Cracking the Buying Process Code | Geek Business

Every successful online marketing strategy should be focused on two key points: delivering your content to the right people AND at the right time. One of my previous articles centered on identifying your ideal customer’s profile and creating adequate content, and now it’s time to focus on delivering that content at the right time. And for this, we need to understand the different stages through which a website visitor goes through before committing to your product and becoming a client.

From anonymous website visitor to loyal customer, a person goes through several steps of the buying process:
Awareness
Evaluation
Decision
Vendor selection
Renewing the purchase

In each of these stages, website visitors should ideally be presented with relevant information that guides them to the next step and gets them closer to our final goal: turning them into loyal, long-term customers.

The buying process for an online environment goes hand in hand with lead generation and generally precedes the sales cycle. Your resources should be focused in such a way as to target each specific category of website visitors, therefore audience segmentation becomes crucial.

As a side note here, with each free item shared with your audience, you have the chance to get something in return from them – information. It’s standard practice to at least ask your visitors for their email address when downloading items off your website. But you can take this one step further and, within your download or subscription forms, ask pertinent, industry related questions that will later be used to better segment the interested visitors and identify their buying process stage. From anonymous visitors to leads getting targeted content is just a small step.

A complex, and yet free tool, for segmenting your audience is Google Analytics. I won’t go into details here about how to use it for the task at hand, but you can find an in-depth and amazingly well-written article here:

Google Analytics Visitor Segmentation: Users, Sequences, Cohorts!
It all starts with awareness. Your website visitors know they have a problem that the current solution (product, software or service) doesn’t solve. They are actively searching for information, for tools and resources that can help and are basically looking to expand their knowledge base.

They don’t yet fully understand the solutions provided, making them an ideal audience for promoting your free, educational resources:
free, full-length guides that answer industry-specific questions
tips and how-to lists, video tutorials
free e-books or worksheets
free software that allows them a glimpse at the solution

This early in the buying process, we can’t talk about potential customers and conversions in any realistic terms. All this free educational content aims at making your website visitors realize their need for a solution and they are not informed enough yet to commit financially towards a solution, and this would guide them to the next step, evaluation.

From now on, your content needs to convince the now-returning website visitors of the value of your solution and it’s a good time to start bringing forward specific, product related content:
free product samples
educational videos and tutorials
webinars
case studies
detailed product spec sheets

All this information needs to emphasize how your product is the answer to their specific problems, and the previous audience segmentation allows you to automate the delivery of relevant content offers to evaluating visitors. Knowing your buyer persona helps with this segment as well, since you can tailor the information provided to target industry-specific issues, using the language and notions your audience expects.

Providing detailed product related information helps visitors set their buying criteria, based on the features available, pricing information or marketing offers. You can target these already informed visitors with a more in-depth view of your product:
a personalized demo and consultations
a free trial of your product/service
estimated costs
discounts or custom pricing plans

Remember, these visitors already know that your product can provide them with a solution, and by having them test your solution directly you’re offering them a front row seat and you’re getting them to realize the value of the solution.

When selecting a vendor, potential customers will take into consideration all the information already given to them: must-have features, pricing information and the overall quality of your service or product. That’s why you need to do your best to provide timely and adequate content to your website visitors and keep the balance tilted in your favor.

When it comes to conversion rate, it’s worth mentioning that it increases with each stage of the buying process. While initial, anonymous visitors have a low conversion rate, it gradually increases as they learn more about your solutions and products, as they turn into confirmed leads and are exposed to more and more relevant information.

At the end of this process, the informed website visitor selects your product and decides to become a customer. You relationship however doesn’t stop here, and you should continue to delight your clients with even more content:
regular product updates and new features
additional free, related, content (e-books, guides)
follow-up calls or emails
loyalty bonuses or discounts

These will make a customer feel appreciated and value your services even more; when a subscription renewal or upgrade is due, you will most certainly benefit. The constant dialogue with existing customers will make them feel that they can’t do without your offer and are bound to keep coming back for more.

Conclusion

Understanding website visitor behavior and providing adequate content throughout the various stages of the buying process goes a long way towards turning visitors into customers.
You can influence conversions directly by thoroughly understanding the buying process, segmenting your audience and providing each segment with relevant information. This after all translates into bringing the right content to the right customer at the right time.

About the Author:

Ade Vitan is an online marketing strategist at Caphyon and part of the editorial team of the Advanced Web Ranking blog. Working for a company with more than 10 years experience in providing reliable solutions for SEO experts worldwide, she would love it if you’d get in touch with her over Twitter or Google+for a chat about the industry’s latest trends.