Once upon a time, the online customer journey was a simple progression. The customer sees some type of mass media advertisement directing them to a website. Customers visit the website where cookies and targeted advertising are geared toward funneling them to the ultimate goal – the shopping cart and checkout. Long live the funnel! Except… it turns out that this model does not really exist all that much in today’s world. With the advent of multi and omnichannel marketing, there is no longer a direct A to B path that customers follow when making a purchase.
There are typically a series of points that a customer will reach during their purchasing journey. Some of these points assist the decision-making process through building awareness, intent and consideration and some points are reached as part of the final decision-making process to assist with making that “final call”. Knowing what these points are, where they come into play, which ones are assisting-oriented, and which are final decision-oriented can be crucial to your online success.
- The first point of any online purchase (or any purchase for that matter) begins with awareness. Emails, display ads, and landing pages are examples of how awareness can be created. They provide the initial crucial information about your product. This information needs to be interesting enough to grab a viewer’s attention and provide enough information to encourage them to want to take the next step in the purchasing process.
- This brings us to the point of consideration. Your awareness-raising efforts have paid off; now your viewer will consider the product and begin to think about a purchase. At this stage, social media comes into play. Marketers can use social media to create a ‘picture’ of how the product being used – leading potential customers to picture themselves using the product (a critical step in the purchasing journey). Endorsement and reviews play a significant role in the consideration stage. Seeing a product endorsed by a friend or colleague will go a long way to making the product more enticing to a potential shopper.
- Next up: intent. The customer has reached the point where they intend to buy the product. At this point, paid searches for keywords are a great way to bring your potential buyer one step closer to crossing that finish line and making their purchase. Optimizing for search terms that indicate an intent to buy will bring traffic from buyers that are ready to purchase. For example, running a paid keyword search campaign for “buy HDTV online” will generate traffic from people already looking to make a purchase. This can be part of an organic SEO strategy, but a paid campaign can guarantee placement and visibility at the coveted top of the first page results.
- Last step… decision time! Your shopper is convinced they want the product, now they need to be convinced they need to buy it from you. At this point, the combination of effective digital marketing, combined with your website design and layout will often provide the final push to get your shoppers over the purchasing line. Your marketing will bring them, your design and layout will keep them interacting and lead them to the purchase that they already intend to make. Although this is the ‘last’ step, we can see here the shift from the linear funnel to a more cyclical process – a buyer will often re-engage with a product or brand after purchase.
Throughout this process, you need to ensure that your product details and pricing are both clearly visible and competitive. Great marketing and a fantastic website will have a limited effect if your product catalog is missing details or your pricing is not responsive to real market conditions. Services to fill in missing product data will keep your shoppers on your website, and repricing solutions will keep your prices competitive.