. professional users. The more information a company finds on these personas, the more they can reference that data to make informed optimization decisions.
Buffer has a helpful beginner’s guide to developing personas for any audience. Check out QuickSprout’s more in-depth article as well.
2. Map the buyer’s journey.
Create a series of steps that the user takes from the moment they have a problem to the moment they purchase a product or service as a solution. How did they hear about your company? What tools did they use to conduct research?
Hubspot groups the buyer’s journey into three main stages:
- Awareness Stage – This stage involves customers early in the journey who are still researching solutions for their problem. They may be looking on Google through various discussion boards for answers, or asking friends and family for advice. Buyers in this stage will be searching for the business’s website, clicking on blog pages, or engaging through social media.
- Consideration Stage – Customers in this stage are researching more about the business, ready to consider converting. Be warned- not all customers may be a fit for the company. While some may be ready to engage, they may also not meet the brand’s criteria for a suitable candidate. For example, a gym may attract a client not willing to commit to a long-term membership. Buyers in this stage will be looking through “About Us” pages and other Products and Services pages.
- Decision Stage – When customers reach this stage, they are ready to buy. They may do some last minute researching through pricing pages and case studies, but they are ready to or have already clicked on the Contact Us page.
Understanding where the customer stands in these stages can help narrow brand messaging, whether it’s on social media, through a call, or in an email campaign. Customers in the awareness and consideration stages may need further educating or convincing, but customers in the decision stage need to be reassured about their purchase or encouraged to purchase again.
3. Identify bottlenecks and key points in the journey
After tracing the path that each customer takes, mark the points that may cause frustration or create an opportunity for further engagement.
Consider a visitor that lands on the website. They may already be aware of solutions to their problem, but still need to do research before committing to a single vendor. If there aren’t enough calls to action, they may feel overwhelmed and exit the website in search of a better alternative.
4. Provide relevant and educational content
No matter the stage in which a customer stands, businesses can always provide more informational content. That may take shape in the form of a weekly newsletter, or a monthly case study, or a video explaining how to use a service or product. The more content out there that explains a brand’s product, the more that that brand will be positioned as an expert in their industry.
5. Develop ongoing communication
Don’t make the mistake of signing a customer and then calling it a finished job. When businesses don’t foster the relationships they’ve built with their customers, the customer leaves to find better alternatives and brands. Studies have consistently shown that customer retention is anywhere from five to 25 times more cost-effective compared to attracting a new user.
Getting Help With Conversions
Understanding customer behavior can be confusing without a plan in place. It may seem like a maze without a start or end point. But when a proper strategy is implemented, and when conversions are tracked closely, customer analysis becomes a tool, instead of a challenge.
Businesses without prior marketing or digital experience may struggle with tracking conversions. Learn how an agency like Arcalea can assist in tracing buyers journeys.
Find out how installing a heat map on a website can help analyze customer behavior and increase conversions.
Follow Arcalea’s blog for more tips and guides on attracting and analyzing customers.
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